broken legWhen you’re getting started with a new workout routine, there is often a set pattern of events that tends to occur:

  1. You set up a plan.
  2. You get excited, pumped, and ready for action.
  3. The workouts begin and you start to see some results.
  4. You wake up one morning to realize you can’t walk due to knee pain.
  5. The doctor tells you to rest for 6-8 weeks to let your knee recover before reengaging in strenuous exercise.
  6. After 6-8 weeks, you’re in worse shape than when you started.

Have you ever felt this way? For me, this always seems to happen when I decide I’m actually going to work myself up to running a marathon (this is only one of my many lifetime fitness goals). I’m ready to go, dedicated, and then injured. It really doesn’t seem to matter how slowly I build or or how careful I am, something always seems to go wrong.

When it comes to getting into great shape, very little can be more discouraging. So, what are your options? Well, you could just give up your hopes and dreams of physical greatness, or you could actually take the time you need to recover and develop a plan that has a better chance of success.

My most recent bout with injury, especially on the running realm, is with a stress fracture in my left shin. If you’ve never had a stress fracture, do whatever you can to avoid them! As the name implies, they are simply a hairline bone fracture. While not as painful as a full bone fracture, the dull ache that you feel when you have one is certainly not pleasant and will keep you from engaging in any sort of meaningful exercise. The only option? Well, just like the doctor says, you have to stay off it and allow it to heal.

For me, however, it just never seemed to matter how long I allowed my stress fracture to heal, the injury would always come back within a few weeks of recommencing my running routine. I became very frustrated and was ready to give up on getting back into shape.

So, what was my solution? I had to try something completely different. Rather than starting back up with another running plan when I thought I had healed enough, I started another, completely different plan called P90X. Now, P90X is a great program. I love it and would recommend it to anyone.

The reason why I had so much success with it, however, is solely due to the fact that I made it through injury free! The routine was just different enough that I didn’t run the risk of re-injuring my shin and aggravating my stress fracture yet again. By changing up my workout routine in a significant way, I was able to get into great shape and remain healthy. It meant that I wouldn’t be running for 3 months, but it was ok. I was still accomplishing some major physical goals without the risk of falling into the same injury traps I had in the past.

So, if you’re struggling due to a reoccurring injury in your workout routine, do what I did: Switch it up. Try something new for a while. You might just be amazed at the results!

Photo by mellyjean.

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I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people who aren’t sure that focusing on attaining wealth is a good thing to do. This seems to be especially true of Christians and other people who are socially minded. Hopefully, we all at least agree that a budget is necessary, but how far should we go? Some of the questions/arguments I’ve heard include:

I’m already so much better off that 90% of the world, isn’t that good enough?

Isn’t it just selfish to want to be rich?

The Bible tells us that we can’t serve God and money; isn’t this the same thing?

If I were to be rich, I would just feel guilty about it.

I think it’s more important that I donate my money than it is to invest.

The list could go on.

To be honest, I have certainly struggled with many of these same questions at one point or another. After all, rich people are often viewed as being primarily selfish in our community. Everyone wants to be rich, but many people still seem to think that being rich is just a little too dirty. They would prefer to settle for the mediocre. It’s easier, in any case.

An important question

dollar signDo you want to be wealthy? Why?

Answering the first question is, for me, very easy. Yes, I want to be wealthy. Answering why is a little harder to quantify. However, let me give you an example:

The other day, I was talking to someone I see on a regular basis. She’s going through a rough time financially, not because of bad choices, but because her husband has been without a job for a while. Know anyone like her? Unsurprisingly, even in times of joblessness, bills still come due.

Sure, you could make the argument that she is only in this situation because she and her husband failed to set up an adequate emergency fund. They could have been more prepared. I didn’t care about those details. Hearing about her situation, my first thought was an overwhelming desire to provide for the immediate needs of her family. This is a temporary setback for them, so there is no fear of enabling a pattern of behavior or anything. A one-time gift could make all the difference in the world while her husband continues to very actively seek employment.

The good news is that I can probably afford to give a one time gift. The bad news is that the gift I can afford is far less than the amount I would like to give. There just isn’t enough room in my budget. Sure, I have some money set aside for other purposes, but I’ve learned that giving to the point that it puts your own family’s financial stability in trouble is not a good idea either.

This is why I want to be wealthy. I want to spend a lifetime saving money so I can give it away in perpetuity. I want to be able to, after hearing about a need, provide the funds necessary for the situation. I want money to cease to matter in the sense that no 1 (or 10!) extra expenditure can damage my family’s financial stability.

So, now what?

I’m going to continue saving and investing so that, one day, I will be wealthy enough to give to my heart’s content. In the meantime, however, I’m going to discuss with my wife how much we can afford to give; it won’t be much, but it just might be enough. Then I’m going to send a gift to someone who needs it.

Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of a financial gift in a time of need? Please share about your experiences in the comments!

Photo by mag3737.

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This is a review of the Ab Ripper X workout, part of the P90X program. To learn more about the program and see reviews of the other workouts in the program, click here.

Ab Ripper X: I hate it, but I love it! – Tony Horton

absThis phrase greets you three times per week as you begin the Ab Ripper X workout of the P90X program. Of all the workouts in the program, Ab Ripper is the most unique. Rather than functioning as its own stand-alone routine, it is designed to be done immediately following Chest and Back, Shoulders and Arms, Legs and Back, Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps, or Back and Biceps. In other words, just when the exhaustion from one of those workouts is setting in, it’s time for Ab Ripper X!

Be that as it may, this workout is pretty straightforward and not very long. It totals about 16 minutes, but it is intense! If you follow what Tony does exactly, you will complete 349 Ab movements in this time period!

Not a single traditional movement

My favorite part of this workout is that you never once do a traditional crunch or sit-up. You know, the kinds that make your back hurt more than your abs? Everything you do here targets your abs and you know it! Just like Tony says, this workout “gives you the opportunity to get the most ripped abdominal area you have ever had.” If it seems like I’m quoting Tony Horton a lot on this workout, it is only because he throws out so many quotable moments in 16 minutes.

As with any other workout in P90X, this one gets some great results. Seeing the definition in your abs definitely helps provide the motivation you will need to continue to push yourself throughout the rest of the program.

Don’t forget to take a look at other workouts in the program.

Photo by davco9200.

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housesIn my recent quest for new financial knowledge, I have noticed a trend that just astounds me: There are a lot of people who claim that paying off your house is a bad financial move because you will lose the tax deduction from the interest you pay.

Most recently, I have been reading “The Last Chance Millionaire” by Douglas R. Andrew, and, according to him, budgeting to pay extra principal on your house is one of the biggest financial mistakes you could make. The alternative? You should, instead, invest the money you would have paid on your house and, in addition, borrow every penny you possibly can from your home equity and invest that as well.

This is an investing method known as leveraging. Essentially, you’re taking money that people in the financial biz call OPM (Other People’s Money) and using it to gain a higher rate of return than what you are paying in interest on your house or other debts.

The problem with this, especially when it comes to the home mortgage, is that the math just doesn’t add up. Yes, it is true that the interest you pay for your mortgage is tax deductible. But that doesn’t make it worth it to continue making payments. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Pretend you have a $200,000 mortgage. On average, this means that you will pay $10,000 dollars per year in interest, all of which is tax deductible. It is important, here, that you remember that a tax deduction is very different from a tax credit. Where a tax credit is a direct decrease in the taxes you owe, a tax deduction just means that an amount is not taxable. Hence, your $10,000 tax deduction will mean you save about $2,500 off your tax bill.

Sure, it’s nice to save $2,500, but what about the other $7,500? If you were to pay off your mortgage and no longer pay interest on it, you would be paying some extra money on your taxes, but you would be saving three times that much overall. This just doesn’t make sense.

And all of this is in addition to the fact that you would no longer have a house payment. In our above scenario, you wouldn’t just save $7,500 per year because of interest, you would also no longer be required to pay the other $700 per month in principal amounts. That means somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000 per year in liquid funds for your use.

Still convinced that it’s dumb to pay off your mortgage? Please, tell me why. It sure doesn’t seem like something most millionaires would do.

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

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clockDo you ever find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day? Sometimes it seems like there is simply too much to do in the amount of time we are given. If your days look like mine, they can be filled with up to 19 hours of working. Yep, I said 19 hours. Those days are really rough, not because I work so long or that my work is particularly overwhelming, but because I don’t have the time to engage in other activities I would like to. I would far rather spend more time out doing something with my wife.

What about when a project or an assignment comes due? Sure, you’ve had plenty of time to work on it, but maybe you haven’t given it all the thought and time it deserved and now you’re struggling to get finished in time. Your laziness has put you in a situation where time is a luxury not to be squandered.

On the long term basis, have you ever met (or are you) someone who knows they are nearing the age of retirement? I can tell you that those who I have met definitely feel like there is not enough time to get their finances in order to live out the remainder of their days with dignity.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to get in shape for that marathon you’re planning on running. The problem? The marathon is next week and you’ve only worked your way up to running 5 or 6 miles. This is another case where you haven’t used the time you have had, so now what?

Let me offer one more example: Imagine it is the end of your life and you know you haven’t given all that you are to your Creator. Opportunities have presented themselves to you on countless occasions, but you have ignored them and it is too late to grow in, let alone share, the love of God. What could be more tragic? When God asks you why you haven’t responded to his invitations, what will you say? What do you say right now?

The sad reality of all these thoughts is that time is finite. Once a minute is gone, it cannot be taken back.

And might I point out that today is a special day. It is the changing of daylight savings time. While time is finite, most of you have been given an extra hour to live today. How did you use it? Did you squander it watching another hour of TV or did you make it count. My use of the hour, while not exciting, was very valuable. I used it to sleep and rest in preparation for the week ahead.

So take a moment, enjoy where you are, and look to the future. Be decisive and take action. Don’t let your time slip away and live to regret your decisions.

Photo by TonyVC.

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