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Set Up to Succeed

Matt C. White

LOOKING TO IMPROVE your physical and financial health? You might have heard similar sounding advice: All you have to do is burn more calories than you consume—and to spend less than you make.

While there’s an element of truth to both platitudes, I don’t find either helpful. There’s a psychological canyon between such abstract ideas and putting them into practice.

One thing experience has taught me: If I’m authentically stirred to want to do something, I’ll go miles further than if obligation is my only motivation. I also need to come to terms with my own weakness. Willpower and determination can only take me so far. I need help to get where I want to go.

After years of floundering, I’ve now been working out five times a week for more than a year. What changed? I finally got honest about my own limitations.

My wife Sarah and I found a virtual fitness group with daily video workouts. We don’t have to pack a gym bag or drive to a class. There’s no need to arrange childcare. The workout routine is prepared for us. We just watch and imitate. We keep each other accountable, and we find encouragement in talking with friends in the group. It’s become a therapeutic way to start our day together before the kids get up.

What fascinated me about my workout experience: When I humbled myself and accepted help—when I bowled with the gutter guards up and gave myself a chance—it began to change me from the inside out. I began to want to work out, and I began to want to eat better, too. I’ve gone further than I ever thought I would.

I’ve found that the same principle applies to my financial health. When I get truly excited about achieving a financial goal—like funding an investment account, giving to a cause or starting a business—I’m a million times more likely to spend responsibly than if I’m motivated solely by the duty of sticking to a budget.

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DrLefty
DrLefty
11 months ago

Similar story here. I had a gym membership for seven years and never went once. Not once. But I would ride our at-home elliptical (not as much as I should have, but sometimes) and take walks.

Before COVID hit, I was vaguely planning to try a different gym in summer 2020. But once we were at home all the time, I decided to lean into at-home workouts. The elliptical at least 5 times a week, and on “off days,” a lengthy walk. After a few months of that, I added online strength and core workouts.

About a year into COVID, my husband suggested we get a Peloton bike—his work offers an annual “wellness” benefit, and we could partially offset the cost of the bike through that. Our bike arrived a year ago this week, and I’m now at 375 rides and nearly 1000 total Peloton workouts. We pay $39/month for the membership, which is way less than we’d pay for both of us to join a gym.

I do go to a Pilates studio once a week for a private session. I enjoy it and like having an instructor build progressive workouts for me and watch my form. But other than that, I don’t see ever joining a gym again. The at-home decision was the game-changer for me, and my husband, too.

Matt Christopher White
Matt Christopher White
11 months ago
Reply to  DrLefty

Yes! So glad to hear that you have found a way to exercise that you stick with and enjoy! Removing those barriers really is a game-changer.

George Counihan
George Counihan
11 months ago

Well done – without your health life isn’t enjoyable. Working out and eating well are priorities in my life. My mantra is “a healthy person has a thousand wishes – a sick person only one”!

Matt Christopher White
Matt Christopher White
11 months ago

Thank you, George! Well said.

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