Following a Financial Fitness Plan

Growing up, I was always a pretty skinny kid. Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I wish I still had a problem where I had to try really hard to gain weight. But, when I was in high school and college, it sucked quite royally.

Round about the time I turned 18, I can remember weighing 118 pounds, being 5 feet 11 inches tall, with less than 10 inch flexed biceps.

I would start working out and taking protein supplements shortly after that, leading to an encouraging weight gain of around 15 pounds.

But, when I got to college, the infamous “freshman fifteen” never came to pass. And, a college kid income didn’t exactly lend itself to buying any protein powder, whatsoever.

My inconsistency in working out would continue for a few years as I made my way from college student to young professional. But, eventually, I would find my way back to consistent workouts…weighing in at a still-slender (to me, anyway) 140 pounds. And, after a month at the gym, I would confidently step on the scale to see that I had gained…

…2 pounds.

WHAT? Two lousy pounds? In an entire MONTH!?!

That’s it! I’m getting a trainer!

Luckily, one of my friends had vacated her spot with Wade, one of the gym’s personal trainers; this was my chance.

I sat down with Wade one day to ask him about training me. He told me what openings he had and what he charged per session, and we would have a deal. Suddenly, I had reason for optimism; I had someone to push me to lift heavier weights and get through those last tough reps.

I was going to get BIGGER!

I was going to get STRONGER!!

I was going to get HOMEWORK!!!

Um, WHAT? Homework?

“I need to know what you eat,” Wade would say. “Two days that you work, and two days when you’re off, write down everything you eat and when.”

I was also instructed to not change anything just because Wade was going to see it. I wasn’t being judged on my eating habits. It was just that, even though my new trainer had a good idea idea of what the nutrition plan was going to look like, he needed to know the specifics in order to put the finishing touches on the plan.

Wade’s plan would work. Over the course of the next 3 months, I would gain a little over 30 pounds and level off around 175 pounds thanks to some re-vamped nutrition (I ate 6 meals every day) and encouragement through those tougher workouts.

So, how does this apply to my money?

While I know I was in the minority when I was younger, being physically skinny and struggling with gaining weight, I think most anyone who’s reading this can relate to being financially skinny (too much debt; living paycheck to paycheck) and struggling to save money or gain wealth. Here’s are some ways that my struggles with adding muscle may help us with our money.

  • Embrace the hate.
    • OK, maybe “hate” is a strong word. But, I think that, a lot of times, we just get used to where we are financially. We accept (or, become numb to) what living paycheck to paycheck feels like. Or, we accept a “comfortable level of credit card debt” that we think is “manageable.” Big car payments? Everybody has those, right? As Wade and I continued to work together, one day, he would let me know that he never had any doubt that I would succeed in putting on the muscle I craved. Why? He could see the “tired of being small” all over my face as I spoke with him that first day. A strong dislike for a circumstance can serve as motivation to push through when the process gets difficult.
  • Get some help.
    • Hiring a personal trainer wasn’t easy for me; I felt like I already knew how to work out. But, it wasn’t until I went to seek help that I realized what I was overlooking. Depending on where you are in your financial journey, you may not need a professional financial planner. (My meetings with the pros haven’t exactly been super positive to this point.) Maybe, a trusted friend who has been through a similar journey with money. Or, perhaps, you’re a member of a religious or social organization that can offer you some help and accountability. Your financial helper will probably be at least as excited as you are to help you with your financial goals. Wade didn’t judge me for being skinny or not knowing how to eat properly; he only saw someone who wanted some help in getting from point A to point B, and he was probably more excited to help me get there than I was to get his help. Reading books and blogs can be a great source of knowledge. But, nothing beats having someone right there to encourage you along the way.
  • Be teachable, and follow through.
    • In order to achieve any worthwhile goal, the one thing we can be certain of is that change, usually significant, will be required to get there. At the beginning of my physical journey all those years ago, I wasn’t expecting that I would have to track my food intake before I got started. (Ultimately, I was even weighing my food before I prepared it.) I could have chosen not to write down what I ate, and Wade probably would have taken me through my workouts just the same. It is also likely that my results would have suffered. We may think that our financial lives will get better if we could just earn more money. Or, instead, we focus solely on spending less. Whichever side we tend to focus on, the bigger problem might be on the other side of the equation. The diet Wade gave me made sense, and the way he explained it made me comfortable in the decision to follow it. Ultimately, the decision to make the changes was mine to follow through on.
  • Push through the tough times.
    • Cars break down; homes need repairs, or rebuilding; people get sick. Sometimes life gives you a new exercise with a WHOLE LOT of weight on the bar. It can be a tough, or even impossible, lift for anyone. The bottom line is, no matter our financial fitness level, life will sometimes throw things at us that make us want to relax back into our old, bad habits. Going back to my second bullet point (“Get some help”), a good plan and a good system of support can help us with the heavy lifting of life.

Thank you for visiting Finunciate. Come back, soon.

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