As is often the case during a long hot shower, my mind wanders and starts to tie seemingly unrelated topics together. Most of the time these thoughts come and go but occasionally there are a few gems that stick and warrant further thought.
I’d like to share such a situation where my keen interest in managing my finances crossed over with my approach to fitness and how one enlightened the other. I hope that by sharing this experience it helps you to look at your approach to fitness through a different lens and perhaps make some adjustments.
So in no particular order I start with……
High Risk = High Reward
Oh hindsight is a …..! Investing in stocks is often compared to playing the lottery, you win some, you lose some, you can win big and you can….let’s just not go there. The truth is, in my humble opinion, that without the magic of a crystal ball you cannot time the market, striking just at the right time to ‘win’ big, the future is an unknown. The best us individual investors can do is invest in a manner considering the risks, our individual appetite for risk and keeping the costs low to avoid eating away at our returns.
Ok, and the tie to fitness is?....
Know the risks of going all in. It would be great to achieve the hulk physique in a few weeks, master a muscle up in a month, shed half your bodyweight in a few weeks...ok I am being extreme but I am trying to illustrate a point. These are excellent goals to set yourself but the timeframes are just too short, the risk of failure is high and, if you’re not used to training, there’s a high risk of injury too. Similarly to investing, trying to win big overnight could see you injured and demotivated and out of training for weeks, months if not years.
"timeframes are just too short...the risk of failure is high"
Instead I keep these dreams alive but set myself more achievable goals in the short term which all work towards achieving them (I even have a spreadsheet for it to show my geeky side). Think of it like setting a monthly savings target to save up a deposit, wipe off a debt or pay for that dream wedding. The dream keeps you motivated, the risks are lowered and the mini goals keep you going when you need to see some progress.
Passive, Consistent, Low Cost Investing
Low cost index funds have become a popular investment option for the long-term passive income investor; a favourite of the FIRE community; check out Mr Money Mustache who I regard as the guru in this community. Their [index funds] automated investment approach keeps the cost low, allows us ‘regular’ investors to gain exposure to the stock market, investing little and often and, with a diversified portfolio, without the time required to research individual stocks. Setting a long-term investment horizon, these investments weather market downturns to achieve a healthy average return (in theory).
Keeping the investments manageable i.e. not cutting your monthly budget to the extreme, these investments become habitual and before you know it several years have passed and the returns have amassed; it would take years for others to catch-up with you.
Sounds great but again, where does this tie into fitness?....
Firstly, it's all about continual and regular investment. Just like index fund investing, I apply the same logic to my approach to nutrition, fitness and education.
In fitness, the schedule is regular and the challenges are applied incrementally, thinking long-term, these small investments say for instance a progression from 10-12 reps, 3 to 4 sets or a horizontal push-up to a decline push-up, add-up and over time, when you look back, you have come a long way from where you started. The important part is to keep it manageable and not 'stretching your budget', for many of us this is time we can invest.
"similarly to compounding interest"
Investing in your fitness in this way builds fitness incrementally into your life, similarly to compounding interest, gains lead to more gains and before you know it you have amassed a wealth of strength/stamina/weight loss etc, whatever your goal may have been.
I hope that framing fitness using some financial strategies as a metaphor has in some way helped you to look at your approach to fitness through a different lens.
To sum up I would like to share a quote from the famous investor Warren Buffet as I think it sums up the general theme of this article nicely:
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Please note: For anyone who reads financial blogs you’ll know I must add the usual disclaimer that nothing in this blog entry constitutes financial advice, these are just my thoughts on the topic, creatively intertwined approaches I have taken on my fitness journey.
Written by Bruce Maidment,
Personal Trainer, Zurich Switzlerand