Can financial fitness lead to physical fitness?
Maybe. It certainly has for me.
I think it’s fair to say that we all recognize how important finances are to our lives. We’re all here for FIRE. We see it as something crucial to overall quality of life.
All of this is really about living better lives. We all want to be happier and better. I’ve never met anyone who wanted to be more miserable.
Well, I think it’s just as fair to say that we could all agree that good health is just as vital to quality of life. Without health, wealth matters nil.
Seeing as how fitness is a major aspect of one’s health, it makes sense to focus at least some of our resources toward bettering our fitness.
Well, I believe improving our finances can also help us improve our fitness. Thus, we end up increasing our quality of life from multiple angles.
As if plenty of wealth, passive income, and FIRE wasn’t good enough already, I believe that achieving financial mastery and financially hacking past most of life’s more undesirable aspects (like a job) can also allow you to physically hack your way into the body you’ve always wanted.
That’s exactly what I’ve done.
And it wasn’t that difficult.
I currently have the body of my dreams.
I’m now in the best shape of my life – speaking both in financial and physical terms.
Indeed, they’re very complementary of one another. And I believe becoming more fit with the former will almost surely set you up to become more fit with the latter. The lifestyle choices that help lead to financial fitness translate extremely well to physical fitness.
How does this work?
Well, let’s break it down.
I’m going to share three ways in which great financial fitness can lead to great physical fitness.
Everything I’m going to discuss below has worked for me personally, so this is coming from firsthand experience. You might not want to do everything I do exactly as I do it, but I’m going to reveal high-level concepts that can be broadly applied to just about anyone’s life.
These concepts do require some measure of self-discipline. But if you’re aiming for, or if you’ve already achieved, great financial fitness (like FIRE), you should already know all about that.
More Favorable Conditions For Exercise
Let’s assume for a moment that you’re FIRE.
Time is money. And money is time.
Well, if you have enough money to achieve FIRE, which means you almost certainly don’t have a job any longer, you have freed up a lot of time in your life for exercise.
And I don’t mean just going down to the gym to sit on a bench and check your phone.
I’m talking about real, hard, sweaty, ugly exercise. That body isn’t gonna build itself.
Now, I’ve been working out since I was a little kid.
I was mercilessly picked on and threatened as the only white kid in my Detroit neighborhood. I was still teased after I was adopted and moved out of Detroit. Being new in sixth grade isn’t easy.
So I started exercising at a pretty young age in order to defend myself. That was the original motivation.
But I later learned how fantastic it was to look good, feel good, and be good (healthy).
And so exercise has been a constant companion, which means I’ve been able to maintain a certain level of fitness throughout my life. I didn’t enter FIRE obese.
However, it wasn’t until my post-FIRE life that I’ve really been able to hit my stride.
That’s because, not surprisingly, it was difficult to muster up the time and energy to properly exercise when I was working 50+ hours per week while simultaneously side hustling on the blogging, building a sizable investment portfolio, marching toward FIRE, and still trying to fit in a normal life.
Plus, I was always tired because I was waking up early, which didn’t allow me enough sleep according to my own circadian rhythm. And even when I did find myself able to get enough sleep, I was always anxious about job stuff. I was in a constant state of dread which didn’t make it easy to relax and focus on other tasks.
Sure, I would hit the gym. Multiple times per week. For years on end.
But it was difficult to put in 100% every single time and really punch it.
It’s not like that any longer, though.
I now enthusiastically look forward to hitting the gym six days per week. And I’m exercising at 100%+ intensity every single time I’m there.
I have the time for it. More importantly, I have the energy and focus for it.
I don’t expend a lot of energy in my day-to-day life anymore (writing isn’t physically demanding or stressful), which allows me to conserve that for when I really need it and then operate in these short bursts.
Furthermore, achieving great financial fitness requires setting up and following good habits.
Primarily, it’s all about consistency.
Consistently living below your means and intelligently investing your savings can lead to amazing things. Even a few dollars here and there really add up.
Well, consistently exercising to the best of your ability certainly adds up, too.
It doesn’t even take much. It’s all about being consistent with it. Little improvements snowball over time. And you’ll be in great shape before you know it.
That doesn’t require FIRE. The extra time helps. But setting up good habits happens way before you quit your job.
I noted self-discipline earlier.
That’s something that’s critical as it pertains to living below your means.
Well, it’s just as critical when it comes to staying active and fit. That stationary bike isn’t gonna ride itself.
So this is basically taking the things you learn about financial fitness best practices, then applying them toward physical fitness.
Getting into my exercise routine, I currently do a 3/3 split.
Three days per week are purely cardio and abs. Generally speaking, I’m doing 15 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on a stationary bike. Then I do 10 sets of ab work across five different movements.
The other three days include the aforementioned cardio and abs, but I also add in some weight training with various body parts. I also cut the cardio back to just 15 minutes on these days.
Monday is chest and shoulders; Tuesday is biceps and triceps; Thursday is back and legs.
I’m usually doing three sets across three different movements (nine sets in total) with each individual muscle group. Back and legs, however, get an extra movement (an extra three sets) due to their size.
Breaks between sets and movements last ~10 seconds.
I’m always in and out of the gym in under 45 minutes, so it’s not like I’m dedicating a ton of time to this. But I’m in there consistently. And I’m giving it my all when I am there.
Eating Right (Intermittent Fasting)
Saving money and losing weight are often compared to one another because of the simple math they share.
Spend less than you earn = save money.
Consume less calories than you burn = lose weight.
There’s a bit more to it than that, of course. Always easier said than done. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
But I have found that FIRE has made it much, much easier for me to consume food in a way that is both personally enjoyable and helpful toward my fitness goals.
See, when I had a job and was busy all the time, I was eating based around a schedule my boss was setting for me. It didn’t matter if my body was hungry or full – I was eating to fit the schedule, rather than eating based on what my body was telling me.
Plus, since I was working round the clock, I was eating many times per day because my body was hungry. There’s just so much traffic in and out of my body in that kind of scenario. It’s too much.
And then there’s the stress eating, too.
It’s all gone now.
I currently do intermittent fasting.
I actually wasn’t even aware that I was doing this until a buddy of mine here in Chiang Mai told me that’s what I was doing.
What happened was totally natural and organic. I didn’t set out to intermittently fast. This might sound funny, but I didn’t even know what it was.
I go to sleep between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. And I wake up around 10:30 a.m. That’s just what works for my body.
After I wake up, I piddle around a bit, check some email, get ready, and leave my apartment around noon.
I also consume a coffee at the coffee shop, shortly after lunch. Sometimes a slice of cake, too.
I’m usually hungry again around 7 p.m., at which point I eat dinner.
Dinner varies. But it’s usually a good-sized portion (much larger than lunch) so that I’m full for the rest of the evening.
And that’s it.
I only eat those two meals in an eight-hour window. And I only consume calories in this eight-hour window.
There might be the occasional late-night snack or drink, but it’s pretty rare.
I’m not trying to diet. I eat what I want, when I want. This is just what my body asks for. There’s literally no “sacrifice” to it at all.
Intermittent fasting is great due to that structure. I don’t think of it as “dieting” at all.
And I think it’s a natural byproduct of living the FIRE lifestyle (that requires financial fitness), which obviously feeds back into the physical fitness. After all, eating one less meal fits right into a frugal/minimalist mindset, where you’re consuming less and spending less already. Spending less than necessary on food, and thus consuming less calories and all of the stuff related to that, is a huge win-win.
It’s about being lean. It’s the tendency you should already have.
Lean spending and lean consumption. Lean eating and lean body.
I will say, though, that this two-meal-per-day schedule has been even more effective since I moved to Thailand due largely to the totally different cuisines and portion sizes. I was in pretty good shape before I came to Thailand, but living over here has amplified my efforts.
However, there’s no reason this can’t be done in America (or anywhere else).
I’ve noticed no ill effects since eliminating a third meal.
Breakfast is out.
That’s fine for me because I don’t like waking up early – and I never particularly enjoyed breakfast foods anyway (which are often nothing more than glorified desserts in America).
Not only are there no ill effects, but I’ve actually never felt better than I do right now.
There’s a lot of science-y stuff about why intermittent fasting is so great for you. Make sure to read into this.
Now, maybe you have a dietary plan that better works for you and your body. That’s great. I’m just sharing what’s worked for me when considering the backdrop of living the FIRE lifestyle.
Bottom line, though, is that eating right is far easier to execute once you’re financially fit, in my experience.
I can guarantee you something.
If you’re financially fit, you’ll have less stress in your life. It’s a no-brainer.
You know the stats.
Guys, that’s totally ridiculous.
You be the judge.
But don’t deliberate on it too long. We already know that stress can (and most likely will) cause you to gain weight, which is the opposite of what you want to do if you’re trying to build the body of your dreams.
I’m a firm believer in eliminating stress from your life. If something is stressing you out, it’s gotta go. A job is, of course, one of the biggest causes of stress for most people. Most people don’t like their jobs.
Furthermore, becoming financially fit, especially in terms of reaching for and achieving FIRE, will greatly reduce money stress.
Stress is a silent killer. And it will wreak havoc on the way you look and feel. You MUST eliminate it.
It’s a common risk factor for many of the top-10 causes for death worldwide.
Limiting stress can only serve to help you avoid dying earlier than you otherwise should, all while living a healthier and happier life. It’s a higher quality of life. And you’ll look and feel better along the way.
Moreover, the above two points (more/better exercise, less/better food) will only exacerbate these benefits.
Life’s way too short as it is. No need to shorten it. And you should want to look, feel, and be as good as you possibly can while as long as you’re alive – which, hopefully, will be even longer if you parlay your financial fitness into physical fitness.
You might not want to eat or exercise exactly as I do, but I think there’s something to be said for applying the above concepts in your own life – even if the application is more broad or less intense than the way in which I go about it.
Regardless, becoming financially fit is what sets you up for it. It properly positions you for being able to apply these concepts.
If you’re not financially fit, it’ll be that much more difficult to become physically fit, because you’ll be limited across the board.
Likewise, I think you’ll find that becoming financially fit will naturally lead to the improved ability and desire to become more physically fit. The positive lifestyle changes I’ve made over the years to build my best financial situation have translated extremely well toward building my best body.
I’ve talked before about how I basically live my life in a way that’s almost the complete opposite of everyone else, which has led to financial results and lifestyle possibilities unlike that of what most people will ever experience.
Well, I also look, feel, and am quite a bit physically different than most people. And that’s because of how I’ve set up my life.
Greater financial fitness has no doubt led to greater physical fitness for me.
And I believe you can experience the same!
What do you think? Does greater financial fitness lead to greater physical fitness? Have you experienced this?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’d like to achieve greater physical fitness, which can be greatly aided by greater financial fitness, check out some awesome resources I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!