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Faith and Fitness

From It's too Hard to Unlimited Possibilities

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From It's too Hard to Unlimited Possibilities

Our physical health is so easy to take for granted.  We have done a very poor job as a society of taking care of our health.   We have done an even worse job in the fitness industry of helping people get physically fit and healthy. 

The fitness industry has made it all about appearance.  We have made it all about weight loss, the way we look on the outside.   Most people give up on making a physical transformation after trying time and time again to get healthy and changing their body composition. 

What I have learned on my journey is that making any change in our life can be hard.   The struggle is real.  I don’t know one single person who has it all together physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Physical Challenges Lead to a Transformed Life

Since I started my fitness ministry full time a little over a year ago, I have realized how important it is to have physical challenges in our life.  I have seen in my life and in my clients life how challenging ourselves physically opens up the door to personal and spiritual growth.  When we challenge ourselves physically beyond what we think we are capable of it leads to a life transformed. 

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The struggle is where the growth is.   When we are willing to push our limitations physically, we find out who we truly are.   Are we that guy that is sitting on the couch watching our life go by or are we that guy who embraces physical challenges to get mentally stronger and add depth to our spirituality?

When we go beyond the limitations we place on ourselves physically and the resistance we put up to make changes, the possibilities are endless. 

Is it hard, yes!  Will there be some struggle, yes!  But when we accomplish something that is physically hard we feel so good about ourselves.  It creates a confidence in us that we can do bigger and better things. 

Stepping in to who God is Calling us to Be

The whole point of challenging ourselves physically is so we can have the inner strength and fortitude to step into who God is calling us to be.   So we aren’t living lives that don’t make us feel fully alive. 

One of my clients in particular who completely lost his inner warrior, both physically and mentally, has transformed his life.  It all started with the physical.  He is now doing things physically he never thought possible.  But that’s not the point.  The point is he is now living for a transcendent cause greater than himself.  That is the true mark of a spiritual warrior.  He is following through on dreams he has been sitting on for the past ten years. 

After reclaiming his inner warrior by challenging himself physically he has found a new zeal for life.  After living a life of complacency for the past ten years, he is ready to kick some ass again. 

What about you?  Are you ready to push yourself physically again?  Are you ready to get off the couch and into the arena?   Are you ready to change your mentality from it’s too hard to having a mindset that the struggle is where the growth is?   When we do something that’s hard is when we find out what we are truly made of. 

Have Faith in Ourselves through Faith in God

When we have faith in ourselves through faith in God is when we breakthrough our limitations.    Get out of your comfort zone.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Set a challenging fitness goal for yourself and see not only a physical transformation, but most importantly a life changing spiritual transformation.  You will bust through barriers you never thought possible.    Never settle for the status quo. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

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Creating the Habit of Greatness

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Creating the Habit of Greatness

Whether we want to admit it or not we are all creatures of habit.   The vast majority of us do the same things day after day.  We eat the same foods, we think the same thoughts, we drive to work the same way.

Of course that is good in many ways.  Thank goodness we don’t have to re-learn how to drive a car every day.  We have that habit instilled in us to the point we often times drive somewhere and have no recollection of how we even got there.  That’s a little scary isn’t it?

Case in point when I was living in Orlando I had moved to a new house and had been living there for over a month.  I completely went on auto-pilot when I realized I was driving to my old home.  I had developed the habit of driving to my old home and completely forgot I had moved.

But the problem really lies in our habit of thinking.   We have created these destructive thinking habits that have become hard-wired into our subconscious mind.  Thoughts of fear, lack, being the victim, anger, pride, suffering, shame, guilt and the list of negative emotions goes on and on. 

I realized not that long ago that I was living my life from a place of destructive emotions.   Who wants to follow a leader that isn’t living from a place of joy, love and happiness?  It hit me right between the eyes. 

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Since that time I have been working really hard on creating the habit of greatness, the habit of joy.  But the ultimate habit I am working on is creating the habit of expressing God through me.  I certainly can’t do that when I am living in a place of destructive habits and thoughts. 

Since we are hard-wired to create habits, why not create habits that are positive and healthy?   Why not create habits thing bring us to a place of joy, peace, freedom, love and happiness.

Once I realized that I am my own worst enemy and started to get out of my own way, the world is responding to me in a much different way.  God is opening up doors for me that have been amazing.  God is working in me and through me in a way I never thought possible. 

The hardest thing to do is to remove the limits we put on ourselves and the limits we put on God.  We have developed habits that limit our true greatness. 

How do we go about creating the habit of greatness?  It doesn’t happen by accident.   It takes training our mind daily.  It takes being intentional about what we think about. 

To be more like Christ, we must train ourselves to think like Christ.  One way of doing that is through spending time meditating.  Asking God to work in us and through us.  Asking God to change our destructive thinking habits to thinking habits that lead to greatness.  Being still and letting God work in our hearts. 

Another way to change our way of thinking is by what we allow into our minds.  How much time are we spending reading the Bible, praying, spending time with other godly people, reading inspirational books and listening to podcasts?

I refuse to start my day watching the news or reading the newspaper.  I will skim the paper later in the day just so I am up on current events, but my morning time is spent studying the word of God, journaling, praying, meditating and setting my intention for the day. 

I don’t care how early I have to get up.  Recently it has been as early as 3:45.  To me it’s worth it as I am working on cultivating the habit of greatness.  Unless I believe I am great, no one else will either.  Not out of pride, but from a place of being a son of God.  He created me for greatness and being anything less than great isn’t truly expressing God through me. 

I want to encourage you to start to instill habits of greatness into your life.  Start to think differently and you will start to see amazing things happen around you.  We change the world by first changing ourselves.  I pray that God continues to work in you and through you for His glory. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

 

 

 

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Life Change Happens at the Dinner Table

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Life Change Happens at the Dinner Table

In 2017, former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy identified the most common threat to public health that he had witnessed:  not heart disease, diabetes, or cancer-but loneliness.  Isolation and lack of social connections, he wrote in Harvard Business Review, “are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.  Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.” 

Men are even more affected by this loneliness epidemic which is most often accompanied with the feelings of depression and despair. 

In my own personal life I have felt that feeling of quiet desperation.   That feeling of extreme loneliness and isolation.  It is a hopeless feeling that can lead to a path of soul killing destruction. 

Thankfully, God brought two men into my life at just the right time to help me get out of that state of quiet desperation. 

One of the main reasons that men often times live in quiet desperation is they are reluctant to show vulnerability or ask for support.  Men are less likely to seek out other men when they are struggling because they feel like it is a sign of weakness. 

In reality, asking for help is one of the most courageous things we can do.  Being vulnerable is coming from a place of strength not weakness. 

One of the biggest problems I have realized since starting my men’s ministry is that men don’t have a place where we can show up and be vulnerable.    Men do want to be transparent and share their darkest truths, but we haven’t done a great job in creating those environments. 

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As warriors we are looking for something different.    We want camaraderie and shared purpose.  We want to be shoulder to shoulder in shared experiences.  When we are shoulder to shoulder sharing something challenging or purposeful is when we develop trust and a level of openness that we as men aren’t used to. 

I lead a men’s discipleship group called Bible and Barbells out of the gym I train out of called The Body which stands for The Body of Christ.  It’s a Christian gym where I am fortunate enough to do ministry out of.  We study a Christian devotional for the first thirty minutes followed by thirty minutes of a strength training circuit. 

I have seen so much life change and relationship building through this ministry.  It has been quite astounding.  I hear men pour out their struggles around their battle with pornography, relationship struggles, feelings of inadequacy, career crisis, struggles with anger and other challenges we as men face. 

This is an environment where men care share, be vulnerable and recognize we are not alone.   It’s through this practice of being vulnerable where we draw strength to be the spiritual leaders in our families, communities and churches.    Without this shared community of strong Christian men I know we would continue to live lives of quiet desperation, depression and isolation. 

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I led my first Spiritual Warriors Unite Men’s Retreat a few weeks ago.  It was a powerful weekend where a group of men got away to reclaim our inner warrior.  Life has a way of beating us up and from time to time we need to get away and have some good quality bro time along with time to connect with God. 

One of my biggest take-aways from the weekend was that life change happens at the dinner table.  After we got finished eating we would sit around after each meal and we shared what was on our heart.  We all learned from each other. 

We tackled questions like, what does it mean to be a man in this day and age and how can we be stronger spiritual leaders?  We shared great inspirational books we have read and we all went around the table discussing what our morning rituals look like. 

I know I left the retreat a better man than when I first arrived.   There is something powerful when a group of godly men get together and share our hearts.   When we are transparent and vulnerable and willing to learn from one another. 

It is sad to me that so many men are living in quiet desperation.  Trust me, I get it, I used to be one of them.   My vision for my ministry is to help men get out of quiet desperation by being in community together.  Where we build a faith and fitness community that inspires men to be stronger spiritual leaders. 

I believe it starts with men having the courage to be vulnerable.  Finding a community of godly men who are willing to share their darkest truths and not just talk about sports.  Of course that can be a part of it, but there is so much more to life.

As men we are called to be spiritual leaders.  There is no way we can be the spiritual leaders we are called to be when we are living in isolation.  We all need a group of men where we can share our darkest truths around the dinner table.  Life change happens around the dinner table. 

I want to challenge you to be a man, reach out for support.  Get out of your quiet desperation.  It’s up to you to take action.   Find at least one friend you can be transparent with.   Find a group of godly men who will support you on your journey of becoming more like Jesus, the ultimate warrior. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

 

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Increase Your Energy and Change the World

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Increase Your Energy and Change the World

Increase Your Energy and Change the World

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

One thing I have struggled with over the years is having an abundance of energy.  Often times I don’t wake up feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep or I feel sluggish throughout the day.  This is one thing I have been really working hard on over the past several months. 

I have come to the realization that my sluggish energy levels has a lot to do with my internal state of being.  I have been engrossed in the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Caroline Leaf over the past six months.  I highly recommend their booksBreaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza and “Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  

One of the biggest take-aways from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work is the only way to change our lives is to change our energy.  To improve our energy we have to change our internal state of being.  We do this by changing how we think and feel.   According Dr. Joe Dispenza and his research on brain waves and energy there is a continuum of emotions ranging from the lowest energy levels up to the highest. 

This is what that continuum looks like from low, negative energy all the way to high, life giving energy:

·         Lust

·         Pain

·         Victimization

·         Suffering

·         Guilt

·         Fear

·         Anger

·         Control

·         Power

·         Will

·         Gratitude

·         Appreciation

·         Joy

·         Love

·         Freedom

·         Bliss

·         Wholeness

Being in a state of wholeness is the ultimate state of being.  We are at the highest energy level we can possibly be at when we have that sense of wholeness.   We feel so complete that we feel like we have everything.  The more whole we feel the less lack we experience.  The more whole we feel the more connected we are to everyone else.   What a powerful emotion. 

Since starting my journey towards improving my energy and coming from a place of wholeness I have been meditating every day.  During my meditation I am intentional in cultivating the positive emotions of gratitude, appreciation, joy, love, freedom, bliss and wholeness.  I get up from my meditation completely different from when I sat down.  My goal is to carry that feeling with me throughout my day. 

The only way we can change our world is by changing ourselves and that is never going to happen if we are mired in negative emotions.  It sucks the joy right out of us. 

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One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  The only way we can be the light is by raising our energy and coming from a place of joy, love and wholeness.

If you are stuck in negative emotions, I would encourage you to read both of the previous books I mentioned and start to implement some of the strategies recommended in the books.  It all starts with changing our internal state of being by changing what we focus on.  We can focus on being a victim, living in guilt and shame or we can focus on love, gratitude and appreciation.

You will be amazed on how you will have an abundance of energy when you start to change the way you think.  When you become the source of light instead of living in darkness.   When you increase your energy that is when your world and the world around you will start to change for the better.  Be the light!

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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One Word Can Change Your Life

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One Word Can Change Your Life

2018 has come and gone.  For me 2018 was the fastest year on record.  It went by like the blink of an eye.   It was an amazing year in so many ways, but also very challenging.  As always the two parallels of life.  The good and the bad.  The triumphs and the failures.   The moments of love and then heartbreak. 

The biggest thing I learned from 2018 is to embrace uncertainty.  To be OK with not knowing.  To completely trust God and His plans for my life.   To fully embrace that there are no accidents in life and everything happens for a reason.  I realize that is so much easier said than done.  But coming to the realization that control is just an illusion has brought a sense of peace and joy to my life that I have never had before. 

That brings us to 2019.  Instead of making some short lived New Year’s resolutions or some big elaborate goal setting plan, I like to choose one word to focus on for the year.  My one word I chose for this year is abundance.  Abundance financially, in relationship, in my ministry, spiritually and physically. 

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The scripture that I will be focusing on this year is John 10:10.  “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  I come that they have life and have it abundantly.”    There it is, right in scripture.  I will believe that promise and come to God with positive expectations knowing that there is no limit to what God can accomplish. 

As the year of abundance plays out in my life in 2019 I will continue to raise my vibrational energy to become more like Christ.   That means coming from a place of wholeness.    To believe that I am limitless because God is limitless.  That I lack nothing.  I am so whole and complete that I feel like I have everything. 

My word of abundance is centered on forgiveness and compassion, mystery and joy and surrender and vulnerability. 

God is a forgiving God.  From the scripture Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”    Jesus modeled forgiveness and compassion as he was crucified on the cross.  When we live a life of forgiveness and compassion we are living an abundant life. 

Our God is an amazing God.  He is beyond anything our human mind can comprehend.  I have learned to embrace the mystery of God.  That as my Creator he always has my best interest at heart.  His goal is to make me more like Christ.  Often times this process is through our trials.  

Through this mystery and often times suffering, I have learned that there can still be joy in my life.  Joy comes from an internal state knowing that God is a God of love and grace.   That he loves me so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross for me.  That is enough to bring me joy despite any circumstances I may face. 

Finally the word of abundance means to surrender everything to God.  That means being vulnerable and living with an open heart.    For the first time in my life I am learning to not shrink back.  To play big because I serve a big and amazing God.  By surrendering my life to Him, I gain everything.  By being vulnerable I let people in to my life so they can see what God has done for me. 

As I step into 2019, I am expecting abundance.  I don’t know how it will show up in my life, but that is part of my faith adventure.  I will live a life of compassion, joy and vulnerability in 2019. I will live my life with child-like faith expecting God to do far beyond I can ask or imagine.  Let the adventure begin.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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It's OK to be a Beginner

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It's OK to be a Beginner

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I felt inept.  I lacked confidence.  I was worried I would hurt myself.  That describes how I felt last week when I decided I would give mountain biking a try.  It has been over five years since I have done any “real” mountain biking.  I have been wanting to get back out there for a while, but I have been so focused on my road cycling I didn’t have time. 

As I went on the so called “beginner” trail with my heart pumping and not knowing what to expect I was greeted with more protruding and jagged rocks than I would expect on a “beginner” trail.  All I thought as I was praying that I could get over those rocks is that it would really hurt to have one of those jabbed into my side.  I could feel my lungs being punctured.  Not a good thought at all. 

As I tentatively navigated over the rocks, I saw an uphill climb approaching with what I would call some large impediments that I would have to jump over.    In my mind, I quickly processed if I should take a chance and try to ride over them or to get off my bike and walk over the obstacles.  My risk-adverse side said to hop off the bike and play it safe, which I did. 

In between the tentativeness and slow pace I kept, I did take some time to look at all of the natural beauty around me.  It was amazing.  No cars to deal with and I only came across a few people.  I can see why people love to mountain bike. 

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I did make it to the end of my ride without any disasters.  I was humbled and was reminded of what it felt like to be a beginner.  I am an expert in the gym both as a fitness professional and a long time body builder.  I am an advanced road cyclist and an above average golfer. 

This experience on my mountain bike as a beginner really made me stop and think about my clients and potential clients I will be working with.   It made me think about how they feel when they first come to train with me.   How they must feel as a beginner.  The courage it takes to go into the unknown and being OK with being a beginner. 

I lead a Faith and Fitness class at a church and we regularly have about fifteen people come to the class.   It takes a great deal of bravery to attend a class for the first time not knowing what to expect, especially if you are new to fitness. 

I have always had a great deal of compassion for people who are new to exercise and I will have even more after this reminder of what it feels like to be a beginner. 

If you are not doing something that you have always wanted to do because you are afraid of being a beginner, I want to encourage you to do it anyways.  Embrace being a beginner.   It’s about the journey and what you learn about yourself along the way. 

I will be back on my mountain bike this week.  I know I will be better this time than I was last time.  I will enjoy being a beginner and see what I can learn about myself along the way.  I will get out of my comfort zone and realize I don’t have to be an expert at everything.  If I stay at this long enough, I can become an expert at this too and if I don’t that is just fine by me.  I will be a better person for trying.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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