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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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Take a Leap of Faith

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Take a Leap of Faith

Take a Leap of Faith

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

One thing I have been guilty in my prayer life is praying for something, but having doubt that God will answer my prayer.  My mind and heart have been out of alignment.   I have been out of coherence.  Thinking one thing and feeling another, or another words, doubting God’s promises. 

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Gratitude is such a powerful emotion.   Gratitude is coming from a state of being that what you are praying for has already happened.   It is expecting God to answer our prayers.  As Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

Those are some very powerful words.  It comes down to taking a leap of faith.  Expecting the unexpected.  To surrender, trust and let go of how and when your prayer will be answered, but truly believing in our heart that God will answer our prayers. 

That doesn’t mean that God is our genie in a bottle.  Our prayers still need to line up with His will.   We need to pray with God’s interest in mind and not our own selfish desires. 

My one word for 2019 is abundance.   One area of abundance I am praying for is financial freedom.  Not out of selfish desires, but as a way to provide for myself, my family and also so I can be a generous giver.  I am expecting God to act on his promise.   

I took a leap of faith about 18 months ago leaving a lucrative career in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue my fitness ministry full time.  I am trusting in God’s provision that he will provide for financial abundance.  That I can do what I love, serve others in my strength and have financial freedom. 

It is up to me to do the work and believe.  To pray believing that God will provide.  To get rid of any doubt or feelings of lack financially.   I am giving thanks as it has already happened.  Trusting and surrendering is the biggest obstacle for most of us to overcome. 

When we decide that God is for us and not against us, nothing can stop us.  When our will is in line with God’s will we can do amazing things for His glory.   Believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 

Go for it, take that leap of faith.   Live your life from a place of gratitude and see the miracles that God can do in your life.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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The Man in the Arena (Getting his Ass Kicked a Little Bit)

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The Man in the Arena (Getting his Ass Kicked a Little Bit)

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 “Get in the arena, show up, do your thing and don’t be afraid to get your ass kicked a little bit.” –Brene Brown

Do you ever have one of those days, weeks, months or even years where you just want to quit?  Where you don’t want to get in the arena anymore and keep getting your ass kicked? When you get to the point in your life where you want to say screw it and run away from reality?

I had one of those weeks not too long ago.  I wanted to quit everything.  Quit trying to grow a fitness ministry that I feel less than qualified to lead because of all of my glaring weaknesses.  Quit leading my men’s Bible and Barbells and Spiritual Warriors Unite men’s discipleship programs.  I wanted to run and hide and never come back.  I am an expert at isolation.  That is a behavior I have down pat. 

When I left my six figure job and my comfortable surroundings I had lived in for twenty years in Orlando about a year and a half ago, I knew things were going to be hard as I jumped in with both feet to become a Kingdom building entrepreneur.   I just didn’t know all of the things that would show up in my life.  Areas of personal development and growth that I have been avoiding for years, probably more subconsciously than anything else. 

I have always been a fly under the radar kind of a guy.  You know the guy that says my actions speak for themselves.  The strong, silent type.  Stoic and composed.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those character traits, but sometimes we need to be heard and seen and that means speaking up and playing big. 

Even as a star athlete in high school, I shunned the lime light.  When I saw a sports reporter coming my way, I conveniently headed the other direction.  I never really liked talking about myself.  It felt self-serving, conceited and egotistical. 

 For me it was much safer to play it small and not take risks.  To put on my body armor and not let anybody in.  To play it safe and fly under the radar. 

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What I have learned recently, that if I keep myself small, keep hiding behind the scenes, I am not going to make the impact in the world that God is calling me to make.   God will not be able to use me fully if I am not willing to be vulnerable and get into the arena and get bloodied and sweaty. 

I am learning that great leaders are vulnerable.  They are willing to admit that they aren’t perfect and don’t have all of the answers.  They share what’s on their heart and are not concerned about what people think about them. 

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I get how Moses felt inadequate to do what God called him to do. He came up with every excuse in the book not to fulfill the mission God gave him from I am not good enough, I am a terrible public speaker and I am not qualified. I have told myself all of those things, unfortunately many times.

My work is asking me to be more vulnerable.  To open myself up to failure, criticism and the great unknown.  And quite honestly that scares the hell out of me.  I am a master at control, but I am being asked to let go of certainty and embrace uncertainty as the main theme of my life and that means being vulnerable. 

Everything in me says quit and run the other way, but I am going to get in the arena.  I may come out bloody, but that’s OK.  The man who says I failed is ten times more of a man that says what if. 

I am going to step into the arena and dare greatly.  I know I am going to mess up along the way, and fact if I don’t, I am not taking big enough risks for God.    My intention is to be a leader of men and show what being vulnerable and courageous is all about.   My hope and prayer is that leads to greater connection, love, self-worth and belonging.  I am going to get in the arena and dare greatly even if I fall short again and again. How about you?

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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Change the World with Love

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Change the World with Love

My heart is breaking! Sadly we live in a world where a man goes into a synagogue and randomly kills eleven people because he decides he hates Jews.

We live in a world where a doctor abuses his power and sexually abuses over one hundred women for his own pleasure.

Sadly we live in a world where there is still prejudice. Where we always think we are right and the other person is wrong and we won’t even listen to understand.

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It’s easy to throw up our hands and complain and join in on all of the rhetoric and hate. That is never going to solve the world’s problems.

What if we changed the world with love one person at a time? Not conditional love, but unconditional love to all people.

What if we as men step up to be the spiritual leaders we are called to be? What if we as men got in community with other men where we could be vulnerable and authentic and stop pretending to be someone we are not? What if we saw vulnerability as strength and not weakness?

I am sick and tired of this me against you attitude, us against them. What if we all partnered together as one nation under God and just showed up from a place of powerful love for the betterment of humanity? That would change the world. I am all in! How about you?

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

For seventeen years of my working career I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  It just didn’t fit.  I often times remembered that sense of dread when Sunday evening came around because I knew that it was almost time to start my work week.  Can you relate to that?  Dread is a horrible feeling.  One that will suck our soul dry. 

BURNT OUT

The reason I got into the pharmaceutical industry was that I wanted to spend more time with my kids.  Before getting into the pharma industry I was in health and fitness full time.   I managed a personal training program for a large health club.  To say the least, it wasn’t a very family friendly job.  I left work before my kids got up and when I got home, usually around 7pm, I was exhausted from putting in a fourteen hour day.  It wasn’t sustainable, even though my passion was health and fitness, I quickly got burnt out from the daily grind. 

Therefore, I left my passion of health and fitness to become a pharmaceutical sales rep.  My first year in the industry I was very depressed.  I could hardly get out of bed in the morning to go to work.  I couldn’t stand my job.  I didn’t feel like I was making a difference.  I felt like I was just driving around all day without any teaching or selling opportunities. 

But I hung in there and eventually broke down barriers and became quite good at it.  With one of the companies I worked for I finished first in the country in sales and usually finished in the top ten percent.

OUT OF INTEGRITY

The problem was that I always felt out of integrity.  A square peg in a round hole.   I wasn’t living my passion.  I never thought of myself as a sales person.  A lot of the times I found myself talking to my customers about health and nutrition.    

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I remember when I knew I couldn’t last in the industry much longer.   I was at a national sales meeting and they were giving out awards for the top sales performers.  I was just thinking to myself, this isn’t my gift.  This isn’t why God put me on this earth.  I recall getting in my car and just crying knowing that I couldn’t do this any longer. 

My why of getting into the pharmaceutical industry was no longer relevant as both of my kids had graduated high school and were off doing their own thing.  I knew I had to get out to save my soul.  I was easily making six figures at that time, but I didn’t care.  What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?  That is how I felt. 

PURSUING OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

What I have come to learn is that if we don’t know our purpose in life and are actively pursuing it we will feel empty inside.  We may become bored, restless and turn to other things in our life that usually isn’t healthy such as hours watching TV, alcohol, drugs, porn, power, money or materialism. 

My dream since I was twenty three years old was to be an entrepreneur.  I always wanted to have my own fitness business.  I just never had the guts or quite honestly a faith in God or myself to take that leap of faith. 

That is until about a little over a year ago.  I knew I had to get back into integrity with myself and with God.  I had to go back to what I know I was created for.  I have always been passionate about fitness, but now my faith has become the central focus in my life. 

My calling, passion and purpose is to help men reclaim their inner warrior and lead more valiant lives through physical, mental and spiritual fitness.  My vision is to be revolutionary in impacting men’s lives with fitness as the platform for growing spiritually. 

MY WORK IS MY MINISTRY

My core values are completely lined up with what I am doing now.   My work is my ministry.  Most of the time I don’t know what day it is because I love every aspect of my job.  I know longer dread Mondays.  What an incredible feeling that is. 

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Are you currently in a job that you aren’t passionate about?  Do you go through the motions day in and day out and are bored out of your mind?  Are you not giving your gift fully to the world? 

I would like to invite you to start to dream and imagine the possibilities when you are fully lined with up your purpose and living that out in your life.  Your whole world will change.  I know mine did.

Becoming an entrepreneur has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also the most rewarding.  My faith has grown tremendously over the last year.  I am completely dependent on God’s goodness for him to help me grow my ministry.  He is guiding and directing my path on this great Kingdom adventure. 

Think about what it would feel like in the morning to jump out of bed feeling fully alive because you are making a difference in this world. 

Our calling in this lifetime isn’t to mold ourselves into some façade we think we ought to be, but discover who we already are and become it. 

My challenge to you is to start to work towards becoming the person you were created to be.  Follow your dreams and passions.  You will never feel more alive giving your gifts back to the world.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Divine Wellness Ministries

 

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Lottery Ticket vs. the Sculpture

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Lottery Ticket vs. the Sculpture

We hear these marketing ploys over and over again from the fitness industry;  Follow this exercise program for 21 days and you will have the perfect body.   Do the ab roller for 21 days and you will get 6 pack abs.  Follow the 21 day diet and you will melt off all of your fat.   We have all heard that it takes 21 days to change a habit.  But is that really accurate?  Is it really that simple?   

Changing our habits can be extremely challenging, especially when we have a short term mentality.  I know I am certainly guilty of wanting a quick fix in my life when things aren’t going the way I want them to.   

A recent study showed that it took people on average 66 days for a new healthy habit to be automatic and for some it took up to 254 days.  In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately it will probably take anywhere from two months to 8 months to build a new behavior into your life, not 21 days. 

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Let me ask you this question.  Do you have a lottery ticket mentality or a sculpture mentality?   The lottery ticket mentality is the quick fix approach.  It’s having the attitude that I am going to take this pill and I am going to magically lose all this weight in 21 days and I am going to have instant success without having to work for it.   The problem with this approach is people give up too early.  When they don’t see the results in 21 days they simply get discouraged and give up.  People simply give up too soon when things get hard and life gets in the way. 

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In comparison, the sculpture mentality is taking a long term approach to making life changes.   One of the most amazing historic landmarks Mount Rushmore in Rapid City, South Dakota.   It took 14 years and 400 workers to carve out the faces of four presidents.  The name of the sculptor was Gutzon Borglum.  This is a true definition of a sculpture mentality.  Imagine the hard work, patience and persistence it took to show up day after day for 14 years to get this amazing monument completed.    I have this quote up in my house and it’s titled the Essence of Persistence and it says, “The race goes not always to the swift but to those who keep running.  You have powers you never dreamed of.  You are capable of doing things you never thought possible.  There are no limitations on what you can do."

Imagine if you took the sculpture approach to your life, instead of the lottery approach.  There are three things you must do in order to take the sculpture approach in your life. 

PICK YOUR ROCK

First and foremost, you have to pick the rock.  What are you going to chip away at?    Is it your health?  Is it improving your nutrition?  Is it getting better at your job?   Is it exercising consistently?   Ideally you would just focus on one area at a time.  Research shows if we try to change one thing at a time we have an 85% success rate.  If we try to change two things at a time it drops down to 35% and if we try to make three changes in our life it practically drops down to zero success.

Proverbs 4:25 says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you."  Stay focused on that one thing and align your life to making it a habit.  

CHIP AWAY AT YOUR ROCK EVERY DAY

Secondly, each day you must chip away at the rock.  Day in and day out you have to work towards your goal.  John Capilari, the University of Kentucky basketball coach tells his players you have to learn to love the grind.   Life is a grind, so you might as well embrace it and learn to love the day to day challenges you face.  

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:14

YOU NEED PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE

Finally, you need patience and persistence.   Start to think of your life in 18 month sequences.  Have you ever come across the book called the 18 month diet?   I am sorry to tell you, that you can’t undo a bad diet in 21 days, but you can make transformational life change in an 18 month period if you learn to sculpt your rock each and every day. 

I think one of the hardest things people struggle with in making changes in their life is wanting a quick fix, to take a magic pill.  But it just doesn't work that way.  It takes patience and persistence and that never give up attitude. 

Galatians 6:9 reminds us to "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Every single person I have seen achieve health and fitness in the long run accomplishes it by simply showing up every day, not by trying to get it right and being perfect.   The world is messy, complicated and unpredictable and things get in the way.  It’s vitally important to be flexible and honest with yourself in context of your real human life.  Set realistic long term goals and work towards those goals without having that all or nothing attitude.  In my experience, this kind of all or nothing thinking, rarely gets us all.  It usually gets us nothing. 

MY STORY

Let me share with you a little bit of my story.  I was in a job for 17 years that wasn’t my passion.  It was a great job because it provided for my family and it allowed me to spend time with my two awesome kids.  But it wasn’t my calling.  

My true calling in life is to inspire, motivate and coach others to take control of their health.   My purpose is to help this world overcome the obesity epidemic that we are facing.   I made a decision that I don’t want to die with my music still in me.   That’s why is started my fitness ministry. 

One thing I have struggled with my whole life is self-doubt.  I often times find myself listening to that voice inside my head that says who are you, you can’t do this.  Do you know what  I am talking about?  I have started several small businesses and have never stuck with it long enough to be successful at it.  This is my fifth attempt at starting a business and you know what, I will be successful this time.  This is my rock.  This is my Mount Rushmore.   This is my one thing.    

I decided I am going to work it and work it until it blesses me and I can be a blessing to others through my fitness ministry, public speaking and coaching.  I don’t know the how, but I certainly know the why.   One of my favorite quote is, “someone who said I failed is ten times more of a man than someone who said what if”.  Never give up on your dreams.  I don’t care how many times you failed, try again. 

Imagine for a moment what you are going to sculpt out of your rock.  How do you want your life to be different in 18 months?    Imagine you are the healthiest you have ever been.  Imagine that body you have always wanted.   Imagine having a life full of energy and well-being.     

There is only one way to develop life changing habits, you must practice them and that takes time.  There are no lottery tickets when it comes to making lasting life changes.  Practice these things and devote your life to them so that everyone can see the amazing Mount Rushmore you made out of your rock. 

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Troy Ismir, MS

Personal Trainer and Health Coach

Divine Wellness Ministries

 

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