Now that I’m in my thirties, as I look back on my entire adult life, it becomes abundantly clear that my interests and desires have been centered on three things: fitness, finance, and faith (hence, the raising of the F to a higher power…a much Higher Power). A handful of years ago, some of you might remember, Fitness & Your Finances, an initiative that I started with the goal to educate and empower the people in these two, title areas.
Well, that never quite materialized into what I had envisioned. All along, it was lacking the most critical Component, the Cornerstone to the entire structure: faith. Now, F3 begins and ends with Jesus as our Centerpiece, our Core, our COO. Anything and everything that follows will flow from that Truth.
Growing up, I was very blessed to live in a household with two parents that showered me and my three sisters with an abundance of love, care, security and safety. Unfortunately, those same parents gave all four of us a genetic code that L.O.V.E.S to store fat, and that same home was also always fully stocked with enough cookies, cakes, donuts, and desserts to cater an impromptu three-year old's birthday party at a moment’s notice. As a result, I spent most of my youth and young adulthood bouncing between pretty chubby and borderline obese.
Then, right before my freshman year of college, I had what could only be described as a divine appointment, where God lit a fire within me to finally make a change and get fit. Soon thereafter, I discovered competitive, natural bodybuilding, competed in my first show, and completely changed my physique. That was in 2001, and the rest is history. I’ve since stepped on stage over a dozen times now, and I’m currently in hot pursuit of my pro card in some of the most prestigious, natural bodybuilding organizations. My approach to health, wellness, training, and nutrition will never be the same.
The instant I burst through the doors onto Central Michigan University’s campus, I knew I wanted to study finance. Being a numbers guy at heart, I was always drawn to quantitative analysis. But, I didn’t want to study pure math (who does that anyway?) Not to mention, I was completely mesmerized by the stock market and all of its inner workings, so my choosing finance was a natural path. Once I made that selection, I never wavered: undergraduate, MBA, and PhD, all in finance. After having finally graduated in 2009, I began my career in academia as a finance professor at Winthrop University. Then, in 2016, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go work for tastytrade, a financial media company based out of Chicago, where I was able to host my own show (From Theory to Practice) and trade derivatives all day, err day.
While my personal and professional interests have been governed by physical fitness and financial well-being, it has been my walk with the Lord that has really guided my steps throughout the years. I have learned (sometimes pleasantly, but many times painfully) that ALL things really do, can, and should start with God. It doesn’t matter if you’re counting up your calories for the day or trying to determine if Tesla is a good investment, Jesus is there.
He's always there.
He’s always there, in everything that we do, not the just the times when we might be studying Scripture, sitting in church, or silently praying. As we’re reminded in Genesis, His presence surrounds us always:
Genesis 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Growing up catholic, had you stopped me on the street and asked me if I was a believer, I would have said yes because I was “saved”, but I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. We didn’t share personal dealings, I wouldn’t dare divulge my most intimate secrets (as if they were a surprise to Him anyway), and I don’t think I really trusted that my security rested all on His performance and none of my own. Instead, it was more of an employer/employee relationship, where I tried to work hard enough to earn His respect and hope that He might look favorably on me in this life and beyond.
As I look back on that time now and realize how much my walk has grown and strengthened, especially in the last few years, it becomes achingly obvious how immature I was as a Christian. I’m excited, encouraged, and humbled by how God has done a work in my life, often times in spite of my actions not because of them. I’m sure five years from now, I’ll look back on today, and chuckle at how childish I was now as a believer. In fact, I certainly hope that I do, as that might show a gradual growth in better understanding God’s grace, love, and mercy.
So, I pray that each one of you gains something of value from your time spent inside of our little cube, here. To my Christian friends, I hope that your physical fitness improves, your financial health increases, and our words strengthen your walk with God. To my Non-Christian friends, I hope that your physical well-being also improves, your financial status also increases, and our words might somehow inspire you to start your walk with God.