How to Make Healthy Holiday Sides

This is a post by Rebel Chef Noel.

Rebels! It’s time for a little roleplaying game. This is a solo adventure, and you’re armed with a few cooking skills that you’ve managed to pick up along your journey…

Situation 1: You’ve been asked to bring a side dish to a family gathering or workplace potluck. In years past, you’ve run out to the store last minute and picked up a bag of dinner rolls, a pre-made pie, or a few cans of creamed corn. But you’ve dedicated this year to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and you’re determined to stay focused during the holidays.

Situation 2: You’ve been invited to a gathering or party, and you know what they’ll be serving as a main dish. It works for you (turkey, ham, brisket, etc.). You’re armed with a battle plan for avoiding willpower-diminishing-foods, but you would still like to eat something besides a pile of meat while you’re there. You decide to bring a healthy dish to share so that you’ll definitely have something to put on your plate, and so you don’t show up to the door empty-handed!

What do you do?

First of all, remember you’re a hero!

Secondly, don’t panic! We’ve got you covered.

Today, we’re going to add two new side dishes to your arsenal. They’re both pretty darn easy, and both can be made vegetarian.

The holidays are already a stressful and busy time. The last thing we want you to do is worry about what you’re going to eat at or bring to a gathering. Here are two options for you to sink your teeth into:

Sauteed Green Beans and Spinach with Lemon and Almonds – Okay, so green beans are legumes and technically not paleo…But as far as legumes go, they’re not half bad. If you want to make this 100% paleo, sub broccoli for green beans and chop it fairly small (1″ or 2.54cm pieces). If you want to make it vegetarian/paleo, sub olive oil for butter/bacon grease.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hazelnuts – I like to call these “Brussels Sprouts For People Who Hate Brussels Sprouts.” This will turn the most cautious sprout eater into a sprout lover. Seriously, my family has asked me to bring this and only this to holiday dinners for the past three years. You can eliminate the maple syrup in this recipe to make it no-sugar, but I highly suggest that you don’t. Use less if you want to go low-sugar. And, if you want to make it vegetarian, simply omit the bacon!

Get Healthy Like Mr. Spock

This article was written by NF Team Member Staci.

Five years and over six hundred articles published, and not a single one about Star Trek. Seems pretty inconceivable. But alas, it’s true. So today we’re going to change that by taking a look at one of Star Trek’s most famous characters – the green blooded hobgoblin, Mr. Spock.

Spock is one of the most interesting (and, in this nerd’s humble opinion, greatest) characters of of all times. You see, it’s easy to pick Spock out from the rest of the crew. He’s a nerd; he doesn’t fit in. 

If his pointy ears and upswept eyebrows aren’t a dead giveaway, his insides are pretty weird too. The blood in his veins runs green, as Spock is half Vulcan – a stoic species from the planet Vulcan, who follow a philosophy of logic, reasoning, and suppress all emotion.

Plus, Spock is a pretty awesome Rebel; he questions everything around him at all times, and never turns down a situation he can learn something from.

Fascinating Video

There are quite a few things we can learn from Spock and the Vulcan philosophy of logic and reasoning to keep us healthy in everyday life. Let’s take a look!

Ditch the Sorting Hat. Choose Your Own Adventure!

Imagine you’ve just arrived as a first-year wizard at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

You’re scared, you’re alone, and you have no clue what’s happening. At your first dinner in the Greart Hall, complete with four incredibly long tables, floating candles, and headless ghosts, you’re sheepishly lead to the front of the room where an oversized hat is placed on your head. You’re told you’re to join one of the four houses.

Whether you’re put in the house of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, you’ll spend the next seven years in that house, living with other members, competing against other houses, and so on. Ultimately, this initial selection is a BIG deal.

But, if we actually think, the Sorting Hat was only part of the equation. The Sorting Hat was seriously considering sticking Harry Potter into Slytherin, but sent him to Gryffindor because that’s what he chose – he wanted to be in the House of his parents. Hermione too, because of her intellect, was well suited for a different House (Ravenclaw). However, valuing friendship and bravery, Hermione also had her say.

When it comes to books like Harry Potter, video games, or real life, our “class” selection is a pretty big deal. It’s easy to end up heading down a certain path, thinking our decision is out of our control – that we fit in to a particular box because we think that’s what we have to do.

But today we’re going to learn from Harry and Hermione and challenge the “Sorting Hat.” Today we’re standing up for ourselves and choosing our own damn adventure.

5 Rules When Eating Out to Stay Healthy

What is it about eating out at restaurants that can derail months of hard work?

Sure, it’s easy to prepare meals at home when you are in control of your batcave and all of the ingredients that end up on your plate, but once you head out to dinner it’s like a switch is flipped and suddenly we’re eating like Cookie Monster because “we’re eating out.”

If you tend to eat out a lot for whatever reason, making a few key changes to how you order off the menu can drastically contribute to your success in staying (or getting) healthy.

Today, we’re going to provide you with specific things you can do to keep you on track no matter where you are eating.  Before we jump into that, there’s one key piece of advice that I’m going to provide you with that will help you stay on target.  It comes to us from the 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Do you avoid photos? Announcing ZFG Day!

I want to start today off with a riddle:

“What is going on right now that hasn’t happened ever since the beginning of time, but is soon guaranteed to never ever happen again?”

Today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “today” lately, and all of the memories that can get made in a day. It’s kind of cool to think that what happened today will never happen again…but also kind of scary.

I remember watching people of all shapes and sizes be 100% themselves at Camp Nerd Fitness, and remembering “I’ll never forget today.” It was awesome to watch people who stopped worrying about how they looked or what others thought, because they were surrounded by people that didn’t care either!

Everyone was just being excited to be a part of something special…it was pretty freaking cool. Fortunately, we have a few thousand photos that allow us to immortalize these moments.

Nothing summed up this thought more than during our Rubik’s Cube night (pictured above), when we all traded clothes to end up the same color…ending up in some pretty ridiculous outfits.

Most of us would have been embarrassed to be seen in such clothes while in public, but at Camp it was simply another opportunity to make an unforgettable memory.

Which brings me to today.

You see, over the dozens and dozens of epic success stories we’ve shared (and hundreds of smaller ones), we’ve noticed a few recurring themes with Rebels that have transformed themselves: they all struggled to find candid photos of themselves from the “before” stage!

Not only did they wish they had more “before” photos to share, but also they realized that those are days, memories, and moments that they don’t have documentation of, because they were embarrassed to get in front of the camera.

And when we talk with Rebels who are just started on their journey to a healthier life, they explain their subconscious, self-conscious behavior when it comes to photos – somehow avoiding photos and staying out of the way.

No matter where you are on your journey, I’m challenging you to be happy. Right now. Be proud of your life AND where you’re heading.

How to Actually Become Jason Bourne. Seriously.

“I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside.

I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”

I remember watching The Bourne Identity years ago and instantly fantasizing about what life would be like as rogue agent badass, Jason Bourne.  Sure, James Bond is the man (and I’ve even lived a weekend like him!), but he’s got the power and pull of the British Government at his service.

Bourne, on the other hand, exists outside of the system, hunted by the very people who trained him. Ultimately, he’s a human swiss army knife:

  • He has multiple passports, and can go anywhere at any time.
  • He has the skills necessary to defend himself.
  • He can blend into any crowd and disappear.
  • He speaks multiple languages and can navigate any situation.
  • He’s in peak physical condition, prepared for any scenario.

If you’re anything like me, you read that and went: “holy crap, I wish I could do all of that!”  Well, as a professional nerd, I took it upon myself to find out just how much of this list can be completed in real life.

Other than the “assassin” part of Jason Bourne’s profile, all of the above can be done legally!  

By the end of today’s article, you’ll know the cost and time associated with becoming Jason Bourne. Seriously.

Just how deep down this rabbit hole you want to go is up to you.

Is Motivation Useless?

The day was May 6th, 1954, in Oxford, England.

A gentleman named Roger Bannister did the impossible: he ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. For the nine years prior to this race, the world record had stood at 4:01, and it was widely considered that crossing that barrier was outside of human ability.

In just three years after Roger set this new record, an additional THIRTEEN people completed a mile in less than four minutes.

More recently, we saw the same big hullabaloo (what a great word) years ago when Tony Hawk first landed the 900 on a half-pipe. I remember watching this live and thinking it was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Since, then another 9 people have landed the trick.

It begs the question: Was there a sudden increase in ability during the 1950s when it came to running? Are skateboarders getting faster and finding better equipment?

Or, what if it’s something else?

Today I want to talk about self-imposed limits – our capacity to realize what’s possible instead of rationalizing what’s impossible.

Is a Calorie REALLY Just a Calorie?

This whole “nutrition thing” can be a confusing, contradictory mess.

Depending on who you talk to, you could get a few different answers on how to approach eating:

  • “I’m Paleo, and only eat meat, veggies, fruit and nuts – boo grains!”
  • “Well I just eat based on my macros (Protein, Carbs, Fats) – Paleo is ridiculous!”
  • “Whatever fools – a calorie is a calorie. I can lose weight just eating less.”
  • “I’m in incredible shape and all I eat is pizza. Hell, I’m a freaking wizard!”

Whoever you talk with, you can get a pretty different picture of what it means to “eat healthy.” To make things more confusing, each of these perspectives are backed up with plenty of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies.

I wanted to cover our thoughts (and yes, my humble nerdy opinion) on this great nutrition debate, starting with the question: 

“Is a calorie really a calorie?”

How to Make Pan Roasted Pork Chops

This is a post by Rebel Chef Noel.

I don’t know about you, but where I live, changes are happening. The leaves are turning, the air is a little crisper, and it’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven!

The weather getting colder also means my appetite for warm comfort food is in full effect. Usually, the colder weather means tons of sweet treats and unhealthy meals – but not for Rebels!

Fear not, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to give up comfort food all together. We have the power to make hearty meals that are not only delicious, but will also nourish our bodies and make us stronger. Win-win (win)!

I don’t want you go get the wrong impression. When I say comfort food or “pan roasted” it might sound intimidating, but I assure you, this is a level 2 recipe. If you can make paleo spaghetti, you can absolutely do this.

These pork chops take 20 minutes, only need 5 ingredients, and have minimal preparation.

Let’s get started!

Life is a Game: A Major Epic Quest Update (Plus, a Request!)

As kids we have all sorts of dreams and fantasies…defeating the dragon, visiting far off lands, going on grand adventures.

As adults, we continue to dream, but more often than not, we never act.

This was me, five and a half years ago when I started Nerd Fitness with the tagline “Level Up Your Life.”

Having never traveled outside of North America, and being generally risk averse, a picky eater, and quite shy…I decided to turn life into a giant video game.

I wanted to prove that any regular Joe Steve could improve their life by applying game mechanics to it and having fun along the way.

That’s the idea behind my Epic Quest of Awesome, to send myself on epic adventures and challenges, and inspire other desk jockeys to leave our cubicles and create unforgettable experiences.

So, what’s going on with my epic quest these days? I’m glad you asked!

Seeing as I went and had crazy adventures in Croatia this summer – where I completed three quests - I figure today would be a good day to talk about my making a game of life, how it works, and what’s next for me.

On top, of that…I have a request for some help on a super secret project I’m working on!

Shall we?

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