How Maya the Aspiring Aerialist Lost 70+ Pounds!

I want you to meet Maya, known as StarsApart on the NF Boards, a proud member of the Rebellion and one heck of a success story.

Like many folks, Maya was fairly fit her teens and early twenties, but when she entered grad school, that all fell apart. She graduated completely out of shape, and the weight piled up: 30 lbs, 40, 50, and beyond.

Maya got stuck in a cycle, and for years let a poor diet add pounds to her waistline. She was in a place in her life where she wasn’t happy with herself or her situation and had spent a year doing hours upon hours of cardio only to see no results.

Finally, after a contest at work (and becoming a Rebel armed with the right tools) got her kick-started, Maya began to turn things around.

Just over a year later, she’s accomplished a TON. In her own words, here’s what Maya has done:

  • I lost 70+ pounds.
  • I went from a size 14 in dresses/pants to a size 2.
  • I cut almost all processed foods out of my diet and began home-cooking everything.
  • I threw away my fear and tried parkour.
  • I balanced Crow pose. For a record of 20 seconds so far. With a freaking boot on my leg.
  • I can now deadlift 170 lbs. That’s more than I weigh.
  • I rehabbed a broken bone to almost perfect health (still a work in progress, but I’m at the tail end).
  • I tried aerial and discovered I love acrobatics.
  • I can climb a rope (or silks) up to a 25 ft ceiling. I could never climb anything before in my life.
  • I ran a 5k. Only a month after my foot came out of its brace.
  • I can go snowshoeing up a mountain in the snow for 2.5 hours without losing my cool – or my breath.
  • I have abs. They still shock me when I look at myself in the mirror. Actually, I’m just shocked by the person I see in the mirror.

Today she’s 70 lbs lighter, and a whole new person. Let’s take a look at how she did it.

What Can You Actually Get Done in Six Weeks? (A New Six-Week Challenge Starts!)

“30 Days to a Better Body!”

“I just did a 21-day Detox.”

“___ will get you shredded in 90 days!”

There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about what you can get done when it comes to transforming your body, and how long that transformation should take. We’ve already covered “How fast can I get the body I want?” in an article, along with “How fast can I build muscle?” – but today we’re going to talk about what you can expect to get done in 6 weeks:

  • Can you work on something every day for six weeks and build a habit?
  • How much weight can you drop?
  • Can you make any lasting changes?
  • What’s possible?

Why six weeks? Because today on our Nerd Fitness message boards, we’re launching the next Six-Week Challenge!

We’d love for you to join us, set some kickass goals, and make great progress.

Struggling to Reach a Goal? Turn it into a Boss Battle.

When was the last time you had a real boss battle in your life?

If you’ve played board or video games, it might seem obvious that competition and “survival of the nerdiest” can help us hone our skills:

  • Playing Call of Duty or League of Legends with an elite squad and watching your kill/death ratio climb.
  • Playing Mario Kart against friends and enjoying the rollercoaster of emotions that comes from climbing from last to first just before crossing the finish line.
  • Leveling up high enough in World of Warcraft to get to take on dragons and guild raids.
  • Playing chess online to see if we can rank up in our skills.
  • Playing Magic the Gathering, CarcassonneSettlers of Catan, or Cones of Dunshire with friends or in actual competition.

So, the idea of a boss battle might be something you are familiar, but as nerds, it tends to be with a controller or board game.

If you want to stay on target, and level up your life (and make some friends in the process), taking these boss battles into the physical realm creates the kind of positive stress that can lead to growth in our body and mind.

Boss battles (and the treasure that comes with victory) can help you level up your life.

How to Spice Up Any Meal. Literally.

This is a post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Remember those diagrams of the tongue that you learned about in school? They told you the tongue tasted different flavors depending on the section. The back tastes bitter, the front tastes sweet, and the sides taste salty and sour.

1. Bitter 2. Sour 3. Salt 4. Sweet

Most of us now know this is wrong. Your whole tongue tastes all flavors, and it’s not just your tongue! The roof of our mouth and your nose help out too! In fact, there are more than just the four flavors we learned about in school.

There is another lie that has been circulating the fitness world for years. It’s a lie that says healthy food is boring and bland. It drives me crazy. And in this nerd’s opinion, it’s one of the most damaging lies told about getting healthy.

We know diet is 80% of the battle when it comes to achieving our health and fitness goals. And when we tell ourselves eating healthy food is boring, flavorless, and downright gross, we put ourselves on the fast track to failure! Just like exercise can and should be fun, cooking meat and veggies should be delicious.

Just like the squat and deadlift adhere to the 80-20 rule, today we’re going over some basic skills that will allow you to see maximal benefit for minimal effort.

How? Simple flavors. Think of these like the compound movements of cooking.

Here are 6 fool proof spice combinations to help you level up your cooking skills, explore the world with your tongue, and (hopefully) get you out of your food rut!

How to Cut and Roast Vegetables

This is an article from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Last month we covered a recipe that was a bit more advanced for our rebels that love a challenge. This month, we’re getting back to basics and doing something super, duper easy.

My favorite way to eat vegetables is to roast them. The reason I love it is because they get somewhat sweet and crunchy, you can prepare a bunch of them at once. Oh, and did I mention its super easy? Pretty much all you have to do is cut them, toss them in olive oil and spices of your choice, throw them in the oven, and wait.

Now, I said we’re getting back to basics here, so for those who are experienced cooks, this might be more information than you need. If that’s the case, close your computer and bang out some push ups! If you’re new to cooking, then we’re glad to have you.

We’re going to be taking this back to pre-level one. Level 0.5.

Let’s get started!

Meditation: Building the Superpower You Didn’t Even Know You Had

This article is from NF Team Member Taylor

There you are, settled into your life, in the deserts of Tatooine.

You’ve gone about your life just like everyone else – school, a job, and the regular habits and cycles that come along with it. But what you don’t know is that there’s something missing in life, that’s actually inside of you – something waiting to be awakened.

And then one day everything changes – you purchase a few droids with a secret message, the Empire destroys your home – and before you know it, you accept your destiny and begin to train. Your powers develop, and soon you become a freakin Jedi.

This was Luke Skywalker – just a regular joe Luke, with something powerful inside him waiting to be discovered and cultivated.

Now, what if I told you that in a very real way, we’re all like Luke – we all have something inside us that goes unnoticed and thus uncultivated – day after day.

I’m not talking about Superman strength or Spiderman genetics. Though that would be amazing. Like the superpowers in Chronicle, this ability starts off almost nonexistent, and can be grown like a video game character.

“This is my theory though, is that it’s like a muscle. That’s why I think we’re getting stronger, you know? Cause we’re working ‘it’ out.”

And it doesn’t take a disaster to strike for you to be set on your path. So few people cultivate it, let alone masters it. How do we build this superpower?

Meditation.

Are Your Beliefs Sabotaging You?

“It’s fine, but I could just never look like that.”

“I could never deadlift 400 pounds.”

“I just suck at singing/learning languages/math.”

Today I’m gonna talk to you about prophecies. No, not the cool ancient kind that foretold of some epic badass saving the day. Though I do love those prophecies. But rather, the ones that can either set us up to level up our lives, or doom us to a life of “that’s just how I am.”

Oftentimes, it’s ourselves who choose to sabotage our mind and goals.

Other times, we let other people set our expectations for ourselves. 

We all have these things about ourselves that we think “that’s just how I am.” We tell ourselves it’s been that way since we were kids, or there was a moment when our confidence was shattered, our path was altered, and suddenly these things we think about ourselves become true.

Today you learn why these prophecies are redonkulous. 

Why Exercise is the Least Important Part of the Equation (And a Camp Nerd Fitness Update!)


“But Steve, I don’t like to exercise.”

I sat down with a friend recently who had decided he wanted to lose weight, but struggled with getting started. He explained why: the idea of exercise was absolutely miserable to him – he had visions of running on a treadmill for hours, or going into a sweaty gym and feeling incredibly uncomfortable around people who were already in shape.

I looked at him and smiled and said, “Okay, then don’t exercise. Let’s deal with that a few months from now.” He replied with a face that looked something like this, and asked how I could possibly not recommend he start exercising if he wanted to lose weight.

My reply was simple: “I’m not interested in getting you to lose the most weight as quickly as possible. I’m interested in helping you get healthier, permanently.”

If you’re someone who has decided you want to make a change in your life and that you need to lose weight, I’m here to tell you why exercise should NOT be the first change you make.

Is Diet Coke Bad For You? What About Artificial Sweeteners?

There’s one question we get asked probably more than any other:

“Is Diet Coke bad for you?”

The second most popular question: “What actually happened at the end of ‘Interstellar’??” has yet to be answered.

Back to Diet Coke. I get why this has caused so much confusion and debate. We all know sugar is worse for us than Darth Vader, so Diet Coke, with NO sugar, has to be better for us. However, we’ve also been told Diet Coke is packed full of chemicals like aspartame that do all sorts of awful stuff…which would then make Diet Coke worse for us than Jar Jar Binks, right?

What’s the truth? Does the lack of calories in Diet Coke help us? Do the chemicals and other additives make it a horrible beverage choice? I’ll tell you soon, after a word from our sponsors.

Just kidding, we don’t have any sponsors. Although I wrote about this subject six years ago, it’s time to revisit the topic: Is Diet Coke bad for us?

The answer is…maybe.

How to Make Curry Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This is a guest post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

How many times have you stood in the kitchen in front of a pile of ingredients and thought: “I have no idea what I’m doing”?

Believe it or not, I feel this way a lot. (Don’t tell Steve!) About 90% of the time, I eat the same meals over and over again: cans of tuna with smashed avocado, scrambled eggs and bacon, baked chicken breasts and broccoli, lettuce wrapped burgers and baked sweet potatoes, etc..

Unless I’m whipping up a new recipe for The Rebellion, I rarely try anything new. When I’m tired, cranky, and hungry, I don’t want to have to think too hard about where my next meal is coming from.

Sound familiar?

We’ve had a few requests from you awesome Rebels asking about adding Asian-inspired cuisine to your cooking repertoire. I have a feeling that a lot of us nerds are into Asian food — I know I am. But we don’t get to eat it often because it’s packed with sugary sauces, processed thickeners, and in general, stuff we know works against us in our quest to get strong and stay healthy.

So today, we’re going to try some Indian flavors.

Already Gave Up On Your Resolutions? Congratulations! Here’s Why.

Remember those resolutions you made last month?

Me neither. I’m sure you woke up, hungover on January 1st, with visions of yourself one year from now…a changed person. “This year, things are going to be different!…”:

  • I’m going to floss every day!
  • I’m going to exercise 5 days a week!
  • I’m going to eat better!
  • I’m going to play the piano more often!
  • I’m going to sleep more!

Here we are, 8 weeks after January 1st. So, how are those daily habits going? Which ones are you still on target with, and which ones have you already abandoned?

How to Make Friends as a Grown-Up

Note from Steve: This is a guest post from my good friend Lindsay Miller, who’s already written about how to deal with the anxiety involved in approaching people and how to be better at small talk.

Today we’re going to talk about the next step: making friends as a grownup! If you’re a shy nerd like me, it can take some real effort – which is why we asked Lindsay to give us her best tips on how to level up our social circle game – Take it away Lindsay!

Being a little kid was kind of the best, wasn’t it? Between mandatory nap time, pajamas as acceptable formal wear, and an abundance of chicken tenders, kids have a lifestyle that can only be called “ideal.”

But all that great stuff aside, there’s one aspect of childhood about which I’ve become even more nostalgic lately: making friends.

About a year ago, I moved to a new city where I knew approximately none people. This is the fourth time I’ve made such a move, but only the first where I didn’t have school or a job to provide scores of people who were contractually obligated to interact with me. Starting from scratch was a daunting prospect, but with a bit of inspiration from some wee humans, I figured out a few things along the way that helped me… and might help you, too.

Today we’re going to learn how to make friends like we did when we were little.

How do you level up from mere acquaintances to actual buddies?

There’s a lot that we big kids can learn from the smaller versions of ourselves, but let’s start with three main lessons:

Strength and Honor: Why a Strong Nerd is the Best Nerd

“Strength and Honor.”

Young or old, big or small, being strong is the best attribute you can give yourself. Just as Maximus Decimus Meridius tells his army in the movie, Gladiator, there’s a true sense of honor that comes with being strong.

It’s no surprise that six months later, when I was cut from the high school basketball team – mostly because I sucked, but also because I was weak – I signed up for a gym membership to get strong. Maximus taught me there was honor in strength, and I wanted it.

Thus began my torrid love affair with strength training. Here I am, twelve years later, more enamored with being strong than ever before.

Whether you’ve never done a push up or you live to deadlift, you plan on running a marathon, or you simply want to be a better parent to your kids, being strong is the best gift you can give yourself.

It needs to be part of your existence as a nerd, and I am going to tell you why.

There are no extra lives. Make this one count.

Lives Remaining: 0

Before I started Nerd Fitness, I worked for a company called Sixthman, which produces floating music festivals. Although I no longer work for them (and even have a full team here at Nerd Fitness now), I still attend one event every year without fail:

The Rock Boat, a floating music festival where you spend five days with music fans and 25+ bands.

It’s my one chance every year to truly disconnect, reflect, and embrace my love of music. While at sea, I received word that one of my former co-workers from Sixthman had passed away due to complications from surgery for lung cancer (despite never having smoked a cigarette in her life). Tiffany was only 31.

Here on Nerd Fitness, I often talk about how we don’t get to pick the “level of difficulty” we have to play on in the game of life. Some people get to play on “Easy” while others have to play on “Legendary.” Tiffany played on a level two steps above Legendary, forced to deal with a tremendous number of issues throughout her life, never once failing to sport a smile or positive attitude.

She simply played the hand she was dealt to the best of her ability, smiling ’til the very end. She never complained or asked “why?”

It broke my heart, and I am really going to miss her.

It’s a shame that it generally takes a tragedy to remind us how short and unexpected life can be, and that we need to enjoy every day. The stark realization is that in order to live our lives fully and happily, we have to remember we have no extra lives.

This is it.

Captain America Teaches Us Why Old School is the Best School

“New workout designed to target your stomach and obliques!”

“Revolutionary new supplement that speeds up fat loss!”

“The recent discovery about optimal performance scientists don’t want you to know!”

It seems every day, there’s a new workout plan, piece of equipment, or plan to get you more in shape than ever before. It usually involves BREAKTHROUGH technology, a scientific discovery, or patent pending workout strategy that is gripping the nation. These things make me laugh (and weep) for humanity.

It’s no wonder we act like cats chasing shiny objects, with our brains being subjected to this all day every day. These products and systems aren’t designed to actually get you healthy – they’re designed to target your insecurities and make the companies MORE money – until they create the next break-through to get you to spend more money.

Today I’m gonna share some harsh truths about the trend of mainstream modern fitness, and encourage you to see through the bullshit… and start thinking old school.

Here’s your soundtrack for the day (old school hip hop for the win).

It’s time to think more like Captain America, and less about what the latest and greatest is. (Yes, I see the humor in the fact that he was turned into Captain America with a super serum, but hear me out!)

It’s time to learn why Old School is the best school.

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