“Dear Steve, I think my legs are dying and I can’t walk. HALP!”
Yesterday, or two days ago, you did a strenuous workout for the first time in your life (or for the first time in a while). You dutifully did your squats, push-ups, and rows (if you followed the Beginner Bodyweight workout), or you did some barbell squats or deadlifts or pull-ups. Or maybe you decided to run a 5k just for kicks.
And during the workout, you may have felt pretty good!
That was two days ago, though. When you woke up yesterday, every muscle in your body felt like it was hit by a mac-truck. “Welp, this sucks, but at least tomorrow things should be better,” you tell your brain.
And holy crap, it’s like your body forgot how to function. Maybe your arms are stuck in the permanent t-rex position. Perhaps your groin is tight in places you didn’t even realize you could be sore. Walking down stairs or doing anything active may feel like trying to play the QWOP game (please take 2 seconds to play this – it will be the hardest you’ve ever laughed).
So, what are you supposed to do:
If it’s been only a day, should you be worried?
Maybe it’s been two days and you are supposed to workout. Do you skip it?
You’re torn between sitting in an ice bath to numb the soreness or climbing into a hot tub until you resemble a prune.
Let me first introduce you to my obnoxious friend, DOMS.
I’ve been running this site, Nerd Fitness, for about seven years now. Before that, I trained in a gym for six years trying to get in the best shape possible. But I struggled. Struggled to make consistent progress. Struggled because it always seemed like three steps forward, 2.9 (or 3.1) steps backwards, month after month, year after year.
Two years ago, my mentality changed. I stopped asking “when will I arrive?” and instead realized that I will never actually get there.
With this mindset I created a new strategy, and today I stand (well, sit) before you a changed person – physically and mentally. I’m 20+ pounds (of muscle) heavier, stronger and more resilient than ever, and believe that every day is an opportunity to set a new personal best.
I did it by refusing to focus on the “end.” In other words, I stopped worrying about “before and after.” Instead I just focused finding goals and quests that excited me each day.
In fact, I hadn’t noticed just how much I had changed until I looked at a video from Nerd Fitness from three years ago that made my jaw drop (picture above). It really hit home when I went to get fitted for a tux two weeks ago and the guy taking my measurements said “well, this won’t fit right because you’re built like Captain America.”
Alarm bells went off in my brain: “HOLY CRAP. I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear somebody tell me that. And it happened after I FORGOT about this very goal.”
I don’t think that was a coincidence.
Here’s how I stopped worrying about my after and started living every day in the “during.”
One of my Epic Quest goals is to improve my cooking by trying to cook new things. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t your job is cooking… shouldn’t you already be great at it?” Well, sure, but even experienced cooks get stuck in food-ruts. And my friends, I am in deep.
So here’s one of my first food experiments for the year. It has something I love: the simplicity of three easy steps while appearing fancy at the end: red Thai curry (remember last time we experimented with curry?). If you’ve never been to a Thai restaurant and don’t know the difference between Thai and Indian curries, don’t worry. I didn’t until recently, but I’m in love with the coconutty richness of this dish and the number of different veggies included.
Thai curry has a different texture and flavor than Indian curry. What’s the difference? Thai curry using Thai spices tend to be a bit spicier, is coconut milk based, contains different veggies, and is more soupy than Indian curry.
Now that we have the general idea, let’s put it into practice!
This might look like a lot of a lot of ingredients, but all we’re really doing is mixing meat, veggies, and sauce. Honestly, making this curry is a lot like making Steve’s easy chicken stir fry, but you’re adding a little bit of sauce to the mix.
Here are the three steps:
Cook the meat
Cook the and flavor the veggies
Add the sauce
Think you can handle this? I sure do.
*Side note, this recipe makes a LOT of food. It’s great for feeding a family or friends or meal prep for the week. If you’re not into that, cut the recipe in half.
1lb protein(453g)– chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, or a combination of your favorites – slice the land animal(s) into thin strips. If you’re using shrimp, leave them whole – just wash and peel those guys. I’m using beef in my recipe because that’s what my heart wants. Always do what your heart tells you.
Plus, you’ll also want some fat to cook everything in: 1.5 tbsp (22mL) coconut or olive oil – separated into 1 tbsp and .5 tbsp
*Note: If washing and chopping feels like too much work, grab a couple bags of frozen stir fry veggies from the frozen aisle. It’s a little more expensive, but it takes less effort. Here’s what I used for the recipe below, but feel free to choose your veggies based on what you like!
2 bell peppers – your favorite color, cut into strips
1 head of broccoli – cut the florets smaller so that they cook more quickly like this – see regular sized florets in the background and (adorable) mini florets in the foreground:
1 handful of snow peas (for me, this is about 20) – not paleo, but I like the texture of snowpeas in stir fry. If you’re hardcore, omit them.
1 tomato cut into wedges and 1/2 a cucumber cut into medallions. You’ll want to add these in the last couple minutes of cooking so they don’t get mushy.
pineapple chunks, 2 cups (about 1 can or 473mL) with juice drained. I’m not going to make you cut a pineapple today, because if they’re not on sale at the store, they’re usually too expensive for me to consider buying. So, feel free to grab a can of pineapple chunks from the store. (That is, unless you want to serve your curry in half of a shelled out pineapple. Fancy pants.)
Add more paste to make it hotter, less to make it more mild. Thai restaurants usually offer measures of spiciness 1-5. One being the least spicy and 5 being the most spicy. 3 Tbsp red curry paste gets you to a level 1, so if you like it hotter, add more, use red chile flakes, or try some cayenne pepper.
Red Curry Paste might be the only ingredient you have a little trouble finding at the store. Look for it in the asian foods section (also where you’ll likely find your coconut milk). Thai Kitchen is the brand that I normally use as it has no weird ingredients, chemicals, or sugar (and for you vegetarians, this paste is vegan).
Other fancy options:
Fresh thai basil leaves – fancy! Tasty! You can find these in an Asian grocery store.
Red pepper flake or cayenne pepper – if you’re feeling devilish and like your food spicy
Rice or cauliflower rice to serve with the dish.
The instructions below are using the veggies I used above. If you selected different veggies, try to dice them up in a similar way and continue with the instructions!
Remember, all we’re really doing below is cutting and cooking the veggies and meat, cooking the sauce, and mixing everything together.
1. Dice your onion, peel and mince garlic cloves, (if you don’t know how to dice an onion, check out this link.)
For the garlic, remember the difference between cloves and bulbs? Cloves are the little guys inside the bulbs. To peel, smash the clove under the flat side of a knife and easily pull away the paper-like wrapping. Then cut the garlic super small.
2. Peel and chop your ginger. After last month’s recipe for Sesame Chicken Wings, a few of you lovely people pointed out that there’s a way easier method of peeling ginger, which is done with a spoon.
This is definitely the easiest way to do this. Check out a how-to video here:
You can either mince your ginger like we did for this recipe or shred it with a cheese grater. The difference between these two methods is in the texture of the ginger. If you shred it, it’ll incorporate straight into the sauce. If you mince it, you’ll get little bites of ginger while you’re eating.
If you do choose to shred it, be careful with your fingers and note that you’ll be holding onto a weird, stringy little stump when you’ve finished shredding. Just toss that bit. You don’t really want a knot of ginger fibers (or finger fibers) in your meal.
3. Wash and chop your veggies (if using fresh). Set aside. Refer to this article on how to chop your veggies.
If using snow peas, you don’t have to chop them, but do remember to remove the fibrous string located on the inside of the veggie (explained in the first 30 seconds of this video).
I separated my veggie ingredients into different bowls depending on which point in the recipe I use them. Onions, garlic, and ginger are all added to the pan in step 9, so they go together in one bowl.
All other veggies are used in step 10, so I kept these in a separate bowl for simplicity.
4. Slice your meat and/or peel, de-vein, and wash your shrimp. Thin slices are best for stir frying as they’ll cook faster.
5. Measure out all your other ingredients, open cans, etc. We do this ahead of time so that there’s nothing to distract you from *just* cooking.
More experienced cooks can measure and open containers while they’re cooking other stuff, but for those of you who are new to this, it’s best if you prep all your ingredients ahead of time. This cuts down the possibility of us burning stuff and making mistakes that can ruin our meal.
6. Heat up your skillet. This takes about 2 minutes depending on the size of your skillet and the thickness of the material it’s made from. You can tell if it’s warm by placing your hand about 6 inches above the center of the pan. If you can feel heat, the pan is ready. If the pan is so hot that it’s smoking, it’s too hot. Remove it from the heat for a couple minutes and try again.
7. Once it’s hot, put 1 Tbsp of oil in the middle of the pan and let it warm up. You’ll know the oil is warm when you can tilt the pan from side to side and the oil moves quickly in the direction you’re tilting. If you’re using coconut oil, it’ll melt from solid to a liquid form.
8. Once the oil is melted and warm, toss in your sliced up meats and sauté them until browned and just cooked through (about 10-15 minutes for beef, pork and chicken, 5 minutes for shrimp).
You’ll know the meat is done when it’s no longer pink. If you’re not sure, take out one of the bigger pieces of meat and cut it in half, if it’s done, it won’t be pink in the middle. If you’re cooking shrimp, however, you’ll want the shrimp to turn from grey (raw) to pink. Those suckers turn pink when they’re cooked.
Once it’s done cooking, dump the protein into a clean bowl. We’ll come back to it in a little bit.
9. Now keep your pan hot, add that last .5 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up.
10. Once the oil is warm, carefully add your red Thai curry paste to the pan. You don’t want it to drop into the oil as the hot oil can splash and burn you. The easiest way to do this is to use your mixing tool to transfer the curry into the oil and mix it around. Mix it for about 30 seconds.
11. Now toss your onions, garlic, and ginger in the pan. Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and coated in the curry paste.
12. Now add all your chopped veggies and pineapple and let them cook until they’re sort of soft (about 5-7 minutes).
13. Add your protein back into the pan and stir it around.
14. Now it’s time to make the sauce! Add your chicken broth and coconut milk to the pan, stir it together and bring to a simmering boil (about 5-7 minutes).
15. And you’re done! Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or just by itself in a bowl!
Complete a Cooking Quest
There you have it! A warm, spicy, comforting out-of-the-ordinary meal full of vegetable-y-goodness. That wasn’t so tough, was it?
Now, this is probably only my 3rd time making Thai curry; if you’re a seasoned pro, I’d love to hear your suggestions or recommendations on how to make this even better. And if one of your 4 week challenges involves getting more veggies into your diet or prepping your meals, this recipe might help you tackle that challenge!
How many of you have cooking-related epic quests?
What new recipes are you trying?
Do you have any recommendations or secret techniques you use to make your own Thai curry?
pineapple chunks, 2 cups (about 1 can or 473mL) with juice drained
3 tbsp (45mL) Thai red curry paste
2 cans (403mL x2) full fat coconut milk
1.5 cups (354mL) chicken broth
Dice your onion, peel and mince garlic cloves, peel and chop your ginger.
Wash and chop your veggies (if using fresh)
Slice your meat
Measure out all your other ingredients, open cans, etc. so that they're ready to use.
Heat up your skillet. Once it’s hot, put 1 Tbsp of oil in the middle of the pan and let it warm up.
toss in your sliced up meats and sauté them until browned and just cooked through (about 10-15 minutes for beef, pork and chicken, 5 minutes for shrimp). Once it’s done cooking, dump the protein into a clean bowl.
Now keep your pan hot, add that last .5 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up.
Once the oil is warm, carefully add your red Thai curry paste to the pan. Mix it for about 30 seconds.
Now toss your onions, garlic, and ginger in the pan. Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and coated in the curry paste.
Now add all your chopped veggies and pineapple and let them cook until they’re sort of soft (about 5-7 minutes).
Add your protein back into the pan and stir it around.
Add your chicken broth and coconut milk to the pan, stir it together and bring to a simmering boil (about 5-7 minutes).
And you’re done! Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or just by itself in a bowl!
Meet Jasper, a 30-year-old sports teacher (and basketball coach) living in the Netherlands. At the start of Jasper’s hero’s journey, he found himself in a place many Rebels can relate to:
Jasper wasn’t hundreds of pounds overweight, but he certainly wouldn’t describe himself as active or in shape.
He was just sort of… stuck. Stuck with a bad back from ignoring a problem for several years. Stuck avoiding everyday activities, and constantly making excuses. Stuck feeling lazy and never really knowing where to get the motivation or a plan to make a change.
And the most relatable part? He let one setback, one barrier in his life slowly become an excuse to live a sedentary existence. For Jasper, that was his back.
Everybody knew I had ‘a bad back’. I was in bad shape, because of my back. Coach, you want to play? Hmm… I’d better not. Carrying groceries? Careful! Run up the stairs? Better not! My best friend jokingly referred to me as an “old man.”
But enough was enough – after doing some research Jasper found the Nerd Fitness Academy, and was thrown into a pre-designed plan. He built momentum, found workouts he loved, and all of a sudden what seemed like an endless climb to the top of a mountain felt different. Instead he had the momentum he needed and found his groove, his path to a leveled up life.
Let’s hear from Jasper about how exactly he did it.
This is a post from NF Rebel Correspondent and Fatherhood Specialist, Dan.
Creating and shaping a little one’s life is full of wonder, amazement, joy and smells – a journey which is truly gratifying and unfortunately, bloody tiring.
Any parent will tell you that as soon as Player 2 or 3 enters the game, the sleep level difficulty instantly shifts from ‘tutorial’ to ‘expert’. It’s no surprise that you see new parents in the office stumbling around like zombies by the time 2 pm comes around.
New parents have to learn to function on much less sleep, which is why we’re going to delve into this topic a little further with some tips specifically for Rebels with young ones (but with some sleep tips applicable to everyone).
Let’s pick up the master controller to our slumber, and try to help all you struggling parents, shift workers, students, and Fallout 4 players.
Last week we shared a video on Facebook that created more excitement and controversy than anything we’ve ever posted:A video of Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars Ep VII) deadlifting with great form, 176 lbs/80 kilos:
This post exploded, with 1000+ likes and a few hundred comments. What we saw as the most “Nerd + Fitness” ever, combining two of our favorite things (Star Wars and Deadlifts), soon became a fascinating look into the psyche of society.
The wide reach of the post pulled in people outside of the Nerd Fitness community, and we ended up with responses that fell into a few distinct categories:
“Good for her! That’s awesome and it’s great to see a role model like that not afraid to strength train.”
“Hey I lift more than that, good for me!”
“Why are we celebrating mediocrity? She should be able to lift more than that. Anybody should.”
“That’s amazing and I hope I can get there some day.”
Obviously a HUGE majority of people fell into the first category, but a number of responses fell into categories 2, 3, 4. And that’s okay – we all have gut-reactions to things and it doesn’t make us bad people.
I bet you instantly had a reaction that fit into one of the above categories, good or bad. Let’s talk about these reactions, and challenge ourselves to fight back against them when they are counterproductive.
Almost six years ago I wrote an article called “Real-Life Role Playing: What is your Profession?” and then turned my life into a game, tracking my life quests with pen and paper (and text). I had so much fun, but I knew it was just the start. I had a dream that one day, you’d be able to log in to Nerd Fitness, create your character and your own Epic Quest list, check off those quests as you complete them, earn XP, level up, and share this profile with your friends.
We’ve been quietly (and furiously) working behind the scenes for the past year on this feature. You can now create a full Nerd Fitness Avatar and actually turn your life into an RPG! Now that my book Level Up Your Life is officially out nationwide, I’m so pumped that we can make this a big part of Nerd Fitness moving forward! This character is also going to tie into a big portion of the Nerd Fitness ecosystem over the next number of years.
Speaking of Level Up Your Life, if you’ve read the book, can you please go leave an honest review over on Amazon? More than ever these reviews can be the difference for somebody who isn’t familiar with Nerd Fitness or my writing! THANK YOU!
Note: This is a crazy, awesome, evolving platform; consider this current launch a version 1.0.
You are now free to level up your life! RIGHT NOW.
Today, right now, my first ever book, Level Up Your Life, is available online (at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and in bookstores throughout the United States. Like, right now.
While you’re reading this, I’m probably running through New York City bookstores (skipping and giggling like a five-year old schoolgirl) and signing as many copies as I can. I might also be crying because this is really surreal. You can follow the adventure over on my instagram.
If you’ve been a reader of Nerd Fitness in the past, I’m just going to come right out and say it: BUY THIS BOOK. I’ve dedicated the majority of my last two years to writing this for you! I’m so excited to be able to share a physical guide to leveling up your life that can sit on your bookshelf (or kindle) for you refer back to as you begin to make changes and move forward.
You will be impressed with the quality and content of the book, I promise. I was blown away when I opened the first copy from the publisher.
Now, if you’re new to Nerd Fitness, I want to explain why today is such a big day, and why this book is going to help you do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Eight years ago I walked into a bookstore during my lunch break on miserable day at my day job, and purchased a book that altered the path for my life (Thanks Tim Ferriss!).
Now it’s my turn to pass along that feeling. I wrote this book to be that same “call to action” to spark change in your life.
The concept of “20 seconds of courage” has become a rallying cry of sorts for our humble Rebellion over here: it’s an idea that you only need 20 seconds to get yourself to commit to something you want to do but you’re scared to try. You can be scared as hell before and after, so long as you focus having insane courage for just 20 seconds.
Three months ago, I watched 300 Rebels come to Camp Nerd Fitness, using 20 seconds of courage to travel (from all over the world) and sign up for new activities and classes. We attempted our first rolls in parkour, struck our first pose in a yoga class, tried sword fighting for the first time, and more. This 20 seconds of courage helps us to jump in and commit, before we can get scared and back out.
After all, when we’re trying to learn new stuff, it can be scary… we don’t want to mess up, we’re worried people are watching us, we think people might be making fun of us, etc. It’s easy to avoid trying new things, to stick with the stuff we’re good at and avoid potential embarrassment.
Not this year! Not here in The Rebellion.
Imagine you just rebuilt an old car. Sure it was broken down, beat up and out of shape, but you dutifully spent months working on it in the garage: installing a new engine, replacing a dented fender, and giving it a brand new shiny coat of paint. What’s the next step?
Leaving it in the garage so only you can look at it? Hell no! You get to fire that baby up and take it out on the open road. After all, what’s all the hard work for if you can’t take it out and do what it’s meant to do, right?
(See what I’m getting at yet?)
It’s time to stand proud and find out what we’re capable of. That’s why I’m laying down a challenge.
They’re about as useful as a flux capacitor on a car that can’t go 88 miles per hour (see what I did there?).
It’s that time of year again, and I want 2016 to be the year you actually accomplish stuff. Getting your first pull-up. Running your first 5k. Learning to play that piano that sits there unused. Taking that first trip overseas. And the way you’re going to do that is by saying no to resolutions.
Because New Year’s resolutions, as most people think of them, are hollow:
“I’m going to exercise every day.”
“I’m going to start flossing!”
“I’m going to eat better.”
Let’s be honest, we know these things aren’t going to become habit – we declare a random hodge podge of nebulous goals, and then we look back at year’s end and realize we never really got out of the starting gate.
Want to actually get stuff done? You don’t need resolutions.
Every time those words pop up on a screen, my spine tingles. Excitement swells in me as the text fades to a starlit sky.
That fraction of a second before the horns blare the Star Wars theme… my heart skips a beat.
And then it happens.
Trumpets blare andI’m instantly transported to another galaxy.
Any time I watched Star Wars as a kid, it was like hitting the pause button. The homework I had due or the big Little League game I lost disappeared. The complexities of junior high (and figuring out how to navigate awkward hormones) took a back seat. The acne and braces stopped feeling so overwhelming.
This past weekend, I was one of the millions who saw the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and life paused again. I was giddy through the entire movie. Several scenes filled my arms with goosebumps and I’m not afraid to admit I even teared up once or twice. Sitting there watching at 31 years old, I felt five again sitting on my living room floor. For a brief moment, nothing else mattered. I was on an adventure in galaxy far, far away.
Here’s the thing, though: my relationship with Star Wars is more than just a boyish crush. This saga has helped shape and mold the person I am today. It’s made me a better person.
When some people start eating healthier and eliminating junk from their diets, they miss things like pasta, bread, and cheese. Personally, I pine over Americanized Asian foods. Deep fried chicken smothered in sugary, sweet and sour sauces with mountains of rice and fluffy steam buns were staples of my childhood. My grandfather knew the owner of every Chinese restaurant in my home town because all he ate was Chinese food (sometimes he let us eat pizza).
Unfortunately, now that I know what goes into that kind of food, though delicious, it’s definitely not great for you. Even vegetable stir fries at Chinese restaurants are tossed in sauces that will crash your blood sugar and cooked in stuff you probably don’t want going into your body regularly.
So what’s an Asian food lover who also loves feeling well to do?
Americanized Chinese food is a tough thing to master without those mystery oils and sugary sauces, but we do our best. Here’s a healthy recipe that takes about an hour, has only 6 ingredients, and might just satisfy your craving for a vinegary, spicy Asian dish.
We started in our small corner of the internet, quietly exchanging messages, trying to figure out how to get healthy on our own.
In this humble HQ, our Rebels began to stir. Our forces grew. A Rebel Army formed.
Now, everything is about to change. And yes, obviously I’m partly talking about the impending release of the new Star Wars film.
But maybe more importantly (gasp), the Rebellion’s time to strike has come. Our team has been furiously working behind the scenes to prepare a multi-stage battle plan to strike at the heart of the Empire.
Weird, I know. A majority of people who stumble across this site through Google come from our article, “The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet,” which has been viewed millions of times and shared 40,000+ times on social media. Actually, other than a 30-day full Paleo experiment years ago, I’ve never been 100% full-Paleo.
“But Steve! You run Nerd Fitness! Isn’t this a Paleo Site? You even have a (now free) Paleo iPhone app! You are living a lie! You eat food that is poison. Shame! Loud noises!”
I see you yelling at your computer right now, and it makes me chuckle (like an evil villain).
Here’s the truth: I might not follow the Paleo Diet religiously like many do, but I do follow a “Paleo-ish diet.” I’m healthy, stronger than ever, and found a healthy balanced relationship with food that works for me. I bet it would work for you too.
Time to go ALL IN on moderation! SUPER MODERATION! Radical moderation!
Your name is Megan. Or Paul. Or Peggy. Or Michael.
You’re twentysomething. Or thirtysomething. And you’re tired. Tired of another month of looking in the mirror and being unhappy. Tired of another night where you feel exhausted yet wonder why you couldn’t get more done. Tired of getting burned by another weight loss scheme your friend told you about. It was wraps this time, or weight loss pills, or the ab coaster. It doesn’t matter. None of them have worked, and you’re just freaking tired of it all. You just want to smile and feel good about yourself, and that hasn’t happened since you were younger.
But there’s a teeny tiny part of you that doesn’t want to give up yet.
After all, why keep trying new schemes unless a part of you still believes you have a chance to turn things around? Finally, you let go of the idea that losing weight and feeling good about yourself is found in a pill or bottle, or in five minutes a day on a machine.
So you forget everything you’ve heard, and you just go for a walk.
You figure that if Frodo can walk to Mordor, you can at least walk around the block. You strap on your old sneakers that don’t get much use anymore, zip up your hoodie, and put one foot in front of the other. You make it approximately twenty feet before you start to breathe heavily, and you curse yourself for living at the bottom of a hill. But you make it a whole half mile out, and a half mile back. “That wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” you tell yourself. Maybe you can do it again tomorrow.