Steve Says Relax

This whole “diet and exercise” thing can be stressful, even panic-inducing.  This poor lego above couldn’t decide which health and fitness sources to trust, and unfortunately, went a bit crazy. 

However, have no fear, my dear Rebel!  

Today we’re going to learn one simple technique to break through the clutter and chaos and finally start leveling up your life.

Now, I get why people go crazy and freak out; there is so much conflicting information out there:

  • You can find scientific studies that prove or disprove practically anything.
  • You’ll find millions and millions of websites that promise you their eating plan/workout plan is the only path to success.
  • You could read two ‘health’ books that both have hundreds of success stories with completely conflicting ideologies.

Diet information can be horrifying:

  • Some people follow the Paleo Diet religiously, while others are believe that if they can’t eat 100% Paleo, they shouldn’t even bother.
  • Some people only eat plants and are terrified of meat after reading the headlines like these.
  • Some people eat low carb diets, others eat low fat diets.
  • Some people eat once a day, others eat every three hours like clockwork.

And then when it comes to working out? Forget about it! 

  • “Is working out in the morning better than the afternoon?”
  • “Is it better to do three sets of five reps, or five sets of three?”
  • “Should I do a circuit or one exercise at a time?”
  • “Should I stretch on off days, run, or work out more?”
  • “How much protein exactly do I need to eat after strength training?”

All of these questions, uncertainties, and anxieties are enough to drive a sane man crazy – I’d know.

Luckily for you, Nerd Fitness is here to provide you with the answers.

For starters, there’s one single thing you can do that will answer all of these questions at once…



Do these rocks look stressed!? Of course not – they aren’t worried about their meal timing or workout splits.

Here’s the truth: There is no universal plan that works best for everybody.  Any person or site that tells you otherwise is lying.

We are all unique snowflakes (your mom was right!), so don’t panic when somebody is training, eating, or living differently than you.  They’re doing what works best for them, and you need to do what’s best for you.

Want to know something else? How you train and eat today will probably be drastically different from how you train six months or a year from now.

Researching the specifics of a workout or the exact specifications of your diet are irrelevant if you spend all day collecting underpants and never get started.

So do this instead:

  • Stop reading so many damn fitness sites.  Pick one or two that resonate with you (hopefully it’s Nerd Fitness), and stop confusing yourself.
  • Pick a simple workout. Like this one.  Or one of these workouts.
  • Pick diet advice that resonates with you, advice you can actually follow. Like maybe this advice.  Or slowly transition like this.
  • See how your body adjusts over time.  Take pictures and measurements.  Make adjustments along the way as you get better educated and see how your body reacts.

And stop panicking so much!

  • If you can’t eat 100% Paleo, that’s fine! Start with 10% Paleo by making ONE change this week.
  • If you don’t have time to work out for an hour a day, that’s fine. Start with a 20 minute workout (and I know you have that).
  • If you can’t afford grass-fed beef and organic vegetables, that’s fine!  Eat the best vegetables you can afford, and the best cuts of meat you can find.  It’s certainly better than McDonald’s.
  • If you don’t want to give up bread and pasta, that’s fine!  Just work on eating a little bit less for now.

We’re all students, and we’re all learning every day, so stop being worried about being perfect; be okay with only having 80% of the information, or doing the best workout you know of.

Want to know what’s really important?


starting line

Our time on this planet is too damn short to agonize over minuscule decisions.

Unfortunately, life has a 100% death rate.

So do the best you can, with what you have, where you are:

  • Eat the best foods you can as often as possible.
  • Eat food you love (that’s not good for you) occasionally.
  • Allow yourself to let loose sometimes.
  • Exercise as often as possible, even if it’s just for five minutes.
  • Work on making better decisions with each new day.

Want to know the best workout plan? It isn’t the perfect plan that you never do; it’s the ‘pretty good’ plan that you do consistently.

Stevie says relax! It’s going to be okay.

It will never be perfect, so let yourself off the hook and get started.

What tiny detail or problem used to freak you out? How did you let yourself off the hook?

What are you still confused about? How can I help?


blamedcatTODAY’S REBEL HERO: BlamedCat, from the NF Message Boards, rocking his Superhero NF t-shirt, back down into XL clothing for the first time in a long time!

Congrats BlamedCat! 

True story: After taking this photo, BlamedCat stopped a bank robbery single-handedly, bench-pressed a Mini Cooper for fun, only before rescuing orphaned puppies from a burning building.  I won’t tell you the shirt was the cause of his superhuman abilities, but seems like  a funny coincidence…don’t you think?

Want to be the next Rebel Hero?  Take a photo of you doing something epic in your Nerd Fitness Battle Gear and email us at so we can feature you on the site!


photo:  crazy lego, rocks, starting line

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  • Lifefitnesskiss

    Paralysis by analysis – stop thinking so much and act instead.

  • Nixerific

    This was just what I needed.  Thank you!

  • Lifefitnesskiss

     And forgot to say. Very well written!

  • neureaucrat

    I think this is the most important anyone interested in getting into or staying in shape can learn. Many times I’ve read myself out of the gym, healthy eating habits, and a healthy lifestyle. $1 is not good as $100 but it’s infinitely better than zero. The same logic applies to exercise and eating right. Get started, do what you can when you can, find your passion, and the rest falls into place as the months and years go by. I’m in the best shape of my life at 33 and it didn’t come from fad diets or overthinking the minutae and buying into the endless pseudoscience from the millions of “internet experts”. If you HAVE to focus on something, read up on form. Bad form is the only thing that can really harm you if you’re not informed. And even there, use common sense and just get lifting!

  • Andy Fossett

    The best workout is the one you will actually do. 

    The same thing goes for your diet and anything else you may be wondering about. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough. We all have to start somewhere and make choices about our priorities, so there’s no point in comparing ourselves with others or getting stressed about it. 

    Moving your body and doing things for your health can be a joy if you relax and have fun with it.

  • Devon

    Very important post and has come at a very good time for me, thank you 🙂

  • Steve

    A lot of people (myself included) end up spending so much time researching the absolute best way to do it, that we end up doing nothing at all.  To “relax” is awesome advice

  • echoesofwonder

    This is what I love about the NF website.  It seems that Steve has written everything I have wondered about.  He doesn’t just spew information, he explains it.  I am only very new to my journey, and have literally freaked out every day for the past couple of weeks. 

    I realized that I was focusing on the “I can’ts”.  I honestly cannot do a body weight squat without falling over.  So I wonder if there are any alternatives?

    I have seen on other forums where people say that they cannot do a body weight squat, and they get beaten up over it.  I know my form is good, I just can’t get lower.  My back is straight, my feet are shoulder width apart, my knees aren’t in an awkward position.  Is there something I can do to work up to a squat?  I know that might sound ridiculous, but at least I am trying right?

    Paleo scared the heck out of me, but Steve made it sound pretty easy, so I figured I would jump on board.  I am currently in the process of overhauling dinners only.  Sometimes this has the added advantage of being my lunch the next day, so I don’t fret about the days that I cannot use left overs.
    I use so I can just print out my list Paleo for 2 (smallest one) and go shopping off of the list.  It thinks for me, so I don’t have to (as much).  If i don’t like one of the meals, I will make something I know I do like.  That simple! 

    So, some of the “I can’ts” have become, “I’ll find an alternative until I can” an “I got this!”.

  • Adam Burgess

    Great Post Steve.  It’s funny how we all tend to get legalistic and think we need to be perfect whenever we get into something – be it fitness or a skill or whatever.  I appreciate your perspective and the fact that you give yourself and others grace.  It’s ok to not be perfect, just get moving and don’t forget to have a sense of humor about the whole thing

  • Jimian

    So true…I cut through all the clutter and used a heart rate watch and MOVE…blows it all out the door

  • MD

    Very true. Instead of stressing about eating well all of the time, I set challenges for myself. This week is the 7-day Paleo challenge. Next week, I might just be more liberal with my eating. Who knows? 

    I do my best to avoid the long debates about food. Are beans good or bad? I enjoy them and you don’t have to.

    Hell, even if you do a few pushups today before dinner, you’ll be ahead of your buddies that debated workout techniques and did nothing.

  • Paul White

     Don’t be afraid of some forward lean; I’ve got a long torso (6′, with 25″ inseams) and there’s literally no way for me to keep my balance without forward lean. It’s a line to walk; you don’t want to turn it into a squat-good morning hybrid.

    You might also try elevating the heels slightly.

  • Paul White

    Linked this on my facebook…it’s a good post.  Do something physical. Avoid pure crap most of the time. That’s a damn good start!

  • Paul White

     also: don’t be afraid to experiment with stance. try wider and narrower stances, and try turning your feet out a bit in each stance. 

  • Jennifer Ugarte

    Good stuff Steve! Specially for me cause i am one of those that thinks too damn much! My current dilemma  How do i know when too much food is really too much and not be freaking out. Sounds dumb.. i should be able to tell myself, i mean, it’s my own body! But i feel i tend to think more is… more, so i think i end up eating more than i have to. Should i stop when i’m not hungry anymore or when i’m full? I think me worrying about it might be making be full before i really am. I definitely don’t want to over eat! I am Paleo though, and i love it.

  • Pmc9119

    Thank heavens … Today I hit a wall and would have killed for macaroni and cheese. Three weeks into modified paleo, grain free, dairy free eating plan, I thought my goose was cooked. I decided to splurge on a Quinoa Bite with a schmidge of Monterey Jack. Who ever imagined that quinoa would be a walk on the wild side splurge? Thanks for the “just chill” message. I know that each healthy and/or healthier choice I make is a step in the right direction. And as we like to say, progress not perfection. You rock.

  • Ted Campbell

    needed this today (sounds like a lot of us did). I’ve had a pretty consistent HIIT and bodyweight workout schedule for the last 3+ years, combined with a veggie-heavy pescetarian diet, which has kept me in pretty good shape. 

    Problem is, i was also SMOKING a pack of cigarettes a day – up until 2 weeks ago. Since then, I’ve leveled up my workouts, but my weight will fluctuate up (or down) 3.5 lbs on a DAILY basis!!Yeah, i’ve got an unhealthy life-long relationship with that number on the scale (see: *checks weight every day*, above), but i’m giving my workouts my all, and bracing for / ACCEPTING the change, no matter what it is, secure in the knowledge that just about anything is better than sucking all that smoke into my lungs…

    thanks for the reminder, Steve.

  • Scb

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, relax and results will happen, as long as you do something, it’ll always be better than nothing!

  • Jennifer Elder

    I was just in the middle of having a mental melt-down from overloading my brain with information….should I read this book on fitness first or this one, or these five…..should I focus on body weight exercises, strength and conditioning or going to the gym…..AND THEN miraculously out of now where I see “Steve Says To Relax”.  Thank goodness!  
    Thank you for this post.  Staying relaxed and keeping things simple are some things I have been trying really hard to work on lately.  It’s hard and I really appreciate the reminder.

  • echoesofwonder

    I tried the wider stance, and it really worked out for me.  I feel like I am breaking “rules” when I do it though.  🙂

  • Suzzi

    This comment is soooooooo true. Recently I started a new job, away from my usual gym and I wondered how the heck I was going to meet my usual shedule – you know what, it doesn’t matter as long as you do it in some shape or form. Great article!
    “Here’s the truth: There is no universal plan that works best for everybody”

  • Paul White

     don’t be. Plenty of good powerlifters squat wide (and a fair number squat narrow too!). It’s about what form fits your levers and sizes. 

  • Lori Kasbeer

    Thank you. I loved the “Allow yourself to let loose sometimes.” comment…. I was beating myself up for having a glass of wine while reading this, but it is my only one this week.  Thank you for the encouragement to keep going. Running a 5K this weekend. May be the slowest one to finish, but I WILL finish.

  • Sally

    Thank you, perfect reading for a Friday. 

  • D_chelyst

    Have you tried a food diary?  My problem is perhaps the opposite, making sure that I’ve eaten enough.  I use myfitnesspal every day to keep track of what I’m eating, but I know there are other free sites out there.  Just don’t stress if one day you eat more or less than whatever your goals are.

  • Emissary2Ornj

    Wow, did this ever come at a good time.

    I’ve spent the last 2 weeks rehabilitating a low back/SI-joint injury, just when I was set to level up in the Rebel Fitness Guide. Even though I’ve adapted and not given up yet, I’m frustrated and down and starting to feel a little over whelmed. This article’s message is pretty much what I’ve been trying to tell myself the past few days… but it’s great to have reinforcement from an outside source – especially when it’s the rebellion’s leader doing the reinforcing!

    So – thanks, Steve. I’ll hang on a bit longer and try to remember it’s okay if this journey takes a while. I’m still on the path! It’s _my_ path, it won’t look like anybody else’s path. As long as I make it farther today than yesterday, and farther tomorrow than today, I’ll reach my destination, right?

  • Tash – New Zealand

    Quite possibly the best fitness article I have read yet – and I’ve read a lot! All of which have led to confusion and obsession. Well written Steve, it was just what we all needed to hear and so on the mark

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  • Michael

    Hi Ted,

    May I make a suggestion? I know it’s tough, but don’t bother looking at the scale everyday. If you can help it, check your weight once a week. I know it’s tempting to see where you’re at every morning, but unless you’re on the Krispy Kreme diet, your weight isn’t going to shoot up out of nowhere.

    I used to obsess about the scale too, but once I made this small change I noticed a significant impact on my stress levels and overall anxiety in daily life. In the same vein, I make a conscious effort to NOT check my watch so often, especially when I’m not in a particular hurry, or when I can’t control my speed anyway (public transportation, etc.)- I think it’s part of a general hakuna matata outlook.

    Congratulations on quitting smoking!

  • Melaynah

    Had to echo the others on this thread: This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve been reading all I can get my hands on, and finding so much conflicting material, that while I’ve been maintaining momentum, I’ve been growing increasingly anxious over whether I was doing everything “right”. Thanks for the reminder that this is a journey for each of us, and everyone’s path is going to be at least a little different. I need to quit comparing and analyzing, keep working, and I’ll get there in the end, too. Thanks, Steve! I’mma go chill out (with some deadlifts!).

  • Jennifer Ugarte

    Thanks D, i appreciate your comment!! I’ll stay calm 🙂 I used to log my every bite, a little obsessively, so i had to stop. I just want to listen to my body, but i know some emotional component is a part of my issue. I feel pretty full fast, before i have eaten enough (i’m 5’7″, medium build. Not the largest girl, but i’m not petite. I also crossfit 3 to 4 days a week, ride my bike on the weekend or go for a walk), so i just finish off my serving, cause i don’t want to starve myself. Then i feel a little too full and then is when i get nervous that i’m overeating. I’m going to start working on being more mindful, and serve myself according to Whole30 standards and go from there. Maybe i’m not even overeating and it’s my freak outs that makes me feel i do!

  • Angie Reyes

    I loved this! It’s so true. Thanks. One of the reasons I don’t share my weight stories with friends. They all have the right diet for me.

  • Alisha john


  • Eliza Samphire

    Why would eating past the point of satisfaction be better than stopping when you are no longer hungry?

  • Shannon Weiss Ellis

    Love this!

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  • AC

    You’re such a beast. Well said.

  • Hassan

    “Ultimate Fat Loss Program” is the most overused term in the fitness industry and honestly, I’m sick of it. No program is the “ultimate weight loss program”…it MUST fit your lifestyle. Folks need to understand that “six pack in six weeks” is a selling pitch and it takes hard word and persistence to get to the “ultimate physique”….enjoy the journey!

  • MIchelle

    This is so true! I have read all sorts of diets and fitness stuff and they all contradict each other, yet they all work for a lot of people. Just find the one that you think you can follow the best, and realize that it will never be “perfect”

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  • smoothskinfitness

    completely agree with this and what works for one my not work for another

  • smoothskinfitness

    Totally agree

  • Lorissa

    Ted that is very cool. I have done the opposite…quit the smoking first, and hoping now to level up in the other areas I need to. I quit on Valentine’s Day…so about a month and a half ago. You can do this!!! Take every day as a new start, and even if you slip up, don’t back slide!

  • Insanity Jane

    Great message! Great delivery! This might be my new favorite website!

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  • Sam

    Lots of good points in this post. I think the biggest take home is not to let perfectionism get in your way. Or as Lifefitnesskiss puts it stop thinking so much and act instead.

    There are indeed a lot of fitness programs out there and the philosophy around fitness seems to be evolving. I’m come across some interesting new ways of thinking (eg that have really changed my exercise routines and diet. As embarassing as it is to admit this now, for years I did long slow cardio (running 3 – 6 miles), my resistance training was on machines and I ate a low fat diet.

    These days I get much better results in a shorter time using short, high intensity workout, often bodyweight with a lot of different moves in three dimensions and using free weights when I life. And I so much more enjoy the paleo style of eating, with some intermittent fasting thrown in.

    One point of that story is that even though I now consider my old routine poorly concieved it was still way better than doing nothing.

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  • danny

    Our whole lives society trains us to expect life to be perfect and that “something is wrong” when it isn’t.
    That gives us a sense of general failure as we grow up, go through life and discover more and more imperfections and instances of “things not going how I wanted”.
    So it’s healthier to change our mindsets from “why can’t it all just be perfect?” To “life isn’t perfect. Let’s change what we can and not worry about anything beyond that because not everything can go our way.”

  • จรัญ จอมวงศ์

    it’s hard to do this but i will fight !! thank you