You did it.
First and foremost, congratulate yourself! DING! You’ve leveled up. Feel free to pat yourself on the back, post your message in the Woot Room, and look in the mirror with pride: you rescued the princess, defeated Ganon, saved Hyrule.
Now, once you reach this goal, you’re probably wondering what the next steps are. After all, this goal of yours was the ‘carrot on the end of the stick’ that was dangled in front of you for so long…you might not really know what’s next!
- “Do I keep trying to lose more weight?”
- “What if I’m at my goal weight and like how I look, what now?”
- “Do I just keep doing what I’m doing?”
Today I want to discuss what can do after reaching that first big milestone, how you can continue leveling up your life, and how you can keep going right.
But first, a cautionary tale...
Tony Stark and Iron Man
I want to share with you the story of a man I’ve come to know very well over the past six months:
Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man.
When we first meet Mr. Stark, he’s building his first Iron Man suit, then rebuilding and perfecting it, pushing himself to become better, stronger, and faster. He’s driven to succeed, and ultimately saves the world thanks to his hard work (and the genius of the Iron Man suit). The movie ends with Tony Stark telling the press, “I am Iron Man.”
In the second movie, Tony grows complacent. He’s on top of the world, loves his famous life as a superhero, and begins to slack on his training. He starts partying a bit too much, takes too many days off, stops practicing and honing his craft, and ultimately is almost wiped out by a newer, hungrier, more driven adversary.
Iron Man not your thing? How about Rocky III?
After winning the Championship from Apollo Creed in Rocky II, something he spent years and years training for, Rocky has done it; he’s becomes the world’s greatest (and most famous) boxer. Not surprisingly, as he starts to enjoy his newfound fame, Rocky abandons his training more and more because he thinks he’s the best, and takes on other boxers he’s almost assured to defeat.
Meanwhile, Rocky’s newest and worthiest adversary yet, Clubber Lang (played perfectly by Mr. T), is hungry for a shot at the title. He trains with passion, anger, and ambition. While Rocky continues to coast through easy matches, Clubber works his way up the ladder and finally gets a shot at Rocky.
Not surprisingly, the Champ, having grown complacent and refusing to challenge himself, gets his ass kicked.
In both instances, Tony Stark and Rocky lost their edge. They grew complacent from their achievements, rather than understanding that we’re all happier and better off when we’re in the process of achieving, not when we’ve achieved.
We need to stay hungry. We need the Eye of the Tiger!
The Eye of the Tiger
Fortunately for us moviegoers, both Tony and Rocky get hungry again:
Tony gets some sense knocked into him (literally) by his good friend, rebuilds himself and his suit to be better than ever, and once again saves the day!
Rocky enlists the help of his formal rival to go back to basics, gets the eye of the tiger back, and challenges himself harder than he’s ever pushed before. What results is one of the greatest montages ever (along with one of the most awkward slow motion beach hugs).
This probably won’t come as a surprise, but it’s much easier to push yourself when you’re working towards a goal than when you’re already at the goal.
Although Nerd Fitness has had some tremendous success stories over the years, the whole “before/after” thinking isn’t exactly accurate. Instead, you need to start thinking of these success stories as “Before/Now,” because we are never truly done. There’s always a bigger mountain to climb, another race to run, another dragon to slay.
This is why you need to stay hungry, to look at your new situation as a “now” stage, not an “after” stage.
This is why “level up your life” is so damn true for us:
We LOVE making progress — it’s no coincidence that our lives are full of experience bars, skill trees, and achievement systems.
We love making progress so much that we can actually enjoy it more than getting the thing we wanted in the first place! It doesn’t need to be big progress, it just needs to be enough that we realize we are moving forward, improving. It’s why we love crossing things off of lists, it’s why we love grinding out experience points to get to the next level in World of Warcraft, it’s why we play a game long after it’s ceased being enjoyable just to get that 100% completion trophy.
Improvement can be addictive. These short term wins release dopamine into our system, making us want more and more.
So, what does this mean for you? It means we need to make these addictions work in our favor when it comes to living a healthier life.
Take your new suit out for a spin
Imagine you are Tony Stark, and you’ve spent the past few months building and perfecting your new suit.
Do you leave the suit in its glass case and admire it from your couch?
HELL NO! You strap that suit on and find out what it’s capable of!
Take a few minutes and write down all of the things you can do (or try) now that you couldn’t do before:
- Run up a set of stairs? Sure, why not!
- Walk for hours at a time without getting tired? Awesome!
- Do a freaking pull up? BOOYAH!
Rather than keeping your focus on weight loss or just trying to maintain your weight, try shifting your focus to performance based goals. Working towards these new goals give you a new ‘mountain’ to climb and give you something to look forward to.
What sort of goals am I talking about? Allow me to explain!
- After Joe dropped 130 pounds in 10 months, he started working on pull ups, handstands, and running races.
- When Saint slayed the dragon Sixab, he found another dragon to slay.
- When Staci built the body she wanted, she started competing in Crossfit competitions.
- When Brownyn the Supermom lost over 40 pounds, she started competing in powerlifting competitions
“But Steve, I’m just interested in looking good and feeling better about myself.” Don’t forget, appearance is a consequence of fitness. By staying hungry and working on new TYPES of goals, your body will follow suit by continuing to look better and better, and you’ll feel stronger and stronger.
When you change your goals from visual (I want to lose more weight) to performance based, workouts and activities start to become more exciting:
- Instead of “I need to work out today,” it becomes: “I wonder if I’ll be able to pick up that weight that I couldn’t pick up last time”
- Instead of “I hope I’ve lost weight” it becomes: “I wonder if I can hold a handstand for longer than 30 seconds.”
- Instead of “I’m eating this to slim my waistline,” it becomes: “I’m eating this way to further my performance in [insert activity here].”
Here are my favorite ways to change to performance based goals:
Movement and Flexibility: I have fallen in love with gymnastics training over the past few months, learning from guys like Jim Bathurst, Ryan from Gold Medal Bodies, and Anthony Mychal. I’m working on handstands, strict muscle ups, front levers, planches, and more. Ever seen a gymnast that doesn’t look like a greek god? Nope, me neither. Remember: appearance is a consequence of fitness! Plus, with gymnastics, you get to learn some sweet party tricks!
Strength: Our bodies constantly adapt to the stresses we place upon them. For that reason, in order for us to get better and healthier, we need to get stronger. Work on getting stronger by taking your strength training to the next level: start reading more about proper strength training, learn olympic lifts, hire a coach, join a lifting club, or start competing. Whatever keeps you pushing to build a stronger body.
Speed: Maybe you enjoy running, and you incorporated running into your weight loss program. Maybe you ran your first 5k , and now you’re ready to kick things up a notch. Why not try to see how much faster you can run that race?
Sports: You’ve built this new body, why not pick up a new sport to try out your newly increased strength and agility? Try tennis, ultimate frisbee, or basketball! Who cares if you suck? That just means you have an even better chance of seeing progress more quickly.
Step outside of your comfort zone
Beyond these four new avenues, there are HUNDREDS of other things you can identify to level up your life further.
Try to learn a new skill. Once you’re athletic and have built an athletic body (or are on your way towards one), you can be prepared for everything and learn anything. There’s no reason you can’t learn a new skill or pick up a new class or try out something new, no matter your age.
You’re full of momentum and awesome, use your 20 seconds of courage and sign up for a new challenge:
Martial arts: tae kwon do or capoeria.
Dancing: swing dancing, ballroom dancing, breakdancing, salsa, or tango.
It’s amazing just how much further you can go, how much more confidence you can develop, and how much happier you can be when you are working towards accomplishing a specific goal that coincides with learning a new skill.
If you’re well on your way towards a leveled up life, how are you staying motivated after reaching your initial beginner goals? Your fellow Rebels would love to hear how you’re doing it!
I want Nerd Fitness to be the place where beginners can go when seeking advice to get started, but I also want to make sure our ‘graduated’ rebels have quality resources as well. Veteran Rebels: Are there any topics I haven’t covered yet that you’d like to see addressed?
So, let’s hear it!
Today’s Rebel Hero: Chris O from southern Georgia:
From Chris’s email: “Dude, I’m a Catholic priest. Now I don’t say that as a way to try and convert or push religion on you or whatever. Just want to let you know that your site is effecting all walks of life to live better. Just wanted to give you a heads up that you have had an effect in this priest’s life too. No pressure to use the split shot. Just sharing for fun. Sometimes when I go out running or work out, I feel like Kal-El; living on earth as Clark Kent and Superman. Both of them are him, yet not everyone sees that. I walk around doing my priest thing, and yet not everyone sees this other side of me desiring to be healthier and live better.”