Nerd Fitness » Blog Level up your life, every single day. Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:50:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Learn How an Office Worker Lost 100+ Lbs, Saved His Own Life, and Became a Superhero Mon, 28 Sep 2015 14:24:38 +0000 Meet Mike, or Dilnad as he’s known around the forums. Mike has one of the best transformations I’ve seen. Not only has he completely transformed his life and his body, but more than that he’s transformed his outlook on life. If you are a Nerd Fitness Academy member and community member, you know “Dilnad.” He’s one of the most active and supportive Rebels, and we’re lucky to have him on our team as we battle against the forces of the Empire.

Mike is a Software Quality Assurance Specialist. That mean’s he’s a nerd (and proud of it) who tests software used in tax preparation.

If you feel like you go to work day in and day out, stuck in a cycle of unhealthy behavior, Mike’s story is for you. Here’s how he describes his old self:

“I would go to work, stop at a store on the way home for food and snacks. Watch TV, stuff my face, pass out on sofa, wake up, snack, sleep, shower, work, rinse and repeat. I really didn’t care about much of anything – life was something to be endured.”

I love Mike’s story. He transformed physically, but his mental transformation was nothing short of amazing: he went from not giving a shit about much of anything to loving life more than…well, life itself!

Mike’s story jumped out at me for a few reasons:

  • He tried multiple forms of exercise before finding the right thing for him.
  • When Mike decided it was time for a change, he realized he didn’t know a lot about how to get healthy. But that didn’t stop him – he started doing SOMETHING immediately, and learned as he went.
  • Even though he was losing some weight initially, he realized there was a more complete picture to health. After discovering Nerd Fitness and The Academy, he changed up his diet and incorporated a full exercise picture – things really began to improve.
  • Bonus: Mike can rattle off all 50 states in alphabetical order from memory. What a nerd!

Today, Mike’s in the best shape of his life, a positive influence to everybody in our community, and excited to meet the next challenge.

Desk jockeys, this one’s for you!

Mike in 2013: 326 pounds

mike - level 1

Here’s mike a few years ago in 2013. At 326 pounds, he decided that he finally had enough and needed to make a change. He realized he felt terrible, and one day decided to make a change. He didn’t know where to start, but he did know he wanted to live past age 50, and things weren’t looking good up to that point.

So what did he do? Because the Empire had its grips in him, he did what most people do, and started eating “low fat, heart healthy” meals. Fortunately, he ALSO started walking, and started TRYING to change his diet for the better. And that, while imperfect, was a hugely important start.

He wasn’t an underpants collector.

He wasn’t “working out;” he just made sure to walk 10,000 steps each day using a pedometer. He lost some weight, but noticed he still felt bad. And, to top it off, his health indicators were not improving.

As he explains:

My blood pressure was no better and my diabetes was only under control with medication. It was exciting to see some pounds drop off but rather unfulfilling and lacking in the pleasure of leveling up. Of course, at the time I didn’t know of this pleasure so I didn’t know what I was missing. it started purely about losing weight and hoping to live a little longer.

And so, he soon hit a wall – the weight loss stopped. As he started to investigate, a friend mentioned strength training. Soon he discovered Nerd fitness, read about the Paleo Diet, and that’s when he decided to level up his approach to getting healthy.

I found Staci’s article on a Google search and stayed up way too late reading the tabs I popped open, and it was GAME ON the very next day!

Mike: August 2014

Mike 08-17-2014Mike’s first “battle log” entry was in August of 2014. After making just a couple of entries, the idea of leveling up and becoming your own character hooked him. He quickly joined The Nerd Fitness Academy, and started with the Barbell Batallion. This was a big change, because prior to that he was working with machines (if you’ve been reading NF for a while, you know we are not fans of machines and expect them to rise up and revolt at any moment – okay not really).

One of Mike’s first steps when joining the Academy was running through the “nutrition module” in the Academy. After quickly devouring all of those lessons, he immediately started making changes. In fact, he went all in. He describes this change as primarily paleo, with plenty of Greek yogurt.

Mike 9-18-2014Mike also doesn’t do “cheat meals.” He knows he is consistent, so when he wants to eat or drink something that doesn’t fit, he just enjoys it and fits it into his diet plan:

I’m loose but consistent with my diet. If I have to eat something fried or the occasional cookie or diet soda, or even the much needed small glass of bourbon once every week or two, I just do it. No fears, no regrets. I’ve learned to make solid decisions for the lion’s share and it’s served me well.

One thing that struck a chord with me, hearing about Mike’s story, was his commitment. It’s often easy to make up excuses, telling ourselves we don’t have time or the money to get healthy. Mike realized he was telling himself those lies for years in half-assed attempts to get fit. I’m was very impressed to hear how he handled it:

Mike 2-18-2015

I was gearing up for a vacation the first week of September. I saved up 100 dollars over the course of months to go play Texas Hold’em at the casino during my vacation. I decided that if I was going to gamble, the Nerd Fitness Academy’s payout was much a bigger reward for the money risked so instead of playing poker, I invested in myself, joined the Academy, and actually WORKED OUT on vacation!!

Something special happens when we make a definitive financial commitment in ourselves – it becomes REAL: we tell ourselves “welp, if I spent the money I better follow through with my plan!”

Now, in addition to strength training, Mike tried several other forms of activities for his fun “training” (climbing, lifting, hiking, TRX), and ultimately found his favorite: running. He started to use strength training and Yoga to support his running.

Mike 8-17-2015He identified something to keep him motivated, and built his plan around that excitement, and now Mike crushes it in the running department. Go scouts!

Running is my passion and my joy.  Right now I’m focused on training for my first 10K race in October with plans on continuing my training for the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon in April. My strength training, diet, and yoga are all support activities to help me build and maintain the healthy runners body I strive for.

Mike’s Story

Mike 2013 to 2015

After 2+ years, there are a hundreds of different lessons learned and successes to impart on the next generation of rookies. So, let’s dive in and hear directly from Mike.

Steve: Thanks for being an inspiration to the entire Rebellion man. So tell me, what was the hardest change to make?

Adapting my diet while eating out. I go out to eat with people from work a lot and it’s hard for them to always accommodate me. I’ve learned to bring my little oil and vinegar containers and can always find at least a salad with some chicken in it somewhere (Hey, that’s what I eat now!).

Steve: It sounds like you built up some serious dedication. What would you say was the most important change you made that helped you succeed?

I built mental fortitude!! I’m kind of an injury magnet: Hamstring strain, shoulder injury, rib cage injury, knee(s) injury, another rib cage injury, knee surgery (non injury on this one but a setback still), knee injury. I play hard and, well, shit happens. It’s really hard to keep your diet up and keep fighting, but I’ve just learned to do it, unfortunately through practice. NEVER GIVE UP! Plus, making the comeback is awesome. You get to re-celebrate previous triumphs!! After hitting 5 miles again on my runs, all I could think was: WIN!

Steve: I think I need to write an article about that mindset, thanks for the idea my man! What about your diet? How did that change?

I jumped in hardcore and pretty much went strict paleo from day 1. No exceptions for a good couple of months. I decided I wanted to add yogurt into my breakfast due to the tons of protein and the beneficial probiotics. I have no problems with dairy, so it stuck. Plain Greek organic. Now, I’m on autopilot and my diet is no longer a chore…it’s just what I do – it’s part of how I live, and I allow myself some more latitude as needed. If I feel like eating a cheeseburger and fries, I eat a cheeseburger and fries. It doesn’t happen all that often because it’s really just not what I eat anymore. I make the good decision most of the time and it has worked flawlessly for me. It’s possible, although I can’t confirm it, that I’ve sipped a shot or two (literally that little and infrequently) of bourbon on the occasional weekend throughout the entire process.

Steve: Ha! Good for you man. We’re okay with drinking in moderation but know it can lead to many problems too, so good on ya. What about before you found Nerd Fitness?

Pre-Nerd Fitness, I had a sad attempt at a good diet. “Lean” meats like deep fried chicken fingers (heh). Take out Chinese food. Thin crust pizza. I had basically given up cheeseburgers and thick crust pizza, but other than that I didn’t do much different.

Steve: Wow, so tell me about tracking. Did you take measurements often?

Honestly, I don’t track my food (aside from the Academy quest at the start). That’s my favorite thing about my eating strategy. As for my body measurements and weight, I have every single one of them (except the one weekend I was on vacation) detailed in my Academy Battle Log thread as well as every single workout (including every mile I’ve run, to Mordor of course). I’ve now taken to documenting it on my blog.

Steve: What about your support system? Were you an army of one or did you have a jedi council of support?

Mike 1 Year Side

I have a small cheering squad at work. A great boss (very tolerant of my workout and physical therapy schedules), a couple of weight lifting and running guys, and a woman who’s in my corner, a fantastic listener and my greatest cheerleader!

I have a group of runners from my local run club who are always willing to share knowledge. The Academy forums have been my lifeline and my place for accountability. I’ve also become involved in a WhatsApp group that spawned from the Academy. This is a group of folks I’ve become really attached to. We laugh and joke, and help each other through life!

Some wonderful friendships have been forged there. Finally, I can’t leave out Kent, the owner of my local gym. He has been a coach and a friend for a year now. Helped me with my form on EVERYTHING. I hope he doesn’t read this and find out I’d gladly have paid him double.

Steve: Thanks for sharing that Mike – we’re of the same mind that who you surround yourself with and how you spend your time is a big influence on the results you can expect. Now, what would you tell somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?

I always tell them it only takes a leap of faith for a couple of weeks, go for it, and see what kind of changes result! But give it a FULL-EFFORT chance. Those changes will provide you the fuel to push for more changes and then it becomes a perpetual snowball effect. Good stuff! Just give me 2 lousy weeks!!

Steve: What else, besides your physical appearance has changed?

My confidence!! I actually have some. I walk tall and proud.

Steve: And finally, the important stuff, Nerd Cred: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

Star Wars any day, all day, even Jar-Jar and Ewoks (My cred just dropped)

Steve: Favorite video game of all time?

Do you even have to ask? …. Obviously, Super Mario World!!

Steve: Quote to live by?

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
— Henry Ford

Why was Mike successful?

Mike 1yearPic

Millions of Americans are now where Mike was in 2013: unhappy, unhealthy, and stuck. But, it looks like Mike found out how to be the healthy 1% and change his life.

Here’s a quick recap of how Mike did it:

Mike didn’t collect underpants. No, not literal underpants (well, maybe, I have no clue). Mike didn’t collect metaphorical underpants. Instead of waiting around, reading for hours, days, weeks, or months, he got started immediately. His diet wasn’t perfect, his workouts were poor, but he started. And maybe most of all, he started walking. Every day.

Mike didn’t wait for the perfect workout or diet plan to come along, but knew he had to dive in, learn as he went, and make changes when he could. Today, everything looks pretty darn good to me: A workout he loves, and a nutrition style that he finds effortless, rewarding, and flexible.

Mike didn’t give up: Mike has had several injuries and setbacks. And hey, it’s easy to fall off the wagon, when life throws a banana in your path. Instead, Mike has set goals, and uses each setback as a new challenge. He loves coming back from an injury, because it gives him a chance to re-achieve milestones and gain back the level he lost.

We can choose to deal with setbacks in many ways. We can decide to use a challenge as an excuse to quit, or we can find a way to view the positive side of it – to use it as inspiration and a positive momentum builder.

Mike is a huge part of the community: If you’ve spent time around the Men’s Academy, you know Dilnad. Mike is one of the most active members we have, and used that activity to keep him thinking and being healthy. As you heard, Mike used the Academy and other resources at his disposal to create a group of incredible supportive people. They message each other regularly, share victories and setbacks, and use each other to support one another… not unlike a party in an rpg. Who’s on your team?

Mike changed his diet, and leaned on his habits: If you’ve been following along, you know that every success story includes some major dietary changes. Mike knew how important diet was, and made a serious commitment early in his journey. His advice for others? Pointing out the “snowball effect” of habits. And that’s a great way to think about it: In the beginning, the snowball has a hard time building up.

But the larger it gets, the larger the surface area and the faster it grows. That’s also how habits work: in the beginning it’s hard, but if you stick with it, not only does progress get easier, but it becomes nearly effortless to maintain the new changes after they’ve been established as a habit. Make your new dietary changes a habit, and every day of your journey doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle.

Mike started to save his own life. Now he does it for joy: Mike’s motivation was to avoid an early grave. But today, Mike has built intrinsic motivation around exercise. He writes:

“I no longer do fitness to lose weight. I’m a runner who strength trains. I do it for joy! JACKPOT!”

Find an exercise you love, and discover that getting healthy can be fun.

He kept track of his workouts: In order to get excited for the next workout, you need to see yourself making progress. And you can’t make progress if you don’t know where you came from. That’s why tracking your workouts and knowing what you need to improve is so important. Mike tracked nearly every workout, and made sure he had the accountability from his support team to make progress. He made detailed public logs, and even started his own blog to keep his commitment.

If you want to level up your character, you have to be able to visualize progress – visualize an experience bar moving forward. That’s why tracking is so important. Imagine an RPG without an experience bar. Suddenly, at some point, you just level up. Makes grinding for hours a little less fun, right?

Be like Mike

Mike Climbing

Mike cracked the code, but you can too.

Put a focus on your diet, develop structures in your life to keep you accountable, understand habits, and find a workout you love.

If you’re sitting in an office and looking to change, look at Mike: It CAN be done! Best of all, you don’t need to work harder. You don’t need to starve yourself, or spend hours on a treadmill.

Instead, you need to work smarter. Understand how your body and brain work, and implement changes that you know will stick. No 30 day diets. No cleanses or detoxes. Real changes that will get you healthy.

And most of all, start today. You may not know the exact changes you need to implement, but you need to pair action with learning. Start walking every day, like Mike. Learn and improve as you go. I promise you, in two years, you won’t recognize your old habits.

Mike, thanks for being awesome, and an inspiration to all of us.

Questions or words of encouragement for Mike? Leave it in the comments!


PS: I’m proud to share that Mike is a big success story from the Nerd Fitness Academy our online course complete with workout plans, diet strategies, recipes, mindset discussions, and a leveling system that allows you to complete quests, earn experience points, and level up.

If you feel like Mike back in 2013, I’d be honored if you’d check out the NF Academy – it comes with a 100% money back guarantee and has helped thousands and thousands of people level up their lives…literally!

PPS: The whole Nerd Fitness team and I (and 300 NF Rebels) are down at Camp Nerd Fitness this week, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you want to follow along with the adventure :). This will be the only article this week!


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How to Make a Chili Stuffed Sweet Potato Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:45:31 +0000 This is an article from Nerd Fitness Rebel Chef Noel Fernando

Imagine sitting around a camp fire on a clear desert night. Decked out in ponchos, boots, and 10 gallon hats, you and your posse settle down for a hot meal after a long day of ropin’ and ridin’ and roughhousin’ with outlaws. The Waco Kid lazily strums a guitar while you stir up a steaming cauldron of chili.

Life in the Wild West might be long gone… the closest you can get to this scene is a few nights of camping. But for now, let’s dress in cowboy hats and get down on some Texas-inspired chili.

If you’re looking for a flavorful meal with tons of veggies or a new way to use that pulled pork you learned to make last year, look no further.

A small disclaimer: This is a recipe intended to be a version of Texas style chili. Purists, look the other way. We know how passionate you are about your food. Personally, I try to stuff as many veggies into a meal as I can, and come up with interesting recipes that align with the dietary values we practice on this site. Cool? Cool.

Chili Stuffed Sweet Potato


This recipe takes a little more prep work than the other recipes for pulled pork meals we’ve posted in the past. If you’re feeling up to it, get your chef’s hat on! This makes a big ‘ol pot of chile, and adds a decent amount of veggies to the meal. Plus, it’s great for freezing for emergency meals later. For those of you who like to prep meals for the week, this is a great option!

The hardest part of this recipe is gathering all the ingredients. After that, it’s all downhill: you cut things up however you want, throw them in a pot, and cook!


  • 1.5 – 2 cups cooked pulled pork
  • 1 tbsp  (15ml) olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers – I used one red and one green here, but you can use whichever colors you prefer.
  • 1 jalapeno – you can use less or more depending on how spicy you like your chile
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 28 oz (828ml) can crushed tomatoes – look for a can that’s BPA free or tomatoes in a jar! And as always, read the ingredients to make sure your tomatoes don’t have any added sugar or other weird ingredients!
  • 1 tsp (5ml) cumin – find this in the spices aisle!
  • 2 tbsp (15ml) chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) garlic powder
  • 1 tsp (5ml) oregano
  • 1 tsp (5ml) paprika – smoked paprika is awesome and will give your chili a more camp-firey feel.
  • 1 tsp (5ml) chipotle powder – (optional) again, for that camp-firey goodness
  • 1/2 tsp worchestershire sauce – (optional)
  • A few dashes salt
  • A dash pepper
  • 4 sweet potatoes

Optional toppings:

  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped bacon


1. Wash and dry the bell peppers, jalapeno, and zucchinis.

2. Heat up a pot on low with 1 Tbsp of olive oil at the bottom.

3. Chop all of your veggies. As you’re cutting, you can add the chopped veggies to a bowl to make room for cutting more, this way you can add all the veggies to the pot at the same time. HOWEVAH! Don’t add the zucchini with the peppers and onion. Zucchini takes less time to cook and you don’t want it to be over cooked. We’ll add it in a little later.

You can cut peppers however you like. I like to do it like this:

  •  Chop off the top of the pepper.


  •  Carefully move the knife around the perimeter of the pepper, removing the seeds and loosening the white core from inside.


  • Cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Remove any extra seeds or core-bits.


  • Slice the peppers length wise, then cut them again short-ways (into little squares).


And for the zucchinis:

  • Chop off the top stem and the bottom of the zucchini
  • Cut in half length wise then in half again (kind of like you’re making thick zucchini fries).


  • Then cut all the pieces short ways so you have small triangle-like shapes.


If you need a reminder on how to dice an onion, check out the paleo shepherd’s pie recipe (scroll down a bit)!

Note* A little tip to help keep your kitchen clean is to clean as you go! Keep your cutting board from getting crowded by putting the extra bits you’re not going to use (like the bell pepper cores and seeds) in a bowl next to your cutting board. This makes it easier to dump in the trash (or compost) later.


4. Add the peppers and onion to your heated oil in your pan. Mix them around so the veggies are coated with the oil. Add some salt and pepper. (Cook about 5 minutes.)


5. Once the onions are somewhat translucent and the peppers have started to cook, add your zucchini and mix this in. Let it cook about 5 more minutes.


6. Now add your spices and can of tomatoes and let this warm up (another 5 minutes).


7. Add your pork to the mix. Stir it well and let it warm up. Cover your pot with a lid and let this mixture simmer on medium/low for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Now we can cook our sweet potato. I almost always do this in the microwave because it’s fast.

1. Poke a bunch of holes in your sweet potato with a steak knife or fork. Pay attention and be careful not to stab yourself. (I stab myself on accident doing this all the time. It’s not recommended.)


2. Put your potato in the microwave. Mine has a potato button. Convenience! No potato button? Toss that sucker in the microwave for 4-8 minute (4 for smaller sweet potatoes, and 8 for larger). The potato should be soft and when done – a knife or fork should easily glide through. If you don’t like the microwave or you want to bake a bunch of sweet potatoes ahead of time, follow this recipe!

3. When the potato is done, leave it in the microwave for a few minutes. It’ll be super hot to the touch if you pull it out right away.

Put it all together!

1. Cut your cooked sweet potato almost all the way in half.

2. Spoon a good amount of chile into the potato.

3. Top with avocado and bacon as desired!


JD Hancock

Now, this recipe makes a lot of food, so you might want to save some of it in containers in the freezer for emergency meals later on.

+10 EXP for meal prep!

If you want to change the recipe around, be my guest. Here are some other serving and recipe suggestions to mix it up:

  • Use a different meat. There’s no need to limit yourself to using pulled pork if you don’t have any or you don’t have a crock pot. You can use ground beef, buffalo, elk, turkey, etc. in this recipe.
  • If you don’t like some of the veggies included, eliminate them or use your own favorites.
  • You’ll notice I like to put things in sweet potatoes. I do this because it looks nice for pictures. Also, it’s fun and delicious. But remember, this is a serving suggestion. You can totally just put your chili in a bowl and enjoy it that way.

Do you have any other serving suggestions?

Is there a secret ingredient you use in your chili that I missed?

What are some of your favorite big-pot meals to prep?

Let us know in the comments!


PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!


Photo: JD Hancock: Scouting Lines

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How to Deal With An Unexpected Death. Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:27:27 +0000 “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” – Maximus Decimus Meridius

Life sucks sometimes.

On September 12th, 2015, my friend Scott Dinsmore tragically passed at the far-too-young age of 32 while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Scott is one of my best “internet” friends, the creator of He was on a trip around the world with his wife, doing what he loved. Chelsea, I’m so sorry for your loss :(

To say I am heartbroken is an understatement.

I like to think our businesses, lives, and communities grew up together; Scott was more like me than anybody else I knew in this online space. In fact, he was always pushing me to be a better version of myself and led by example: he was in amazing shape, with a beautiful family, a thriving business, and had a love of life that was unparalleled.

I’m still trying to make sense of this tragedy, and can’t imagine what his family is going through. My friend Chase Reeves (who designed both this Nerd Fitness site and Scott’s) captured Scott’s personality better than I ever could, and there are already dozens upon dozens of tributes to a man who impacted a lot of people.

Earlier this year I lost another friend at the age of 31. I’ve lost three grandparents since I started my adventures, and two good friends have died far too young. It’s never easy.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know I’m not alone in dealing with tragedy. Life is short, and it can be taken from anybody in an instant.

Today I wanted to write an article about how I’ve tried to cope with these situations in a healthy way, and encourage you to share your stories too.

Cry your eyes out, hug somebody.

This first part is the worst, and more often than not feels like a Falcon Punch to the gut.

I woke up on Sunday morning to an email from Scott’s wife Chelsea with news of his passing, and I burst into tears and just sat there numb. I kept waiting for more news to come in, or another email to say that it had been a hoax. How could Scott have died? The dude was bullet proof. It didn’t make sense to me.

I got angry at fate. I got angry at nature. I got angry at mountains. I got really really sad too. I kept waiting for things to be different – to not be as they were.

I later met up with my good friends from college and gave them all big hugs. I called my dad and talked to him for a good hour or so. I told my friends and family that I loved them and that I was happy for the time we have had together.

Being with people I loved helped.

We try to make sense of these terrible situations, or ask what the heck happened… what could have been, what if, and what else could have been done. It’s natural, it’s part of coping. It’s not supposed to make sense. And it always sucks.

If you are dealing with an unexpected loss, cry your eyes out. Get mad at the universe. Hug somebody and squeeze them tightly. Call somebody and vent. Once I got  confirmation and heard from other friends who knew Scott, reality set in, and I had to think about life without a dude who only made the world better.

Celebrate their life in a unique way

Instagram Photo

The above picture with Scott and James Clear is from a conference I attend each year and get to catch up with friends. You’ll notice both James and I are covered in paint, and Scott is wearing a cape. Why a cape? Because he just wanted to. Seriously. There was no theme or costume. He spent the night wearing a cape, throwing imaginary smoke bombs and disappearing like a ninja because that’s what he wanted to do. That’s Scott.

Earlier this year I lost my friend Tiffany unexpectedly while I was out at sea with a lot of her friends and former co-workers on the Rock Boat. We gathered for a moment at the back of the ship, watching the boat quietly slip through the Caribbean; despite the chaos happening everywhere else on the boat, we were alone in silence back there.  We shared stories, laughed, cried, and then all took a shot in her honor as members of the Shot Club, a “secret club” that Tiffany had helped create years prior. Although she was gone, it was a way to connect with her memory and share a happy moment with those who knew her well.

Scott was one of the most amazingly persuasive people I have ever met. In fact, the first time we met, he got me to go running! If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know running and I don’t necessarily get along; within minutes of us meeting, he had me convinced this was a swell idea. No joke, I haven’t run a mile since then. Then the last time we hung out together, he challenged me to a handstand contest at 3 AM. Sure enough, I said yes.

Last week I went for a jog through Central Park, and then did some handstands; it was seriously the first time I have just “gone for a run” since I met Scott four years ago. It was something that he and I had done together, and something I hadn’t done since. It gave me a chance to be thankful and reflect on the impact he had made on my life, pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone.

If you’ve lost a loved one, look for a specific activity that tied you to that person in a unique way. Like the Viking tribute to fallen warriors destined for Valhalla, or Maximus being carried out of the Coliseum.

Share a story with those who are grieving, and do something that connects you to the person who was lost. Like a paddle out circle in the surfing community, a 21-‘shot’ salute when golfer Payne Stuart died, the ordering of a special drink (it was “Dewers on the rocks, please” when my grandpa passed), or even just a quiet reflective moment in a specific location that was special to both of you.

Make it a point to do this deliberately.

What Would THey want you to do?

When there is a devastating loss, life is flipped upside down in an instant. At this point, it’s very easy to slip into major depression and get completely derailed. In fact, anything other than a complete shutdown can make us feel guilty, as if we’re not mourning the deceased enough. It’s tough not to ask or feel: “Did I mourn enough? Too much? What’s the protocol?”

Because we all grieve in different ways, it’s up to us to determine how to move forward, how to honor their passing, and how life will be different.

Unfortunately, the default for most of us is to spend days and days and days grieving, drinking, eating poorly, curling up in a ball, and shutting out reality. After all, if we avoid reality, then maybe it didn’t really happen, right? Unfortunately, we don’t have access to time-machines and we can’t change what happened, no matter how desperately we want to. We can’t change history. If we’re not careful these few days can turn into weeks, months, and years before we realize that we stopped living.

The best thing I’ve found to help me grieve is asking myself: “If I could talk to this person right now, what would they want me to do?” I know that if I could talk to Scott, his response to me would be “Live, you idiot! Get out there and make a great story. Maybe also wear a cape.” Scott’s site was called “Live Your Legend,” and he truly was a living legend.

I know Scott would be angry if I said no to an adventure as a result of his death. He lived every day as if it was his last, and he got to spend his last day on earth doing something he loved, with the person he loved more than anything, in one of the most beautiful locations in existence. We should be so lucky.

Make a fundamental change.

I remember the first time I saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope when I was 5 or 6 – specifically the moment when Obi Wan was struck down by Darth Vader:

I didn’t want to believe it. How could Obi Wan die? He was a freaking JEDI! It didn’t make sense to me, and I thought the movie was ruined as a result. I probably started crying. However, I also remembered Obi Wan’s words before he relented to Vader: “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

And sure enough, although this great Jedi passed away, his impact was felt through every molecule in the galaxy after that. In fact, it was Obi Wan’s impact on Luke (“Use the Force, Luke. Let go.”) that allowed him to successfully blow up the Death Star.

Although Obi Wan had died, he did in fact become more powerful than anybody could have imagined. It was through Luke and the other Jedi that his legacy lived on. Luke took fundamental steps to live a life that Obi Wan would have been proud of. He changed his fate.

When Scott passed away, I couldn’t help but think of the scene above. Although Scott is gone, it’s clear to me that he has already changed the world, and with 2.7 million views and counting on his TEDx talk, he will continue to change the world long after his passing. Just like Obi Wan, Scott’s impact will be measured through the people who choose to fundamentally change their lives as a result of knowing him.

Like Luke and Obi Wan, Scott will pop into my mind for the rest of my life, and I’ll ask: “What would Scott do in this situation?” And I’ll do my damndest to leave this planet a better place than when I arrived. Scott has become my Obi Wan, and it’s my responsibility to make a fundamental change to do and be better.

I challenge you to do the same. If you are dealing with a loss – most people say things like “things are going to be different now,” or “I’m going to make a change.” And within a week or two, no positive progress has been made. Think long and hard about the person who passed, and ask yourself “What would they want me to do?”

And then I want you to make a fundamental change to your day-to-day life. It can be a small change, but it needs to be something that sets you on a happier, healthier, and more grateful path. After all, that’s all we can ask of life. We have no idea when that game over screen will show up.

Enjoy Today.

Scott boat

Although I’ve watched the video, “A Story for Tomorrow,” probably 50 times since discovering it years ago, I think today is a good a day as any to share it again here on Nerd Fitness.

Ultimately, we hope we get to answer the question, “Did you enjoy your story?” With a “hell yeah.” I will forever think of my buddy Scott when I watch this video, because it seems like something he and his wife Chelsea would make.

We should all be so lucky to experience as much as Scott had in his 33 years on earth. Ben Franklin once said, “Some people are dead at 25, but aren’t buried until 75.” That was not Scott, and I’m thankful for the brief number of years that we got to spend together on this planet. He made my life better, and he made the world a better place before he left it.

This is a goal we can all aim for:

  • Do one thing daily that makes you happy and makes you feel alive.
  • Make somebody else’s life better today, in any way, big or small.

This is how I’ve chosen to deal with death and tragedy over the past handful of years. Do you have any stories or words of advice for your fellow Rebels? Are you going through a tough situation yourself?

I still know I’m going to break down crying at random moments, or when I’m next with other distant friends that knew Scott well, and that’s okay. I’m going to continue building my living legend, and try to help as many people as possible do the same.

Scott, I miss you man.

The Rebellion salutes you.



]]> 52
Want Results? Be like Groot. I AM GROOT! Thu, 17 Sep 2015 13:13:13 +0000 Most of the time, boring is bad.

A boring date sucks. A boring movie can put you to sleep.

But sometimes, boring is exactly what you need.

You wouldn’t call Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy boring would you? Yes, I’m referring to the talking Flora Colossus (tree, essentially) from Planet X in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, everybody loves the fast-talking, wisecracking Rocket Raccoon, but there’s something more to Groot than just a simple, stoic character. In fact, it’s Groot’s strength and versatility that turns the tide against the forces of evil.

How the hell does this relate to you getting healthy?

I am groot. (Sorry, I had to.)

I am groot.

Groot Cosplay

Groot is an ent-like creature who is big and strong, and just wants to be who he is.

President Teddy Roosevelt once said: “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Groot took that advice to mean “speak softly and be a giant stick.” He doesn’t say much, and his quiet confidence just exudes through everything he says and does. He puts his head down, does his job, and doesn’t make a big fuss of it. He’s stable, he’s reliable, and he might even be considered boring if you didn’t know him. But, Groot is the character that steals the show.

Why? Because he keeps things simple. “I am Groot?” “I am Groot!” ” I AM GROOOT!” – in three words he can convey and do all of the things he needs to say and do. He’s strong at his core, and consistently.

For the past month, I’ve felt like Groot. I’ve been going to every gym I can find in New York City in an effort to find my new workout home. Before I go into a location, I mentally prepare myself to hear the same spiel over and over by the eager salesman or woman trying to get me to join their gym.

“On this floor is all of our cardio equipment, including our new [fancy term for a useless piece of equipment]. Over here we have our newest high tech machines. This is where we have our [insert some ridiculous name] classes that are designed to target your [obscure body part]. This is where you can check your email and use our lounge area.” I nod my head politely and smile, let them go through all of these things, and then they ask if I have any questions.

My response is always: “Can you just point me in the direction of the squat rack?” I can see the look of confusion on the face of the marketer trying to sell me on the dozens of amenities that everybody thinks they want but I would never use.

Four days a week for 45 minutes, I go through a ‘boring’ workout routine with Groot-like dedication and simplicity.

In fact, my workouts are stupidly simple: they require a barbell, occasionally some dumbbells, and a pull up bar or high anchor point to hang my rings from. I’ve been following roughly the same routine for the past two years. A simple combination of squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, dips, pull ups, and some gymnastic holds. The workout, other than weight on the bar or number of reps, has remained relatively consistent.

It might not make fitness marketers excited. But it achieves Groot-like results, because every day I grow stronger.

There’s no “muscle confusion,” a bullshit marketing term to sell DVDs. There’s no gimmick to target my abs or obliques or glutes. Instead, I get stronger every day, every week, every month. The workout strategy is simple but solid, like a tree growing from sapling to giant badass who can only say three words.

I stay injury-free due to building a sturdy core (or “trunk,” in tree terms), and I get excited to be like Groot and be satisfied with teeny tiny consistent growth. I’m still a long way off from where I want to be, but I am way closer now than I have ever been in the past – I shifted my focus from the exciting and short term to the boring and long term.

And it’s working. Slowly. Here’s the last 18 months for me – though I need to get new photos, progress has continued consistently!

Weight (Date): 180 (Jan 1, 2014), 172 (Oct 1, 2014), 194 (May 1, 2015)

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.46.49 AM

In fact, many people will look at the photos above and say “That’s not drastic. You lost some weight and then gained some weight and maybe some muscle. And it took you 18 months?!”

In today’s entitled world, we’re told we can get results with minimal effort. 15 minutes a day, just 3 times a week is enough to get results. Get shredded in 90 days! ONE TRICK that will banish belly fat.

My results might not be drastic, but they are realistic, consistent, dependable, and sustainable. You don’t see stories like this in supplement ads or hanging on walls in gyms because it’s not exciting. I add 1 rep to a deadlift, or 5 pounds or less to an exercise, or hold a gymnastic pose for half a second longer. And slowly, consistently grow stronger.

Now that I’m following the Groot method, every day is a small, humble improvement. 

Or, as Groot would say, “I am Groot.”

We are Groot.

We Are Groot

Groot doesn’t quickly grow from tiny sapling to walking tree-badass-hero in a few hours. Your body won’t transform overnight either.

In fact, when it comes to trees and tree-like creatures, it’s the slow growth that creates the deepest roots and thickest trunk. I actually have no idea if that’s scientifically true, but it fits the metaphor we’re using, and I’m on a roll, so let’s go with it.

Groot is okay with slow consistent growth – and you should be too. James Clear wrote a fantastic article about the idea of 1% improvement:

“In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.”

So, YES, you MIGHT see fantastic results in 90 days. However, we all know from studies like this one, and from numerous past attempts of losing weight and gaining it all back, rollercoaster weight change is a losing strategy.

We need to be more like Groot. We need to develop a quiet confidence that knows that despite the chaos around us, what we are doing is working. We eek out tiny, slow, small, steady, PERMANENT progress.

I want you to grow stronger and healthier consistently. I don’t want you to grow quickly and then fall over from doing so in an unsustainable way. That would make Groot unhappy.

It’s why the first and most important part of the Nerd Fitness Academy is fixing your mindset. It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. But it sets you up to win permanently, every day.

So be more like Groot. The next time you are bombarded with the latest and greatest, or the newest fad, simply respond with “I AM GROOT!!!!” and get back to work growing stronger. Slowly.

Questions? Comments? Please keep your comments to three words only.

-I am Groot.


photo source: Mike Mozart: We are groot, tausend und elns: baby groot, Gage Skidmore: groot cosplay

]]> 41
4 Steps to Become an 80’s Action Movie Hero. You’re Welcome. Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:37:36 +0000 The 80’s were the best.

Specifically, 80’s action movies. Larger-than-life characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, the Ninja Turtles, and international superstar Ralph Macchio (yeah you heard me!). Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, the hundreds of hours spent watching these movies instilled within me a lifelong philosophy that has helped me level up my life, my health, and my wealth. Thanks, 80’s action heroes!

Hopefully you’re looking at me like I’m crazy at this point. Which is why I’m going to teach you how to become your own 80’s action movie star, and use your new identity to level up your life.

You can thank me later.

Now, clearly the first step is find a grizzled mentor PRONTO. Ideally, somebody old and weathered, who preferably speaks in half-sentences and riddles.

Yoda and Danbo Fitness Skeptics

Although Yoda started the trend in Star Wars, a grizzled mentor can be found in nearly every 80’s movie. Think Mickey in the Rocky films, Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. (Quentin Tarantino paid homage to this coveted role with Master Pai Mei in Kill Bill Vol 2.)

Seriously. One of the best things you can do for yourself, whether you’re trying to get fit, or build a business, is find a mentor who can have a profound impact on your life.

What to look for in a grizzled veteran mentor:

  • They have done what you hope to accomplish. Regardless of how radical you are, a coach can make you better… but make sure you are taking advice from a master who has been there, done that. Far too many people teach without first having had success.
  • They aren’t afraid to call you on your bullshit. If ever want actual advice or a strong critique, don’t ask your friends and family. Your mentor should be someone who can call you on your b.s. (especially if you’ve hired them!). Yes, you have time to train. Yes, working on your mullet is important. Of course, neon spandex are fashionable. Etc.
  • They are always teaching you.Wax on, wax off! Paint the fence!” Your mentor should be challenging you in different ways. Find should be someone you respect beyond the narrow skill-set you’re seeking. (Van Damme being goaded into dancing and fighting in Kickboxer was maybe the most ridiculous scene of the 80’s).

Although I run a fitness website, after creating my own exercise programming for well over a decade, I hired my own Mr. Miyagi (Anthony Mychal) who has been virtually mentoring me for the past two years. It’s been a game-changer.

Do you have a mentor in your life? Along with practical advice here from Art of Manliness on finding a mentor, here’s how you can find one:

  • Check your current network or social circle.
  • Check the Nerd Fitness message boards. Look for people in similar circumstances who have succeeded. Reach out to them and start with a basic question or ask to take them out to coffee. Expect rejection or a polite “thanks, but I’m really busy.” Thank them profusely either way, and learn whatever you can from everybody you can.
  • If you can’t start an informal mentorship, and you have the means, hire somebody! It need not be expensive. Ask for recommendations on coaches before cold calling.

Gather Enough Footage for a Montage

Steve RunRailay

80’s action stars were ripped, but they didn’t always start that way.

They had to endure years of training with their grizzled mentor, start at square one, be okay with sucking, and slowly get better over time. Of course, we don’t have years to wait, which is why we have training montages.

As this South Park song, “Gonna Need a Montage” hilariously points out:

“A sports training montage.
Show a lotta things, happening at once,
Remind everyone of what’s goin’ on.
With every shot show a little improvement,
to show it all would take too long.
That’s called a montage.
Even Rocky’s had a montage.
in any sport, if you want to go
from just a beginner to a pro.”

Or, as Steven Furtick puts it: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

So, if you’re going to build a montage showing you getting better at something (I imagine your goals are “get fit and be a badass,”) you’re going to need lots of footage. Like, years and years worth. After all, who wants to see a montage of somebody who’s in shape just get more in shape?

We need the struggle! We need dramatization! We need transformation!

So start today! Take measurements, take photos. And start training. Because you’re gathering footage for a montage, don’t expect results overnight. You won’t notice the changes day to day, but over many months the montage will start to take form.

And hopefully this is already common knowledge, but the most dramatic montages involve training with old school methods (namely, strength training).

Your future 80’s action star self thanks you:

Feel free to add some gnarly tunes to the montage you’re building too. After all, would Karate Kid be the same without Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best?” or Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love?” No way. And don’t even get me started on Rocky’s “Eye of The Tiger” or “Gonna Fly Now

Identify Your Arch Nemesis


Rocky had Apollo Creed, and then Clubber Lang, and then Ivan Drago.

Conan the Barbarian fought to avenge his family’s death, seeking out the evil sorcerer Thusla Doom.

Daniel-san trained to right the wrongs of the privileged Johnny Lawrence and Cobra Kai.

In order for you to become the best version of yourself, you need a villain of epic proportions to direct your anger and motivation towards. Whenever possible, seek out a villain that has wronged you or your family at a young age, defeated your best friend in battle, and has an overblown sense of superiority and self-worth.

Now, if you’re not lucky enough to have had your family wiped out by an evil sorcerer, you’ll have to make due with what you have. Are there any people in your life that have told you that you can’t be what you want to be? How about an all-powerful disease that claimed the lives of your ancestors (namely, heart disease or diabetes)?

Like John Rambo, you need to adopt a “me against the world” attitude if you’re going to be a kick-ass 80’s action star. Nobody believes in you, the odds stacked against you are insurmountable, and chance for success is minimal.

Fortunately for you, the deck IS stacked against you, even in the 10’s:

  • You are bombarded daily with food that is designed to get you addicted and craving more.
  • You are surrounded by advertisements for things you don’t need, to keep you complacent.
  • Most people choose to knock others down rather than elevate themselves. Haters gonna hate.

Sounds like a pretty solid bad guy to me. Rather than getting disappointed about how dire things seem, you need to realize that this is how great movies are made!

Instead of seeing challenges as hopeless situations, realize that they are opportunities for greater redemption and revenge at the end of the story. Use them to empower and motivate yourself:

  • Instead of seeing the McDonald’s every day on your drive home from work and feeling powerless (and eventually going in and ordering food), get angry. Use that anger (“They can’t control me!”) to motivate you to defeat the Empire and cook a great meal at home. Turn this into a story. Imagine yourself as your favorite hero, or create your own.
  • Are you the latest in a long line of overweight, unhappy, unhealthy relatives? Screw genetics. Get angry that you’re expected to fall in line. Be the first in a new line of healthy people. Start a trend that carries over to your children and their children.
  • Have you been told your whole life that you can’t do something (either by others or yourself?). Bullshit. Get pissed. Break the damn mold. Feed off that “nobody believed in me” attitude. Build up to that moment where you get to say, “Howdya like me now?!”

The greater the challenge to overcome, the more glorious it is when you defeat the bad guys and are victorious (aka healthy!).

Make Everything WAY More Important Than It Really Is


Ever seen the movie “Over the Top”? Sylvester Stallone literally arm-wrestles for the custody of his child.

Rocky IV? The dude single-handedly predicted the end of the Cold War, years before it actually happened!

Daniel-san wasn’t just fighting in a Karate tournament. He was fighting for all of the other kids who have ever been bullied and couldn’t stand up for themselves.

Go ahead and add a bodacious amount of importance to every decision you make daily.

It makes things way more interesting, and reminds you of the gravity of every choice. You’re not just deciding between a healthy lunch or a Big Mac, the fate of your stomach is at hand. Every time you train, you’re not doing it because your doctor prescribed 20 minutes of exercise, you’re doing it to pay tribute to the men and women who fought before you.

The more interesting and engaging your story is, the more likely you are to follow through.

Start looking at life like it’s an 80s movie. You must honor your parents and grandparents who fought hard to give you the opportunities you have today. Or, you are part of an elite group of underdog commandos (The Rebellion!) and you owe it to your brothers and sisters in arms to give it your all.

You might not ACTUALLY be arm-wrestling for the custody of your kid, but every day you decide to eat better and exercise is another day you can watch your child or grandchild grow up.

Life can be a movie if you want it to be. What’s the last step?

What’s your movie about?

movie mission complete

And just like that, you’ve turned your life into an 80’s action movie. To recap:

  • Find a grizzled mentor who will show you the ropes.
  • Find an arch-nemesis who keeps you training and vigilant.
  • Gather enough footage for a montage.
  • Make everything way more important than it needs to be.

I want to hear about your 80’s movie. You’re the main character, and I want to hear about your movie. What’s your character name? Who’s the enemy? What are you fighting for? And what song will you use for your montage?

Get creative, and leave a comment with the plot to your 80’s inspired life movie.

Here’s mine (read in this voice) :

A lowly skinny boy of humble beginnings. The first of his tribe who chose to stand up against the evil and oppressive Emperor Boredemo. For decades Bordemo and his henchmen have kept the human race unknowingly enslaved: fat on Empire-sponsored food, dull-witted due to Empire-sponsored television programs, and complacent thanks to propaganda telling us “this is as good as things get.”

One day, Steve rescued an old man who had fallen down, who begrudgingly agreed to train him in the ways of the ancients. Over many years (with this song for the montage) Steve strengthened his body and his mind, ate food from the land rather than a lab, and now aspires for a better future for him and his tribe. Word has spread, and a Rebellion set on taking down the Empire has begun. The leader of this Rebellion?

Rebel-One, coming to theaters Christmas Day, 1985.

Your turn. Go ahead and make your 80’s pitch below. And then go out and get started on your training.

We’ll pick a winner and hook ’em up with a free Nerd Fitness T-Shirt


PS: I can’t write this article and not mention my two favorite things that pay homage to 80’s culture in recent years. Ready Player One, a book I read in a single sitting, and Kung Fury, maybe the most insane 30 minute 80’s homage you’ll ever see. You’re welcome.


photo source: Kristy Robb: Mission Complete, The Community – Pop Culture: Yoda Head, Josh Jansen: Runner, Stefan Ogrisek: Rocky

]]> 24
How to Use Primal Movement to Rebel Against Captivity Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:30:32 +0000 This is a guest post from Camp NF instructor Jonathan Mead.

I’m no historian or anthropologist, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that over time, we’ve come to move less and less thanks to amazing advances in technology.

Simply put, our bodies are capable of amazing things, but we no longer NEED to do these things in order to survive. How did this happen, and how has it changed us as a species?

  • First, the agricultural revolution allowed people to specialize and outsource movement to farmers (the birth of the division of labor).
  • Then, there was the industrial revolution, which allowed for even less movement with the advent of machines to do much of the work for us.
  • Finally, the technological revolution made movement practically obsolete. A meal, book, even a date on OKCupid is just a click away. Hell, you can now order pizza by sending an emoji.

Although it’s not our fault we don’t HAVE to move much anymore, it IS our responsibility to address it. Our lives simply don’t require it any more – the Empire (boo!) took over and changed the way we live by removing ANY physical requirement from existence.

Unfortunately, this sets us up for disaster when we do try to move more often: when we go from sitting for 10-12 hours a day to trying to train martial arts or Parkour, playing kickball or even picking up groceries, it’s no wonder injuries are commonplace.

If you’re looking to improve your physical well-being, remain injury-free, and set yourself up to succeed with whatever form of fun activity you choose to get your heart racing, it’s time to start moving like we are genetically designed to move.

Let’s take a look how to master our body’s controls, and rebel against captivity.

Anti-fragility is your natural, primal state

caveman museum

Believe it or not, you grow stronger when you expose your body to chaos. The problem is, modern zoo living life has made everything very predictable, and much too comfortable.

This isn’t a surprise if you’ve ever seen the movie Madagascar: take an animal raised in temperature-controlled captivity, and compare them to an animal raised in the wild: which one do you think is better prepared to handle life in the jungle?

In Steve’s article on Becoming Antifragile, he talks about how some things grow stronger through unpredictability, breakdown and stress. It’s no surprise that our man-made habitat – traveling from couch to car to computer desk each day – has allowed our bodies to break down. Like in WALL-E, modern life has removed the “survival of the fittest” aspect from the human race, and thus we no longer to take care of ourselves physically to get food or shelter.

We need to reintroduce this element into our lives as much possible if we’re going to level up our bodies.

Think for a moment about how your joints and ligaments would develop:

  • Option one: walking in an air conditioned gym on a treadmill at precisely 3.5 miles per hour.
  • Option two: traversing a trail covered with rocks, dirt, mud and branches in your way. You might need to hop from rock to rock on all fours, crawl under a branch, and jump over the mud.

Because of the natural variability of terrain and your tasks for the day, your joints are going to be moved in many different ways, in many different angles. You’re forced to respond to the elements and constantly adapt.

Take away the unpredictability of life — like sitting in a chair all day, or never lifting anything heavier than 3 lbs — and you create weakness and vulnerability that can result in problems when you face any real world scenario that requires even a base level of physical fitness.


It sounds counterintuitive, but our bodies crave unpredictability and continuous stressors. Too much of the same pattern in our temperature-controlled, artificially lit, smoothed-edges lives, and we become increasingly vulnerable to injury and breakdown.

In fact, there has been a recent study that showed an increased chance of children developing peanut allergies when they are kept away from peanuts beginning at birth. This is why playing in the mud as a kid can actually be really beneficial for your body’s immune system development.

So get started, get uncomfortable, and start pushing your body outside of its “safe” zone. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Antifragility is the goal!

So, how do we fix this mess and start moving better?

squat child

Good question! The most important thing is to start exploring your body…no, not like that!

That’s next week’s article (kidding).

What I mean is research the way your body moves. Be curious!

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that, but a bit tougher to explain. You see, most of us have gotten so far away from this way of living, that we need a framework to get us back on track. If you’re somebody who struggles with lower back pain, despite all of modern life’s creature comforts, make sure you start implementing the below movements. Don’t set yourself up to suffer through inaction!

Here are two movements you can start with RIGHT NOW that every human should master:

Here’s the gist of the video:

  • Squat DEEP! Believe it or not, an “ass to grass” squat is the natural human resting position, and it results in less lower back pain among indigenous people despite a lack of access to things like chairs. For people who don’t live in a civilized modern society, this is how they rest! So, how do you do it? Arrange your feet shoulder width apart and begin lowering yourself down, leading with your tailbone as if you’re feeling for a chair behind you. Keep lower until your thighs are touching your calves. Make sure your heels stay on the ground. Try to hold this position for as long as you can, even if it’s just for a few seconds, gradually working up to being able to hold for several minutes. Try it while watching TV, playing video games, or reading. Just do it (Desk jockeys – be sure to avoid hunching forward!).
  • Hang out. Did you know that our shoulders are meant for us to hang? We evolved to be able to “hang out” on branches (just look at the way kids naturally hang and swing on the playground). It’s actually critical for the health of our spine and shoulders. If you can, mount a pullup bar in your doorway and spend 10-30 seconds hanging each time you go through. If your hands aren’t strong enough, use a bit of assistance by putting your feet on a chair.

Creating the habit of all-day movement

jumping dog

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the real benefit comes when we start to implement old-school movement throughout our modern lives. Our paleolithic ancestors were constantly moving and dealing with mother nature throwing chaos at them. They simply had no other choice but to continually move and adapt.

As Anthony Mychal points out, we send our bodies conflicting information all day long if we don’t actively work on it: if you stretch for 10 seconds (“Hey body! Being mobile and flexible is important!”), the other 86,390 seconds we’re saying “Hey body! Stretching isn’t important! In fact, sitting is!”

So, how can you make natural movement a lifestyle or a continual fixture in your day?

The key isn’t to pledge to move more and sit less, but to change your environment and your habits so that these changes become a natural part of your life, and we start to tip the scales back in favor of “move! squat! hang!”

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Consider a standing desk. As this viral infographic proved, sitting is correlated with higher mortality rates. Most of us work on the computer these days, which creates a whole host of issues. One of the best ways to combat this is to create a standing desk. This can be accomplished with something as simple as a couple of boxes to put your monitor on (how I started out) or by investing in an adjustable height desk. (This is not to say to stand ALL day, which might have its own problems. The idea is that you’re moving more).
  • Put a medicine ball and tennis ball under your desk. The medicine ball can be used to stretch your calves by placing your toes and the ball of your foot on the ball. And the tennis ball can be used to massage and stimulate your feet.
  • Consider a cobblestone mat for your house. The more you vary the terrain you walk on, the more you stimulate your feet and create healthy unpredictability.
  • Squat while you eat. This is a habit I recently started. I try to squat while I eat as much as possible. This definitely helps you if you have a low coffee table to eat at, similar to a low, Japanese-style dining table where you sit cross-legged. It’s how humans used to eat before the advent of chairs. Squatting also helps massage the internal organs and builds healthier, stronger knees.
  • Put a pullup bar in your doorway, and hang every time you go through the door. Hanging and brachiating is a natural human pattern and our shoulder joints are designed for brachiation. Why hang? Hanging and swinging creates healthier shoulders. Aim for 30 seconds of passive hanging every time you go through your door.

These are just a few habits you can start implementing to incorporate more primal movement into your daily life.

where do I start?


The unsexy part of leveling up – especially with something like fundamental, foundational movement – is going back to the basics.  By drilling these patterns into our day, our bodies adapt and thus build a solid foundation of awesome.

Remember, the second Rule of the Rebellion is that you’re in “for life.”

In other words, it’s not about diets, or short-term fixes. It’s about creating a new lifestyle.

To get back to your natural health you need to create a lifestyle of movement. One way to do this is to start with a habit.

To make it dead simple, I’ve created a 30-Day Squat Challenge. The absolute simplest, most basic place to start is with the squat. When you join the challenge (bring a nerdy friend for support!), you’ll get a quickstart guide to squatting. It covers the basics of form and increasing your flexibility in the squat. You’ll also get daily tips and inspiration.

The challenge is simple: For a total of 10 minutes a day, squat. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting squatting. It can and should be spread throughout the day.

Do it every day for 30 days to create the habit.

Here are some ideas to level up your squats:

  • Squat while you’re waiting for the bus.
  • Squat while you poop (seriously, there are a lot of benefits to this).
  • Squat while you work on your laptop (use a 14-18″ box).
  • Squat while you’re waiting in line (takes a bit more courage).
  • Squat through your whole meal.
  • Give away your couch and squat while watching television.

I challenge you to level up your natural strength:

Click here to take the 30-Day Squat Challenge.

My question for you: Where is your favorite unconventional place to drop into a squat? Share in the comments below.


PS: Jonathan is one of our instructors at Camp Nerd Fitness this September!


photo source: Jordan Colley Visuals: bunny squat, pepe pont: dog jumping, imamon: toy caveman, m01229: museum caveman, David Boyle: Super Caveman

]]> 23
How to Instantly Build Confidence, Backed By Science. Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:45:37 +0000 Confidence. Can it be developed?

It’s one of the most desirable traits when it comes to finding a partner, one of the most desirable traits when it comes to employment, and a hell of a way to make a positive first impression.

I’m sure you can conjure up someone you think of as “confident.”

  • James Bond’s uncanny ability to stay calm, cool, and collected under pressure, and then utter a perfectly timed and witty catchphrase.
  • That female friend of yours who can strike up a conversation with anybody and everybody, making them feel like they’ve found a new best friend within minutes.
  • Your buddy who has quickly advanced through a company, and just seems to have “it.”

Whether you’re young or old, gay or straight, male or female, human or cyborg, confidence will make your life better!

Can confidence be built, or is it outside of our control?

Today, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about confidence, and how you can quickly implement a few tactics to kickstart your leveling up.

what is confidence?

Steve Fitness Skeptic Goggles

Before I dig into how to improve your confidence, I want to talk about what it really is. 

I’m NOT talking about the guy who focuses on building six-pack abs and big biceps, who attends seduction classes, follows word-for-word scripts and approach techniques to hit on people, makes sure to get a pump before walking out the door. This dude often lacks a base level of confidence and self-respect, and is approaching confidence building from the wrong angle; his strategy is a house of cards to cover up a level of insecurity.

Real confidence is about being true to who you are (and being excited about it!). Think of your friend who acts completely differently depending on who she might be trying to impress, even if the person they’re pretending to be doesn’t line up with who they really are (or want to be).

The late Mitch Hedberg said it best: “If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey, ‘man, just be yourself.’”

So, we want to practice the type of confidence that is built around knowing who you are as a person and understanding what’s important – like Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, one of the greatest characters on one of the best shows out there.

Ron is known for the hilariously awesome credo and code that he lives by:

This pyramid guides his decision making process, even if some of it is unpopular or “uncool.” Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec, on the other hand is the antithesis of this.

He’s chasing tactics to be ‘confident’ but for the wrong reasons:

Ron’s quiet confidence and steadfast conviction to who he is as a person makes him great, and why the racoon hat works for him when it failed as a tactic for Tom.

In the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, this is the type of confidence we seek: not necessarily changing who we are to impress people, but rather staying true to who we are as we level up our lives. We are all works in progress, but we also need to have self-respect: that we are worthy as partners, friends, co-workers, and people. We accept where we’re at currently, but we work every day on self-improvement.

As Henry Rollins says: “I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect.”

So, while we level up, we can use the tactics in this article to enhance ourselves and make sure we are presenting our best possible selves to the real world. I want you to think about the type of confidence you’re trying to develop, even if you don’t have it quite yet:

The quiet confidence of somebody who commands respect?

The boisterous person that walks in the room and instantly everybody wants to become best friends with?

The lovable goofball that doesn’t take herself too seriously?

Once we know the type of person we’re working towards becoming, we can apply the information below to help us level up until we reach that goal.

Stand up straight, get big, Move confidently!


Did you know that sitting a certain way for just a few minutes before a date or interview can greatly boost your chances of success in the encounter?

How crazy is that!? Seriously. Just by changing your posture you can physiologically develop more confidence within minutes. That’s right. Not just “appear” more confident, but actually BE more confident, based on how you are standing or sitting.

That’s like a free power-up!

How we are treated and how how we treat ourselves is mostly dependent on our non-verbal communication – how we stand, how we walk, how we look, and so on. Once we understand these things, we can hack our body language to improve our confidence subconsciously.

As Amy Cuddy points out in her TED Talk, our bodies can literally change our minds:

What Amy is saying: if you are trying to become more confident instantly, adopting a power pose for just a few seconds can change how you feel and act.

By adopting a power pose before entering a tense situation, you will subconsciously adjust how your brain responds. As the aforementioned study points out: 

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.

In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes.”

Another study in the European Journal of Psychology examined people’s self-confidence based on posture:

The applicants who were slumped over had lower self-confidence, as expressed by their answers, than those who sat up straight. This research shows that whether you sit up straight at your desk or slump in your chair impacts the chemicals produced in your brain, which, in turn, affect what goes on in your mind.

So how do we use this to our advantage? Before you enter any situation when you need confidence and courage (going out to a bar, asking for a raise, asking somebody out over the phone)…adapt a power pose for a few moments beforehand!

Here are some examples of power poses that you can use throughout the night, before you go out, and when you want to openly display your confidence:

  • Hands raised above head in victory pose
  • Hands on hips like Superman or Wonder Woman
  • Legs crossed, hands behind head
  • Sprawled out across a seat

Strike these poses and set yourself up to succeed. Practice in a stairwell, in your cubicle, in a bathroom stall, or while looking in a mirror; just do it whenever you need a quick burst of confidence before entering the challenging situation.

take pride in your appearance


In addition to how we stand and walk, how we dress can drastically influence our levels of confidence as well.

Yup. How you dress can ACTUALLY boost how confident you are, in addition to how people will treat you (which in turn then affects your confidence even further!)

Two things happen when you wear clothes that present you in the best possible light:

  • You treat yourself differently, and become more confident in the right clothing.
  • You will be treated differently by people. Jaywalk while wearing a suit, for example, and people will be 350% more likely to follow you than if you wore a t-shirt.

So, by putting on the right kind (or properly fitting clothing), we can change how we view ourselves, in addition to how others view us: setting us up doubly for a confidence super boost.

As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, studies have shown that you can trick your brain based on what you are wearing, which is referred to as “enclothed cognition.” When you dress in a certain way, you can trick your brain into changing how you react to certain situations, or adjust how much confidence you have.

What about how other people treat you? I can hear you thinking (I have superpowers): “I just wear what’s comfortable, and if people judge me for it, that’s their problem.” We’ve all said the above when we’ve been treated in a way we’re not happy about, or when somebody didn’t take the time to get to know us. As nerds, it’s like it’s built into our DNA: “how dare that person not respect me for me, regardless of my appearance.”

The truth: 99.9999% of people will never get to know the real you. They can only go off what they see and subconsciously process that about you within fractions of a second. So, being more confident starts by dressing the part, and how you dress can affect the outcome of an interaction:

Experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.”

So how does one start to dress better, to get both benefits of changing how you view yourself and how others view you? Guys – if you’ve ever worn a perfectly tailored suit for a wedding, or ladies, a dress that made you feel like a superstar, you know what I mean.

Depending on your style, that might be dressing like a musician, or in a suit, or in jeans and a tee shirt – it comes down to fit and how good YOU feel in those clothes! After all:

“What about suits and ties? “If you associate those clothes with power and confidence, it’s going to have a huge impact [on subconsciously making you act more powerful and confident],” he says. “But for some people, wearing suits makes them feel like a phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. So it’s really about what the symbolic meaning of the clothes is to the person.”

So, it all comes back to YOU being YOU, and dressing in a way that accentuates that. Dress the part for the type of confidence you WANT to exude, and your body will respond in kind.

Making a Great First Impression

Level Up Social Skills

Okay! We’ve prepared, but now we’re going out into the wild!

Social interaction can be a HUGE challenge for many, and even the most confident looking person can fall apart as soon as they encounter another human. So how can we set ourselves up to win before we even start to speak?

Here are the two most important tips, backed by science, that will make you appear more confident and can help you on dates, interviews, or any other social interaction:

1) Smile, fool! People will respond to the emotions you project. If you are projecting “I am happy and fun,” they will subconsciously want to be happy too. The best way to trick your brain into being happy and fun is to start with a smile. As this study and this study point out, smiling can make you happier, and change how you think and feel about yourself.

2) Eye contact. This is challenging, as it makes most people feel incredibly awkward. Do you walk around looking down at the ground, avoiding eye contact with others? Or if you happen to lock eyes with somebody, do you quickly look away? Most of us do these things automatically, and it screams “I am insecure.” As you’re developing confidence, really focus on maintaining eye contact with people, as it can certainly affect how you are treated.

As Art of Manliness points out in this article on Eye Contact: “Numerous studies have shown that people who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being:

  • More dominant and powerful
  • More warm and personable
  • More attractive and likeable
  • More qualified, skilled, competent, and valuable
  • More trustworthy, honest, and sincere
  • More confident and emotionally stable

If you’re on a date or having an intense conversation with a boss, maintaining eye contact is a huge part of exuding strength, confidence, and self-respect.”

Try it today. While walking down the street, maintain eye contact with strangers as you walk by them. If they look at you, despite everything in your brain telling you to turn away, maintain your gaze! Try a smile, a brief head nod, and continue on your way.

Also, don’t forget to blink. You’re welcome :)

Fake it ’til you become it.


Along with everything above, there’s one last thing we can to do build confidence: Fake it!

There are many different kinds of confidence – think about the characters or people that you admire or people you respect and would like to emulate. Start by identifying the person you’d like to be more like, and emulate them.

As Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, explains in this following video, ask yourself “how would a confident person act in this situation?” And then, act how that person would act.

It’s okay if it feels weird or it’s not how you would normally act – you’re acting. Like a scientist testing a hypothesis, you’re merely trying things out. This can help remove a lot of the fear of rejection or awkward situations:

Derek is a friend of mine, and I’ve witnessed him take over a room in New York City within five minutes simply through his actions, mannerisms, and voice; it was hilarious and inspiring. After he did this in multiple locations within an hour, I knew he had the code cracked…but I also know from our conversations that Derek wasn’t born confident – it was a skill he actively built and worked on over the years to improve.

I realize this might sound counterintuitive to what I’ve been explaining: how can faking it improve ACTUAL confidence (aka the true confidence we seek)? Just as how we stand or dress can physiologically change our brains, adopting certain “confident” traits can also physiologically change our brains – allowing us to exude the very confidence we’re trying to build! Just remember we are embodying and emulating the positive traits of the confident and charismatic people, and using those things to present our best selves.

I want you to try the following TODAY:

1) Wear clothes today that you feel DAMN good in, that fit your body type.

2) Before you head out in the wild, strike a power pose for 2 minutes.

3) When you walk, do so tall and proudly.

4) The next stranger you see (or coffee shop barista, waitress, receptionist, whoever), work on maintaining eye contact while smiling.

And then report back on how you were treated or how people responded compared to how you are normally treated! Did you carry yourself differently? If you who used to be shy and have actively improved your social confidence, do you have any tips for your fellow socially awkward Rebels?


PS: Almost 2,000 Rebels joined Nerd Fitness Yoga last week, and it’s been awesome seeing so many people get started with yoga for the first time. If you missed out, take the free flexibility challenge and we’ll be opening doors again later on in 2015!


photo source: walking on air: ryan claussen, Danbo’s Life: Carlo Ciccarelli, personality: vic

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Nerd Fitness Yoga is Now Available (Now Closed.) Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:30:06 +0000 Nerd Fitness Yoga is finally here!

After a year+ of planning, an intense week of filming back in February, and six months of development, we’re finally launching our first new product in almost two years!

Nerd Fitness Yoga is officially available for the next four days! This course has been designed from the beginning to help people of all ages, shapes, and sizes start improving their health and flexibility, with the same charm, corny humor, and quality you’ve come to expect.

If the initial reviews and excitement (see below!) are any indication, we’re off to a killer start!

In fact, last week we did an early launch to NF Academy members, and OVER 800 people have already joined the party!

I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve created as a team, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

It’s been quite the ride to get here:

  • Nearly seven years ago, I started Nerd Fitness with a half-broken laptop hoping to help a few folks get fit.
  • Five years ago, I put out my first product, complete with videos filmed on an iPhone, in a playground with screaming children. It was ugly, but it got NF started!
  • With Nerd Fitness Yoga, we’ve leveled up our quality big time. We have hours of high quality footage, filmed in a studio that looks like a Super Mario Brothers level, and we’ve optimized the experience for viewing on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop).
  • All the videos can be streamed to any device, or downloaded to any device for viewing when you don’t have access to the internet!

Now, I’m not going to go through alllll of the benefits, features, and bonuses that come with Nerd Fitness Yoga, as all of that stuff is listed out in detail right here!

Yes, it will help you get more flexible. Yes, it will hold your hand through half a dozen yoga routines. Yes, it features some corny jokes by me. Yes, it is all done in a way that makes yoga approachable and fun.

Yes, I want you to check it out! 

I will tell you that it was an absolute blast to film this stuff with Staci from Team Nerd Fitness and Kate Marolt (our professional yogi and longtime NF Rebel!), and I’m glad we can finally release it to the world today.

Here are a few things our early adopters are saying about their first NF Yoga experience:






There are more reactions and first impressions we captured listed here. We’re so pumped people are loving it!

The Yoga Toga Party

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 19th, we’re hosting a Yoga Toga Party on Google Hangouts!

I will be joined by Staci and Kate to have a fun launch party and Q&A.

Yes, we will be wearing togas and having fun.

Why a Yoga Toga party? Because Toga rhymes with Yoga, and I don’t get many opportunities to wear clothing that rhymes with products that I’m launching. Also, because why the hell not! Life is short, let’s have some fun.

So, whether you’ve already picked up Nerd Fitness Yoga, have no desire to ever, or are on the fence, come hang out at the party! We’ll be answering questions about Yoga, health and fitness, or my life in general (like how my first 48 hours in NF HQ’s new location have gone). That’s right, in my quest to become Captain America I have relocated to New York City.

Make sure you add the Yoga Toga Party to your calendar!

The Yoga Toga Party will be taking place at this link at 10 pm EST on Wednesday, August 19th. If you can’t make it live, that’s okay – we’ll be recording it (but it won’t be nearly as fun as dropping in live!)

Doors close on Friday

Because this is the first time we’ve launched a course like this, Nerd Fitness Yoga is only available until Friday at 11:59 pm EST

We’re excited to watch our first eager batch of Rebels level up with NF Yoga. Then we’ll reopen the doors much later this year, potentially at a higher price.


If you want to be one of the first Rebels to join us, watch my nerdy, late night video walkthrough I recorded that shows you each section, parts of actual sessions, and everything that’s included.

We know Nerd Fitness Yoga isn’t for everybody, so no matter what, thanks for reading up to this point. You can expect Nerd Fitness to continue as normal, with free articles every week, a free message board community, and a few more free features up our sleeves launching soon for the whole community.

I also have one more gigantic announcement about something happening in early 2016, but I can’t talk about that until next month…

Thanks again for being a part of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion – this community has already exceeded my wildest expectations from when I first started back in 2009, and there is a lot more fun to be had.

Hope to see you in Nerd Fitness Yoga!



]]> 12
How to Make Tortilla Espanola Thu, 13 Aug 2015 14:30:39 +0000 This is a recipe from Team NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Hard-working Rebels have struggled for years to figure out how to make a portable breakfast to take to work. In fact, for those who aren’t intermittent fasting, you may have a goal of eating a healthy breakfast to start your day off right.

The closest many of us have come to solving this riddle is by making a favorite of The Rebellion: Prosciutto Wrapped Egg Muffins. However, I rarely make them because I’m a hot mess in the kitchen and I get egg EVERYWHERE. Plus, I find prosciutto prohibitively expensive and I have ruined many muffin tins and lost much of my breakfast to…well…them sticking to the pan. Solve this problem for me Jedis of the egg muffin order; you’re my only hope.

I may have discovered a solution for us muffin dunces. Recently I went on an Epic Quest of my own and discovered something called Tortilla Espanola.

This Spanish dish just might be something foreign we can add to our healthy breakfast arsenal. It’s healthy, tasty, and traditionally, there are only 4 ingredients. That means it’s super easy to make!

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish dish that is essentially an egg cake with potato and onion. It’s cut into triangles or squares and served at room temperature as tapas. You might think: cold egg? Gross! But there’s no reason you can’t warm it up in the microwave before you head out. (But, before you do, give it a try traditionally and keep it chilled or at room temperature.)

Tortilla Espanola:


Serves: 2-3
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced sweet potato – I used sweets to keep it Paleo; if you eat regular potatoes, feel free to go traditional and sub those!
  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) diced yellow onion
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) olive oil

Optional ingredients to spice it up:

(these are what I used in mine)

  • 1/3 cup (78.86ml) red bell pepper
  • 1/2 sausage link – I used Applegate Farms chicken apple sausages. Look for something with minimal processing, chemicals, and no added sugar or wheat. These sausages are also pre-cooked and ready to eat. If your sausages are raw, please COOK THEM FIRST before adding them to your eggs.
  • 4 cherry tomatoes – cut into quarters

I didn’t use these, but they are also good choices. Choose your favorites!

  • Mushrooms
  • Bacon – cook it first then chop it after removing it from the pan. As a bonus, you can use the bacon grease to saute the rest of your veggies!
  • Spinach


  • Cast iron or other oven-safe saute pan
  • Spatula
  • Bowl
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Potato Peeler


Check out the video version of this recipe here (or below)!

The next 16 steps are really just three: we’ll be cutting and cooking our veggies, mixing them in with our eggs, and cooking the whole thing.

Let’s go!

1. Wash all your veggies.

2. Chop all your veggies. If you need a reminder about how to do this, check out these links:


Cut the little tomatoes into quarters and the sausage into medallions and then chop those in half or into quarters.

A quick note – We’ll want to dice these things pretty small so they incorporate well into the egg mixture. The bell pepper and mushroom instructions above are for larger chunks. 

When you’re done, everything should look like this:


3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan. This will take a minute or so. Once it is hot, it will slide easily around the pan.


4. Toss in your diced sweet potato. Stir to coat with oil and let them cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to cook through, but you don’t want them to burn, so stay attentive! A fork should be able to easily pop in to the chunk when finished.


5. When they’re done, remove them from your pan. Scoop them into a bowl and let them cool while you cook the onion and other veggies.


6. Place another 1 tbsp of olive oil in your pan and let it heat up. It should heat up more quickly this time since your pan is already hot.

7. Toss in your onion, bell peppers, and other veggies like mushrooms or spinach if using. Stir these to coat with oil and let them cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are finished cooking, the onions should become translucent.


When they are done, remove them from the heat. Place them in a bowl and set aside to cool. Be sure to remove your pan from the heat so it doesn’t get too hot.

8. Now break your eggs into a mixing bowl and scramble them. Mix in all your sautéed ingredients plus the ingredients that didn’t need to be cooked (tomatoes and sausage). If you’re using bacon, now’s the time to add it. Stir to incorporate them really well.


9. Put your pan back on the heat and add another 2 tbsp oil. Let it heat up for a minute or so. Heat and oil are super important at this point. If you don’t let the pan get hot enough or add enough oil to coat the pan before adding the eggs, your egg will stick. Major bummer.

10. Once your pan and the oil are hot, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Then grab your bowl full of egg and dump it into the hot pan. Now leave it alone!


11. While the egg is cooking in the pan, turn on your broiler. If your broiler has the option of “HI” or “LO,” go ahead and set it to low. Make sure everything is out of the oven before turning it on – we don’t want any melting disasters.

12. Once the egg has cooked for about 1-2 minutes on your stove top (or until the egg solidifies), turn off the heat. Take your spatula and run it around the sides of the pan, gently unsticking the egg from the sides. You’ll thank me later.


13. Now place the pan in the oven under the broiler. We do this so that the top of the egg cooks — you’ll notice at this point, it’s still a little raw and runny. Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your broiler). Check it frequently to make sure it’s not burning.


14. Once the egg on the top is cooked, pull it out of the oven. Remember to use an oven mitt! (I burn myself way too often grabbing hot pan handles).


15. Take a rubber spatula and run it around the sides and the bottom of the pan gently. We’re un-sticking any stuck egg from the pan.

Take a plate and place it on top of the pan.

Flip the pan over to flip the egg onto the plate. (This step is clearer in the video.) You can see in the picture that it stuck a little bit to the pan.

That’s not a huge deal. Life goes on…


16. Let the egg sit on the plate to cool before you cut into it. Move the egg to a cutting board by simply sliding it from one surface to the next and cut it into triangles or squares. For bonus points, if you have dinosaur shaped cookie cutters, use those to cut your egg. Because that sounds awesome.



If you want, you can serve these on a plate with guacamole or salsa. Personally, I just put it in a paper towel and eat it on the go. It’s a pretty easy quick snack or breakfast for the busy Rebel!

Trying and discovering new foods is one of the best parts of travel, in my opinion. Trying recipes or spice combinations from other lands is just one of the ways we can bring the magic of a trip back home.

Let’s hope this solves the breakfast problem for some of us who are egg-muffin challenged.

Have you tried foods while traveling that you’d like to try to cook at home?

What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast?

Did you find the video helpful?

Let us know in the comments!


PS: Have you joined our free 5-Day Flexibility Challenge yet? We’re opening the doors for Nerd Fitness Yoga next Tuesday for 4 days, but you can start testing your flexibility today!

]]> 44
How to Touch Your Toes: Become Bendy Like Gumby! Mon, 10 Aug 2015 13:57:04 +0000 It’s something we’ve talked about since we were kids in gym class: “can you touch your toes?” We even had the “sit-and-reach” test in the Presidential Fitness Test (remember that!?).

Is there a point to it though? Why does “touching your toes” actually matter?

Well, to start, developing proper flexibility and mobility is crucial when it comes to strength training – not being able to touch your toes can reveal a plethora of muscle imbalances that leads to poor form (and potential injury) when performing major movements such as squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts, and more.

But we’re not just talking about injury – better flexibility and range of motion boosts our strength gains (and vice versa!).

As this study shows, “short-term strength training increases flexibility and strength in sedentary adult women… strength and flexibility can be prescribed together to get optimal improvements in flexibility.”

And according to Dr. Alexander Rosado, DPT, not being able to touch your toes could be a major indicator of an issue or future issue (ranging from plantar fasciitis to lower back pain).

It’s tough to get strong as hell if you injure yourself, and what’s the point of a lot of strength if you can barely move your body to take advantage of it?

If you are unable to touch your toes, it’s most likely because of one of these five major reasons:

1) Shortened/tight posterior chain muscles. Although most people think not being able to touch our toes just means your hamstring muscles are inflexible, in reality our whole system (including the lower back) can play a huge role as well! As Mark Rippetoe explains in this video about the Romanian deadlift, what you may think is a lower back issue is also a hamstring issue (and vice versa). You see, the posterior chain is an interconnected series of muscles that includes our back muscles, erector spinae (muscles along our spine), lower back muscles, butts, and hamstrings. Weak mobility points in one place in the system can become debilitating (and often easy to spot) when we do compound movements like the deadlift.

If you’re somebody who sits at a desk all day and struggles to touch your toes, you probably aren’t strengthening or lengthening these muscles because the chair is doing all of the work for you.

2) You have relatively long legs compared to your torso and arms. People with long legs and short torsos will have a greater challenge than people who have short legs and long torsos and arms. But fear not, you too can level up and get those toes touched.

3) You have too much body fat. If you are overweight and happen to have a big stomach, it can certainly make touching one’s toes more challenging. Because you already know that diet is 90% of the battle when it comes to weight loss, focus on nutrition to begin losing weight. This may be a factor in making it easier to touch your toes.

4) You’re not warmed up yet. If you JUST woke up or spent all day in a car, you’re familiar with the rigidity that makes you feel like a steel girder. Your muscles act like rubber bands; the more they are used, the more they are warmed-up, and the further they can stretch. This is why we encourage people to go through a mobility warm-up before exercise!

Let’s put a plan in place to finally touch our toes!

Test your flexibility


Before we can implement a strategy to develop more flexibility that allows you to touch your toes, we need to know your starting point.

As Peter Drucker said, “That which gets measured gets managed.” Or in this case, that which gets measured gets more flexible! 

The following comes from our free 5-Day Flexibility Series, which you can sign up for today!

TOE TOUCH TEST (click on image to watch video demonstration)

Toe Touch

Stand straight with your legs about hip width apart.You want your legs to be straight, but don’t aggressively lock out your knees either (this feels like a “microbend” to a lot of people).

Begin by bending and leaning forward towards the ground with your quads (front of your legs).

Let your body rest naturally, as if you were a ragdoll. Keeping your hands relatively close together, straighten your fingers and begin to stretch down slowly to the ground.

Do this 2-3 times to get warmed up. Try to keep your legs straight by flexing or activating your quads; keep your legs straight, without your knees nearly locked.

Other than the microbend, don’t bend your knees to help you get closer to the ground! I’m watching you. If you’re videotaping yourself on these to track your progress, note that depending on your body (and your hamstrings) your legs may not look 100% straight.

When you are ready, reach towards the ground and hold it for a few seconds. Measure the distance in one of the following ways:

  • If you aren’t touching the ground, have a friend measure the distance from your tip of your fingers to the ground. If you don’t have a friend with you, place your hands on your legs and note where the tips of your fingers end up.
  • If you can touch the ground, you’ll want to flatten your hands as much as possible, and record the distance from the top of your head to the ground. As you can stretch further, the top of your head will actually get closer and closer to the ground.
  • If this seems easy, try hugging your calves and pulling your head in towards your body.

Record your measurement in a document or on a piece of paper (if you’re part of the flexibility challenge, we have a document you can print out), and/or save the photo/video to show how far down you are reaching.

Improve Your flexibility


There are two key factors that will determine whether or not you are successful in gaining the ability to touch your toes as you practice over the next few weeks:

  • Actively stretching your muscles JUST past the point of comfort. Like strength training by adding 1 rep or a few pounds to an exercise, we want to stretch just beyond the point where we stretched last time so our muscles have to elongate.
  • Consistent practice and effort! You can’t improve your flexibility by stretching for 5 minutes once a month. You’d be better off stretching for 30 seconds spread out 10 times throughout the month.

That’s right. Studies confirmed that actively focusing on touching your toes for 30 seconds, 3 times per week was enough to lengthen hamstring muscles in 4 weeks. Here’s another study that shows 30 seconds of effort results in a more flexible frame!

I‘m sure there’s an inappropriate joke to be made here about 30 seconds of effort, but I’m better than that (I think).

In less time than it takes to update your Facebook status, you could be touching your toes and make Gumby proud. And I know you have time.


All I’m asking for is 2 minutes. 2 minutes! You can even spread these movements out throughout your day – I like to do them after I work out. After a long day at a desk, after driving, or upon waking up are all good times to work on flexibility!

Through each of the movements below, make sure you are breathing slowly and steadily.


  • Standing toe touch stretch – 30 seconds
  • Cat/Camel – 30 seconds (switch positions every 5 seconds)
  • Star stretch – 30 seconds (as many slow reps as you can)
  • Moon the sky – 30 seconds (as many slow reps as you can)

1) Standing toe touch stretch: Flex/activate the front of your legs, keep them straight, and bend over at the waist juuuust past the point of discomfort; hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat this process every other day and hold it for 30 seconds.

toe touching stretch

2) We can loosen up a tight lower back by doing 30 seconds of moving back and forth every few seconds by doing a “cat” and then a “camel”:



3) You can also do what we call a star stretch to help stretch those legs out! Stand with your legs spread wide, and arms extended (hence the term Star!), and then reach down with one hand to your opposite leg; hold for five seconds, back to start, and repeat with the other leg.

star stretch

4) Here’s another favorite movement of mine that helps improve my flexibility and mobility: the “Moon the Sky” stretch! This is a great stretch to mix into your pre-workout warmup to get your legs, butt, and back prepared for work:

  • Squat down and put your hands under your feet
  • Slowly move your butt up with your hands remaining under your feet.
  • Raise your butt and try to straighten your legs
  • Go a TEENY bit higher each time until you can fully straighten your legs!

Here’s what I mean:

Moon the Sky

Test your toe-touching abilities before and after doing the 2-minutes of exercise above, and I bet you’ll notice a difference right away – just wait to see what you can accomplish in a few weeks!

The cool thing about flexibility is that any combination of the stretches above will help you improve your flexibility as long as you consistently work on it a tiny bit every day.

I do mobility work when I wake up, after I work out, throughout my day (when working at my desk), and at the end of my day for a minute or two before bed. All added up, it’s less than 5 minutes of time, but its enough to show me some results!

Join the Flexibility Challenge


Today kicks off a free 5-Day Flexibility Challenge for those who sign up for the Yoga List! It includes a downloadable worksheet for you to track your measurements, video demonstrations of each movement, and instructions on how to work on your flexibility.

You can sign up for the Flexibility challenge, and next Tuesday, August 18th, we’re launching our first new product in almost two freaking years: Nerd Fitness Yoga!

In our quest to build a leveled up body, strength + flexibility = the ability to do and try anything without our bodies holding us back.

Take the Flexibility Challenge, and take a step towards Gumby-Status!

Can you touch your toes? Can you commit to 30 seconds every other day for the next few weeks? I know you can. You know you can. Let’s get it done!



Photo credit: the adventures of Gumby and R2D2, Storm troopers and Gumby

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