Nerd Fitness » Blog Level up your life, every single day. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:35:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Struggling to Get Fit? Add Potions Before Your Boss Fight. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:02:57 +0000 Self improvement can suck.

Getting ourselves to do the things we know we need to do can feel impossible. We know a better life awaits if we can just get ourselves to “stay motivated” and “get focused,” and yet time after time we struggle to stick with anything long term, continually restarting from square one.

We ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?” And “Why do I suck? I know what I need to do and I just can’t get myself to do it.”

  • “I know I need to eat better, but after a few days of cooking delicious meals I get busy and somehow end up in the drive-through line at Arby’s.”
  • “I know I should exercise more, and after a kick-ass week at the gym, I find myself half-assing my workouts, not seeing results, and I get demoralized. Wait, how did I end up in the Arby’s line again!?”
  • “I’m in pretty good shape, but trying to level up to an elite level of fitness really just seems like an exercise in frustration. Where’s the closest Arby’s?”

If any of the above sounds like you, then today is for you.

Trying to change in situations like the above can be futile if you’re not adequately prepared. It’s like going into a boss battle with 50% health, crappy armor, and no healing potions.  

Yes, you CAN still win, but the margin for error is miniscule. Why not give yourself the best chance to survive?

Today, we’re going to talk about how to actually conquer the above situations by thinking of these challenges in terms of bosses, battle gear, and buffs. Let’s see how they can help you survive the first encounter with a difficult challenge, instead of a frustrating defeat.

It’s time to start using buffs and upgraded armor in real life too.

Stack Your Inventory.

Health Potions

I am currently in the process of packing on some size and muscle (like a superhero). 

This requires a eating tremendous amount of healthy calories, along with a diligent adherence to a demanding workout plan. Initially I had grand visions of preparing myself tons of healthy meals, hitting all of my workout goals, running Nerd Fitness, and continuing my other nerdy pursuits (gaming, violin, reading, etc.)…ultimately resulting in me looking like Captain America.

Unfortunately, I’ve been fighting this battle off and on for the past decade. Despite this effort, I still don’t look like Steve Rogers.  I always do well for a few weeks, but generally slide slowly back to “pretty good” territory…and I always chalked it up to lack of dedication.

After a heart to heart with myself (it happens a lot when you live alone), I decided to add a critical item to my inventory to help me get through a few key months to get me on track while I sorted out the rest of the chaos in my life.

I gave myself permission to eat out for lunch, every day.

Feel free to let out an audible gasp right now. “BUT STEVE, you write about healthy eating and preparing your own meals and you provide tons of recipes, what gives?!”

Hear me out! What I’ve come to learn is that there’s a perfect plan, and then there’s a realistic plan.

We’d love to all follow the perfect plan and flawlessly defeat the boss (like this guy who perfectly won Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!), but the reality is…life is tough! An imperfect plan we ACTUALLY execute is better than a perfect plan we fail to execute.Tyson

So I added some buffs to my inventory.

At the beginning of the year, I really struggled with preparing all of my own meals; 3200-4000 daily calories of chicken, steak, vegetables, and some sort of carbohydrate source was time consuming. I also practice intermittent fasting, so all of those calories are consumed in an 8 hour window, from noon to 8 pm.  I felt like I was spending a lot of time on food and I wasn’t successfully juggling all the items in my life.

So, I made some key upgrades:

  • Lunch HP potion: After going to the gym, I eat out for lunch, nearly every day. I have three restaurants that I frequent that provide me with a MASSIVE meal full of rice, protein, and vegetables. It’s prepared quickly, relatively inexpensive, and I can get tons of calories into my system without prep or cleanup.
  • Upgraded weapons: After burning out the motor on a few crappy blenders (and taking 10 minutes to blend my powerbomb protein shakes), I finally bought a good blender. It saves me 3-5 minutes a day and makes me far more likely to take the step to make a shake.
  • Improved armor: Although I loved the idea of cooking a delicious stirfry every night, the fact of the matter was that I DIDN’T DO IT. So, I bought a cheap rice cooker. I minimized the steps between Hungry Steve and Well-Fed Steve.


I chose instead to re-prioritize my inventory, and use some of my rupees on these items so that I didn’t have to be AS perfect in my boss battle (my caloric nutrition goals).

Do I plan on eating out for lunch every day for the rest of my life? Negatory! I look forward to the days when I can prepare all of my healthy meals and still get everything else done in my life – I know it’s possible as I’ve done it before. Right now however, this “imperfect plan” is one that I can execute and actually get results with!

And guess what? The past two months have resulted in tremendous strength and size gains.

In any video game, when you are going into a new boss battle, that buff or healing potion can be the difference between life or death. When you attack a new problem (or an advanced tactic) in real life, adjusting priorities can also be the difference between finally building that habit….or yet another crash and burn attempt at getting healthy.

Mercenaries and strategy guides

Strategy guide

In many video games you’re able to hire a character to join you on a boss battle, unlocking certain strategies that can help turn the tide.

Or, you may have used a strategy guide or video walk-through to get past a difficult boss. Some might argue that it’s “cheating” to watch somebody else beat the game before trying it yourself, but it’s still up to you to follow the instructions and execute it properly to win.

In life as in games, we can hire a mercenary or use strategy guides too! Yes, it would be great to just KNOW how to exercise, how to squat properly, or how to create a workout plan, but oftentimes it’s our lack of knowledge (or lack of confidence) that can keep us on the sidelines or struggling to win the battle.

If you’re new to fitness, or you’re stuck in a middle ground and trying to get further ahead, have you considered enlisting the help of a mercenary or finding a strategy guide?

Although it would be GREAT to have a mercenary in our party at all times yelling, prodding, educating, and helping us get results, just having somebody to help for a single session or a single week can be the difference between long term success and long term frustration!

Have you met my friend Adam Baker? For the six years that we’ve known each other Baker has struggled with getting healthy (and he’ll tell you the same thing). He knows what he’s supposed to do, but it’s been very easy for him to slip back into old patterns and habits after a week or two of success.

He continued to attack his problem in the same way every time, the equivalent of going into a boss battle with the same tactic and not catching on to the boss’s patterns.

Baker needed a new strategy, so I recommended that he hire a mercenary and use a strategy guide. For the past month, Baker has been working virtually with somebody that provides him with a specific workout plan to follow and feedback on his progress. Instead of wandering through the gym or not going at all, he feels like he has a strategy guide to follow.

Unsurprisingly, Baker has made consistent progress over the past two months, actually completes his workouts now, and has the confidence to stay on track. 

Will Baker work with a coach forever? I doubt it! Instead, he’s using this opportunity for a few months to learn from a mercenary, to follow the patterns laid out in a strategy guide, so he then has the confidence to attack his current boss battle unassisted.

A win is a win


When you are trying to win a boss battle, all that matters is that you still have one hit point when the boss has none. It might be an ugly fight, you might look back and say “I can’t believe I had to use ten potions to survive that guy.” But it still counts!

This is the whole reason you buy potions! And upgrade your armor! Because it makes the fight easier for you…and can be the difference between victory and throwing your controller against the wall.

Life is no different. Yes, it would be AMAZING if you decided to get in shape, created your own workout plan, cooked three healthy meals every day, went to bed at 9 pm, didn’t drink alcohol, played less video games, and your children were all well-behaved.

But life is life. And it comes down to organizing priorities for success.

  • Baker had a conversation with his wife about finances before committing to hiring a coach for a few months
  • I spent months saving up before buying a great blender, and adjusted my life in other places so that I could afford to eat out for lunch every day.

We’re prioritizing our fitness goals over many other aspects of our lives right now, as that’s the only way we’ve been able to find the momentum to survive the boss fight.

Like diverting power from one conduit to double up the power in another, we’ve shifted our focus, energy, and effort temporarily to put everything into this boss battle.

This works with eating healthy, exercise, and many other aspects of life too. What are some boss battles that you’re currently fighting with 50% health?

Struggling to meditate every day? Use and follow a 2 minuted guided mediation (strategy guide!).

Want to start doing yoga? Sign up for a month of yoga classes to learn the movements so you’re more confident when you do them at home (mercenary!).

Struggling to eat better? Check Craigslist and see if you can find a chef to prepare meals for you at a reasonable cost for a month (inventory upgrade!).

Want to walk more? Grab a fitbit and train your body to get used to walking 10,000 steps every day until you can do it tech-free (armor upgrade!).

Want to learn how to squat and deadlift? Hire a coach for ONE session and have them perfect your squat and deadlift form (mercenary!). Check back with them in a month.

Want to learn to speak a new language? Go to and speak with a native speaker in exchange for teaching them english (improve your group).

Yes, it’s possible, through trial and error and perfect practice to accomplish all of the things above…but it can also be a big struggle!

Don’t be afraid to temporarily use a buff or divert resources to the important stuff for a few months until you have the boss’s patterns memorized so well you can win blindfolded!

Survive and thrive

Health Pot

Nerd Fitness has been a free resource for the past six years and will continue to provide free resources until the eventual robot uprising or zombie apocalypse.

Although we’ve provided you with dozens of free workout plans, recipes, and a free community…we also know how valuable and how things can change when you make a commitment to invest and prioritize your health.

It’s why we have so many great success stories that come out of the Nerd Fitness Academy.  Making a decision to prioritize your health and wellness, and adjusting parts of your life to make success in a boss battle can be the difference between “holy crap I did it” and “how did I backslide so much?”

We have a limited amount of money and time to spend on things in our life. Once we get beyond the basic necessities of existence, every other dollar spent, and every minute spent, is a vote for what’s really important in our lives. When you have an opportunity to win a battle, don’t be afraid to use temporary buffs to make it happen.

Eventually, I plan on eating out at restaurants way less than I do. Baker hopes to get to a point where he doesn’t need a coach to help keep him on track.

However, in the meantime, these ‘investments’ are acting as temporary buffs that allow us to succeed instead of failing. I’d rather win ugly than fail perfectly!

Let’s hear it:

What’s a “boss battle” in your life that you’re struggling with, and what’s one buff or health potion you can use to allow you to build that habit?

Let me know in the comments below!


PS: We’ve opened up a limited number of early bird spots for Camp Nerd Fitness 2015! We started with 150 and we’re down to just 33 spots left – check out the new site for all the details and watch our video recap from last year’s camp.

Make your fully refundable deposit to secure your spot today - and see you at Camp!


photo source: Nina HelmerZelda Strategy Guide, fisherkiller: potion, Seth Reineke: Cover potion, Sarah: Health Potions, ario_: Tyson, Zelda Wiki: Ganon, phobus: bowser

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How to Make Healthy Holiday Sides Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:48:16 +0000 This is a post by Rebel Chef Noel.

Rebels! It’s time for a little roleplaying game. This is a solo adventure, and you’re armed with a few cooking skills that you’ve managed to pick up along your journey…

Situation 1: You’ve been asked to bring a side dish to a family gathering or workplace potluck. In years past, you’ve run out to the store last minute and picked up a bag of dinner rolls, a pre-made pie, or a few cans of creamed corn. But you’ve dedicated this year to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and you’re determined to stay focused during the holidays.

Situation 2: You’ve been invited to a gathering or party, and you know what they’ll be serving as a main dish. It works for you (turkey, ham, brisket, etc.). You’re armed with a battle plan for avoiding willpower-diminishing-foods, but you would still like to eat something besides a pile of meat while you’re there. You decide to bring a healthy dish to share so that you’ll definitely have something to put on your plate, and so you don’t show up to the door empty-handed!

What do you do?

First of all, remember you’re a hero!

Secondly, don’t panic! We’ve got you covered.

Today, we’re going to add two new side dishes to your arsenal. They’re both pretty darn easy, and both can be made vegetarian.

The holidays are already a stressful and busy time. The last thing we want you to do is worry about what you’re going to eat at or bring to a gathering. Here are two options for you to sink your teeth into:

Sauteed Green Beans and Spinach with Lemon and Almonds – Okay, so green beans are legumes and technically not paleo…But as far as legumes go, they’re not half bad. If you want to make this 100% paleo, sub broccoli for green beans and chop it fairly small (1″ or 2.54cm pieces). If you want to make it vegetarian/paleo, sub olive oil for butter/bacon grease.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hazelnuts – I like to call these “Brussels Sprouts For People Who Hate Brussels Sprouts.” This will turn the most cautious sprout eater into a sprout lover. Seriously, my family has asked me to bring this and only this to holiday dinners for the past three years. You can eliminate the maple syrup in this recipe to make it no-sugar, but I highly suggest that you don’t. Use less if you want to go low-sugar. And, if you want to make it vegetarian, simply omit the bacon!

Green Beans

Total time: 15 min
Serves: 4 (Multiply the recipe for more servings. If your pan isn’t big enough, make it in batches.)



Noel_Green_Beans6Spinach - 3 cups (709 mL) fresh spinach (packed). Spinach is a leaf, so it doesn’t fit well into a measuring cup. It’s okay if there are a bunch of leaves sticking out of the top. In this recipe, 100% measurement accuracy isn’t necessary. Relax! My cups of spinach looked like this:

Green beans - about 1/2 lb (.22 kg). I measured this out at the store because they have green beans available in bulk this time of year. Places like Trader Joe’s have them pre packaged, and that’s okay too. Do you see something called a French-style green bean? That just means they’re cut in half length wise. These will work too!

Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

Fat - 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of butter/olive oil/bacon grease, or your other favorite fat

Slivered/chopped almonds - 1/4 cup (59 mL). I like the texture of almonds in this dish, but any nut will do. Alternately, if you don’t like nuts or have an allergy, omit this all together and use chopped bacon or sauteed mushrooms instead!

Garlic - 2 cloves or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pre minced. My mom gave me a jar full of minced garlic recently. This is totally okay to use if you don’t feel up to buying and chopping your own cloves.


1) Rinse your green beans and chop the tops off. (If you have French-Style green beans, you won’t have to do this.)

Take them out of the bag and make a pile with the stems at the top. Use your knife to cut the top 1/4 inch off of them. For my 1/2 lb it took about 2 handfuls and 1.5 minutes to do this. Since you have the knife and cutting board out, now would be a good time to cut your lemon in half also.


2) Pre-heat your pan over medium heat. You’ll want to heat the pan for about 5 minutes (depending on the power of your stove). Generally, if you hold your hand about 6 inches from the pan, you should be able to feel heat/warmth. This means your pan is ready for cookin!

3) Melt your fat in the pan. Put your oil or fat in the pan and let it melt. Grab the handle of the pan and move the pan around at different angles so that you can coat the pan with oil (kind of like one of those maze games with the ball). Having the oil all over your pan will make it easier for you to then coat your veggies in oil…

We’re going to cook the green beans first because they will take a little longer than the spinach to cook. Toss your green beans into the pan and coat them with oil (they will look shiny when they’re coated). Sprinkle some salt and pepper on if you like. Stir them around every couple of minutes so that they cook on all sides.


5) Now add your garlic and stir it into the green beans. Be sure most of it sticks to the beans.


6) After about 5 minutes, toss in your spinach. You might have to do this in batches. Three cups is a lot of spinach and, depending on the size of your pan, the pan may overflow and your spinach might fall out. So if it’s too much,wait until the first cup shrinks down before adding the next cup, and so on…


Mix that around and get it coated in oil. Wait another five minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spinach has started to cook down, it’ll look like this:


7) When the spinach has wilted and the green beans are a bright green, you’re almost done! Now we’ll add the lemon juice and almonds.


Stir it all together really quick, then toss it into a serving dish, tupperware for transporting to a gathering, or directly onto your plate and enjoy!


*Pro-tip! Don’t Lemon your dinner! Munching down on a bitter, crunchy lemon seed after you’ve taken a bite of delicious food sucks! (I know because I always forget about lemon seeds until I’ve already squeezed them into my food. Do as I say, not as I do.) To avoid this tragedy, squeeze the juice into a bowl first and then remove the seeds. Or, if you have a juicer that gets rid of the seeds for you, use that!

Brussels Sprouts:

Total time: 50 minutes
Serves: 6-8 (feel free to multiply the recipe if you need more.)



  • 2 lbs (.90 kg) Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) Olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 mL) Salt1/4 teaspoon  (1 ml) Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) Toasted Hazelnuts (or pecans)L
  • 2 Slices Bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) 100% pure maple syrup – make sure it’s REAL maple syrup. Most syrups are actually “maple flavored” high fructose corn syrup, common in the pancake aisle at your local grocer. Yuck!


1) Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and heat up your frying pan.

2) It’s time for the prep work! Line your baking sheet with foil and rinse your brussels sprouts. Easy enough.

3) Take the sprouts a few at a time and place them on your cutting board. You’re going to chop off the bottom “stem” part off the sprout.


Then you’re going to chop those little guys in half. Take the halves and toss them into a mixing bowl. Discard the stems.


4) The oven should be pretty hot by now. Before we roast the sprouts, we’re going to toast the hazelnuts. Take the nuts and spread them out on your baking sheet. Place them in the oven for 1-2 minutes. Watch them VERY CAREFULLY! Once the nuts start to cook, they burn very quickly (I always burn my first batch). The nuts will begin to darken and will smell delicious and toasty. Pull them out of the oven and put them on a plate.


When the nuts are cool enough to touch, place them on your cutting board and chop them. It’s easiest to use a large knife for this.


5) Once you’ve finished cutting all your sprouts, pour in the olive oil and sprinkle your salt and pepper. Mix them around to make sure they’re all coated. Now toss them onto your baking sheet and spread them out into one layer.


6) Place the sheet in the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes. Make sure to watch the timer and stir the sprouts around with a spatula about every 15 minutes. This will ensure that all sides of the sprout get roasted.

7) Now your frying pan should be heated. Place your two strips of bacon on the pan and let them cook, flipping occasionally. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan and set it on a paper towel.

When the bacon has cooled, chop it into little pieces on your cutting board and set aside for later (it may be tempting, but do not snack yet).


During the last 10 minutes that the brussels sprouts are in the oven, Open up the door and pull them out. Carefully drizzle maple syrup over the sprouts and mix them to coat.


Then put them back in the oven and let them finish cooking.

When your timer goes off, remove the sprouts from the oven, place them in a bowl, and toss them with the chopped bacon and toasted nuts!




Share the good food!


The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year. They’re filled with busyness, shopping, stress, work parties, gatherings with friends, and lot’s of family time.

 All of those things are also what makes this time of the year so awesome! Enjoy this time with family and friends that you might not get to see every day.

Armed with one (or both) of these two recipes, combined with Staci’s guide to avoiding a food confrontation, you should feel confident at your holiday events this year.

Consider it an opportunity to show off your new found cooking skills to your friends and family. You may or may not want to talk about your new healthy habits with your Great Aunt Gertrude, but the important thing is that you brought food to the table and contributed a healthy dish to a meal!

What are some of your favorite healthy holiday sides?


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


floodllama: happy thanksgiving, Ian Westcot: Thanksgiving Dinner

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Get Healthy Like Mr. Spock Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:42:28 +0000 This article was written by NF Team Member Staci.

Five years and over six hundred articles published, and not a single one about Star Trek. Seems pretty inconceivable. But alas, it’s true. So today we’re going to change that by taking a look at one of Star Trek’s most famous characters – the green blooded hobgoblin, Mr. Spock.

Spock is one of the most interesting (and, in this nerd’s humble opinion, greatest) characters of of all times. You see, it’s easy to pick Spock out from the rest of the crew. He’s a nerd; he doesn’t fit in. 

If his pointy ears and upswept eyebrows aren’t a dead giveaway, his insides are pretty weird too. The blood in his veins runs green, as Spock is half Vulcan – a stoic species from the planet Vulcan, who follow a philosophy of logic, reasoning, and suppress all emotion.

Plus, Spock is a pretty awesome Rebel; he questions everything around him at all times, and never turns down a situation he can learn something from.

Fascinating Video

There are quite a few things we can learn from Spock and the Vulcan philosophy of logic and reasoning to keep us healthy in everyday life. Let’s take a look!

Remove emotion

Spock hug

One common misconception about Vulcans is that they have no emotion; in reality, they experience extreme amounts of emotion, but they have learned to control it through meditation, discipline and practice of logic.

Before we dig any deeper, lets look real quick at what logic is. You may remember doing logic puzzles in school as a child, where you are given a set of statements that help you determine the the conclusion to a question. Logic works very much like “if this, then that.”

For example:

If (we know that) all Nerd Fitness Rebels are awesome, and you are a Nerd Fitness Rebel, then (we know that) you are awesome.

There is no emotion in logic. Logic is based on fact, and making smart decisions based on those facts. So step one of using Vulcan philosophy is to remove emotion.

Spock has it especially hard, as he is not full Vulcan – his mother is human. And while he chose to adopt the Vulcan way of life, there is still the human side of him which is full of emotion, trying to come out at any given moment. But Spock, unlike us, deals with this predicament of emotion with great skill.

“What you want is irrelevant. What you’ve chosen is at hand.”

How many times to hear people say “Oh, well, I was supposed to go to the gym but I just didn’t ‘feel’ like it.” Or that they didn’t eat their vegetables because they don’t ‘like’ vegetables. Or someone ate a huge piece of cake because they really ‘wanted’ it.

See all of those words? Feel. Like. Want. These are all words of emotion.

If you remove emotion, and follow logic, good decisions are much easier to make.

Logic - New Page

Is your goal to get stronger or gain weight? It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to exercise or clean up your diet. In order to achieve your goal, you must.

Is your goal to lose weight? Then when you are presented with the opportunity to eat a huge piece of cake, you would think first and foremost: it would not be logical (even if it is your co-worker’s birthday).

Removing emotion helps you differentiate what you’re trying to achieve (what you want in the long term), with what you want right now (which is the largest thing that trips us up). One thing that Joe said in his success story was, “Don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.” That was logic (and removing emotion) at work.

Have you ever had a  bad day at work, a breakup, or a fight with a friend, and then eat a pint of ice cream to make yourself feel better? We all have, but it’s not logical. You may truly THINK you really want that ice cream or piece of cake, but after the immediate pleasure of having it is over, you probably wished you never ate it at all.

Wanting and having are two different things.

Spock Video

Let’s learn from Spock. There is no want, just doing what it takes.

There is no luck

spock kirk

“With each passing moment of your life, one event precipitated another, which made each subsequent occurrence more probable.”

How many times have you looked at someone, and said one of the following:

  • “They are so lucky to be able to go to the gym whenever they want”
  • “I could never eat like that”
  • “They are so lucky to have a body like that”

The truth is – there is no luck. Yes, things can be difficult, but the vast majority of the time, not impossible.

If you watch Star Trek, every single time Captain Kirk asks Spock for the chance of something happening, Spock replies with an exact probability that it will happen. Throughout the episode, as the situation changes, the probability either gets better or worse.

The same is true with your life.

While we don’t to think about the EXACT numbers like Spock does, it is helpful to recognize that everything that we do, or want to do, has a certain probability of happening. By changing elements in your environment, and by making certain decisions, you can either increase or decrease the chances of that actually happening.

So, if you have 100 lbs to lose, and you change nothing, the chances of you losing weight are pretty slim.

However, with each positive decision you make – with each workout and each healthy meal you consume, the probability that you will achieve your goal gets better and better.

For example, if you want to go to the gym after work, but you keep forgetting your gym bag, the likelihood that you will continue to forget it is high. However, if you keep your gym bag in your car, or rent a locker from the gym (remember this from building your batcave?) you’ve removed some of the obstacles and you’ve greatly increased the probability that you will go. 

When you look at that woman or man with an amazing body working out in the mid afternoon – don’t assume that they are lucky to be able to work out all day. They could actually be quite busy, and have three young children and a full time job. But by working nights and choosing a gym that has childcare available, they have increased the probability that that they can get their workout in during the day. Don’t surrender to circumstance.

You are the master of your own fate. Tip the odds in your favor.

Pain is an emotion. Control it.

spock kirk

[Spock]: “I am a Vulcan, doctor. Pain is a thing of the mind. The mind can be controlled.”

[Captain Kirk]: “You’re only half Vulcan. What about the human half?”

[Spock]: “It is proving to be an inconvenience, but it is manageable.”

Now, first, if you are in actual pain, stop and see a doctor.

But there is a difference between actual pain and mental pain that comes from doing something that your brain perceives as hard – the pain of pushing through the very end of your workout, or the pain of being hungry when you start eating less.

These are things that our brain perceives as difficult, and therefore is mentally hard. But when we view this pain for what it is, simply an emotion, we can recognize that this is our body trying to override our logic.

How many times have you been hungry, and then gotten distracted, and forgotten you were hungry at all? Keeping your brain busy helps you think about something else, and then you forget what you were struggling about in the first place.

In one episode of Star Trek, Spock, so full of emotion, and not knowing how to handle it, starts rattling off multiplication tables to keep his mind thinking about something else.

Many times when I am swimming, or rowing, or doing anything for endurance (which is extremely hard for me to get through mentally), I’ll do one of two things:

  1. Put on a podcast of something extremely interesting or extremely funny – because if I’m laughing, I’m not paying attention to how miserable I am that I’ve been going for 30 minutes and I STILL have 15 minutes to go.
  2. Take a page out of Spock’s book and start doing math. With rowing, it’s easy. If my goal is 10,000m and I’ve already rowed 7,200, I can start doing math related to what I have left: I am 72% of the way done. There are 12 minutes left on the album I’m listening to. How fast do I need to average rowing each of the final 500m sections to finish my row and my album at the same time? By the time I’ve figured out all the various answers, I am very often very close to being done.
  3. If math isn’t your cup of tea, there are a million other things you could do to keep your mind busy – get an audiobook, or a language learning CD. Write, draw, whatever it takes! My lifting notebook is full of drawings that I’ve drawn in between sets.

The same thing works with food – if you’re feeling hungry, very often all you have to do is focus on something else for ten minutes, and then you will no longer feel hungry. In fact, there have been studies that show that DRAWING the food that you are craving boosts your mood.

The more stressed out you are, the harder it is to make smart decisions

red ball

“Irrational fear is a construct of an undisciplined intellect” 

As you know from reading our article on willpower, the more decisions you have to make, the harder it is to keep your willpower up and make good decisions later in the day.

This can also happen when you don’t get enough sleep or if you are stressed out. To combat this, Vulcans regularly practice meditation, and are taught this at a very young age as a way to combat the pressures of giving in to emotion. Vulcans also practice different methods to return control and balance to their minds when they are struggling. One of their chants:

“Structure. Logic. Function. Control. The structure cannot stand without a foundation. Logic is the foundation of function. Function is the essence of control. I am in control. I am in control.”

Vulcan Song

Now, while we can’t just dissipate all our stress (because we’re not Vulcans), we CAN understand it, and control how we respond to it. The first step is to accept the reality of present moment. Understand that everything that is happened is in the past, and that you can’t change it. Trying to, or stressing out about the fact that you can’t, is not logical, and not productive.

Many times when something bad has happened, and everyone is stressing out about it, you look over at Spock and he is already trying to come up with the next steps and moving forward. He knows that stressing out or continuing to worry over what has already happened won’t help. The present moment is a reality, and Spock always acts to make the future better. A mindfulness practice can help us humans enormously with this.

A few other ways to not let stress get you down?

Sometimes showing emotion is logical.

spock vs data

[Spock]: “I am simply choosing to display emotion at those moments where it seems most appropriate, and likely to assist in achieving my objective.”

[Nimoy]: “In other words, you’re emoting when it seems like the logical thing to do?”

[Spock]: “Precisely.”

Being aware and controlling our emotions can be extremely helpful in actually following through and achieving our goals, but that doesn’t mean we need to ignore them when it comes to setting our goals and deciding how we want to live. In fact, emotion can be quite helpful in crafting our ideal level 50s.

And when it comes to emotion in our daily lives, this logic stuff can sound pretty boring. If I truly follow that chart, the following items would definitely be big no no’s:

  • Going out and getting a few drinks with friends
  • Staying up all night playing the new video game you just bought.
  • Having a piece of cake at your best friend’s wedding

Here’s an example of when Spock thought that he had killed Captain Kirk, and shows an outburst of emotion when finding out that he is still alive:

Spock Video

The truth is, that like Spock, no matter how logical we train ourselves to be, our human side needs to come out, and we have emotional needs. Sometimes constantly suppressing our emotions can be our downfall; the turmoil within us and the constant thinking can bring us down.

Remember, our ultimate goal is to achieve the triforce of awesome – happy, healthy, and confident in your own skin.

Just like it’s okay to do something that’s not so healthy, sometimes you will need to let your emotions rule the day. Remember, we don’t call this cheating – but rather view it as a conscious decision and then return to our regular scheduled programming.

Sometimes it is only logical to take a night off from being so logical. And not only is it logical to let your emotion come through sometimes, but it is healthy as well.

Live Long and Prosper


Live Long and Prosper Video

Ahh, it couldn’t be a proper article on Spock without the classic Vulcan salute.

The overall philosophy of leading a logic centered life and controlling emotion logically can be a major tool for Rebels throughout our journey. If you give your life an honest review, you might be surprised how often emotion controls you.

Being in control of it doesn’t mean you need to be emotionless – it just means that you can make smarter decisions, weighing in all of the elements that go into it (including the emotional elements). It’s why getting healthy is a whole lot more complicated than “eat less and move more.”

We are an emotional, illogical species, and we could learn a lot from Spock and the ways of the Vulcans.

What do you think? Can you remove emotion and use logic to help you make decisions? How do you think Vulcan philosophy could help you?



photo source: Amy Mctigue: stress ball, Sonny Abesamis: Kirk and Spock, Iaian Heath: Spock Lego, Blake West: Spock Art, JD Hancock: Data vs SpockEveryone Calls me Dave: Original Spock

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Ditch the Sorting Hat. Choose Your Own Adventure! Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:22:18 +0000 Imagine you’ve just arrived as a first-year wizard at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

You’re scared, you’re alone, and you have no clue what’s happening. At your first dinner in the Greart Hall, complete with four incredibly long tables, floating candles, and headless ghosts, you’re sheepishly lead to the front of the room where an oversized hat is placed on your head. You’re told you’re to join one of the four houses.

Whether you’re put in the house of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, you’ll spend the next seven years in that house, living with other members, competing against other houses, and so on. Ultimately, this initial selection is a BIG deal.

But, if we actually think, the Sorting Hat was only part of the equation. The Sorting Hat was seriously considering sticking Harry Potter into Slytherin, but sent him to Gryffindor because that’s what he chose – he wanted to be in the House of his parents. Hermione too, because of her intellect, was well suited for a different House (Ravenclaw). However, valuing friendship and bravery, Hermione also had her say.

When it comes to books like Harry Potter, video games, or real life, our “class” selection is a pretty big deal. It’s easy to end up heading down a certain path, thinking our decision is out of our control – that we fit in to a particular box because we think that’s what we have to do.

But today we’re going to learn from Harry and Hermione and challenge the “Sorting Hat.” Today we’re standing up for ourselves and choosing our own damn adventure.

Avoid the Sorting Hat Trap

Sorting hat table

Maybe you went to college you knew you always had to attend, and majored in what you always thought you were going to study.

Or maybe, after college you took the job that you thought you were supposed to, or that your parents advised you to take, and now you’re known as the “girl that’s really good at sales presentations…” or “great in Excel,” and a decade goes by before realizing the job you’re currently in isn’t anything like what you set out to do.

Once we start doing something, heading down any path – it’s like we end up as characters in The Breakfast Club: the soccer player, the gamer, the powerlifter, the runner, the nerd, the academic, the ____. It’s as if we’ve been permanently sorted into a House at Hogwarts and we’re stuck with it!

We get scared that if we lose the identity that has been chosen for us, we won’t have one; we won’t know who we are anymore, and we’ll be shunned by the group we just left! It all results in us being an outcast because people’s expectations of us will differ from the new reality (or so we think)…so we keep ourselves pigeonholed in that role.

I remember in High School, and I wanted to play basketball. My brother was the captain, my friends all played, I had just grown from 5′ to 5’11″ (yay puberty!) and I got cut. I thought to myself, “if I’m not a basketball player with my friends, then what the heck am I?” I felt like a Gryffindor student that got kicked off the quidditch team…lost.

When I started applying for colleges, I was so excited to follow my brother to Duke University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. When I got rejected, again I felt like my world was over. “If I’m not the kid that goes to Duke on early acceptance, and the smart kid, what the heck am I? My life is over!”

When I moved to California after college, I took a job in sales because both of my parents were in sales and they were damn good at it. After six months I learned that I was terrible at sales, but continued to force myself down this path because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I cried weekly asking myself why I wasn’t happy and how I could get better at that gig.

In each of the situations above, I had sorted myself into a category, or felt like I had been sorted…and then panicked when I didn’t fit or wanted to get out. It turns out, I was the one doing the sorting, not my family or friends. It was pressure I had been putting on myself: I struggled with losing my identity that I THOUGHT I needed to have, that I thought others had of me.

I turns out, none of those things were true:

Basketball. I actually didn’t like playing basketball, I just played because I had been playing since I was a kid. I didn’t like the coach either! On top of that, I sucked! I was legitimately not good enough. So, I instead got a gym membership and started training, and discovered a love of health and fitness. Heyo, Nerd Fitness! And my friends on the team? They still liked me!

College. I didn’t know much about Duke other than my brother went there. For any number of reasons, many of which were outside of my control, I wasn’t accepted. WHO CARES! Going to another school allowed me to create a new identity: “Steve” instead of “Jack’s Little brother,” I made tremendous friends, and fell in love with Vanderbilt and Nashville, which is where I currently reside.

Sales. I hated sales! I sucked at it! Once I let myself get over that fear and anxiety, I allowed myself to start thinking of things I actually enjoyed. Marketing, community building, and health and fitness. So far, so good.

If we’re not careful, it’s very easy for us to fall into a path we never envisioned (or wanted!) for ourselves, and it’s very tough for us to get out. That path and that training and that attitude can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we spend our time trying to fit more into this path we’re on, rather than asking “do I even belong on this path?”

And this isn’t just a problem in life – this is a HUGE issue in how we go about fitness and health as well.

Maybe you were the “skinny runner” in high school, or the “fat funny guy” in your group of friends. Pretty soon, you had your group of friends and your way of life, right?

Whether in fitness or in life, it’s time to stop sorting ourselves into the house we think we belong to, or forcing ourselves to live up to the expectations we think others have set for us, and instead start doing stuff that we want to do…for OURSELVES.

Choose your Own Adventure

Hogwarts sign

Our Master Wordsmith Taylor was a runner throughout college and for years after. He was intrigued by the idea of strength training while, but never gave it a try.

It wasn’t until a running injury FORCED him to find another form of exercise that he discovered strength training was something he loved…  In his words:

For years I was reluctant to start to strength train because I was ‘the runner.’ I was the nerdy, sci-fi reading, Star Trek watching, guy who couldn’t touch a weight for fear of becoming a meathead. That was THEIR domain.

At the same time I wanted to be stronger and see what my body was capable of…I wanted to be able to carry heavy boxes for friends, maybe even do a pullup, and and develop a part of my body that wasn’t below my waist.

But this seemingly immutable self-identity paralyzed me. In fact, it wasn’t until I found Nerd Fitness that a crazy idea entered my mind: I could be strong AND be a nerd? What a revolutionary idea :)

I wasn’t JUST a runner, or a nerd, or anything else. All of that was just an illusion – and I soon discovered that I get to choose what type of hero I want to be.

The best part of this giant game of life that we are playing is that WE are the hero, and we get to play the game how we want. What you classified yourself as yesterday doesn’t mean you need to classify yourself as the same thing today.

On top of that, we often classify ourselves, and we expect others have these same expectations of us, when in reality it’s all in our mind. We get to determine who we are, and what we want to become.

If we want to change how we train or what we want to accomplish, then we can do that.

If we want to shed the “fat funny guy” tag and instead just become the “funny guy,” we can! If you’re sick of “you’re pretty [fast/quick/flexible]…for a big person,” you can change that.

If we want to mix up our career, there’s nothing stopping us. After all, as Stephen Kellogg says, It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t.

When Harry encountered the Sorting hat, the hat was fairly insistent on placing him in Slytherin…and yet Harry fought for, and ended up, in Griffyndor. He chose his own adventure…and I want you to do the same.

The path you’re on


Our whole goal with Nerd Fitness is to remove every barrier, physical and mental, that exists between the current YOU and the YOU that you want to be:

  • You can train in a way that interests you and makes you happy.
  • You can look in the mirror with pride and confidence.
  • You start choosing adventure over the safety confines of your hobbit hole.

If we’re not careful we can end up blindly following down the path we’re currently on, because we THINK we’re supposed to be on it. Before we know it, we’re living a life we never wanted to live.

There may be no literal “Sorting Hat” in our lives, but through our parents, friends, peers, tv, movies, and every other influence in society, there surely is a “Sorting Hat” in our minds.

Last week, there was a post from a 46-year old guy on Reddit that absolutely blew my mind; he reflected back on the past 26 years of his life, and realized he opted for the safe track he was supposed to be on.  This is an absolute MUST-READ.

Listen – you might have always been the “skinny guy” or maybe you were always the “big” one in your group. Thousands and thousands of Rebels have broken free of their old identities and chosen their OWN fate. If they can do it, so can you.

I saw the path I was on, and decided that I didn’t want that path anymore, so I created my own.

It turns out the only regret I have about making those changes is that I didn’t listen to myself sooner. I wanted to choose my own adventure, and after ignoring that path for years and years, I did.

Choose your own class and own adventure

Garden of Forking Paths

Earlier this week, we started a new Six Week Challenge on the Nerd Fitness message boards (now ~30,000 people strong).

In it, we encourage people to join a guild, select some challenges, and begin (or continue) your journey. We understand the importance of getting started and picking a class to begin your training.

Heck, our Nerd Fitness Academy allows us to pick a class based on our preferred training style and actually complete quests to earn experience points and level up.

However, we’re also aware that most of us don’t fit perfectly into a particular category.

I know I don’t fit into one or the other! The bottom half of me would be a Warrior: heavy squats and deadlifts, while the top half of me would be an Assassin: gymnastics, handstands, and bodyweight exercises. On top of that, I’m trying to be a druid and learn meditation and created a bard class for my musical passions. You can follow how THIS is going if you want! Yay accountability.

We have people that have started as Warriors and have transitioned into Scouts for a challenge or two!  For example, Stacdogi is taking swimming lessons and goes on runs with her dog now. Though if you see this dog, you’ll see why you couldn’t say no.

Every time I start a new challenge, my goals vary. It might be gaining weight, or getting more flexible, or getting stronger. Sometimes I feel like an assassin, or a ranger, or a warrior. It’s always changing.

So, I want you to stop sorting yourself into a path and blindly following it. Instead of perpetually moving forward with your head down and your eyes closed, choose your own adventure. This applies to not only your training, but even your life decisions.

If you want to change paths, climb different ladders, or play entirely different games, you have the power to do so. Identities are things we often forget to make for ourselves. We have that power. You have that power. And only you.

Audit Your Path


Your mission today is to take 10 minutes and reflect on the path you’re on. Are you blindly reading the book in order? Making decisions based on what you think somebody like you is supposed to do?

Or are you choosing your own adventure?

  • Are you a yogi that always wanted to try strength training, but is using your “yogi” identity to rationalize staying in your corner of the gym?
  • Are you a lifter who is afraid to incorporate cardio (in the form of sports or steady state) because the brofessor told you that’s how it’s done?
  • Are you a girl who can’t possibly lift weights, because girls don’t do that? Don’t wanna get bulky!
  • Are you a runner who only has ever known running, and is using your “runner” identity to stay in your lane?

Don’t wait for a major life event to think critically about what YOU want. Train for you from the get go.  Ask yourself: is staying on this track the best way to make you happy, build your confidence, and improve your health?

Build your class around YOU, not the other way around.  

Question everything means everything - especially your own BS!

YOUR MISSION: Spend 10 minutes auditing your path, both for life and for training:

  • What does your current path and class dictate how you’ll spend your day? Are you happy with the Sorting Hat?
  • What would somebody (you) who is CHOOSING their own adventure do instead?
  • If you have recently rejected the Sorting Hat and switched things up, please share with us!

We rebelled against the Empire for a reason. To think for ourselves. So THINK for yourself. You don’t have to “be” anything – a powerlifter, runner, or even a nerd. Just be you.

Let me know how you plan on branching out and forging a new path. Be specific, and share your story!


PS: Don’t forget, next week we’ll be opening up a small number of early-bird spots for Camp Nerd Fitness 2015, along with full details of the event (which will be taking place in Georgia Sept 30-Oct 4th, 2015).  Sign up for the interest list to get early access, as spots are sure to go fast!


photo source: Peter Asquith: stone path, Bart Everson: Fork Path, Denise PS: Sorting Hat, Andy Castro: Hogwarts Sign, Sarah Ross: Scarf, viviandgnuyen_: sorting hat

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5 Rules When Eating Out to Stay Healthy Mon, 10 Nov 2014 17:59:26 +0000 What is it about eating out at restaurants that can derail months of hard work?

Sure, it’s easy to prepare meals at home when you are in control of your batcave and all of the ingredients that end up on your plate, but once you head out to dinner it’s like a switch is flipped and suddenly we’re eating like Cookie Monster because “we’re eating out.”

If you tend to eat out a lot for whatever reason, making a few key changes to how you order off the menu can drastically contribute to your success in staying (or getting) healthy.

Today, we’re going to provide you with specific things you can do to keep you on track no matter where you are eating.  Before we jump into that, there’s one key piece of advice that I’m going to provide you with that will help you stay on target.  It comes to us from the 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Let’s dig in, shall we?

How to Level Up at a Restaurant


Pop quiz hotshot: you’re at a business dinner, out with friends, or stuck eating at the Chili’s across the street from your hotel on a Tuesday, and you want to eat healthy. 

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO!?

Well, the first rule of eating out is you don’t talk about eating out!  Kidding. I just feel like that’s a requirement to say when you mention “First Rule.”

Use these five techniques to help you eat healthy when you’re out on the town:

1) Choose wisely. Like Indiana Jones trying to select the true Holy Grail, whenever you have the opportunity to select the restaurant where you’ll be eating….take it, but choose wisely! Choosing poorly won’t melt your face off like the false grail, but it can set you up to fail.

We’re fans of keeping things simple and allowing us to stay on target with our goals, so we hate having to use willpower at unhealthy restaurants. For that reason, we encourage you to select restaurants that fit into the following categories:

  • Steakhouse: If there’s a steakhouse nearby, there’s an opportunity to eat a high quality piece of protein and pair it with some amazing vegetables for a great dinner. My go-to at a steakhouse is a filet paired with asparagus.
  • Seafood: If you’re a seafood fan, then it’s quite easy to find a healthy option when it comes to eating things that live in the water. Note: places like Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s don’t qualify :)
  • Mexican: Although Mexican food is usually considered unhealthy, Mexican restaurants have some incredible healthy options if you know what you’re looking for. A salad bowl covered in salsa, guacamole, chicken, and sauteed veggies? Sign me up, sucka!
  • “American” food: Okay, maybe not the best choice, but even if you’re stuck at Chili’s or a TGIFridays, there are options that can keep you on target.
  • Breakfast Food: Eggs and bacon. Still hungry? Ask for all of the bacon and eggs they have.

In all of the options above, there are really healthy choices to be made, just as there are really unhealthy choices. Which brings us to Rule #2:

2) Scout the menu first!  If possible, scout the menu for the restaurant online before hand (research FTW), and pre-select your option so you don’t have to spend any willpower points wavering what you’re going to order.  Don’t even look at the menu!

If possible, ask to order first. Whenever the server asks who wants to go first, SPEAK UP! If you are the one person in your group of friends that’s eating healthy, you’re going to some haterade for your healthy order after your friends all order pizza/lasagna/pasta/etc…or you might get influenced into making a worse decision to fit in (and “you know, live at a little”).

If you get to order first though, the reverse could happen – you could end up actually influencing your friends positively! Captain America would be so proud.

3) Enlist the help of your server! See something you like that’s 80% of the way there? Don’t be afraid to ask them to modify the order or ask them what they would choose if they were trying to eat like you – it happens all the time, and the server really won’t mind.  A chicken sandwich or a burger without the bun can easily turn into a plate of meat and vegetables.

99% of the restaurants I’ve ever been to will give you a plate of “chicken and vegetables” if you ask for it, even if it’s not on the menu.  Their goal is to make you happy.

One time, when NF Team Member Staci couldn’t find anything on the menu she could eat, she just talked to the waitress, and ended up with bison, bacon, and sweet potato fries (this was a greasy burger joint and they legitimately didn’t have any vegetables).

4) Ditch the starch! For starters, many restaurants will have a protein and starch/carb option.  Steak and potatoes, fish and rice, etc.  They’ll also have a vegetable option, usually something broccoli, mixed greens, asparagus, spring veggies, etc.

  • If you’re Paleo, simply swap out the starch/carb option with more vegetables.  Aim for grilled, not breaded and fried (duh). DING, victory. If you get two sides – just get double vegetables. They never say no!
  • If you’re not Paleo, and you want a starch with your meal, see if you can get them to swap out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. Go for baked instead of french fries, and avoid loading it up with sour cream. Just butter!
  • If you order a salad, get the dressing on the side (especially if it’s a Caesar). I don’t know what it is about restaurants, but salad should not be soupy, and your lettuce shouldn’t be floating in dressing.  Get the dressing on the side and add it yourself.  Oil and vinegar is usually the safest bet here.

5) Skip dessert. I have a confession to make – I never order dessert at restaurants. Ever. Rather than having to rely on willpower to make that decision each and every time “I probably shouldn’t, but I might, but maybe I’ll look at the menu,” I’ve conditioned my brain to say “no dessert for me, thanks!” It’s not that I’m depriving myself of it, I simply don’t eat it.

Calories count, and I choose to use mine on foods that help me level up or the occasional adult beverage.

If everybody else at the table is getting dessert, get yourself some coffee and enjoy the company of the people at the table with you. You can do so without stuffing your face :)

Tips, Tricks and Hacks


Outlined above are the steps I personally use to stay healthy when I eat out at restaurants. However, if you feel like you need a little more to stay on track, check out these rapid-fire bullet points to keep you on track (which are more fun and helpful than rapid-fire bullets):

  • Always order water instead of soda or other sugary drinks! Sugar is bad news bears. Need something with flavor? Iced tea (unsweet!)
  • When on the road, ditch the fast food and go straight to a grocery store or Wal-Mart instead. Look for hot food items!
  • Avoid fried when possible (duhhh) and get baked, steamed, or grilled.
  • Ask your waitress to NOT bring you chips/bread/popcorn if you know they usually do. Don’t waste your willpower on a battle you can avoid entirely!
  • If it’s a big entree, don’t be afraid to split it - Oftentimes portion sizes are naturally so huge, that a regular meal is 2000+ calories.
  • Eat slowly – It takes a minute for your brain to realize that your stomach is already full. So SLOW DOWN. Enjoy the conversation of the people you’re eating with!
  • Pull a Staci: Explain that you have an “allergy” or “weird reaction” to certain types of foods. They’ll stop hassling you to “live a little” and instead get on your side - it’s a health thing (hey, it is!).
  • You don’t have to eat the whole thing, you know - Depending in the culture you came from, it might be considered rude to not clean your plate, but at certain restaurants that can be a massive undertaking. Put your napkin on your plate, and ask to take it home. Heck, sprinkle a crazy amount of salt on it so that you stop eating.
  • Traveling a LOT? Stuck on the road quite a bit? Here ya go :)

Play It Cool


The more you can prepare, the less likely you’ll be to deviate and fall apart.

And most importantly, remember that you’re human. If you decide to eat a bad meal, it’s not a cheat meal and you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re human, schedules get crazy, and sometimes maybe you just want to eat pizza – that’s fine. Remember that it’s not something wrong, it’s a conscious decision you’ve chosen to make. But then get right back on track immediately with the next meal.

One bad meal doesn’t ruin a day, but saying “well I ate a bad lunch so today is ruined so I’ll eat poorly for dinner and try again tomorrow” does.

Keep that in mind, and you’ll stay on target.

What about you?  What are your favorite tips for eating healthy while dining out? What sorts of advice do you have for your fellow road warriors and travelers that eat out more than they eat in?

Let’s hear it in the comments!


PS: Next week we’ll be opening up a small number of early bird spots to Camp Nerd Fitness 2015. Make sure you sign up for the CNF2015 interest list to be among the first to be able to reserve your spot :)

PPS: I got a chance to go on Fox Business a few weeks back for a whole 2 minutes (haha!) and represent the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. It was my first time ever on live TV, so I’m just glad I didn’t throw up on myself.  Here’s the footage!


photo source: Vanessa Pike-Russel: Platter, Thomas Hawk: Candle, Kevin Dooley- Pizza, Stephan Geyer: Sushi

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Do you avoid photos? Announcing ZFG Day! Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:17:53 +0000 I want to start today off with a riddle:

“What is going on right now that hasn’t happened ever since the beginning of time, but is soon guaranteed to never ever happen again?”


I’ve been thinking a lot about “today” lately, and all of the memories that can get made in a day. It’s kind of cool to think that what happened today will never happen again…but also kind of scary.

I remember watching people of all shapes and sizes be 100% themselves at Camp Nerd Fitness, and remembering “I’ll never forget today.” It was awesome to watch people who stopped worrying about how they looked or what others thought, because they were surrounded by people that didn’t care either!

Everyone was just being excited to be a part of something special…it was pretty freaking cool. Fortunately, we have a few thousand photos that allow us to immortalize these moments.

Nothing summed up this thought more than during our Rubik’s Cube night (pictured above), when we all traded clothes to end up the same color…ending up in some pretty ridiculous outfits.

Most of us would have been embarrassed to be seen in such clothes while in public, but at Camp it was simply another opportunity to make an unforgettable memory.

Which brings me to today.

You see, over the dozens and dozens of epic success stories we’ve shared (and hundreds of smaller ones), we’ve noticed a few recurring themes with Rebels that have transformed themselves: they all struggled to find candid photos of themselves from the “before” stage!

Not only did they wish they had more “before” photos to share, but also they realized that those are days, memories, and moments that they don’t have documentation of, because they were embarrassed to get in front of the camera.

And when we talk with Rebels who are just started on their journey to a healthier life, they explain their subconscious, self-conscious behavior when it comes to photos – somehow avoiding photos and staying out of the way.

No matter where you are on your journey, I’m challenging you to be happy. Right now. Be proud of your life AND where you’re heading.

If you spend any time on the internet, you’re familiar with the hilarious, and inappropriate term “zero f***s given.” AKA…doing things without caring what other people think.

For example, how many f***s do you think this guy gives? I’d say zero:

Epic solo Dance Video

Now, I’m not gonna tell you to take off your clothes and go dance alone in the field…unless that’s what you want to do.

What I’m saying is we spend sooooo much time thinking about what we look like, what other people think we look like, and how we appear to them that we forget to just freaking ENJOY TODAY.

Today is the only time ever that this moment will happen. We don’t get extra lives, we don’t get to replay on an easier difficulty, and we are only allowed to play the character that we’ve rolled.

Don’t forget, today is a pretty freaking awesome day. You woke up, which is more than 99.9% of people that have ever existed can say.

Take Louis CK’s words to heart:

Louie CK Video

“Most people are dead. Did you know that? It’s true, out of all the people that ever were, almost all of them are dead. There are wayyyy more dead people, and you’re all going to die. And then you’re going to be dead for WAY longer than you’re alive, like, that’s mostly what you’re ever going to be… You’re just dead people that didn’t die yet.” 

Morbid? Yup. Hilarious? Absolutely. True? For sure. I don’t know what it is about death that often serves as a kick in the pants to get over the insignificant and start focusing on the important:

So you’re overweight and not where you want to be yet. Don’t hide from that camera. You’re alive and you’re actively working towards getting better! Fantastic. Don’t stress about what you can’t control, and don’t hide – give yourself the option to at least capture this memory. Enjoy the ride to a leveled up life – including this moment, right now.

So you don’t think you look great in photos now. Who cares!? Show me a supermodel and I’ll show you somebody who  nitpicks over their flaws too. When you’re 80 you’ll look back and wish you had lived in the moment and had this memory documented. Don’t let this temporary feeling color your memory and enjoyment of today, because today ain’t happening again!

So you think you might look silly trying a new class or course or exercise at the gym. WHO CARES? Give less f***s! Everybody else in that class or at that gym will respect you for trying, or they’re idiots loaded with plenty of insecurities of their own. Don’t let them dictate your happiness; only you have that power – don’t give it away!

We’re all on our own personal journey to Mordor, hoping to get there and back again.  We’re all at different points in the story too – people are in the depressing and sad parts, while others are riding on freaking eagles. That’s just how stories work!

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that we get to continue that journey tomorrow. We’re characters in the story and we don’t have control over when it’s time to close the book. So, as Gandalf tells Frodo: “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Remember, you woke up today, which is a good start. Build on that.

Instead of worrying that you’re not yet where you want to be yet…be thankful for the opportunity to get closer.

Instead of complaining that the journey is long and challenging, be thankful for the humbling learning experience and wisdom that comes along with it.

And instead of shying away from the camera, get in front of the lens.

After all, it’s gonna be tough as hell to make a montage with only footage from the “after.” We need the before and during!

So, I’m declaring today Zero F***s Given Day!

In honor of ZFG Day, here’s a photo of me looking like a jackass from camp. I am wearing a blue dress, women’s tank top, a blue tie, a solo cup wrist band, and so on:

A photo posted by Steve Kamb (@stevekamb) on

I’m 30 years old and struggle with plenty of issues and insecurities about myself. I’m self-conscious of my chicken legs, I still deal with acne on a regular basis, and I get incredibly anxious when surrounded by people I don’t know, and compare myself far too often to others in every aspect of my life.

If you met me at Camp, you witnessed none of this, as I truly felt at home and 100% comfortable and thus gave zero f***s.

So, I’m going to make an effort today to give less f***s and remind myself that life is pretty effing good, I’m a lucky guy, and today’s a great day to be alive. I’m actively working on a number of things to make myself better, and I have a long way to go, but I’m pretty damn happy that I get the chance to try.

How about you? What are you gonna do for ZFG Day?


Today’s Rebel Hero: Becki Lee, pictured here after climbing a freaking mountain! Becki plans on submitting 40 peaks before she turns 40, which is an epic quest if I’ve ever heard one!


Want to be the next Rebel hero? Send a photo of you doing something epic in your NF gear to contact @

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How to Actually Become Jason Bourne. Seriously. Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:50:10 +0000 “I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside.

I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”

I remember watching The Bourne Identity years ago and instantly fantasizing about what life would be like as rogue agent badass, Jason Bourne.  Sure, James Bond is the man (and I’ve even lived a weekend like him!), but he’s got the power and pull of the British Government at his service.

Bourne, on the other hand, exists outside of the system, hunted by the very people who trained him. Ultimately, he’s a human swiss army knife:

  • He has multiple passports, and can go anywhere at any time.
  • He has the skills necessary to defend himself.
  • He can blend into any crowd and disappear.
  • He speaks multiple languages and can navigate any situation.
  • He’s in peak physical condition, prepared for any scenario.

If you’re anything like me, you read that and went: “holy crap, I wish I could do all of that!”  Well, as a professional nerd, I took it upon myself to find out just how much of this list can be completed in real life.

Other than the “assassin” part of Jason Bourne’s profile, all of the above can be done legally!  

By the end of today’s article, you’ll know the cost and time associated with becoming Jason Bourne. Seriously.

Just how deep down this rabbit hole you want to go is up to you.

Peak Physical Condition


“At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking.”

Before we get into ANY other aspect of Jason Bourne’s life, we must first start with his physical fitness. Here’s a man who has been trained to operate at a peak physical level, prepared for any and every situation thrown his way.

Whether he’s scaling walls to chase down attackers, using parkour to efficiently move across rooftops, or relying on incredible grip strength to successfully climb down the side of a building, Jason is built for efficiency.

On top of that, Jason is probably the most antifragile character ever created.  The more chaotic the environment around him, the more he thrives.

If you want to become Jason, you must train like the man: functional movement, efficiency, speed, and muscular endurance.  Because he’s always on the run, Jason must be able to train anywhere and everywhere, and be prepared for anything.

The best way to do that? Train out in the environment:

Take a strength training routine (like the Playground Workout) and complete it every other day. On off days, spend time doing interval training, sprints, and parkour practice.

The strength training (with an emphasis on pull ups and push ups) will build muscles required to hoist yourself over any obstacle, while the sprinting and parkour will allow you to evade capture or chase down your target.

Want to make yourself truly antifragile like Jason?  Try the 60 day PLP challenge.  You need to consistently introduce stress and chaos to your system so that your body gets more and more accustomed to the challenge, and rebuilds itself in a way that it’s prepared for anything.


Self Defense

Martial Arts

In one of the earliest scenes in the movie, we realize there’s way more to Jason Bourne than we (or he) originally thought. When he’s harassed by members of the local police force in Switzerland, he quickly takes control of the situation when a gun is shoved in his face, disarming both guards and knocking them unconscious.

The most impressive part of this scene was certainly the speed in which Jason disarmed his assailants. This is recurring theme throughout the movie: When Jason is attacked he quickly dispatches the enemy with brutal efficiency.

In searching for a real life equivalent, My research led me to three particular disciplines that stuck out:

Krav Maga: “…a self-defense system developed for the military in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from boxingsavateMuay ThaiWing ChunJudoJujutsuwrestling, and grappling, along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks.”

Systema: “Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training.  In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential. It focuses on breathing, relaxation, and fluidity of movement, as well as utilizing an attacker’s momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications.”

Wing Chun Kung FuAlong with Systema and Krav Maga, one could consider Wing Chun Kung Fu, which focuses on both striking and grappling while specializing close-range combatBruce Lee said it best: “Wing Chun Kung Fu is a very sophisticated weapon, nothing else. It is a science of combat, the intent of which is the total incapacitation of an opponent. It is straightforward, efficient and deadly.”

In this nerd’s humble opinion, Systema + Krav Maga + Wing Chun = real world Jason Bourne martial arts. All of the studies emphasize self-defense, counter-attacks, and finishing fights as quickly as possible. If you’re on the run from the attackers, you don’t have time for pretty movements - you need to end them quickly and disappear before more trouble arrives.

Here’s a good montage of Systema training:


Krav Maga instruction is far more common in the United States than Systema, though the latter is becoming more popular. I recently took a private Krav Maga lesson for $50, with options to buy extra lessons or participate in a group class for far less. This is one area I would certainly recommend paying for an instructor rather than trying to learn from a book, as nothing beats actual training when it comes to martial arts.

TOTAL COST: ~$50 per private lesson, or ~$70-$200 per month for group instruction.

Be prepared for anything with a bug out bag


Sometimes, you need to get the hell outta Dodge VERY quickly.

Maybe the secret government agency that’s hunting you down has discovered your location.  Maybe there’s a mission on the other side of the globe and a plane that leaves in 30 minutes.  Whatever the scenario, every second counts, and getting the hell out of harm’s way as quickly as possible should be your primary goal

This is why it is recommend you build yourself a Bug Out Bag: A 72-hour “ready for anything” bag that you can grab at a moment’s notice.

You have a few options when it comes to getting started:

1) Buy a pre-made Bug Out Bag – This is a big no-no according to all of the true survivalists, but if you’re convinced you’re going to become Jason Bourne in the next 48 hours, check out the Guardian Bag and have it delivered in the next two days (thank you Amazon Prime!).

2) Construct your own - This is the preferred method to becoming Bourne: when you pack your own bug out bag, you’ll know EXACTLY what’s in it, where it’s located, and how to survive.  If you’re wanting to really delve into this stuff, follow the rules from the books “Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag,” and “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.”

If you’re just looking for the basics, know that your pack should contain twelve types of supplies: water and hydration, food and food preparation, clothing, shelter and bedding, fire, first aid, hygiene, tools, lighting, communications, and protection and self-defense.  You can find more specific and detailed information at these resources:

This bag should reside in your apartment or home, and be properly packed and ready to go at any time.

TOTAL COST: $100 – $500+ depending on the quality of the bug out bag and materials.

Obtain multiple passports


Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to have 2-3 passports, and it’s completely legal.

When I tell most people this, their first thought is: “yeah but what’s the point of having multiple passports all in the same name?”

If you do a lot of work (or travel) or travel internationally, having a second passport open doors that might have otherwise stayed closed.

For example, if you’re an American looking to visit other countries, you’re often charged quite a bit more than citizens of other nations:

There are also many international businesses and banks that refuse to do business with citizens of the United States, and some countries that are illegal to visit as citizens of the United States. A second passport will help bypass these issues.

There are three ways to obtain a second passport, all of which vary in costs, time commitment, and difficulty.  Although Simon Black over at Sovereign Man has compiled some great info about all of this, I’ve summarized below: 

1) Have relatives from the right country.  Did you know that if you have parents or grandparents that were born in Ireland, Italy, or Poland, you could be eligible for dual citizenship and a second passport simply by filling out some paperwork? Contact your local consulate or check their websites for more information.

Do you have children? If you happen to give birth to a child while in the country of Brazil, you automatically become the guardian of a Brazilian citizen and can obtain citizenship within 1 year.

So, check your family tree and see if this is an option for you.  

2) Buy a second passport.  As referenced in Neil Strauss’s Emergency (an absolutely fascinating and fantastic read), if you have $300,000-$400,000 lying around, you can purchase your way into a second passport in some countries (specifically St. Kitts, Nevis, and Dominica).  Most of these countries require a significant financial investment, or donation to the local government in order to obtain citizenship and a passport.

3) Obtain residency in a 3rd country and go through the whole process.   If you happen to spend a lot of time outside of your home country, there are certain countries that will allow you to apply for residency after a certain amount of time, and then eventually citizenship.  Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Panama all offer relatively quick (four years in some cases) pathways to citizenship should you meet their obligations.

Okay, so you’re armed with a second passport, a bug out bag, and the ability to extricate yourself at a moments notice should get you started…but what happens when you land in that foreign country?

TOTAL COST: Minimal up to $1,000,000+ to buy citizenship outright.

Speak Multiple Languages


What good does it do you to be able to jet off to any location around the globe if you can’t speak the language of the country in which you’re trying to hide?

In becoming Jason Bourne, I would recommend that you speak at least two languages, each of which gives you a fantastic opportunity (and wide geographic range) in which to hide:

  • English: An obvious answer, though can very easily give you away as a foreigner.
  • Spanish: Will allow you to function in Central America and most of South America.
  • Mandarin: The most widely spoken language in the world in sheer numbers.  It will get you through a significant portion of China, but is a much more difficult language to ‘fake’ compared to the Romance languages.
  • French: Will allow you to operate in France, Monaco, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada, and more. It will also be helpful in many African countries and in parts of Southeast Asia (which used to be French territories).
  • Arabic: A vital skill set if you find yourself in the Middle East and throughout much of Asia.

Although learning a language might seem daunting, there are some excellent resources out there which have distilled this task down to small, effective, achievable steps.

Here are favorite resources for learning languages quickly:

  • Run by my friend Benny Lewis, which focuses on speaking a new language from Day 1. Benny puts himself in situations where his only option is to learn the new language.  His recently released book, Fluent in Three Monthsis a solid resource as well.
  • italkiLearn languages with a private instructor for a minimal hourly cost.  This is the site more recommended to me by polyglots than any other site.
  • Verbling: Think chat roulette, but you get paired with people who are native speakers of the language you are looking to learn.

A few notes about language learning: the faster you can force yourself to start conversing with locals, the more likely you’ll be to adopt their dialect and be able to blend in more quickly.

Get started today.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS SKILL: $0 – the cost of any educational books, a class, or personalized instruction.

Have Foreign Bank Accounts


While trying to figure out who he is, Jason Bourne stumbles across a bank account, apparently in his name, located in a highly secure vault in Switzerland.

Upon opening his vault, Jason discovers he has money in multiple currencies.  He’s set no matter the country he’s in!

Which is good, because I’d guess Jason’s home bank account has been frozen :)

You might be wondering the benefits of a bank account in a second country. Here are a few:

  • You get to say things like “Oh, it’s in my foreign bank account.”  Nobody needs to know you only have $1,000 in it!
  • Financial diversification: If you keep all of your money in a single country, that country’s banking system could run into issues, confiscate your savings, or put a freeze on your accounts.  Not cool!
  • Currency diversification: Should your home currency suddenly become devalued overnight, keeping some of your money in various currencies (or gold!) is a safeguard against having your savings severely diminished or inflated away.
  • Banking diversification: Not only do banking systems and national currencies fail, but specific banks can fail and do go bankrupt.  By keeping your money in multiple banks scattered throughout the globe, you’re less likely to lose everything should the sh** hit the fan.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to have a foreign bank account. Heck, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home:

  • Some banks in certain countries (HSBC in Hong Kong, or banks in Australia - as of Aug 2014) will allow you to open bank accounts as a US citizen by filling out the required paperwork and paying the required fees.
  • Other banks might require you to actually visit the bank branch and meet with the bank in person.  Note: this method can be MUCH faster (though more expensive) than filling out proper paperwork and mailing it back and forth.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are the recommended locations for international Jason Bournes, as they have a history of financial stability, a high level of liquidity, and general political stability.

Just remember to file the proper paperwork with your own government come tax time!

TOTAL COST FOR THIS SKILL: $1,000-$10,000 deposit depending on the bank plus applicable fees.

Blend in like a local

Bourne nicky

To reference another Nerd Classic, remember when Indiana Jones (falsely) talks about the ability of his friend Marcus to blend in?

Indiana Jones

Well, Jason Bourne can actually DO that.  I’m reminded of my friend Benny who was able to blend in while in Egypt, despite being a relatively pale Irishman!

Here’s how he did it:

My hat, “fabulous” shoes, video camera, whacky t-shirts, bright shorts, backpack and any fun accessories I may have, all stayed at home. I shaved my goatee to a moustache, cut my hair shorter, put a jumper/sweater and heavy jeans on even though it was a sunny day, and wore my less comfortable dull black shoes.

While walking, I kept a confident posture, and when I met anyone I would not shake their hand firmly (Egyptians have the least firm handshake I’ve ever come across), but let my arm flop around a bit, and I’d walk fast enough.

For my first days, I definitely noticed that people would glance at me as they walked past me because I’d be standing out as a foreigner or simply visually different. It’s just human nature that the more different something is, the more it gets our attention. If you have weird hair, weird clothes, weird equipment around your neck and walk weird… then you are going to attract attention, plane and simple.

So when I say that I want to blend in, I don’t claim that people will all think I’m Egyptian, especially those looking at photos of me online when they already know I’m Irish – it’s about standing out less.

The same is true for body language and gestures.  While you’re in a foreign country, notice how others act, what sort of mannerisms they use, and what their body language is like.

The more you can imitate a local, the more likely you’ll be to actually blend in, avoiding the watchful eyes of people looking for trouble!


Be Bourne


Follow the above and you’re well on your way to blending into ANY situation, escaping any danger, and vanishing without a trace.  Take that pursuers!

Now, there are some other great skills possessed by Monsieur Bourne that could also come in handy, which I’ve highlighted below:

  • Know your surroundings and assess potential threatsAny time Jason enters a situation, he’s always assessing the potential dangers, necessary escape routes, and anybody that could be suspicious or pose a threat. This is what Mac talks about in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but you know…actually having some skill.
  • Work on memory recall: Practice memorizing license plate numbers as you walk down the street.  Step it up further: learn to memorize a deck of cards quickly, and apply that talent to other situations.
  • Evasive Driving School:  In case you ever need to properly evade a pursuer in a vehicle, they actually have really cool driving schools you can attend.  Check “Evasive driving school + your state” and see where you can train.
  • Emergency/First Aid: Learn about proper disaster training and emergency first aid by doing a search for an Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program in your area.  At the very least, taking a CPR/First Aid class could be the difference between life and death while living off the grid!
  • Expert Marksman: Jason is one hell of a shot, and you can be too.  Search for a local gun range, and speak to them about basic handgun safety, shooting classes, and more.
  • Pick your way out of handcuffs:  My friend Brett over at Art of Manliness has a handy (pun intended) guide on how to get out of cuffs should you find yourself locked up.

So, I realize this is a MONSTER article, but hopefully it provided you with plenty of entertainment and education as to what life is like as a real life Jason Bourne.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to put on Moby’s “Extreme Ways” and walk down the street like a badass.

What sort of questions do you have on becoming Jason Bourne?


PS: We have tons of new options in the Nerd Fitness Store – new tank tops for our Lady Rebels, freaking Nerd Fitness flags, and NEW Nerd Fitness hoodies that are damn comfortable and potentially provide you with superpowers.

Head on over to the Nerd Fitness store and get your battle gear today!


photo pin: Nathan Rupert: Runner, Republic of Korea: Martial Arts, J Aaron Farr: Passports, Bourne Wiki: Bourne Sniper, Bourne Wiki: Bourne and Nicky, Bourne Wiki: Bourne, woodleywonderworks: language, Hindrek Sijens: Cubbies, mr.smashy bag

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Is Motivation Useless? Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:50:48 +0000 The day was May 6th, 1954, in Oxford, England.

A gentleman named Roger Bannister did the impossible: he ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. For the nine years prior to this race, the world record had stood at 4:01, and it was widely considered that crossing that barrier was outside of human ability.

In just three years after Roger set this new record, an additional THIRTEEN people completed a mile in less than four minutes.

More recently, we saw the same big hullabaloo (what a great word) years ago when Tony Hawk first landed the 900 on a half-pipe. I remember watching this live and thinking it was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Since, then another 9 people have landed the trick.

It begs the question: Was there a sudden increase in ability during the 1950s when it came to running? Are skateboarders getting faster and finding better equipment?

Or, what if it’s something else?

Today I want to talk about self-imposed limits – our capacity to realize what’s possible instead of rationalizing what’s impossible.

Brains over brawn

pinky and the brain

What if I were to tell you that right now, you are physically capable of pushing yourself further and harder than what your brain is telling you.

In 2012, a group of trained cyclists were told to perform a 4k timed trial as quickly as possible, using “all out effort.” That was their only guidelines.

They were then invited back, and in the second trial, they raced a virtual avatar that went the same speed as their first timed trial. The average result for every cyclist was a full 1% faster than their first “all-out” effort.

They were then told to come back a third time, and raced their avatar again, which unbeknownst to them had been sped up to be slightly faster than their original time. Again, these cyclists beat the avatar, improving their “personal best” original time by 1.7%.

So, what’s going on here? 

How did these subjects, who had previously expelled MASS-EFFORT suddenly find more “gas in the tank” and improve their time overnight?

Imagine you’re playing Mario Kart, and you’re racing against a ghost of your previous best effort. Not only now do you know exactly how fast you need to go to improve, but the visual cue is right in front of you, tempting you to push yourself beyond what you thought possible.

I learned all of this through Mark McClusky’s “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” I absolutely fell in love with the content on limitations, fatigue, emotions, and what our bodies are capable of.

For example, Tim Noakes, South African professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, hypothesizes, it’s not our bodies that slow down, but rather our brains that control WHY and HOW our bodies slow down:

“Fatigue is an emotion, a construct in the mind that helps ensure that exercise is performed within the body’s ability. That emotion is affected by many factors, such as motivation, anger, fear, memories of past performance, self-belief, and what the body is telling the brain….our physical performance is regulated by the brain, not limited by our hearts, lungs, or muscles.”

Are we capable of more than we realize, and simply need it proven to us? Just as a planet full of runners suddenly realized, “hey, the 4 minute mile IS possible!” These cyclists are up against an avatar that constantly challenges them to go further and faster than they ever thought possible.

Even though they went ALL out, once they had a benchmark to base their own performance off of, they were able to go even further and push their effort beyond what they initially thought possible.

We see this story day after day on Nerd Fitness: Success Stories from people who have lost tremendous amounts of weight that said “I never thought I’d be doing handstands or rock climbing…and yet here I am.”

How are these everyday joes accomplishing and crushing their own limits, and is it the same reason that world class athletes set records and break through barriers?

How can we push our own limits?

Glass ball

I recently came across a fun quote on Imgur (NSFW: language) – that was incredibly thought provoking. Somebody asked how they can get themselves motivated to do more stuff or get things done, and the response was interesting:

“Better to cultivate discipline than to rely on motivation. force yourself to do things. force yourself to get up out of bed and practice. Force yourself to work. Motivation is fleeting and it’s easy to rely on because it requires no concentrated effort to get. Motivation comes to you, and you don’t have to chase after it.

Discipline is reliable, motivation is fleeting. The question isn’t how to keep yourself motivated. It’s how to train yourself to work without it.”

In a nutshell: If you are relying on yourself to “wait to get motivated” to work out, stop it! Stop whining! It’s better to build a system in which you don’t have to rely on motivation… build a system in which you get to race against (or lift against) an avatar that was you from last week. Don’t rely on inspiration; build a system for success – a system to break your own limits.

This quote also reminded me of the most successful people I know, or the people who seem to get more done in a month than most people get done in a life. 

It’s not because these people are more “motivated” than others. It’s because they have built and expect the habit of greatness.

For example, take Cal Newport: computer science professor at Georgetown University, publisher of numerous papers, and author of four books. He gets more done in a day than most do in a week, and yet he stops work every day at 5:30 pm so he can spend time with his wife and family.  How the heck does he get all of this done while also being a full-time professor?

By practicing the habit of greatness.

He plans out his entire week in advance, he makes distractions irrelevant, and doesn’t surf the web at work.

Is Cal more motivated than the rest of us to get things done, or does he have more willpower than mere mortals? Hell no! He just understands how habits are built, and then he’s spent years making these things automatic in his life.

It’s cliche, but Aristotle said it best: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”   Cal simply practices the habit of excellence, carefully honed over years and years.

So what does this mean for people like us? It turns out we can trick ourselves into pushing farther than we think we’re capable of, and we can DO more things than we think we’re capable of.  Like building a bat cave, instead of relying on willpower and motivation to get yourself to exercise or eat right…work smarter, not harder. Or by making the only comparison you can make – and using this avatar of past self to push you to the next level.

And sometimes we need people to push us, to challenge us, to drag us through things we don’t want to do until we realize that we’ve done it.  You know, like Gandalf nudging Bilbo out the door. I bet Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation wouldn’t have completed this lap without the support of his friend Chris:


Just by surrounding yourself with better, more advanced people can hugely impact your own training. John Kessel, Director of sport development at USA volleyball, explains that a disproportionate number of their best players are younger siblings, because “The more you play against bigger kids, older kids, even adults, the better you become as an athlete.”

And sometimes, we need assistance (technology) to help us build these habits of excellence:

  • Self-Control to block time-wasting websites on our computer.
  • Rescue time to track our efficiency.
  • Alarm clocks across the room.
  • A freaking wrist-shock device when we miss our habits.

Notice that none of these examples above rely on motivation or willpower or just being better than somebody else. Instead, they all situations in which outside forces are employed to push us beyond our seemingly entrenched capabilities.

Don’t be outworked


I want to imagine what you’d accomplish if failure wasn’t an option. As McClusky theorizes in his book, especially when it comes to performance, competition, and victory: “the winner is the athlete for whom defeat is the least acceptable rationalization.” In other words, people who are willing to do anything to accomplish their goals almost always end up accomplishing their goals.

Or, in Will Smith’s own words:  “I will not be outworked.” (h/t Derek)

Will Smith

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories.

But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?

Not surprisingly, Will Smith is one of the most successful actors out there today. Unfortunately, we’re all not like Will Smith (yet). At some point in our own quests, when we are not willing to make the sacrifices to succeed, we fall into the belief that accomplishing our goals is not possible.

In fact, this rationalization can and will happen for many people before they even try!

My goal with Nerd Fitness is to help you get from the point where you move from rationalizing “it’s not possible,” to “I wonder what am I capable of, and when can I get started!?”  I want to help you get what you want out of life, whether it’s a flat stomach, bigger muscles, self-confidence, and/or a life of adventure.

In my 6 years of running Nerd Fitness, I’ve come to learn that happiness, greatness, and success are not things people are born with, entitled to, or lucked into.

They are habits and practices that have been built intelligently.

Instead of berating yourself when you’re not motivated to exercise, or getting mad at yourself when you struggle with eating unhealthy food, take a step back and look at it from a different angle:

“How can you build the habit of success and put your focus there, instead of chasing the motivation to make it happen?

It’s easy to become ensnared - to chase motivation and fail – or rationalize inaction and never try. Every single one of us has fallen into this trap. I’d love to hear about your experience with this, and how you plan to (or already have) overcome it.


PS: Just wanted to mention Faster, Higher, Stronger again by Mark McClusky (editor of I read this book last week and had a fun chat with Mark who’s a really cool guy. If you’re a nerd about human performance and our capabilities, it’s a super interesting read.


photo pin: Anne Worner: The Art Critic, Khalid Al-khater: Silhouette, David Hawkins-Weeks: Marble, JD Hancock: Pinky & the Brain

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Is a Calorie REALLY Just a Calorie? Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:09:54 +0000 This whole “nutrition thing” can be a confusing, contradictory mess.

Depending on who you talk to, you could get a few different answers on how to approach eating:

  • “I’m Paleo, and only eat meat, veggies, fruit and nuts – boo grains!”
  • “Well I just eat based on my macros (Protein, Carbs, Fats) – Paleo is ridiculous!”
  • “Whatever fools – a calorie is a calorie. I can lose weight just eating less.”
  • “I’m in incredible shape and all I eat is pizza. Hell, I’m a freaking wizard!”

Whoever you talk with, you can get a pretty different picture of what it means to “eat healthy.” To make things more confusing, each of these perspectives are backed up with plenty of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies.

I wanted to cover our thoughts (and yes, my humble nerdy opinion) on this great nutrition debate, starting with the question: 

“Is a calorie really a calorie?”

What is a Calorie?


A calorie, by its simplest definition, is a unit of energy.

It’s equivalent to 4.184 absolute Joules (which is different from 1.21 Gigawatts).

If you really want to nerd out, here’s what that means: 1 food calorie equals 1 kilocalorie, which is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram of water from 15 to 16 °C.

So, in this sense, just like a pound is a pound and a kilogram is a kilogram, a calorie is a calorie.

But…that really doesn’t help us at all. What we’re really interested in is:

Do different types of calories affect our body differently?

  • Is 1000 calories of twinkies the same exact thing as 1000 calories of grass-fed steak and vegetables? This man lost weight on the Twinkie Diet!
  • Does your body process those foods differently, or is it as simple as “energy in, energy out?”
  • Does the type of food you eat affect your health outside of just weight loss (or muscle gain)?

These questions usually provoke a controversial and heated debate, because we say things like “a calorie isn’t a calorie” or “energy in is energy out” and we all mean different things.

Shockingly, on the internet this has generally devolved into a lot of name calling and angry debates between people who are 100% sure (and will link to any number of studies to prove) their method is the correct one.

But you know that the internet is for people to argue incessantly about anything and everything, so you’re instead here on Nerd Fitness because you’d like to learn something. Or maybe you just like my witty puns and clever jokes?

No? Okay!

So let’s dig into all of this stuff. To start, let’s establish some common ground.

Nutrition 101


Before we dig into the specifics of how calories work, let’s get one thing straight. No matter what your “nutrition philosophy,” how you eat will be responsible for 80-90% of your success or failure.

Long story short: the food you choose (and how much) matters.

As we say in the Rules of the NF Rebellion, you can’t outrun your fork. You could train five days a week, and with an awful diet, you won’t see any transformation in your body…which I’m guessing is a part of the reason you’re training to begin with!

Sure, you could certainly have improved cardiovascular health from running a lot, but if your goal is to transform like your boy Optimus Prime, how you fuel your body will play the starring role.

Exercise is the supporting cast.

When it comes to PURE weight loss (not factoring in muscle vs. fat, body composition, overall health, physical performance, or energy levels), eating fewer calories than you burn every day will be the chief part of the equation.

Eat less than you burn: lose weight.

However, we’re FAR more concerned with how you look, how you feel, if you are healthy, if you are getting stronger, if your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, and if you live a long life full of activity, exercise, and video games.  We want to do everything in our power to help you avoid things like heart disease and type-2 diabetes – diseases that end Game of Life too early.

So, as you’ll see below, we need to focus on the type you foods you eat along with how much you eat.

Ultimately, our goal is to turn you into a freaking superhero.

Let’s take a look at the first big part of the equation.

Are all calories created equal in weight loss?

Tri Plate

Let’s say you’re a typical American dude or dudette (do people use that term anymore? didn’t think so), and you eat anywhere between 3000 and 3500 calories per day of whatever the hell you want. And you want to lose some weight.

Or maybe you eat way more than that, or you have no clue how much you eat, but you know you need to lose some weight.

So you set a calorie goal of 2200 calories and you eat less. You don’t change WHAT you eat, you simply change the proportions of what you eat.

And look at that, you start to lose weight. You might be miserable due to severely restricting your body from the normal amount of calories it expects to eat, but it’s a step in that direction.

When we consume roughly 500 less calories per day on average, burn 500 extra calories per day through exercise, or some combination of the two, you will lose roughly 1 pound (.45 kg) of body mass per week.

As pointed out on, “a net negative energy balance…is responsible for weight loss.”

Notice we said “weight loss” and not “fat loss.”

Unfortunately, this is where things become problematic – many people stop here and assume that you should simply start to eat less, case closed.

But here’s the thing: We aren’t robots… unless you are a robot, in which case I’d like to be your friend when we reach singularity.

We know that our bodies react differently to certain types of foods, as we cover quite extensively in our article on sugar. Certain foods fill us up more than others without being full of calories (oh hey, vegetables), while other foods are loaded with calories but don’t make us feel satiated at all (I see you soda, crackers, and candy!).

Most of us simply do a horrible job of turning off our emotions and desires when it comes to eating. If I told you to eat 2200 calories every day of Mountain Dew, Twinkies, Sour Patch Kids, and animal crackers, would you be able to stop at 2200 calories? It’s no surprise that people struggle with portion control and eating a certain amount when it comes to processed foods.

Remember, these foods are scientifically designed to get you to eat more without realizing itThey are designed to press every button in our brain that says “I NEED MORE OF THIS. GET IN MY BELLY.

It’s why using small plates is so effective at getting us to eat less (without changing anything else). It’s why this study at Cornell found that if they gave people a large tub or a medium tub of popcorn, and then gave them stale popcorn, the size of the tub mattered far more than the staleness of the popcorn in determining how much people ate!

We are not rational creatures.  Certain foods are calorie dense and nutrient light, making us feel like we are starving all day when we have already consumed our daily ‘allotment’ of calories.

Compare that to a diet of just vegetables and tons of meat, and the reverse can happen: we can feel satiated while still eating a caloric deficit, which makes it easier for us to consistently eat less than we burn daily, and thus lose weight.

In our opinion, this is like LEVEL 1 of Weight Loss. If you have a LOT of weight to lose, and aren’t aiming for anything in particular other than weight loss, eating less will get you well on your way down that path.

Unfortunately, the entire story is much more complicated. Are you looking to build or retain your muscle? Have a body composition you are proud of? Have solid energy throughout the day?

Would you rather look like Captain America than be skinny fat? Or look like Scarlett Johansson in the Avengers than be far too thin simply because you wanted to “lose weight”?

Different types of foods have different effects on your body – affecting your body composition and athletic performance.

Let’s go one level deeper…and hopefully stay out of limbo.

Calories, Macronutrients, Body Composition


Okay, so we’ve officially graduated from level one: eat less and move more.

So, this is where the “if it fits your macros” (IIFYM) crew – which kind of sounds like a break-dance crew from the 80s – comes onto the scene, AKA Level 2. The IIFYM theory is that so long as your meals fit your macros (certain amounts of fats, carbs, and protein), you can eat whatever you want.

And, in our view, this is indeed more sophisticated than simply “eat less”: As long as we keep our total number of calories in line with our goals, and our foods are composed of the right macros, you will lose weight. Combine it with strength training, and you will build strength (and potentially muscle), while losing weight.

What does the perfect ratio look like? In our opinion, the amount of calories consumed and the ratio of what the macronutrients should differ from person to person…mostly depending upon their body, goals, and routine.

But no matter what you choose, people following IIFYM calculate the total number of calories, fats, proteins, and carbs in each meal, and then subtract them from their total daily allotment. As the day moves on, they try to make choices that fit what they have remaining. So, for example, if they are supposed to eat 25g more of carbs and no fats – they might opt for something like a banana. At the end of the day, this might feel a little bit like food tetris.

Now, if all of that seems like a lot of work to calculate and track all of our macros and calories throughout every day, we hear ya.  In fact, we’ve found that some people can take this stuff very seriously (and sometimes too far), spending a lot of time stressing out about going over their macro allotment and getting it to align perfectly.  We know people that actually bring a scale with them everywhere to weigh their meals!

But it’s clear that tons of people have found success with IIFYM – it helps get your body the right kind of nturients, and so many have found it effective in achieving body recomposition. IIFYM also goes by the name of “flexible dieting – this is because there is no forbidden foods and thus no “cheating” when you eat something that doesn’t align perfectly with your diet (we also hate the concept of “cheat meals”).

So, if it works, why isn’t IIFYM what Nerd Fitness recommends? 

Remember, our goal is multifaceted: 

  • Look and feel like a superhero.
  • No diets. We want life-long success stories, not 90 day crashes!
  • We want you to actually achieve your goals, not struggle, fail, and start over until the end of time.
  • We don’t want fitness and health to take over your life. Wherever possible, we want to avoid OCD/addiction behavior. Strong body, strong mind.

Yes, we realize that Level 1 is great for many people. We also realize that there are also TONS of people who live in the IIFYM crowd and it works for you.  That is AWESOME!

As we talk about in this article, as long as you are happy with how you look and you are getting a clean bill of health from your doctor, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s clearly working!

However, there is a reason that “Nerd Fitness Nutrition Philosophy” is a bit different than IIFYM. We think that this method actually works for the greatest number of people. Let’s take a look one final step further.

Eating for Health and Success


Welcome to our preferred nutrition strategy at Nerd Fitness.

Although we know and understand that eating less calories will result in weight loss, and that eating the right ratio of macronutrients is an even bigger step in the right direction, we don’t love the time-intensive nature of calorie/macro counting (although we will often ask people to temporarily track calories or macros as an awareness exercise).

Further, IIFYM just wants you to hit your macro targets, regardless of what food items you consume. We believe that the actual foods that contain these macronutrients are an important part of the equation. Is getting 100g of carbs from a vegetable really EQUAL to getting 100 grams of candy? Of course not. A whole host of other factors make the vegetables a far superior option:

  • Consider the fact that candies and processed foods are engineered with the perfect bliss point to make you eat (and buy) more.
  • Or look at the differences in micro nutrients – there is no contest between the vegetable and the candy.
  • It’s not exactly rocket science, 200 calories of different foods can be incredibly different.
  • Finally, look at your energy levels. How do YOU feel after eating it?

Remember, we want to find a way of eating that you can stick to. A way of eating that makes you look and feel great. Something that keeps you out of the hospital and enjoying life at your fullest.

So, if we like the idea of eating less calories, but we don’t love the idea of counting calories and macros every day, how are we supposed to eat less? By focusing on the right KINDS of foods.

We put a focus on eating whole foods, rich full of macro and micro nutrients. The type of food that fill you up, without being jammed packed full of calories. The type of food that make you feel full, but not awful.

So, when we eat carbs, they’re coming from healthy sources, not cans of soda.

Instead of counting calories, try this instead: every meal needs to have 1-2 vegetables on the plate (or about half your plate), and a big protein source. Keep the grains and starches to a minimum, and mindfully eat until you’re satisfied. Add more vegetables and protein when hungry :)

Not losing weight over a few week period? Do some investigative work and track your calories for a few days to see how you’re doing, possibly including your macro intake. Use these few days to make a note of what proper portion sizes of each meal should look like, as well as how the total amount of food for the day feels. Strategies like intermittent fasting might be helpful in reducing the amount of calories you consume without even realizing it! Or, deploy some Jedi Mind tricks on yourself, like waiting 20 minutes before you get seconds so your body has a chance to feel full (longer list of Jedi Mind tricks here).

Here’s the bottom line: We all know that eating less and moving more is quite important to weight loss….and yet we are still more overweight than ever. Just “eat less” might not be the permanent solution we’re looking for, as it doesn’t factor in behavioral psychology and how we crazy humans operate day to day!

The Great Nutrition Debate

No Calorie Mayo

“But Steve! What about macros? You just said it works. And I know plenty of people who have counted calories and lost weight!”

So do I! My friend Leo has dropped a good amount of weight without doing any additional exercise, and has written about it in tons of nerdy detail here.  Now that he’s seen a big chunk of his success from counting calories, he’s slowly shifting his diet to adding in more vegetables and cutting back on some other stuff (while never giving up anything completely).

And there are plenty of people who have lost weight or built tons of muscle following the IIFYM ratio, dutifully tracking calories and macros day to day and eating what they want.

If those options sound awesome to you, AMAZING! Go for it! There are tons of sites out there that love counting calories, sites like Daily Plate to help you with it, and tons of sites that swear by IIFYM as well.

Here’s the thing…although people spend all day arguing about this stuff on the internet, it turns out when you look at what all these “different” nutrition philosophies advocate, everyone pretty much ends up on the same side of the fence for what the best practice is:

  • Eat real food.
  • Eat less processed junk.
  • Be smart when making nutrition decisions.
  • Nothing is 100% off limits unless control is truly an issue.

For example, let’s say you’re a 170 lb (77 kg) dude who is eating to reach your macro goals.  Under one traditional IIFYM formula, this guy needs to eat 215g of carbs, 170g of protein, and 60g of fat.

This is practically impossible if you’re eating twinkies! In fact – it’s almost impossible to achieve unless you’re eating whole foods, tons of protein sources, and vegetables with every meal. Hmmmm, sound familiar?

In many cases, the IIFYM advocate who is vehemently debating with a Paleo or “clean eaters” is actually eating the same foods at the end of the day.

All the while, these two sides are dutifully arguing with each other over which method is truly the best.  

What method is truly the best? The answer is the same as the answer to the question “What’s the best workout plan?” – the one that you’ll actually FOLLOW THROUGH WITH!

For some people, they eat 100% paleo and LOVE it. For others, it’s two weeks of misery before falling off the wagon and returning to old habits.

For some people, counting macros is either the easiest thing ever, or will create an eye twitch on their first day.

So, we don’t get caught up in the “perfect” debate. Perfection doesn’t exist. The perfect diet doesn’t exist; we only care what happens in reality, with real people, who have busy lives, bad habits, and need help.

What I care about is what diet or nutrition plan will result in the following for the greatest number of Rebels:

  • A strong, functional body.
  • A happy, confident person who doesn’t freak out about food.
  • A clean bill of health from the doctor.
  • Life long success!

I’ve been running this site for 6 years, have dealt with thousands upon thousands of unhealthy people who have found consistent success and happiness, and I plan on continuing that trend!

Eat Real Food

Veggie Dish

Welp, in typical Steve Kamb fashion, I managed to take “just eat real food” into a behemoth of an article.

Let’s keep it simple: Our bodies are complex pieces of machinery, and although a calorie might make a simple equation for weight loss, every other factor of “healthy” can be affected by the quality and nutritional makeup of that calorie.

For that reason, we want you to eat real foods, cut back on sugar, and think long term (habits) rather than in short bursts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

Have you had success with counting calories or calculating macros, or did it make you go crazy?

Did you go full Paleo and struggle before finding a balance?

Did going full Paleo help your addictive nature, or further fuel that fire?

We’re all still trying to figure this stuff out ourselves, and quality research on these issues is slowly advancing.

So, I’d love to hear from you below. Which methods have you messed around with, and what are your goals? We’d like to know if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, lose a lot of weight, get to a minimal body fat percentage, compete in an elite sport, etc.


Today’s Rebel Hero: Anna L., rockin’ her Nerd Fitness hoodie on her honeymoon in Barbados. Congrats Anna!

Want to be the next Rebel Hero? Send us a photo of you rocking your Nerd Fitness battle gear to 



photo source: Bill Grace: Three vegetables, David Goehring: Waffle, sharyn marrow: three dishes, meg: vegetable dish, amy_buthod: veggies, ray sawhill: dip, Harsha K R: McDonalds, Jeanette Goodrich: Scale

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How to Make Pan Roasted Pork Chops Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:48:50 +0000 This is a post by Rebel Chef Noel.

I don’t know about you, but where I live, changes are happening. The leaves are turning, the air is a little crisper, and it’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven!

The weather getting colder also means my appetite for warm comfort food is in full effect. Usually, the colder weather means tons of sweet treats and unhealthy meals – but not for Rebels!

Fear not, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to give up comfort food all together. We have the power to make hearty meals that are not only delicious, but will also nourish our bodies and make us stronger. Win-win (win)!

I don’t want you go get the wrong impression. When I say comfort food or “pan roasted” it might sound intimidating, but I assure you, this is a level 2 recipe. If you can make paleo spaghetti, you can absolutely do this.

These pork chops take 20 minutes, only need 5 ingredients, and have minimal preparation.

Let’s get started!

Pan Roasted Pork Chops



Active time: 10 min

Total time: 20 min

Serves: 2-3 (depends on how many pork chops you buy)



2-3 Pork Chops -
I suggest buying the thicker ones for this recipe. They look like this:

They’re generally about an inch thick. All pork chops come with a fat cap on one side, so don’t worry about that. Whether you buy bone in or bone-less is up to you. I personally prefer boneless since I don’t like paying for the weight of a bone that I’m not going to eat, but the bone-in ones do look rather impressive…

1 Teaspoon Ghee or Olive Oil - Ghee is a form of butter that is basically heated until it all of the lactose, casein, and whey are cooked out. This makes it a safer paleo option than regular ol’ butter. It is richer tasting than butter, and can pack a serious punch when added to veggies, used for sautéing, or for searing meats (which is what we’ll be doing here). If you don’t want to use ghee, use olive oil!

1/2 a Lemon - for squeezin’ over the chops

2-3 Cloves of Garlic - one for each pork chop. Remember, these are the little guys that you break off of a bulb. Don’t use a whole bulb (unless you want to repel vampires for weeks…which might be advisable).

Salt and pepper


Knife -
for cutting your lemon and smashing your garlic

Cutting board

Frying Pan or Skillet - Anything without a plastic/meltable handle will work great here. Cast iron skillets are awesome. My pans are stainless steel and they work just fine. Though, if you only have pans with plastic handles, I have a solution for you. Keep reading.

Measuring spoon - just the teaspoon this time.

Tongs - for flippin’ the chops. A fork will work in a pinch.

Meat thermometer - (optional) I LOVE using a meat thermometer. It insures that my meat is cooked perfectly every time. If you’re new to cooking, especially if you’re squeamish about cooking meats (I know, I’ve been there. Former vegetarian here!), please consider getting one of these. Mine cost $15 and was totally worth it considering the number of chicken breasts I have undercooked (and the resulting ruined lunches that have left me hungry and my willpower bar empty at work).

I would suggest a digital probe thermometer with a cord so you can keep it outside of the oven to monitor the temperature. Most of them come pre-programmed with settings for different types of proteins so that you don’t have to memorize or look up the temps you need every time. And, all the ones I have owned beep obnoxiously enough to get me off the couch when my food is done.

Foil lined baking sheet - (optional) You can use this if you don’t have a pan without a plastic handle. If you do this, you’ll use both your pan and the baking sheet.

Pan Roasted Pork Chop Instructions

1. Heat things up! Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 F (177 C) and pre-heating the pan you’ll be using to sear the meat.

2. Now start prepping your pork chop. First, pat it dry with a paper towel. We do this to make sure it sears quickly and evenly the second we put it in the frying pan.


3. Then, sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Massage the spices into the chop with your hands. Make sure you get both sides. If you have a favorite pre-made rub, you can use it here too! Once you’ve seasoned them to your liking, set them on a paper towel near the stove. (And always wash your hands after touching raw meat!)


4. Move on to the rest of the ingredients. Cut your lemon in half and smash your cloves of garlic using the side of your knife. Don’t worry about peeling them or anything. Just smash!


5. Once your pan is heated and the oven has come to temperature, measure out 1 tsp ghee or olive oil and pour it into your pan. Once it hits the pan it will melt and spread very quickly. Tilt the pan to move the oil and coat it.


6. Place your cloves of garlic in the pan. They will sizzle and pop. It’s kinda scary, I know. Be brave! (If you don’t want your hands too close to the oil, you can use your tongs to place everything in the pan.)


*Make sure to NEVER drop anything into hot oil. (Even if it’s just a little bit of oil.) The hot liquid can splash up and burn you. Set everything down in the pan gently.

7. Place your pork chops on top of each clove of garlic. Once you put them down, don’t touch! They are searing! Let them sit for 2-3 minutes.


8. Now take your tongs and flip the chops over. It’s okay if the garlic sticks to the meat. The side that was seared will now be a nice toasty brown color. We want to do that to the other side too, so after you flip, no touching. Just let this side sear for another 2-3 minutes.


9. Take your 1/2 lemon (or the juice from the lemon) and squeeze or pour it over the chops. This will cause the hot pan to sizzle and some of the oil to pop, so be careful!


9.5 (optional) If you’re using a meat thermometer, now is its time to shine! Turn it on, set it to the correct temperature (for pork, the standard food safe temperature is 145* degrees F (63 C). Stick the probe into the thickest part of the chop and set the digital reader on the counter.

*Note: The temperature standard for pork was changed recently from 160 F (71 C) to 145 F . This is why if you have a pre-programmed thermometer, the setting for pork may say 160. Because the pork chop is a leaner cut of meat, it may dry out if it is cooked up to 160. This is your personal preference as to whether you like a juicier or with less juicy texture to your meat.

10. If your pan is completely metal, you can take that baby and stick it directly in the oven. If it’s not, remove the chop from the hot pan and place it on your foil lined baking sheet. Pour the remaining juice from the pan on top of the pork chop and stick that in the oven.


11. If you’re using the meat thermometer, you don’t have to set a timer, but if you’re not using a thermometer, set a timer for 10 minutes. (Ten minutes is about the amount of time it takes for pork chops of this size to reach 145 F.)

12. When the chops are done, remove the pan from the oven. Take the chop off the pan and rest it on a cutting board or plate for at least 3 minutes before devouring.


*Don’t forget to use a towel or oven mitt when touching the handle of the pan! It stays hot for a long time. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten that it’s hot and burned myself with the darn pan that I just took out of the oven.

Grab a veggie, and enjoy


I like to serve pork chops with a side of garlic cauliflower mash (recipe available in our Paleo Central App!) and roasted asparagus or broccoli. Simple steam fresh veggies, sautéed kale, a baked or mashed sweet potato, or your favorite vegetable sides should be served along with your chops!

If you want the meal to be extra delicious, make some of this caramelized onion and apple hash from the pulled pork recipe and serve it on top of your chops. Amazing!

If this is about a level two recipe, what level of recipe would you like to see in the future? Keep it simple or level up your cooking game?

Let me 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 even the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!


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