Nerd Fitness » Blog http://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:01:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Growth Happens At Our Limits: Embrace it. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/24/growth-happens-at-our-limits-embrace-it/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/24/growth-happens-at-our-limits-embrace-it/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:33:00 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=21590 We all search for inspiration. Sometimes we find it in a movie montage, other times in real life stories.

And sometimes something awesome happens right in front of us that gives us a fresh perspective.  Here’s a story from Taylor, NF’s Chief Wordsmith:

For about 6 months now I’ve seen a guy in a wheelchair come into my gym. He comes with a physical therapist, and does a variety of assisted rehabilitation exercises.  He usually uses low weight dumbbells or assistance bands. He can’t stand up, nor can he walk on his own, and it looks like he is rebuilding the coordination in his upper body as well.

This guy has been training along side me, while I usually am doing basic powerlifting movements.  For the last 6 months, he’s been an inspiration…but last week, he reached an all new level.

You see, in my gym, it is rare to see people take big lifts to failure, especially a squat or deadlift (for the few people who do actually squat and deadlift).  When I fail on a big lift, dropping heavy weight onto safeties, I definitely get some weird looks.

Last week I nailed a new 5 rep squat PR.  It felt great, like I just beat an end-game boss. Then, as I’m headed for the water fountain after my set, I saw my rehab friend.

But this time he isn’t working with bands or dumbbells. In fact, the therapist isn’t even assisting him, he’s just coaching him. This guy was standing up out of his wheelchair, without help, for the first time in his training.

I have NEVER seen anybody work this hard. I watched him fight to lift his own bodyweight. I saw him struggle for every inch. I watched him put every last ounce of effort he had into his legs and posterior chain - and then some. He could have fallen flat on his face, sideways into the weight machines, or on to his  therapist. In fact, I almost thought he was going to. But he didn’t.  He won. It was by far the most inspiring and impressive feat I’ve ever seen.

In a way, it was more impressive than a 500 lb squat, a perfect human flag, or a sub 4-minute mile. And it was “just” his body weight. “Just” standing up.

Growth Happens at our limits

limit

The above story helps demonstrate something crucial when it comes to our training.

It didn’t matter that he was only looking to ‘squat’ his own weight or 500 lbs.

In that moment of struggle where we’re aiming to do something we’ve never done before, we are all the same.

The battle is the same.

The mental chess game is the same.

And the “boss-defeating satisfaction”  is the same.

And years from now, Taylor’s friend in the gym who just stood up for the first time could be squatting hundreds of pounds. And as he breaks personal best after personal best, he gets to have that same struggle, that same moment of “can I do this?” and that final “holy crap, I did it.”

Josh Waitzkin, world champion chess player (and subject of “Searching for Bobby Fisher”), says it best in his book, “The Art of Learning”:

“Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.”‘

Your workouts should not be monotonous

treadmill

Most people go about their workout as a dull, monotonous worker bees:

  • Step on treadmill or sit down at weight machine
  • Dutifully suffer through 20-60 minutes of exercise at some arbitrary pace
  • Repeat

Almost all of us have experience with this – grinding out the same exercise, day after day, because we think it’s what we need to do to achieve the results we want.

But as illustrated above, workouts don’t have to be a grind. In fact, they SHOULDN’T be viewed as a grind, but a new opportunity to challenge your limits.

EVERY workout should be exciting.

The awesome part? No matter where that “limit” is – whether you’re 500 pounds, 70 years old, or an Olympic athlete – the excitement from leveling up can be electric EVERY time.

You can harness this excitement to look forward to your training…meanwhile achieving the results you’ve always longed for.

One step further

hobbit

Remember in the Fellowship of the Ring, as Sam and Frodo set off to Rivendell (and eventually Mordor), Sam pauses for a brief moment at a Scarecrow just a few miles outside of his home:

Sam: “This is it.”

Frodo: “This is what?”

Sam: “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” 

Sam Leaves the Shire

For many people that had been in and out of the Shire, they probably walked past that scarecrow without thinking twice.

However, that Scarecrow was something MONUMENTAL for Sam.  It signified the difference between the comfortable, safe, known confines that he had experienced in his life, and the potentially dangerous unknown adventure that awaited him.

Where is the Scarecrow in your life?  

  • Is it that weight you’ve never been able to lift for a deadlift?
  • Is it a mountain hike that you’ve told yourself you would finish but haven’t attempted?
  • Is it traveling outside of the country and testing your preconcieved notions of other cultures?
  • Is it trying to learn a new instrument, or making a new friend, or attending an event?

Safety and the “known” can lull us to sleep.  

They can help us drift instead of taking control (a symptom of “good enough“).

They tell us to mindlessly hop on a treadmill – to aimlessly wander around the gym – to do the bare minimum.

Sure, staying within your boundaries can be safer, but your growth is dependent upon what happens outside of the lines – what happens PAST the scarecrow.

So celebrate each victory, and embrace that happiness every time you pass a milestone.  And then remember that each time the scarecrow moves further away from home, you must reach even further to challenge yourself.

This isn’t about crossing the finish line. It turns out, we’re not there yet, so we might as well enjoy the journey and do it for the love of the game.

Growth happens at our limits, wherever they may lie.  It’s how much we can become comfortable with being uncomfortable that will determine just how much we can grow.

To paraphrase Professor Barnhardt in The Day the Earth Stood Still: At the precipice we change.

I want to hear from you.

Where is your Shire, and what does the Scarecrow represent for you?

For me, it’s been heavy deadlifts.  For 5+ years that scarecrow was stuck at 315 lbs, the “farthest from home I’ve ever been.”  I had been afraid to leave the Shire…so I took baby steps over the past 12 months and just yesterday lifted 320 lbs. I know when I wake up tomorrow that scarecrow will have moved to 325 lbs, tempting me to venture further.

I can’t wait for that moment next week when my ENTIRE existence is focused on one tiny thing: pulling that bar, loaded up with all of that weight, up and over my knees. I know if I can get it there, then I can get through the rest of the lift.  I’m excited for the challenge.  And I don’t know if I’ll fail or succeed. But I’m excited to try.

Post a comment below on what the scarecrow is in your life right now – and how you plan to walk right on past it!

-Steve

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photo pin: Matt Chan: Shire, Legozilla: treadmill, Martijn de Valk: dandelion, Scott Smith: Time Limit

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Healthy Hacks for Staying Fit On the Road http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/21/healthy-hacks-for-staying-fit-on-the-road/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/21/healthy-hacks-for-staying-fit-on-the-road/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:08:18 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23236 Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada!

Over the past six months, I have not missed a workout despite spending time in quite a few different places:

  • Nashville, TN
  • Dallas, TX
  • Austin, TX
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Miami, FL
  • A floating music festival
  • San Diego, CA
  • Maui, HI
  • Las Vegas, NV (three times!)
  • Portland, OR

Not only have I not missed a workout, but I’ve also managed to get in the best shape of my life over that time frame.  We receive emails every day from people who have the same problem:

“Steve, when I’m at home I am great and can stay on track, but I travel a lot for work and it’s really easy to get thrown off, help?”

Although I’ve already written extensively about being healthy as a traveling nomad three years ago, I wanted to revisit this topic for the traveling working professional and share my experiences and thoughts about staying healthy on the road.

It is absolutely possible to make great progress while traveling; one of our best success stories ever, NF Rebel Joe, managed to lose 130 pounds in 10 months while traveling TWO weeks a month, every month.

If you happen to be a road warrior, or travel junkie, and/or spend more time in an airport than an office, I got you covered!

Get your head in the game

you can

The challenge with getting fit on the road is often due to not having the right mental attitude before the trip even starts.  It’s not due to a gym, or no options for healthy eating, but because your head is not in the game.

I stopped telling myself that missing workouts and eating like crap was inevitable, and instead decided that getting fit was inevitable, no matter my location.

So, before you even set foot on a plane, or before you get into your car, you need to level up your mental game:

1) Make a commitment to yourself.  I knew I was going to be traveling like crazy for the past six months, and in the past I would always tell myself “I don’t have time to exercise.”  However, over this recent stretch, I haven’t missed a single workout. How?  By telling myself that I WOULD NOT MISS A WORKOUT!

I’ve had to work out very early in the morning, very late at night, or cram a workout in halfway through the day.  I’ve worked out in gyms, parks, playgrounds, etc.  Remember, “I don’t have time is a big fat lie.”

2) Make exercise the one constant in a trip full of uncertainty.  As pointed out in this article, I’ve made exercise into my “Constant” (to borrow a term from Lost) – when my life gets crazy and I’m always in a new environment, exercise is the constant in my life that keeps me grounded.

3) Never miss two in a row.  I realize we all have busy lives, and things happen, but I’ve added this rule to my life that has kept me on track despite a hectic lifestyle.

I had to apply this rule last week after having a bit too much fun at the World Domination Summit.  I was exhausted, with no voice, and had very little time, but I knew that if I missed a day on my workout, suddenly skipping my workout the next day would be even easier.

So, when I’m traveling, I NEVER miss two workouts in a row.

If I was supposed to work out on Monday but due to travel had to skip it, I would work out on Sunday, and then again on Tuesday.  If I have to eat an unhealthy meal, then my NEXT meal that same day suddenly becomes the most important meal of my life, and it has to be healthy.

Plan ahead

hitch

When you get ready for a trip, you probably go through a checklist:

  • Toiletries kit
  • Socks, underwear, undershirts
  • Dress/Suit/Tie/Shoes
  • Laptop, iPad, Kindle

There’s one thing that might get left out: your plan of attack for getting fit!

I now travel everywhere with a set of olympic rings (purchased from my buddy Peter at FringeSport).  I know that with those rings, as long as I can find a tree branch or swingset to hang them from, I can complete 99.9% of a workout that I would complete if I was at home.

I also make sure I have enough workout clothes with me, as all it takes is a simple “oops, out of workout shirts” to convince myself that I’m not ready to exercise.  It’s a amazing what we can justify to ourselves to avoid something.

I put my workouts into my Google Calendar, with alerts set to remind me on the days and times I need to exercise.  This one action probably adds 50% to my probability of actually exercising.  Just as you would build a better batcave at home, you too can build a better batmobile (see what I did there?) that sets you up for success.

I do the best I can to plan ahead on my meals too.  If I know I’m going to be spending all day in an airport, or on an 8-hour road trip, I see if there’s a way I can bring a healthy snack along with me so that I can tread water (and maintain momentum) until a healthier option presents itself.

I remind myself that ANYTHING is better than nothing. Last week, my schedule was so hectic that I only had thirty minutes to work out, so I dialed my workout back to just the essentials.  I warmed up, did sets of heavy squats, then some romanian deadlifts, and got the hell out of there!

If you don’t have time to work out for an hour, do 30 minutes. If you don’t have time to run 5 miles, run 2 miles.  If you only have time to do push ups in your hotel room, do push ups in your hotel room.

YES, planning ahead requires work.  Planning ahead also puts you in a much better position to succeed.

Now that we’ve taken care of the mental aspect of travel, it’s time to dig into the logistics.

Locate your “gym”

gym

Despite spending probably 50-60 days in hotels over the past six months, I probably used a hotel gym twice.  

Why?

Because most hotel gyms are absolutely awful – they generally have a collection of treadmills, ellipticals, and non-function work-out machines (boooo machines!)

So I work out anywhere and everywhere else.  You have a few key options when it comes to training on the road. I don’t care which one you pick, as long as you pick one:

1) Find an actual gym. A simple google search will reveal actual gyms in the area that you’re staying.  I guarantee there is a 24-hour fitness, LA fitness, or local gym that will have the actual equipment you need (for me, it’s barbells for squats, deadlifts, and presses, and something to hang my rings from).  Call them before you arrive and ask them how much a week’s membership is, if they allow deadlifts, and if they have any free trials.

This is the most expensive option, but if you have room in your budget and this is something you can spend extra money on, this is my favorite option - it’s a lot easier to stay on a routine when you can replicate your home workout situation.

2) Find a playground. While traveling the world, I would pull up google maps each time I got to a new town and looked for a green square on the map.  I figured that as long as there was a park, there would be trees and hopefully a playground.

We’ve covered an extensive playground workout (which I used while living in Ecuador) that will give you a complete full body workout that can be done anywhere! Really, you just need something to hang from for your “pull” movements and everything else can be done with just your body weight.  This is where my Olympic rings come in handy!

3) Use the hotel gym.  While planning for my trips, if I can’t find a suitable gym or park in the area near to my hotel, I’ll contact the hotel or check out the hotel online and see pictures of their gym – if they have dumbbells then I know I can at least MacGyver myself a workout that still covers the essentials (build your own workout here). It’s not 100%, but you can get pretty darn close if you’re creative and plan properly!

4) Do a hotel room workout.  So busy you can’t even leave your hotel room?  Hotel gym sucks? No park or gym near you?  Do a hotel room work out!

Here’s more info on how to complete a true workout without leaving your hotel room, in 20 minutes!

5) Do a gas station workout!  Check my guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple about how to stay healthy on a roadtrip.  Pull over and do a workout using the side of your car while filling up your gas tank:

Shhhh, did you hear that? It was all of your excuses for not exercising while traveling flying out the window!  With ONE of the five options above, you literally have no reason why you cannot complete a workout while traveling.

Now, the REAL reason why exercising is so damn important isn’t just because it helps build muscle, make you stronger, and keep you healthier – it also helps ensure that the calories you consume are going towards building muscle and not getting stored as fat.

On top of that, how we eat is 80-90% of the battle, whether we’re trying to lose weight or if we’re looking to get bigger and stronger, and by exercising every day we always keep thinking healthy.

So let’s dig into road warrior nutrition!

Eat right, level up

unhealthy

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something in our brains that tell us “I’m traveling, TIME TO EAT LIKE AN IDIOT!”  

If we’re not careful, all of our months of hard work focused on making better eating decisions can grind to a screeching halt, not unlike getting hit with a red shell in Mario Kart (I see you Luigi!).  When you take an entire week off from eating healthy while traveling, it makes getting back on track when you return infinitely harder.

So we need to tread water and stay on target while traveling with our diet so that we don’t lose all of that momentum.

Focus on these few goals while traveling: maximizing protein consumption, limiting liquid calories, eating vegetables, and never making two “mistakes” in a row.

Protein builds muscle, and it can also be incredibly filling.  I make sure every meal has a protein source, and aim to eat as much of it as possible.  This is much preferred to filling myself with empty calories like bread.

I limit liquid calories.  I know I’m going to be drinking, so I am extra diligent with my meals so the alcohol doesn’t throw off my diet completely.

Vegetables are my friend. Like protein, I try to eat as many veggies as possible, knowing they’re full of nutrients and light on calories.

Remember that anything is better than nothing.  We’re not compounding a mistake by making two.   Saying “I ate like an ***hole for breakfast, so today is ruined” is a losing mentality.  So, if we eat poorly for one meal, the next meal HAS to be healthy. No excuses.

Mentally you’re prepared to eat right, now let’s cover an actual game plan for doing so.

Road warriors unite

polynesian resort

BOOM!  Just like that, we’ve officially conquered every barrier between you and a healthy life on the road.

It really comes down to three key things:

1) Priorities – staying healthy and getting stronger can happen on the road, but it must be front and center in your mind.  Making healthy eating decisions is a choice. Going to the gym is a choice.  No more excuses.

2) Plan ahead - know where you’re going to work out, and when.  Put your workout in your calendar.

3) Never miss two in a row - shit happens and life gets screwed up while traveling.  Don’t let one mistake become two.

What are your biggest struggles while on the road?

Have you found a way to be happy and healthy while traveling?

Inquiring minds want to know! Leave a comment below and help out your fellow road warriors.

-Steve

PS: Speaking of travel, next week I’m off to Amsterdam for 3 days and then Croatia for 10 days!  This is my first international trip since going to Brazil for Carnival last year, and I’m so freaking excited.  Time to cross a few things off the Epic Quest list :)

If you happen to live in/near Amsterdam or Split, leave a comment or hit me up on twitter at @SteveKamb so we can meet up!

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photo source: Sonia Carolina: You can, Anne: Gym, Brave Heart: McDonalds, Robert: Highway, i k o: hitch-hiking, Joe Penniston: polynesian resort

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Is Muscle Memory a Real Thing? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/17/is-muscle-memory-a-real-thing/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/17/is-muscle-memory-a-real-thing/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:09:55 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22889 I slid into home on a close play.

It was a few weeks back during a recreational kickball game, and because I essentially slid with 100% effort (while wearing shorts and sneakers) trying to avoid getting pegged with the ball, I scraped up my legs, arm, stomach, and hand.

All of my teammates starting laughing at me, saying “Steve, it’s just a kickball game! Why did you slide!?”

As I looked at my bruised and battered body, I couldn’t help but laugh.  It just…happened, just like it has happened a few other times this season during minor plays. No matter how hard I try to just have fun and not care about kickball, 10 years of Little League must have worn special pathways into my brain to force me to think “CLOSE PLAY! SLIDE! SACRIFICE YOURSELF!”

It’s something I have done SO many times in my life that it has honestly become part of my DNA.

I think of other instances too in which my brain reverted back to its automatic decision making processes:

  • Riding a bike!  It’s something I could do now even if I took 10 years off.
  • I remember spending hours learning Orchid’s 80-hit combo in Killer Instinct so that I could pull it off automatically in the arcade and destroy the competition.
  • When I shoot a foul shot in basketball, it’s always one spin, two bounces, then spin it in my hands, then shoot (usually a miss, as I’m not very good. ha!)
  • I can play certain songs on the piano with my eyes closed, but if I miss a note or have to start halfway through the song, it’s almost impossible for me to play it right.

As I was sitting there on the bench, looking at my bloody limbs, laughing at myself for not being able to turn off the switch, I thought about this concept of “muscle memory” and “automatic response,” and if we could apply them to making us healthier.

The answer, of course, is: “Yeah. DUH.”

What is muscle memory?

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is the act of completing a particular physical or mental task with such repetition that your body then learns to complete the task more efficiently, using less brain power.

Your muscles don’t actually have brains, but rather your brains have learned to quickly call upon these quick procedure lists to get certain tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible.  The more often you complete these tasks, the less “processing power” your brain needs to complete the task, the more automatic it becomes. Think of it sort of like a cache.

Think about the first time you played any video game. You were epically clumsy at first, having to learn how the controls work. You had to learn how to :

  • Look left and right
  • Pick up your gun/sword
  • Jump and roll
  • Move, strafe, and dodge enemies
  • Attack, defend, cast spells

Then, after just a few hours of gameplay, your muscle memory starts to develop. After a few days or weeks, these things seem effortless:

  • Defeat a boss by thoughtlessly connecting a combo of rolling, attacking, defending, and spell casting.
  • Make it through the dungeon by taking on hordes of enemies, using items and strafing effortlessly.

Muscle memory isn’t just for video games. It helps us with all sorts of stuff: driving, catching baseballs, cutting vegetables, playing musical instruments…things that require plenty of thought, movement, and focus.

When it comes to getting healthy in real life, this concept of an “automatic response” is absolutely key for a healthy life.

Unfortunately, it can adverse effects as well:

  • If you spend months and months learning to squat improperly, it’s VERY difficult to get yourself to break those bad ‘habits’ and reteach yourself to squat the right way.
  • If you learn to play a song incorrectly (or any other activity), you are teaching your body “this is the right way to do this,” even if it’s the wrong way!
  • When you get busy at work, if your brain immediately and instinctively deals with stress by requiring candy and a soda, your brain has been trained to say: “this is my most efficient path to happy.”

Although we’re really talking about habit-building here when it comes to our life, thinking of it in terms of muscle memory can help us understand how why we’ve failed in the past and how to break through those barriers.

Muscle Memory in Life

drive thru

A few weeks back, a friend had his life turned upside-down.

“Steve, I’m trying to be healthy, but I hadn’t built up enough of a “muscle memory” for healthy living during the slow months. Now that things are crazy, I’m reverting back to my normal unhealthy behavior.”

For him, his “default” was two foot long subs from subway and ice cream.  This was how his body learned to cope with stress.

For NF Team Member Staci, her OLD way of dealing with stress was an entire box of Kraft Mac N’ Cheese.  Now, because she’s spent years developing her “muscle memory,” she deals with stress and chaos with going to the gym.

We are creatures of habit.  The things that we do on a daily basis, the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we sleep (or not sleep), the things that make us happy or sad, are all results of hundreds and hundreds of repetitions of these activities.

When we try to build NEW habits, forge new pathways in our brain, it’s a lot of freaking work.

For example, instead of hitting up the Drive-Thru at McDonalds, we have to remember to:

  • Go to the grocery store
  • Pick out the right vegetables and chicken
  • Drive home, prepare the vegetables
  • Cook the chicken
  • Set the table
  • Eat

If you don’t have those habits ingrained, just reading that list must have felt exhausting.

Here’s another example: instead sitting at home watching TV, we decide we want to learn to squat:

  • Step under the bar properly
  • Pinch shoulder blades back and rest the bar properly across back
  • Remember to squat deep
  • Knees lined up with toes
  • Explode back up with proper form

Phew!  In both instances, there are a LOT of changes and a lot of things happening – I got tired just typing those lists out.

The automatic stuff (McDonald’s, watching tv) comes easy. We’ve always done them and they require little effort. They may even feel like second nature. The second part is new and requires a tremendous amount of work. And let’s face it: there can be some roadblocks the first few times around.

I remember sucking the first time I tried to cook a grown up meal, and I remember being absolutely terrible at squats.

Now?  It’s second nature.  Going to the gym and doing a deep squat is part of my DNA, just like sliding into home.  If I need to whip up a healthy meal, I can do so in a matter of minutes and it’s delicious!  It just took practice, lots and lots of practice.

But now it’s like brushing my teeth.

The good news is, now that I’ve set these “healthy options” to be my automatic default…when things get hectic or crazy or life changes, I automatically fall back on these habits, which keep me afloat.

I remember when traveling around the world, exercise became my “Constant” (thanks for the analogy, Lost!).

So, how do we build our life muscle memory and give us HEALTHY habits to fall back on?

How do we make healthy our constant when everything else falls apart?

How to Build muscle Memory in Life

soccer practice

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliershe discusses the concept of mastery: in his research, he found that most experts had spent at least 10,000 hours to master their craft.

The important part of that equation: it’s not JUST 10,000 hours of practice, but 10,000 hours of GOOD practice:

  • Playing the same crappy song with poor form on violin over and over for 10,000 hours means you’re going to be REALLLLLY good at playing the violin poorly.
  • Compare that to actively working on your technique, having a coach or teacher critique you, and focusing on improving all aspects of playing.

In order for us to build this “muscle memory” in our life, we don’t need to spend anywhere near 10,000 hours of practice living healthy, but we do need to practice. Without actually regularly doing the activity (practicing), you will never feel like your new healthy activity is second nature.

In order to do that, you need to:

  • Pick ONE or TWO new automatic-habits you’d like to create, no more!
  • Make it easy to complete the new activity. Minimize the steps between you and this new life habit you’re looking to build. Find ways for you to complete the new activity using mimnimal willpower.

Let’s give you some examples for those four things:

1) Pick one or two new memories:  Instead of completely switching your workout from machines and treadmills to barbell movements (which can be very overwhelming), just swap out ONE movement.  Instead of the leg press, learn to squat.  And then in three weeks, once you feel good about squatting, you can add in the overhead press.

I recently took up the violin and wanted to start playing more (so I can suck less), so I bought a cheap $10 violin stand to set it up next to my desk, improving my batcave.  Instead of having to take it out of the case, tune it, set it up, and then play…I can pick it up quickly and play for five minutes at a time when I need a break from writing…like right now!

Okay I’m back :)

We have finite amounts of willpower, and if we try to start too many things at once, we can overload our circuits and fail.  Better to get one new thing down (like brushing your teeth), and then move on to the next thing.

2) Minimize steps for the new activity: If you are trying to become a healthy cook, there are a lot of steps involved.  As Tim Ferriss points out in the Four Hour Chef, minimize the steps between you and your new cooking habit: buy pre-cut vegetables, use paper plates and plastic knives and forks (no dishes!), and so on.  When I was learning to cook/like vegetables, I picked ONE veggie (asparagus) and focused on cooking that right. Only then did I move on to my next vegetable.

Want to become a runner each morning? Sleep in your running clothes, put your alarm across the room, and put your running shoes next to the alarm.  You’re already halfway there, might

3) Remove the need to REMEMBER what you need to do: I renamed the alarm on my phone “MEDITATE SUCKA,” so when it wakes me up in the morning, my phone reminds me to meditate for 2 minutes (thank you Calm.com)

Surround your apartment with mental cues.  I wanted to make working on handstands an automatic habits for me, a part of my DNA.  So, now after I wake up, I have to walk past a section of my wall with a simple post-it note on it that says “HANDSTANDS.” It’s a simple mental cue that tells me what to do without having to remember myself.

4) Remove the need for willpower: I mentioned willpower before.  We all know we need to eat better and exercise more, but we oftentimes don’t do it.  So when we’re looking to rewire our DNA and second nature, we need to be strategic.

If you are always tired after work and skipping your workouts, why not exercise in the morning, before the work day mentally wears you down?

If you struggle with unhealthy eating during times of stress, perform “the purge,” and remove all junk food from your house. It’s a lot tougher to eat poorly when you need to drive 10 minutes to go get it.

If you struggle with stopping at fast food on the way home (from another fast food restaurant), alter your work path. Like a pavlovian response, certain cues and sensory changes can be a HUGE help. So change it up!  Drive home a different way, or walk home down a different street.  Break the cycle.

The point with all of the above is like practice – you are training your body/brain as a whole to build automatic healthy habits: the automatic “default” that you’ll fall back on when the sh** hits the fan and life gets busy.

IMPORTANT: Momentum is a powerful thing. If you can’t follow through on all of your healthy habits when life gets crazy, pick one or two that you CAN and stick with those.  Tread water, and “just keep swimming” for as long as you need to, so that you don’t need to start back at square one when you get going again.

Let’s Play Memory!

Memory game

We humans are incredible pieces of technology.

Not only are we capable of great things, but we’re capable of rewiring our own brains and muscles.  It just takes practice.  A lot of practice. A lot of high-quality practice.  And the best way to do that is to focus on high quality practice for ONE new activity you want to build into your system.

There will come a time in your life when things will get hectic (you might already be there).  By focusing on those healthy life muscle memory patterns TODAY, you are setting yourself up to succeed when life throws you a curveball.

I have a hunch that no matter how often I tell myself to not slide in kickball, if it’s a close play I will automatically sacrifice myself to get the run.  I can’t help it – like a cheetah chasing a gazelle, it’s just hardwired to my DNA now.

I want to hear from you:

What’s one new activity you want to establish, and what tactics are you going to use to ensure you succeed?

Change your DNA, change your habits, change your fate.

-Steve

PS: One last reminder that Early Bird pricing for Camp Nerd Fitness (“We hold you in our hearts…”) ends tomorrow, Friday, at Midnight!  Join us at the biggest event in NF history – see you there :)

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photo source: Chapendra: xbox, Kelis: original-memory, Vivid Lime: Drive-Thru, Brian Littmann: Soccer, Rich Brooks: Memory Cards

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Crockpot Pulled Pork: 1 Pot, 5 Awesome Meals. (CAMP NERD FITNESS SALE ENDS FRIDAY!) http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/14/crockpot-pulled-pork-1-pot-5-awesome-meals-camp-nerd-fitness-sale-ends-friday/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/14/crockpot-pulled-pork-1-pot-5-awesome-meals-camp-nerd-fitness-sale-ends-friday/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:36 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22908 Hey guys!  Before we get into this post from NF Rebel Chef Noel, don’t forget that early bird pricing for Camp Nerd Fitness (with a newly updated site and schedule!) ends on Friday!  

Hope to see you at the BIGGEST EVENT IN NF HISTORY!!!

Take it away Noel!

If there’s one thing I’ve come to love as I’ve learned to cook over the past few years, it’s being able to look forward to a mouth-watering meal. Few things match the anticipation of coming home to a meal ready and waiting for you in the slow cooker.

In fact, it’s kinda like this.

While bacon often takes a front seat in the Paleo-sphere, today we’re going to branch out from that and explore what other things we can do with the noble pig.

The nice thing about an easy pre-made protein base is that you can use it in a bunch of different types of food.

  • Feel like Mexican tonight? Make tacos!
  • Feel like Asian? Add a homemade sauce and some kimchi!
  • Don’t feel like cooking? Serve it with some quickly nuked veggies!

The possibilities are endless! Here are a few serving suggestions with varying degrees of difficulty and time dedication to get your culinary cogs started.

Ready?

Here we go!

Basic pulled pork: Ingredients

Pulled_Pork_001-2

Serves: 5-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder - bone in or bone out – it doesn’t matter, whatever you can find in the store works great.
  • 1 tbsp paprika - This comes in varieties, choose your favorite.
  • 1 tbsp chili or chipotle powder - Red chili powder is a staple in the Southwest. I’m not so sure about it’s availability in other parts of the country/world. If you can’t find it, you can opt for chipotle powder (equally delicious).
  • 1 tsp garlic powder - find it in the spices aisle
  • 1/2 tsp salt - (preferably sea salt – if using coarse sea salt, you may need a little more than 1/2 tsp to salt both sides of the shoulder)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper - freshly cracked pepper has the most flavor, but go with what you have
  • 1/2 cup water

Optional add ins:

  • 3-4 slices of bacon - pork plus pork!
  • 4-5 cloves crushed garlic - yes please
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke - make sure to read the ingredients before buying! Watch out for added sugar, vegetable and soy oils, and chemicals you can’t pronounce.

Equipment:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board or plate – to set the pork on
  • Small bowl for mixing spices
  • Crockpot/slow cooker

Instructions:

1. Mix paprika, red chile, garlic powder, and pepper in a small mixing bowl.

Pulled_Pork_004-2

2. Take your pork shoulder out of the package, place on a plate or cutting board, and sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into the meat.

Pulled_Pork_006-2

3. Pour half of the spice mixture onto the roast. Massage the spices in.

Pulled_Pork_008-2

4. Flip the meat and pour the other half of the spice mixture on this side. Massage it in.

(Now wash your hands because they are going to be stained with paprika.)

Pulled_Pork_010-2

5. Place the roast in your crockpot and pour 1/2 cup water over the top of the roast.

Pulled_Pork_011-2

6. Set your slow cooker on “low” for 8-10 hours and wait!

Now, this is the part that sounds the most ominous. Set it and forget it. Don’t worry kids, people have been using crockpots for years and years without trouble. As long as you’re smart about where you put the pot, you should be a-okay. I’ve left mine on for over 24 hours in the past. You will be fine.

If you’re worried, here are some pointers:

  • Be sure your house circuits aren’t over loaded
  • Check your slow cooker for any frayed wires or damage
  • Don’t use it on a meltable countertop or underneath flammable cabinets
  • Be sure to secure pets (the smell of your future dinner could lure them onto countertops)
  • Don’t leave any flammable items near the slow cooker while it’s on.

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the house while your food is cooking, don’t! Stay in and make sure everything goes smoothly the first time around. Safety first!

Pulled_Pork_012-2

Nine hours later, you’ll have an incredibly delicious roast ready to eat when you get home from work (or when you wake up in the morning)!

Add a few carrots, onions, and diced sweet potatoes to the pot along with your meat and you’ll have a complete meal the minute it finishes cooking. Eat it straight out of the crockpot. We’re not judgin’.

5 Awesome Meals!

If you’re up for the challenge, with just a little extra work you can make one of the many options below and turn your delicious pork into a full meal. Think of this like a choose your own adventure!

  1. Tacos
  2. Asian Lettuce Wraps
  3. Breakfast Bowl
  4. Pork Stuffed Peppers
  5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens

Looking to expand your cooking skills? I double dog dare ya to take on this culinary challenge: Try one of these recipes each day of the week!

1. Tacos:

Pulled_Pork_001-3_Noel

We all know what these look like. We’ll be doing something similar to the Paleo taco recipe, but we’ll be using pulled pork instead of ground beef this time around.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork - (makes about 3 tacos)
  • Guacamole - from our paleo taco recipe!
  • Salsa - make sure to read the ingredients before buying!
  • Lettuce leaves - Again, butter lettuce makes the best taco shells, but romaine will do in a pinch.

Assemble ze tacos!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves.
2. Warm up the meat if its been sitting in the fridge.
3. I like to start with the meat. Put some meat on those lettuce leaves. (It’s okay to use your hands.)
4. Plop a spoonful of guac on top of the meat.
5. Add salsa, tomatoes, a little cheese if you can handle dairy, Be sure to add any of your other favorite taco toppings!

2. Asian Lettuce Wraps

Pulled_Pork_007

I have been OBSESSED with Korean pulled pork tacos since having them from a food truck in Portland, OR last summer, so I decided to try my hand at making my own…Paleo style!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork - Makes about 3 tacos
  • 1/2 an avocado - Slice that baby
  • 1/2 a cucumber (julienned) - I like to cut the cucumber in half long ways first, scrape the seeds out with a spoon, then cut it into matchsticks.
  • Asian style sauce -  Any asian sauce of your choice will do if you’re in a bind for time. Feel free to also use a paleo alternative (plain ol’ coconut aminos and vinegar will do just fine).
  • 1/4 cup kimchi - Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage. Sounds weird and it’s a bit of an acquired taste, so if you know you like it, use it! If not, give it a try, omit it entirely, or try plain sliced cabbage plus chile paste instead.
  • Lettuce Leaves - Just like with tacos, butter lettuce is best!
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)

For the Asian inspired sauce:

 

Pulled_Pork_006

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos - You can substitute soy sauce if you can handle soy.
  • 1 tbsp vinegar - I like to use rice vinegar because it’s not as harsh tasting as a lot of the other options, but any other vinegars will do.
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil - For that extra Asian flair.
  • 1/2 tsp red chile paste - You can find this in Asian sections of the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients on the label first. No soy or unpronounceables.
  • 1 clove garlic - Peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp honey – (optional)

Mix all these together in a small bowl. No problemo.

Now assemble the wraps!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves and warm up the pork if it’s cold.

2. Place pork on the leaves first.

3. Pile on the toppings. I like to do it in this order: Pork, kimchi, cucumbers, avocado slices, spoonful of sauce.

Enjoy!

3. Breakfast Bowl

Pulled_Pork_023_Noel
My breakfast philosophy is “put an egg on it”. Yep, I eat left over paleo spaghetti and shepherd’s pie as breakfast by putting an egg on them. I know, I’m weird.

This recipe follows that philosophy, and adds a little sweet potato hash goodness from Nom Nom Paleo to make it a little more special. If you don’t feel like making the hash or don’t have a food processor, don’t worry, it’s equally tasty without it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 serving of Nom Nom Paleo’s sweet potato hash.
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork - use as much as you like.
  • 2 eggs - pastured organic eggs are the bee’s knees, I’m told. Personally, I eat so many eggs that I can’t afford this, so I use regular ol’ eggs and buy organic occasionally.
  • 1 tbsp your preferred fat (optional) - For cooking the eggs. Butter, ghee, or bacon fat are my favorites.

Instruction:

1. Make the sweet potato hash. Do it. (It also doesn’t hurt to make some bacon while you’re at it).

Pulled_Pork_018

2. Now make the eggs! Heat up your pan. Once the pan is hot, add some butter or ghee and let it melt.

4. Add your eggs! Here’s where you really choose your own adventure. I like mine fried, but you can make yours scrambled, poached, or whatever! Adding some extra veggies to your scrambled egg sounds like a good way to start the day off right!

Pulled_Pork_020_Noel

5. If your pulled pork has been sitting in the fridge, warm it up in the microwave or in a warm pan.

Pulled_Pork_023_Noel

6. Pile all your ingredients in a bowl! I like to put the potatoes on the bottom, pulled pork second, and eggs on top!

Serve with bacon and coffee. Yum!

4. Pork stuffed peppers:

Pulled_Pork_008

In the past, I’ve had trouble with the spiciness of stuffed jalapenos, but I’m growing to like them.

For those of us who have trouble with super spicy foods, I’ve added the option of stuffed sweet peppers here too. And anything wrapped in bacon is pretty much a no-brainer for the paleo community.

If you can handle dairy, by all means, add cream cheese or feta to the inside of these babies. Crazy easy, crazy tasty.

Pulled_Pork_001

Ingredients: 

  • 5 peppers - These can be jalapenos or miniature sweet peppers. Here, the green ones are jalapenos and the red ones are sweet peppers.
  • 5 slices of bacon - In the picture I used 1/2 slice of bacon for each pepper, but I wouldn’t suggest that much, as most of the bacon fell of while cooking. Boo hoo. Hey, extra bacon!?
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork - This is an estimate and depends on the size of the peppers that you have.
  • Creme cheese or feta (optional) – Use only if you can handle dairy, grass fed is the best!

Instructions:

1. Start by washing your peppers, then chop off the tops.

Pulled_Pork_002

2. Take a small knife and cut the pepper in half but ONLY ON ONE SIDE. Scrape out the seeds.

Pulled_Pork_003

3. Fill the pepper with cheese on one side (if using) and pulled pork on the other side.

Pulled_Pork_004

4. Put the jalapeno back together, wrap it in bacon, and secure in place with a toothpick.

Pulled_Pork_005

5. Place the peppers on a preheated grill for about 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and the peppers are roasted. (Turn every 5 minutes or so).

5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens:

Pulled_Pork_065_Noel

I know this sounds weird, but there’s something magical about caramelized onions and pork when mixed together. This makes a super easy low maintenance meal. And if you’re not into onions, opt out of the onion part and just use leafy greens! Everyone can use more greens in their diet. I chose Kale here, but feel free to use spinach, collard greens, chard, or whatever you have on hand!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  yellow onion
  • 1 apple - A small apple is fine. I like Fuji, personally.
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chard, spinach, or your favorite dark leafy green
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite fat – butter, ghee, or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic - (or your favorite) vinegar
  • Salt and pepper - to taste

Instructions: 

1. Preheat your pan.

2. As the pan is heating, peel and slice your onion. This time, we’re not dicing it. Cut the onion into thin slices, then chop the medallions in half (this doesn’t have to be super accurate). We just want the onions sliced thinly so that they’ll cook quickly.

Pulled_Pork_048_Noel

3. Once the pan is warm, add your oil to it. Let it warm up.

4. Put your onions into the pan and coat them in oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Let the onions sit, and resist the urge to stir them.

Pulled_Pork_051_Noel

Note* Caramelizing onions requires patience. They need to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes total with minimal stirring so that they don’t burn. This makes the onions taste sweet and savory and makes an awesome addition to lots of dishes.

5. As your onions are cooking, peel and slice your apple.

Pulled_Pork_053_Noel

(If you’re lazy, you don’t have to peel the apple. I don’t always peel it.)

Pulled_Pork_055_Noel

6. Once the onions are translucent, add the apple to the onions and stir them together, making sure to coat the apples in oil also. Now let them sit on low heat together. Flavor romance. Oh la la!

Pulled_Pork_057_Noel

These will sit and cook on low for another 15-20 minutes. Only stir them once or twice during the entire cooking time. You want the onions and apples to brown, but don’t let them burn. I know it can be tempting, but don’t turn up the heat! This will cook them too fast and they’ll burn.

Pulled_Pork_058_Noel

Once the onions are finished cooking, you can move them to a bowl and sauté your greens. Alternately, if you have a second pan, go ahead and saute the greens at the same time.

If you need a refresher on sauteing greens:

1. Wash the greens. If using kale, remove the stem and tear or chop.

2. Add them to a preheated pan and pour oil over the top, stir them together so that they’re coated with oil.

Pulled_Pork_059_Noel

3. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake (optional)

Pulled_Pork_060_Noel

4. Let the greens cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pulled_Pork_063

You’ll know the greens are cooked when they’ve turned a darker, shiny green. (for a refresher, watch this video but omit the bacon and tomato part.)

5. Once the greens are cooked, remove from heat and add your vinegar. Stir it in quickly being careful not to inhale any vinegar steam. It burnsssss!

Pulled_Pork_062_Noel

Assemble!

I like to assemble this festive bowl o’ stuff with kale on the bottom, caramelized onions and apples in the middle, and pork on the top. Mix it all together and you have a tasty meal!

Take it slow!

Crock Pot: SaucyGlo

Well, there you have it – six ways of using your slow cooked pulled pork.

Crockpot meals are some of my favorites. They’re low maintenance, easy, and it’s awesome to walk into your kitchen and have a meal ready and waiting for you after work.

A slow cooker can be an investment for a budding chef, but in my opinion, it’s an appliance worthy of consideration. It makes meal prep so freaking easy…a caveman could do it.

Do you have a favorite pulled pork recipe that I missed?

What other crockpot meals have you enjoyed that you’d like to see?

-Noel

PS from Steve: Don’t forget that early bird pricing ends soon for Camp Nerd Fitness.

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Photos: SaucyGlo, Kennymatic

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How to Deal with Haters http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/10/how-to-deal-with-haters/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/10/how-to-deal-with-haters/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:37:43 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22891 Imagine the following scenario: You’re sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant and everybody places an order for a meal:

  • Person 1: Chicken and broccoli please!
  • Person 2: I’ll have fish, quinoa, and a salad please.
  • Person 3: I’ll take the steak, asparagus, and sweet potato please.
  • Person 4: I’ll take a double cheese burger and chili cheese fries please!

For the sake of argument, let’s assume person 1, 2, and 3 are generally healthy, and person 4 is overweight.  Can you see persons 1-3 saying the following:

  • “Are you seriously going to eat that?”
  • “Are you sure you should be eating that?”
  • “You’re overweight enough, you should probably eat more like us.”

…of course not! That would be considered incredibly rude, inconsiderate, and downright mean.  That person can eat however they want, right? It’s their life! Compare that to the following situation:

  • Person 1: I’ll take a medium pizza with sausage and side of garlic bread.
  • Person 2: I’ll have the chicken parmesan pasta and salad with extra ranch.
  • Person 3: I’ll please have the lasagna, and let’s get nachos for the table.
  • Person 4: I’ll take a chicken salad please, dressing on the side.

Can you see persons 1-3 saying the following to person 4?:

  • “Oh come on, why eat like that?”
  • “Come on, live a little!  You’re too skinny already.”
  • “Jeez, I feel bad for you having to eat like that.”

If you’re a health-conscious individual (or are working on becoming one), and you are still hanging around your unhealthy friends, I bet you’ve dealt with that second scenario on more than one occasion.

When people eat things that are unhealthy, everybody keeps their mouth shut…but when somebody goes in the other direction and tries to better themselves, suddenly everybody feels the need to chime in.

What are you supposed to do when you find yourself in this situation?

It’s one thing if it’s a random stranger at a party that tells you: “well, I like to enjoy my food, so I could NEVER eat like you.”  But what do you do when it’s a co-worker, friend, or family member?

Today, we’re gonna learn how to deal with haters.

Be More Like Luigi

Luigi

If you spend enough time on the internet, you’ve probably come across the most recent (and hilarious) internet meme: Luigi’s Death Stare from Mario Kart 8.

Here’s the lovable sidekick brother, Luigi, laying waste to the competition with this look of pure revenge on his face:

Luigi Death Stare Compilation

We’re talking about Luigi here!

With few exceptions, Luigi has always been the sidekick – an afterthought. Now, as the meme has taken off, Luigi has broken out of his shell (by throwing shells!) to say: “NO MORE!”

Be more like Luigi: carve out your own defiant identity. Instead of being okay with being like everybody else you’re surrounded with – most likely unhealthy folks – you decided to buck the trend, throw a few red shells, and change your life.

It’s time you also took the confidence and self-assurance that comes with this new bad-ass lifestyle.

So, step one of dealing with haters: realize that the changes and positive improvements to your life are not going to go unnoticed. Remember, we’re Rebels after all.

This can elicit a predictable response…

Haters gonna Hate

haters gonna hate

Although you’ll have your share of friends/family that cheer you on, you’ll also have plenty of people who are quick to challenge your attempts at living a healthier life.

Here’s the truth: most people don’t like change - they themselves want to change but don’t want to put forth the effort and energy to make it happen. When they see somebody else making positive changes, it can make them feel insecure about their own situation.

Rather than change themselves, they:

  • Try to drag you back down to their level by telling you to cheat, “live a little.”
  • Belittle your efforts with comments like “I like to enjoy myself” and “I like to have fun.”
  • Explain to you why they can’t change themselves with excuses, “must be nice for you…”

These comments all serve a singular purpose – to make haters feel better about themselves.

It’s not that these people truly want to put you down or see you fail, but these remarks take way less effort (and are much less scary) than if they actually tried to change themselves.They might be afraid of trying to change their lives and failing, or maybe they have already tried and failed, and see your success as proof that they have failed themselves.

We all have these people in our lives, and it can truly be depressing – it feels like we’re a mutant; the only person in our group that wants to ‘evolve’ and thus must deal with being an outcast.

I’m reminded of two more memes that has always made me laugh.  Haters gonna hate!

haters gonna hate
And if haters are gonna hate, slaters are gonna slate:

haters gonna hate slaters gonna slate

What’s the point of these two ridiculous phrases?

To remind us that some people are just unhappy, and they will hate on success and change for others.  That if you’re getting “hated on,” it’s often because you’re doing something right.

I have to constantly remind myself of a phrase I learned from Seth Godin:

You will be judged, or you will be ignored.

If you are afraid of people judging you for trying to change your life or becoming healthy, your other option is to be ignored – to become one of the masses, that amorphous blob that is neither awesome nor exciting…but hey, it’s safe!

How to deal with haters

hulk

Just because haters are inevitable doesn’t mean we’re powerless.

You are GOING to be judged for being different – for changing. So, I present to you the five-step plan for dealing with detractors:

1) Understand that judgement is inevitable. We all get judged every minute of every day, no matter what we do (or don’t). I’ve officially adopted the stance that if I’m going to get judged for something, “eating healthy and choosing to exercise” is a pretty damn good thing! This required a mental shift to realize this was almost like a “badge of honor,” for being the “weird one.”

As Steve Jobs once said, here’s to the crazy ones:

2) Consider the source.  Constructive criticism can be an important part of growth and change, but it’s also very important to consider your sources.  If you are getting criticized for your new lifestyle by somebody who is out of shape, unhappy, overweight, and generally miserable, it’s probably not worth your time and effort to worry about it!

I often just smile and nod (while being proud on the inside), or make a simple, “haha I know, I’m weird right?” I certainly got some weird looks I got this year on The Rock Boat when I’d leave every day to go do my PLP challenge - it was worth the effort.

3) Get them on board.  We have friends and family that probably want to change too, and don’t realize the damage their comments/remarks are doing to your efforts. Explain to them that you’re trying to change and you want their support and help.

Tell them you’re trying to win a contest at work, or that you have a personal challenge that you’re trying to complete, and that you want to see if you can actually follow through with it.

These well-meaning detractors can become your biggest supporters if you ask for their help – everybody wants to feel like they’re making a difference, right?  And who knows, you might inspire them with your actions.

4) Consider how you spend your most valuable asset: time.  As they say, you are the average of the five people you associate most with.  If you are spending your time with negative nancies and haters who are not taking steps to better their lives, it probably feels like you are running through quicksand.  Instead of surrounding yourself with people that are dragging you down, why not surround yourself with people that elevate and pull you up?

Choose your group wisely! It’s tough to change friends, and it’s even tougher to admit when a friendship has run its course…but it can be an important part of growth, too.  We have a finite amount of time on this planet, and you have 100% control of how that time gets spent.  Surround yourself with people that want you to be better.

5) Understand that you’re not alone.  My favorite emails are the ones that say something like “When I found Nerd Fitness, I felt like I found my new home.”  More often than not, Nerd Fitness Rebels are the one ‘mutant’ amongst their friends – they want to share their stories of success about deadlifts and weight lost, but their friends only care about death matches and dungeon raids. They stumble across Nerd Fitness, and like the mutants in X-men, they realize they are NOT alone.  That’s the Nerd Fitness Rebellion (heck, like X-men, we have our own Academy!)

You can still have unhealthy friends and family members – just make sure you are ALSO spending time with people who are healthier and stronger than you too (even if it’s just on our message boards). We all need that reminder that it’s okay to get excited about squats, vegetables, AND Skyrim :)

How do you deal with haters?

StormTrooper mario kart

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Gandhi

I realize Gandhi’s struggles were far different than just trying to live healthier, but I think it’s an applicable quote to what us rebels are going through when we try to change our lives.

I want to hear from you, and hear how you’ve dealt with haters on your journey.

We have a few hundred thousands Rebels that want to know your story, as they’re probably struggling with the same people and the same obstacles.

How have you dealt with haters in your life?

And if you are struggling with haters now, how can we help you navigate the situation properly?

Remember, be more like Luigi, and work on your death stare.

The future is bright!

-Steve

PS -  I’m currently in Portland OR for the World Domination Summit! I know there are a lot of other rebels in attendance, so if you see me this weekend please come say hey!

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photo source: 1upLego: Hulk, ryanmotoNSB: Haters Gonna Hate, David Shaw: No Fun Haters Allowed, Stefan: Storm Trooper Mario Kart, Ana Ruth Rivera: Luigi

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Becoming Antifragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/08/becoming-antifragile-how-to-prepare-yourself-for-chaos/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/08/becoming-antifragile-how-to-prepare-yourself-for-chaos/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:12:33 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22141 What would you say if I asked, “What’s the opposite of fragile?”

Most would say unbreakable, strong, or sturdy. Author Naseem Taleb however, argues that the opposite of fragile isn’t strong or sturdy, but ANTIfragile.

Right now, you’re probably thinking: “Steve, that’s not even a word. What the heck are you talking about?”

Welp, I read Taleb’s book, Antifragile: Things that Gain From Disorder, a few months back upon the recommendation from Anthony and Brett, and absolutely fell in love with the concept.

I think I read it in a matter of days.

And now, you could say that Antifragile and I are going steady.

Since discovering this concept, I’ve worked hard to rebuild my body and my life around this concept of becoming antifragile: getting stronger and more resilient as more chaos is introduced.

I’ve always wanted to become more like Jason Bourne (it’s a big part of my Epic Quest), and I feel like building my life and my training around antifragile concepts have allowed me to level up and break through new barriers.

Here’s how you can make yourself into an antifragile badass.

What is AntiFragile?

eggs

In science, nature, politics, economics, and health, we have three types of “material”:

Fragile: Must be handled with care – if there is a disturbance or a variation in how the object is dealt with, this object will most likely break.  Kept out of harms way to have any chance of survival.

Sturdy: Doesn’t need to be handled with care – you can drop it, hit it, throw it, whatever, and it doesn’t change.  It’s well built, and remains resilient no matter how many shocks hit it.  If it breaks, it gets rebuilt the exact same way.

Antifragile: Don’t handle with care! Throw it, try to break it, drop it, throw randomness and chaos at it, for it becomes stronger as a result.  Like the mythical Hydra: cut off one head, and two heads appear in its place.  In fact, antifragile objects can become weaker if you don’t mishandle them!

For the majority of my life, I assumed we humans fit into the “Fragile” category, never more so then when I found out I was more like Tony Stark than Superman. I always felt like I was one step away from a broken bone, or a pulled muscle, or a ruptured tendon.

It turns out that nature loves randomness and chaos, and over time the antifragile organisms always win out over the fragile.

Nature loves chaos, and has been using small corrections and changes to survive as an ecosystem for untold millennia:  When disasters, climate changes, and other occurrences wipe out “fragile” members of a species, the stronger, more antifragile strains of a species survive and thrive.

This is evolution 101.

Nature is not alone: it turns out we human beings are actually wired for antifragility as well!

  • If we pick up something heavy, our joints, muscles, and bones rebuild themselves STRONGER than before in case we introduce more chaos.  This is the backbone of strength training.  Conversely, if we DON’T partake in physical activity, our muscles and bones can actually atrophy and weaken!
  • If we introduce an illness to our body at a certain dose, our body builds resistance against that illness and becomes stronger against it. This is the foundation of vaccinations and immunizations.
  • We learn as small children that the kettle on the stove is hot, that animals can bite, that life is challenging.  We learn from these small bits of chaos, amounts of discomfort, and failures, and are thus more prepared to survive as an adult.

Because we are antifragile creatures at heart, we actually NEED chaos, disruption, and failure in our lives or we will wither and die.  Remember the overweight future versions of the human population in the movie WALL-E, humans with zero muscle mass and a complete lack of ability to take care of themselves?

They stopped challenging their antifragile bodies, and they suffered as a result.  They wanted to eliminate all “discomfort” from their lives and thus became fragile in the process.

If we are going to become the best version of ourselves, we need chaos…but how much?

just enough chaos

chime

If you want to become an antifragile badass (and who doesn’t!), the important part of the equation is finding the right amount of chaos:

  • too little and your body doesn’t need to adapt at all
  • too much and you could get sick or injured
  • just the right amount, and your body is forced to adapt and actually recovers stronger than before

Let’s take a look at the real world: 

Assume you’ve spent the past three years on the couch and then try to go outside tomorrow and try to run a marathon.  You’ll probably end up with broken foot, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or worse.  However, if you spend a six months running just a few hundred yards farther than the day before, your body actively adapts to the situation and prepares for chaos – an increased challenge. Moving from 1 mile to 2, mixing in sprints, running up hills, training in the woods, with some long days, short days, sprints, and jogs…you’re gradually introducing additional chaos to your system and teaching your body to adapt faster and recover faster.

This is the reason why the PLP 60 Day Challenge works: try to start on day 50 through 60 and you’ll most likely develop tendonitis. However, by starting at a day one and introducing just a tiny bit more chaos than the day before, you can start building an antifragile existence.

By introducing chaos, challenge, and failure into our lives in a careful way, our bodies become prepared to handle future, unknown challenges.

How do we do that?

Let’s start with the basics – an antifragile body.

Building an Antifragile Body

Push Up Flys

Let’s start with building an antifragile body.

If we hope to prepare ourselves for the unknown, then we need to constantly introduce discomfort, challenge, and chaos to our bodies!

From a physical perspective, this means we need to provide ourselves with two things:

  • Enough chaos that forces our body to rebuild itself stronger
  • Chaos in a specific amount of intensity.
  • Enough time for our body to recover after the chaos.

Here’s an example: in order for us to have a strong body, we need to have a strong heart!  Just like you work and overload your muscles, so too should you train your heart…by challenging it!

If you walk the same distance at the same pace every single day, your heart grows accustomed to this distance and pace and never needs to do any extra work…until that day when you’re chased by a lion, or white water rafting, or you have a stressful day at work: you’ve introduced TOO much chaos too quickly and BOOM, game over.

Compare that existence before to putting your heart through an antifragile routine: run faster, slower, up hills, down hills, sprinting, walking, hiking, or other challenges.  Your heart can no longer effectively predict what’s going to happen next, so it adapts by building itself stronger and more resilient.

You can introduce chaos to your body other ways, too.  Let’s talk about strength training:

If you go to deadlift 200 pounds 1 time, your body is forced to adapt in a different way than if you picked up 150 pounds a few times.

By forcing your body to adapt to a very heavy workload, your bones, nervous system, joints and muscles all need to adapt and become more anti fragile in order to pick up that much weight. Talib argues that we should be forcing our body to adapt to the maximum level of chaos (heavy strength training), which has an effect of pushing us beyond our limits in a way that differs from doing medium weight for lots of reps or light weight for even more reps.

This is why we LOVE heavy strength training around here at NF: a much faster workout that provides maximum results!

We’re all about building a healthy, antifragile body here at Nerd Fitness - it’s what’s going to allow us thrive in power lifting competitions, at a or Goruck challenge, or as a community during the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. We don’t know what’s coming, but we sure as well will be prepared!

Still with me? Great. Let’s built that antifragile body by getting you an antifragile workout strategy.

Building an Antifragile Workout Routine

Storm Trooper Barbell

Is your current workout strategy antifragile?

If you are reliant upon a DVD to yell at you to work out, or need a particular type of fitness equipment in order to exercise, then your strategy is fairly fragile.

Here’s why: if there is unexpected (or even expected) chaos introduced to your life (vacation, a wedding, death in the family, etc.) then I’d guess your workout plans will probably go right out the window. They are not built to stand any variance in your day to day life, and it’s very easy to fall off the wagon.

Compare that with the antifragile Nerd Fitness Strategy:  Our goal is to give you all the tools you need to develop an antifragile workout routine: one that allows you to exercise and strength training NO MATTER WHAT.  In fact, by introducing chaos to your situation, you’ll be attacking your muscles from new angles and forcing them to adapt, making your body MORE antifragile.

Ultimately, we hope to remove any reason you’d have for saying “I don’t know how to work out in this situation.”

  • In a gym: Here’s how to build your own workout routine, and how to start with strength training.
  • At home: Don’t have time for the gym?  Here’s a workout routine you can do at home.
  • At the park: No access to a gym and no room in your house? Here’s a workout you can do at any park – this is how I stayed in shape when traveling around the world.
  • In a hotel room: raining out? traveling? hotel gym sucks? Here’s a routine you can do IN your hotel room!
  • Angry bird workoutDon’t have time to work out? here’s a plan you can complete in a few minutes throughout the day.

Most importantly, our goal here is to equip you with the mindset you need to level up no matter what life throws at you.

Although we provide plenty of workout plans in the Nerd Fitness Academy, our goal with the isn’t to get you reliant upon some proprietary system, but rather to educate rebels on HOW to workout properly so that you’re adequately prepared for whatever situation life throws at you.  You can become more antifragile if you have a workout plan that’s also antifragile.

Think like MacGuyver, the ultimate Antifragile hero: no matter the situation he was always prepared and came out stronger as a result.

Building an Antifragile diet

antifragile diet

Just as a great workout plan can be fragile, so too can a really nutritious diet strategy!   If you are somebody that relies on fast food, NutriSystem, microwave dinners, prepackaged meals, juicing, cleanses, etc….these are all fragile solutions!

If the company you get your food from goes kaput, or the microwave/blender breaks, you have to travel for whatever reason, or there is that Zombie Apocalypse we all know is coming, your nutrition strategy gets tossed right out the window!  When you have to rely on others to prepare your food, you have become tethered to their existence.

Want to make your diet more antifragile?  Learn to cook for yourself, and don’t be afraid to try new things.  We’ve been sharing recipes more frequently here on the site, and we plan on doing more. Our goal again is to show you that cooking is NOT something to fear and shy away from, but rather something to experiment with.  Here are a few recipes to get you started. With each new meal you cook, your knowledge expands and furthers your horizons on food – your tastebuds are becoming more antifragile.

On top of that, try introducing chaos into your diet!  Eat more on days when you train, and skip meals on days when you don’t.  Don’t freak out about calorie counts and perfectly spacing out your meals every few hours.  We thrived without “three square meals per day” or “six small meals” for hundreds of thousands of years – so why not emulate that by keeping your stomach guessing too?

Want to become EVEN more antifragile? Raise your own food!  As the old saying goes: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”  Grow your own vegetables, raise your own animals, and learn to cook/prepare what’s available to you.  Sure, this might not seem like an option for us city dwellers, but we can still enter into collective agreements with neighbors, local farmers, and so on.

If this interests you, check out some of these resources by The Art of Manliness.

We’ve shown you how to build an antifragile body that is prepared for anything, a workout plan that can withstand any amount of chaos, and a nutritional strategy that will withstand the tests of time.

Now, it’s up to you to actually implement this stuff!

how will you become antifragile?

windows

So, which camp are you in?  The fragile ostriches? Or antifragile Rebels?

Fragile ostriches HATE mistakes, discomfort, and anything less than the norm. They seek to eliminate or avoid all of it by sticking their head in the sand and pretend like everything is fine.

Ostriches spend all of their time and energy trying to predict and figure out the future and build themselves as if that future was the only possibility.

Compare that to antifragile Rebels: we have stopped trying to predict the future, as we know life is random and unrelenting…so we instead seek to challenge ourselves to build a life to match…an antifragile life:

  • An antifragile body that is resilient and strong and prepared for anything.
  • An antifragile workout plan that can be completed anytime, anywhere.
  • An antifragile diet plan that allows us to never go hungry or be unhealthy.

We LOVE to make mistakes, as we know those mistakes and hiccups provide us with increased knowledge, valuable experience, and a stronger existence that help us prepare for larger hiccups down the road.

By preparing ourselves for everything, we can do anything.

I want to hear from you, as I realize this is a massive topic.  

Tell me ONE thing you’re going to do differently today to make your life more antifragile:  

Are you going to try for a one-rep maximum on a deadlift?

Are you going to learn to cook a new meal, freeing you from the drive-through line?

Are you going to memorize a workout to do in a park so you’re never without a “gym”?

How are you preparing yourself for anything and everything? 

Let’s hear it!

-Steve

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photo source: Doran: Fragile, thebittenword.com: vegetables, Ivy Dawned: eggs, Guian Bolisay: windows, Teymur Madjderey: legos, sicolan: chime

 

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Six Months Ago I Recommitted to Fitness. Here’s What Happened… http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/01/six-months-ago-i-recommited-to-fitness-heres-what-happened/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/01/six-months-ago-i-recommited-to-fitness-heres-what-happened/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:13:59 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23043 Six months ago, I decided to re-dedicate myself to health and fitness.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Steve, you run a site called Nerd FITNESS, what do you need to rededicate yourself for? Were you not exercising this whole time?”

I’ve been working out pretty consistently since I was 17.  I’ve gone up and down 15 pounds over that time frame, depending on how hard I’ve been training, how much I’ve been traveling, how good my diet has been, etc.

Despite running a fitness site and telling other people how to exercise, the business side of Nerd Fitness was getting so busy that I was skipping (or cutting short) more and more workouts. Like anyone else, I was coming up with more and more excuses.

And, despite thinking I was in great shape, I really wasn’t.  

woke up one day in November (after Thanksgiving), looked in the mirror, and decided to make a change.

Starting January 1st, 2014, I re-dedicated myself to my health, both physically and mentally.  Since then, with the exception of my birthday last week, I have consistently exercised 3-4 days a week with heavy strength training, mobility work, and gymnastic movements.

Now, at the age of 30, I’m stronger and in better shape than ever.

Although my physical transformation isn’t as drastic as Joe or Saint, my mental transformation HAS been drastic: my fears about strength training (stemming from a spinal condition) have disappeared and I have more confidence than ever. I’ve become a better Rebel Leader as a result.

Here’s what happened.

The Start

Steve-0Back in November, I reached out to my friend Anthony.

He and I have very similar philosophies about strength training, health, and diet, and I was excited to discuss with him my hopes, fears, and goals for the next six months.  Although he lives in Pittsburgh, we would talk on Skype, exchange thoughts and philosophies, and try to put a plan in place.

We settled on a monthly program that combined my two favorite things: heavy strength training for the lower body (squats and deadlifts) along with mostly gymnastic holds and body weight exercises for my upper body (ring dips, overhead presses, handstands, muscle ups, front and back lever holds).

I told Anthony I was tired of feeling fragile – it seemed like at any point in the past I would make great progress and then pull a muscle, tweak a joint, or run into a travel issue and I’d get derailed for weeks and have to start all over again.

On top of that, I have a spinal condition where my vertebrae doesn’t line up properly, and I had this irrational fear of snapping myself in half.  I always felt like I was one bad movement away from crippling myself every time I walked into the gym.

There I was, sore, with no flexibility, a bum shoulder, and busted spine…and it was time to fix this scared mentality.

So, we set out to make me AntiFragile.

Months 1 and 2: Becoming AntiFragile

Push Up Flys

I started my training routine with two main goals: get stronger (strengthen my tendons and joints/increase my capacity for heavier workloads), and decrease body fat.

I was probably around 14-15% body fat (which you can calculate here), and my goal was to get down to 10%.  From there, we could then focus 100% on building muscle, instead of the usual “bulk way up and add lots of fat, and then cut and hope we don’t lose any muscle.”

In order to do that, we began my general strength training routine of 4 days per week.

My week would look something like this:

  • Sunday: Upper Body (Workout Day A) - overhead presses, pull-ups, handstands, ring work
  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Lower Body (Workout Day B) - squats, romanian deadlifts, pistol squats, L-sits
  • Wednesday: Upper Body (Workout Day C) - weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, ring work
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Lower Body (Workout Day D) - deadlifts, front squats, one-leg deadlifts, L-sits
  • Saturday: Off

Along with that, he threw in a twist: I was also going to complete the PLP 60-day Challenge (which I wrote about extensively here).  This challenge required me to first complete 10 reps of Pull Ups, Push-ups, and Lunges on Day 1, then 11 reps of each on Day 2, then 12 reps on Day 3, etc…in ADDITION to the work out above.

At first I thought he was crazy – “I am soooo busy there is no way I’ll find a way to do PLP every day. I have a lot of travel coming up too!”

And then I shut my mouth, stopped making excuses, and took it as a personal challenge to see if I could complete the 60 days without fail.  I’m proud to say that I completed ALL workouts, and ALL PLP exercise days, without missing one, despite traveling a ridiculous amount.

As for my diet, I actually STOPPED counting calories, and stopped worrying about specifics. Instead, I followed a few key rules:

  • Work out in a fasted state (as explained in our article on Intermittent Fasting)
  • Eat more carbs on workout days (rice, sweet potatoes, whole milk, oats)
  • Eat more fat on rest days (almond butter, avocado, nuts, guacamole)
  • Always eat enough protein (lots of chicken and protein shake here and there)
  • Get enough sleep!

And that was it!  I removed the shackles of calorie counting, and instead just focused on eating real food, making adjustments based on the day, and then stopped stressing about it.

I finished my two months a new man – not just physically, but mentally. I no longer felt fragile, and the increased amount of exercise I was doing actually started to feel NORMAL.

I was starting to become anti-fragile, and I looked forward to the next phase.

Months 3-6: Slow and Steady

Steve 4After completing the PLP Challenge, a total of 2,440 pull ups, 2,440 push ups, and 2,440 lunges in addition to all of my other workouts, I was ready to take over the world.

This was the momentum I needed to solidify my re-dedication.

I was ready to start lifting more and more, doing more exercises, and trying new movements.  After having OFF days where I still did 70 pull ups, I was scared that going back to my 4-day a week routine would be WAY too easy.

I continued to deadlift and squat low amounts of weight and my increases came at a snail’s pace. For example, here is a month of deadlifting, each week:

  • Deadlift Week One: warm up sets, then 1×280 lbs
  • Deadlift Week Two: warm up sets, then 2×280 lbs
  • Deadlift Week Three: warm up sets, then 3×280 lbs
  • Deadlift Week Four: warm up sets, then 1×285 lbs

I was (and still am) adding just five pounds per month, even though I’ve felt like I could do more.  It’s been a lesson in patience that I had struggled to learn for my whole life, but it’s paying dividends. And with coming back after my spinal diagnosis, I wasn’t taking any chances.

I’m up to 3×310 lbs on the deadlift (a personal record), and it was a cakewalk!

In the past I couldn’t go more than six weeks before I pulled a muscle, tweaked a tendon, or messed up my shoulder.  I’ve since learned it’s because I grew impatient, and tried to do too much too soon. I’ve now gone six months without an issue.

Every time a new exercise has been introduced, it’s been introduced at an embarrassingly simple level.

Maybe it’s doing just a single rep of something, or adding a weight training exercise at a very low weight, or holding a particular hold for just two seconds.  It’s always humbling to start with just the bar, or holding something for just seconds..

Fun Facts

Steve Front Lever

I am feeling DAMN proud.  Thanks to my dedicated training over these six months, I’ve been able to accomplish the following:

  • New Personal Best on the deadlift
  • New Personal Best on the front squat
  • A strict muscle up
  • Fun gymnastic holds like tuck planches, L-sits, tuck front levers and back levers, and more.
  • Crazy nonsense like this progression!

Along with that, here are some other fun facts that helped me get to where I am:

  • Number of ab exercises: 0 (unless you count squats and deadlifts, ha!)
  • Number of weight machines used: 0 (except to hang my rings from!)
  • Hours of “cardio”: 0
  • Number of bench presses: 0
  • Favorite bicep exercise: weighted chin ups (now doing 3x3x+40lbs!)
  • Supplements taken: Whey Protein, BCAAs

what I learned

Steve Back Lever

I learned quite a bit about myself over these past six months, and I’d love to share those lessons with you:

SCREW THE SCALE: See the before and after?  I’m 6 pounds LIGHTER in my “after” photo!  The reason I had gotten up to a higher bodyfat percentage on the left was because I had become too obsessed with the scale. I had to see it go up, so I ate more than I should have, convinced that I was only building muscle and not adding on any fat.

Now, I step on the scale maybe once a month, but I instead go by two things:

  • Am I getting stronger?
  • How does this month’s picture compare to last month’s picture?

As long as both of those things were a positive, then I kept doing what I was doing. If not, I would adjust my diet.  The scale can lie!

IT HAS TO BE A PRIORITY: Before, I found less time to work out because I was so busy.  Then in six months, I started with exercising every day, sometimes twice a day (during the PLP Challenge). I haven’t missed a workout since.

What happened?  Did I find MORE time in the day than 24 hours? Nope! I just started eliminating the unimportant and made sure I NEVER MISSED A WORKOUT.  Sometimes I’d be late to a meeting and have to apologize, sometimes I’d be late in getting a draft done…but after a while I found that I could get all of my work done AND get my workout in.

I stopped saying “I don’t have time,” and started saying “I will NOT miss a workout!”

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS, NOT THE PRIZE: If I had been focused on the prize (some arbitrary number of the scale), and I reached it just now, I could then say, “Mission accomplished! Now I can go back to doing what I was doing!”

However, because I fell in love with the process, I really don’t feel like I’m racing towards a goal, but rather enjoying each and every workout, trying to figure out if I can set a new personal record each day.  There’s a starting line, but no finish line…I’m never asking “Are we there yet?!” I’m just enjoying each and every day.

SIMPLIFY OTHER PARTS OF YOUR LIFE: I’m not gonna lie, my diet over the past few months has been boring as hell.  But, because I was trying to do all sorts of stuff with Nerd Fitness AND travel AND get my workouts in, one area of my life I chose to simplify was my diet.  Because I walk to the gym, I have pretty much alternated my lunches between two places that are on the way back:

  • Thai Food: mild Thai fried rice with chicken and vegetables
  • Chipotle: Burrito bowl with rice, no beans, double chicken, a bit of cheese, guacamole, and lettuce

I also drank my patented Powerbomb Protein shake (available to Academy Members), and then had some sort of chicken, vegetable, and rice combo for dinner.  A typical side would be apples and almond butter, or bowls of broccoli (seriously).  When I ate out at nice restaurants, it would be some starch, steak, and vegetables.

That’s it.

I realize that sounds UBER boring, and sure, preparing my own grass-fed steak, vegetables, and steamed rice would be healthier…but diet truly is 90% of the battle, and I knew that if I tried to get too complex or too creative with my meals I would have failed miserably at the diet portion.

To channel Teddy Roosevelt: I did the best I could, with what I had, where I was.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE MENTAL ASPECT:  I’m not lying when I say that my mental attitude was holding me back for the past few years, without even knowing it.  I just assumed I was fragile and always a day away from a pulled muscle.  It wasn’t until I adjusted my mental game, focusing on SLOW but consistent progress, and finally making warming up and stretching a priority.

HAVING SOMEBODY ELSE TELL YOU WHAT TO DO IS A GAME CHANGER:

“Steve, you have been programming workouts for Nerd Fitness for YEARS, why hire somebody to send you workouts?”

It’s weird, but when you pay somebody money to give you a workout plan, you actually FOLLOW it.  There are so many times I would have skipped movements I didn’t want to do, or skipped workouts for getting too busy, but because I paid somebody to send me a workout (that isn’t actually very different from what I would have been doing), I actually did it.

I have a hunch that’s why a lot of people have success with our Nerd Fitness Academy - they have invested in themselves, and thus are more likely to take the workout plans we provide more seriously and actually DO THEM.

GET A LITTLE BIT BETTER: Each day I’ve gone to the gym since January, my workout has been a TINY bit better than the previous workout. Although I could have made faster jumps and bigger gains quicker, I stayed true to the plan, and added one rep per week, or five pounds every other week, and plodded along.  As the saying goes, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I’m crawling towards new records every day, and it’s awesome.  If I ever get to deadlift 405 lbs, it’ll be because I snuck up on it slowly!

IT’S AMAZING WHAT THIS CAN DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE:  One of my best friends since college told me two weeks ago, “Steve, I’ve known you for 12 years and this is the best you’ve ever looked.”  You bet your ass I walked a little bit taller that day!

My shoulders are pulled back more, my head is held higher, and I’m walking with more confidence. I can tell that I get treated differently as a result. Combine this with a wardrobe that fits and leveled-up sock game, and I feel like a new person.

Now, about those social skills

What’s next?

Steve before:after 6 months

As I said above, like Iron Man coming back from his cave, I am just getting started on this path.  

I don’t know what the end goal is from a physique perspective, because I don’t really have one!

Sure, I have some physical goals on my Epic Quest that are back in play now that I have the base and confidence to lift heavy, and some of those gymnastic goals are within reach too (I’m coming for you 60-second handstand!), but I’m honestly just focusing on being better today than I was yesterday.

This isn’t “Before” and “After.”

It’s a “Before” and “During.”

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  I don’t generally post pictures of myself (unless it’s me with an ostrich), but hopefully you can learn from it!

If you have any questions for me on what I did or how I did it, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

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Do You Have Drive? Here’s What REALLY Motivates Us. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/26/do-you-have-drive-heres-what-really-motivates-us/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/26/do-you-have-drive-heres-what-really-motivates-us/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:26:32 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22871 We’ve been told our whole lives that rewards and accountability are what get us to actually follow through on our promises.

It’s the reward that drive us to complete a difficult or undesirable task; it’s the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps us going when times get tough.

Heck, every RPG in existence is built around this premise too: “just one more quest, because then I’ll get a new level which will let me buy a new sword!”

We then use accountability to drag us out of bed on days when we just don’t feel like doing our job. We can either lose a $50 bet to our friends for skipping, or we can just do the darn workout!

We’re big fans of rewards and accountability around here at Nerd Fitness, but what if that’s just the beginning?

It turns out, there’s another type of motivation that is the REAL predictor of long-term success…and it has nothing to do with punishment or rewards!

If you’ve been on a roller coaster, losing weight and gaining weight and going through months of success followed by months of apathy…

If you’re tired of knowing what to do to get healthy, but just can’t freaking GET yourself to do it…

Today is for you.

What’s YOUR drive?

black white road

When I first started working out 14 years ago, it was because I was sick of being the weak, scrawny kid.

I wanted to build muscles and get big and strong and try to make the high school basketball team (after failing the first time).

My goals were very externally-focused: “If I work out, then I will build muscle and get better at sports and look better and thus have more confidence.” I was so focused on the scale and how I looked in the mirror that I based a lot of my self worth on that outward appearance.

However, something funny happened along my journey: I fell in love with exercise and stopped worrying about those things that I neurotically tracked daily.  

These days, I step on a scale maybe once a month. I’ve stopped counting calories completely and no longer freak out if I don’t get enough protein each and every day. I eat to fuel my progress.

As a result of these changes, I’m actually now in the best shape of my life and feel more confident!

I don’t go to the gym to exercise; I go to the gym because I truly enjoy my time there.

I love the feeling of chalk on my hands and wrists as I set up for muscle ups, an exercise I couldn’t complete this time last year. I love that fraction of a second, halfway through a rep, where I wonder “am I gonna be able to get above these rings?” and my body responds with “hell yeah!”

I love feeling like freaking Wolverine, my body’s central nervous system in berserker mode after setting a new personal best on deadlifts (take that spine!).

I love working on my handstands, and that moment where time stops when I’m in perfect balance upside down – my scatterbrained mind suddenly finding focus and repeating one phrase: “don’t move.” It’s taken me months and months of practice to get to that point, and each day an extra second held in perfect balance is a win.

I love the weird looks I get from bros doing bicep curls (or power curtsies) in the squat rack as I hang up olympic rings to work on my front lever and back lever holds.

I love that sound each plate makes as it’s added to the barbell, clink!

I love blasting Moby’s “Mysterious Ways” (pretending like I’m Jason Bourne) after my workout is done, feeling like a million bucks.

No matter how good or bad my day is going, no matter what is going on with my friends or with my business or with my family, the gym is always there, challenging me to see if I’m a little bit better than I was last time.

I can’t wait for my next workout.

Drive: What Really Motivates Us

Road

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel H. Pink argues that to get the best out of ourselves, only focusing on rewards and punishments isn’t doing us any favors.

When Pink introduced the concept of a third, more important type of drive early on in his book, I initially panicked.

After all, I’ve been telling people for years about the importance of rewards and accountability…and then read there’s a more important type of motivation!?  That “the carrot and the stick” is a flawed system!?

So, have I been lying to you all these years then?

Absolutely not!

For us gamers who have spent countless hours consumed with leveling up and getting to the next level, this philosophy actually fits PERFECTLY with our personalities.

We desire meaningful challenges, we want control, and we want to feel like the things we’re doing are making a difference.

Think about the last GREAT game you played.  I bet it:

  • Provided just the right amount of difficulty that challenged you to get better.
  • Gave you a complete sense of control over your character’s future.
  • Showed you progress and provided you with a sense of accomplishment.

It turns out, the same holds true for a great job or solidly designed exercise/healthy living plan.  If we can check off those three boxes for other parts of our lives, we’re going to have a greater chance to be more successful in the long term.

It even explains why the Nerd Fitness philosophy been successful in helping person after person get fit and STAY fit: We do everything we can to focus on challenge and meaning!

Allow me to explain!

Carrots and Sticks

Carrots

When it comes to health and fitness, rewards and punishment can be the FIRST step to kickstart one’s transformation, and often works quite well in the short term. 

When we’re trying to get ourselves to do something we don’t want to do, having a reward system when we succeed or penalty system when we shirk our responsibilities is a good start.  However, oftentimes these systems can break down in the long term and we end up back where we started.

I noticed something while reading Drive and thinking about Nerd Fitness - In almost every single one of our success stories, there has been a recurring theme: people who have had lasting success and finally cracked the code essentially have all said the same thing:

“I never thought I’d say this, but I actually look forward to exercising now.”

Think about that previous statement for a second: these are people who most likely either never exercised a day in their lives or generally despised exercising, but they all reached a point where they truly, genuinely look forward to the activity.

This isn’t just a new habit. They’re fulfilling something deeply-rooted within our DNA that CRAVES exercise and physical activity.  We’re designed to move and be active – it’s just lost in us because it’s no longer a requirement for our survival like it was back in the Fred Flintstone days.

Luckily, what has been lost or missing can be found!

Lasting healthy success comes when you go from “ugh, I feel weird when I exercise and don’t like it” to “I feel weird when I DON’T exercise.”

It’s like a flip is switched. Suddenly insurmountable challenges become something to be attempted and eventually conquered. Positivity and “if I could do that, what else am I capable of?” become the rule, not the exception.

It’s an upward spiral.

There’s a reason why one of the pillars of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is built around this principle: “we exercise because we enjoy it!”

Shifting to Drive

Shifter

I’m a huge fan of doing whatever necessary to get people started with exercise, be it a competition, bribery, outright blackmail (kidding…kinda!) or whatever.

However, I think that long term success is much more likely when that motivation to change or exercise or eat right BECOMES part of what you do and who you are, not something you HAVE to do:

  • “If I do this exercise, I get a prize. If I don’t eat right, I get punished” becomes “I exercise and eat right because it makes me feel good and I truly enjoy it.”
  • “If I do this 30 minute workout, I can mark it off and keep the streak” becomes “I can’t wait to workout and see how much I can accomplish in these thirty minutes”
  • “If I don’t work out today, I owe my friend $50” becomes “if I don’t work out today, I’ll feel off – like something is missing.”

So, how do we get from the first half of these examples to the second half? And why not just stick with just a video-game style reward system forever?

As pointed out in Drive: “The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road.”

In fitness, with a goal of losing 20 pounds for a wedding, most tend to go about it in a really unhealthy way:

  • Starving yourself and being miserable.
  • Taking weight loss pills.
  • Doing things like cleanses and detoxes (which I’m not a fan of).

In every one of the situations above, because the only goal and benefit for taking action is to “lose 20 pounds,” as soon as that goal is reached, old behavior can return quickly.

So, instead of putting our sole focus on that end goal “fitting into these pants,” or “losing this amount of weight,” both of which are losing extrinsic goals in my mind…we want the focus to be on the process, and make them items we ENJOY:

  • I will work out in an enjoyable way three days each week
  • I will eat a vegetable or fruit that I enjoy with every meal
  • I will cook one healthy meal each day with loved ones

Think about these things…instead of “forcing” yourself to do something to reach some arbitrary goal…you’re selecting things to do that you enjoy rather than dread.

On top of that, you’re far more likely to sustain long-term success when you look forward to the activity in a genuine way…and it’s going to give you a MUCH better chance to get into “Flow”  which will increase your chances of winning significantly.

What the Flow?

flow

Flow, a concept created by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is “is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

In nerd speak: you are having so much fun and so immersed in the activity at hand that you lose track of time.

Although the book Drive speaks about Flow in terms of work, it can also apply to healthy living too. Remember all of those success stories? They alllll started with “I wanted to lose weight” or “I needed to win a bet” and they all ended with “and now, somehow, I actually look forward to working out!”

How does that happen? Here are the three ways you can get yourself into flow:

  • MASTERY: Fall in love with improvement - if you enjoy strength training, you’re not just exercising, you’re improving. Every workout is tracked, and every workout is an opportunity to get a little bit better.
  • ENJOYMENT: Do it because you enjoy it - if you lose track of time while running, cooking, doing yoga, or rock climbing, you’ve found the activity that you need to spend more time doing! Stop spending time working out in a way that makes you miserable, and continue searching for the one you LOVE.
  • PURPOSE: Be part of something bigger than yourself - we have a massive community of Rebels (and message board members) working hard at improving their lives. Your fitness and health are inspiring more people than you probably realize. This isn’t just for you :)

I want you to constantly seek little changes and improvements that show you that you’re on the right path.

I want you to find a way to exercise that you love – that you look forward to doing.

I want you to remember that you’re part of a group that are all trying to improve, and we need you on our side.

Even if you’re somebody that “hates exercise,” I have no doubt that you are genetically designed to lose track of time doing some form of healthy living or physical activity – you just need to be on the lookout for it and not afraid to try new things.

Why are you healthy?

Alarm

I want to hear from you.

I’d love for you to share your story like I did at the beginning of this article. I’d love to know why you got STARTED with exercise (was it to lose weight? impress a love interest? because your doctor said so?), and I’d love to hear why you KEEP GOING TODAY.

Ultimately, I want to know what the hell you’re doing here:

  • Have you fallen in love with the smell of a great meal that you prepared from scratch?
  • Do you lose track of time when you go for a run, and love exploring new parts of your home town?
  • Do you love how you feel after a hike, looking at the view from a top of a local mountain?
  • Do you love that feeling of complete badassery after breaking 5 boards with a well placed kick?

We have a community of over 200,000, and we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I know we have a lot of readers who haven’t found their “love” for exercise yet, and that’s okay – that’s where you come in.

I want you to share your story - and I want your help in giving other people ideas on how they too can fall in love with living a better life.  Let’s help each other find that drive, and get into the FLOW!

Let’s hear it :)

-Steve

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photo source: arbyreed: carrots, Marco Bernardini: Pac Man, Bethan: Alarm Clock, SenseiAlan: Super/Shifter, Nick Harris: Autobahn, Martin Fisch: dream, Evan Leeson: Praire Sunsets

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What you need to know about P90X, Insanity, Weight Watchers, Shakeology, Cleanses, and Nutrisystem http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/23/what-you-need-to-know-about-p90x-insanity-weight-watchers-shakeology-cleanses-and-nutrisystem/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/23/what-you-need-to-know-about-p90x-insanity-weight-watchers-shakeology-cleanses-and-nutrisystem/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=19649 There are a million and one fitness products and diet systems out there to “help” you get healthy.

Because there are so many options, I get a million fitness emails a week (okay more like a few dozen) from Rebels asking me for my thoughts on certain programs and products that are popular.

Today I wanted to highlight the biggest/most successfully marketed programs out there, and give my humble thoughts on what I think is right and wrong with them, and how they could be better.

Not that they’re asking for my help, it seems like they’re doing quite well!  But for the other few hundred people a week, let’s clear up what works and what doesn’t.

P90X and Insanity

Insanity

Muscle confusion! Tony Horton! Shaun T! Shred your muscles and get a killer INSANE workout!

P90X and Insanity are two of the most successful fitness infomercial products in history.  Tons of before and afters, a program you can complete at home, workouts that leave you gasping for air, and routines that focus on strength training rather than just cardio.

Is it all hype? Or are Tony Horton and Shaun T onto something here?

PROS: Honestly, I believe P90X and Insanity to be pretty solid programs…if you have time, willpower, and energy for it.  If you are somebody that needs to feel beat up at the end of your workout to make it FEEL like a workout, and have 60-90 minutes every day to devote to fitness, then these programs here are built for you.  On top of that, I’m a big fan of the fact that the programs are things that you can follow along with at home: put the DVD in, follow the instructions step by step, and 90 days later you’re in much better shape.

I do love the focus on strength training here, as I find that to be a much better boost to developing a great figure (and self confidence) more quickly than just steady cardio.

CONS: Now, the reason why P90X works is because you’re required to work out for 60-90 minutes, every day, for six days a week. On top of that, you’re also overhauling your diet to eat healthier.  As we all know here at Nerd Fitness, your diet accounts for 80-90% of your success or failures when it comes to getting fit.

So, I’m not really surprised that training six days a week and changing your diet will result in a significant transformation.

My concern with these workout programs: It’s requires a MASSIVE commitment. Especially time. For people who don’t have that amount of time every day, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon after missing a day or two.  On top of that, I’m not a big fan of feeling like I want to die a the end of a workout (which is one of the reasons I’m not a CrossFitter). Remember, the best plan is the plan you stick with. And not many people can stick with these plans.

Lastly: These plans kind of tie you to a DVD player and TV or your computer/iPad.  What happens when your 90 days are up?  What happens if you go on vacation and don’t have access to the program?  I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have had great 90 day transformations, but then returned to what they were doing before because they no longer had a DVD yelling at them.  There’s no addressing of the root problem: building solid foundational fitness habits!

Final word: If you tried P90X and didn’t make it through all 90 days, don’t beat yourself up. I run Nerd Fitness and I doubt I could go through the entire program. I only exercise for an hour a few times a week (along with walking), and I don’t like destroying myself with my workouts. I like to feel GOOD after I’m done :)

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is the juggernaut in weight loss programs. 

Each type of food is worth a certain number of points – you have a daily point allotment and as long as you stay within your point total, you should lose weight.

Now, Weight Watchers has both an online component and an in-person component, where you go to weigh in on a regular basis and have a group of people to help keep you accountable.

Should you be watching your weight with these folks, or looking elsewhere?

PROS: I love the accountability part of Weight Watchers, and honestly I believe this to be the reason that it is successful for a lot of people.  When you constantly surround yourself with people who are trying to better themselves and be healthy, it’s amazing what you’re capable of.  I think accountability is such a strong factor when it comes to health and wellness, and Weight Watchers provides that in spades.

I’m also a fan of the fact that they make the entire eating process simple.  I don’t necessarily agree with how that point system works, but I like that it simplifies the entire process

CONS: Ok, I have a few complaints about Weight Watchers:

  • Their point system, although recently updated, is still firmly planted in the old conventional wisdom.  “Whole grains are good. Fats are bad.”  Some of their point values are very questionable.  Pizza costs points, while toppings each certain points, too…regardless of whether or not it’s fresh chicken, broccoli, or processed sausage.
  • The point system factors in very little when it comes to the quality of the food.  They’d rather you eat a bunch of whole wheat pasta or low calorie processed snacks than real food. I’m talking about stuff like grassfed steak and veggies, or eggs and bacon. Worst of all, they ALSO happen to sell boxes of heavily processed, low-fat “health” food (packed with sugar and/or preservatives) that many people gobble up because they’re convinced the point value will help keep them healthy.
  • You can become tethered to this point system.  Every meal becomes a chance to become further addicted and neurotic about your eating choices.  On top of that, people often find themselves with extra points at the end of the day, so they stuff their face with unhealthy foods to reach their point total because, “I have the points, might as well use them.”
  • Their focus is weight loss.  Before she saw the light, NF Team Member Staci was a member at Weight Watchers.  She asked about the foods she was eating and was told “I don’t care if it’s healthy, as long as you lose weight.”  Obviously not all Weight Watcher ‘leaders’ act like this, but they are out there.  Under the program, your body composition and overall health just isn’t valued as much as the scale, which is a dangerous mentality.

Final word:  Too much reliance on an outdated point system and the pushing of unhealthy sponsored products.  Fantastic for the group accountability, but not enough emphasis on proper education and REAL food!    

Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem

So freaking simple.  Get your meals in the mail, stick them in the microwave, eat them, and wallah…lose weight.  You get to eat things like pancakes, pasta, and cookies and still have success.

Plus, celebrities do it!  

So, what’s the real story here?  Is this a great way to lose weight while eating the foods you love, or is it a system designed to make you reliant upon their high profit food products?

PROS:  Honestly, I love the simplicity of Nutrisystem.  You get meals in the mail, you stick them in the freezer, and then you heat them up for each meal and you will most likely lose weight.  By following this plan perfectly, you’ll most likely end up eating fewer calories than you were consuming in the past. Eating less bad stuff than usual is a recipe for weight loss success in the short term.

Unfortunately, my praise for Nutrisystem stops at its simplicity.

CONS:  If you think you are being healthy by eating muffins, strudel bars, pancakes, pasta, chocolate frosted donuts, chicken pot pie, and macaroni and cheese…you’re deluding yourself.

Nutrisystem is designed to appeal to people who want results without putting in the effort to build new healthy habits.  These foods are all weak substitutes for their real counterparts.

Personally, I’d rather take care of myself 90% of the time and then eat a REAL cookie or have a real slice of pizza every once in a while, than cram my face daily with cheap pizza or cookie imitations and pretend like I’m being healthy.

Along with Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem is still grounded in conventional wisdom of “grains are good, fat is bad, avoid cholesterol” mentality. It breaks one of the rules of the Nerd Fitness Diet: “Eat real food!”

Also, like Weight Watchers, there is minimal education, little focus on healthy habit building, and no preparation for life beyond Nutrisystem.  Because it’s SO simple, people often get thrown off completely when they travel, go on vacation, or can’t afford to keep buying meals through the mail.  Nutrisystem makes money by making you dependent upon their system – which might work for a short time, but is unsustainable long term.

FINAL WORD:  Yes, you lose weight when you eat less. But are these meals healthy and providing you with the energy you need to feel great?  I like Nutrisystem for its simplicity, but dislike it for its food quality, lack of education, and reliance upon unhealthy, unsustainable food system. We can do better!

Shakeology

Shakeology

I had a friend recently ask about Shakeology on Facebook, and he received a ton of positive feedback from people who loved it.

The concept: Replace one of your meals each day with an easily prepared shake.  The shakes from Shakeology allegedly “[use] 70 nutritious ingredients, help detoxify and protect the body against free radical damage, help fight food cravings, and even helps support a healthy libido!”

Not bad for a bunch of powder, eh?  So what’s the deal?

PROS: Like Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers, I commend Shakeology for its simplicity.  Take a meal, replace it with a shake, and lose weight.  Although I’ve never actually tried shakeology or consumed one, people praise its taste, and a review of its ingredients seem like it has quality protein sources, a decent amount of protein per serving, a low amount of sugar. 

If you are traveling, it’s easy to throw a pouch of Shakeology powder into your travel bag, grab a shaker bottle, and have a meal ready to go when you’re ready to go.

CONS:  I’m not surprised people are losing weight with this plan if they follow it exactly.  They are replacing a meal (probably 500-1000+ calories) with a Shakeology shake that only has 120-160 calories in it.  That’s a reduction in daily caloric intake of 380-780 calories.  Remember, just 500 fewer calories per day can result in a loss of a pound a week.

My big concern is that a meal of only 120 calories is NOT going to leave you satisfied and satiated – on top of that, I’m dubious of anything that has 70 ingredients in it!

Finally, I’m still hesitant of relying on a proprietary meal that I need to purchase in order for my “weight loss plan” to work.  What happens when you run out of Shakeology powder, or you don’t have access to a blender, or you are on vacation?  Can you still actively consume the same amount of quality calories and maintain the same nutritional profile?

FINAL WORD:   I can see something like this working for somebody who loves quick fixes and wants to lose 10 pounds, but doesn’t want to change their lifestyle permanently.  Of course, after they lose their 10 pounds and stop doing Shakeology, they’ll most likely return to their old weight and have to repeat the process. As there’s no change in one’s diet habits, long term success will always seem elusive.

What I’d do instead:  Why not make your own shake and not be reliant upon another propriety system?  Try some frozen fruit, a scoop of whey protein, some frozen spinach, and coconut or almond milk.  That’s what I do :)  

Juice cleanses

Juice

Simple enough – Stop eating and just drink this juice for the next three-ten days to get your body detoxed and lose a lot of weight!  Although there are tons of different kinds of cleanses, most revolve around you not eating anything, and instead replacing all meals with a blended concoction of fruits and or vegetables.

PROS: You will lose weight.  Duh.  Instead of eating food, you’re just going to drink liquid calories and probably drink a fraction of the number of calories you consume on a regular basis.  Because you’re not eating a lot of carbs or sodium (due to not eating solid food), you can potentially lose a tremendous amount of water weight (which is temporary, and isn’t the same as losing fat).

You’re probably eating more fruits and vegetables than you would have eaten otherwise (provided you’re blending up fruits and vegetables instead of just drinking fruit juice).

CONS: I’m going to guess that during these three days where you don’t eat any food, you are going to be absolutely miserable.  If you are just drinking fruit juice in place of your meals, you’re essentially drinking sugar water (with much of the fiber and nutrition of the fruit removed).

The majority of the weight you lose during these three days will be water weight - depending on how much carbs/grains/sodium you normally consume, this weight loss can seem falsely dramatic.

As soon as you go back to eating the old way, that weight will come right back.

What I’d do instead: If you really want to detox, why not spend a few days eating lots of protein, spinach, kale, and broccoli (“a toothbrush for your colon”?). I’m not a fan of the term “detoxing,” which implies a temporary fix, but I’m all for it if it can kickstart you actually making positive permanent changes to your diet (see “diet and exercise” below).

Diet and exercise

steve push ups

I read about this one on TV once, and figured I’d do my best to investigate.

Instead of buying a shake powder, confusing your muscles, ordering meals through the mail, or swapping out food for liquid, there’s this philosophy called “diet and exercise.”

It doesn’t require you to buy anything, oddly enough, but rather asks you to make an adjustment to how you live your life.  The goal is to spend more time moving and less time sitting. Then focus on eating more real foods and less processed foods.

So, does this fad have legs?  Or is this another money-grabbing plan designed to get you hooked on another proprietary technology or service?

PROS:  Unlike almost EVERY SINGLE one of the systems above, which imply temporary fixes, “diet and exercise” is more of a lifestyle change that can last for the rest of your life.

Instead of drastically changing how you eat and move in the short term, you’re asked to make small changes that result in long term, permanent changes to your lifestyle.

Diet and Exercise’s biggest pro: lifelong results.  If you are on vacation, you’ve been educated on how to eat the right kinds of foods. If you don’t have access to a blender, or you can’t afford to order food through the mail, you know how to cook a basic meal.  If you don’t have access to a DVD player, you can still complete a basic bodyweight workout or find a park to exercise in.

Diet and Exercise do not require you to spend any extra money or buy any fancy products or meals. You’re not restricting yourself and spending weeks being miserable, anxiously awaiting the day you can go back to your old lifestyle.  Instead, this is just the new you: healthy and happy.

CONS: The biggest con I have with diet and exercise is that it actually requires commitment and change.  There’s no shake in the mail, no DVD to follow, but rather you taking control of your health.

It’s also a challenge in that you actually need to make long-term changes to your diet.  Eating cookies, pasta, cake, and muffins isn’t good for you, so you’re actually going to need to change that to see results.

It’s deceptively simple to learn but difficult to follow through with for many people who are just looking for a quick fix.  We all know we need to exercise more and stop eating junk food, but we can’t force our brains to do it…which is why we need to educate ourselves on willpower.

Finally, the results are not instant.  “Diet and exercise” can often require months of change before solid results can be seen.  Compare this to a calorie restricted crash diet, or weight-dropping juice cleanse, and the scale might not move as dramatically

Final Word:  This is our favorite fad of all.   It’s the fad that’s helped the following people have success:

  • Joe, who dropped 130 pounds in 10 months
  • Staci, who got healthy and now powerlifts
  • Bronwyn, a mother of three (two?) who dropped 40 pounds
  • Saint, who went from 60 pounds overweight to six-pack for his wedding

This is what we’ve built our Nerd Fitness Academy around: education, systems for habit building, and support that give you the tools you need to succeed anytime, anywhere, for the rest of your life.

It’s not get-fit-quick, it’s get-fit-forever!

What else?

lego-light-at-end-of-the-tunnel

I’ve tackled the biggest and most popular diet/exercise programs out there right now, but I’m sure I missed a few.   Leave a comment with your question and I can add it to the article.

Do you have any experiences with the above programs, good or bad?  I’m sure if you have a thought/opinion, we have approximately 200,000+ people who would love to hear from you.

I’m personally excited to hear from you if you’ve done a bunch of the above and recently switched to “diet and exercise” – how have your results differed?

Let’s hear it in the comments below!

-Steve

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photo source: Flavio: lego tunnel, Alan Cleaver: Start Today, fady habib: juice, porcupiny: shakeology, Shawn Honnick: nutrisystem, Sarahnaut: Weight Watchers, Jeanette Goodrich: Insanity

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Today is my 30th birthday, and I need your help! http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/19/today-is-my-30th-birthday-and-i-need-your-help/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/19/today-is-my-30th-birthday-and-i-need-your-help/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:14:06 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22686 Holy crap, I’m 30!

Almost four years ago to the day, I quit my amazing day job (seriously, my job was to help create floating music festivals) to focus on a small website I had been working on every night as a side hobby for the previous 18 months.  I turned 26, and started the next chapter of my life.

Believe it or not, when I quit I hadn’t actually made any money with Nerd Fitness yet!

I just believed so strongly in the power of this community that I knew I had to take the leap and see if I could turn my “hobby” into something more. I knew there was a group of men and women out there like me: people who loved video games, fantasy novels, comic books, who also wanted to get healthy. People who wanted to use those books and games and movies as inspiration rather than escape, who wanted better lives for themselves and those around them.

Here we are, four years later.  That hobby has evolved into a worldwide community of over 200,000 email subscribers, 27,000 message board members, 40 volunteer moderators, four full-time team members, and over a dozen contractors.  That’s a lot of nerds!

Now, because it’s my birthday today, I’m gonna ask for your help.

Rebel Acts of Kindness

NF Dallas Meetup

The part of Nerd Fitness of which I’m most proud has to be our community.

We have rebels that fly across the country to support folks at races and events they’ve met through Nerd Fitness.  We have relationships that have popped up as a result of Nerd Fitness (I wonder how long before we have our first Rebel wedding?).

Heck we’re even having a freaking CAMP NERD FITNESS this fall to bring Rebels together for an epic weekend of adventure.  Yesterday, we had a Rebel buy a ticket to Camp Nerd Fitness that’s flying all the way from AUSTRALIA (Hey Jade!).  I hope to see you there too!

If you told me four years this is where we’d be now my head would have exploded.  Luckily my head is still intact!

Now, want to know WHY this community works so well?  Because we’re dedicated to helping each other.  We support each other when support is needed. We pick each other up when we’re down.  We offer assistance, help, and guidance to whoever, whenever.

We try to make our lives better, and we try to make the lives of people around us better too.

Though I don’t actually want to grow up (and don’t plan on it), I think today is a cool opportunity to introduce something to Nerd Fitness that many of you are probably already doing:

I want you to complete a Rebel Act of Kindness. 

What’s that, you ask?   

It’s simply a small (or large) act of kindness that you complete to make somebody’s day better:  

  • Sponsor somebody’s gym membership for a month.
  • If you eat out for lunch or dinner tonight, leave an unusually large tip – they work hard.
  • If you see somebody struggling in the gym, give them a spot.
  • Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line – unless it’s full of sugar, haha! (kidding)
  • You know that homeless guy on the street you see EVERY DAY…have a conversation with him. He’s a person too.
  • Go through your closet, grab the things you haven’t worn in FOREVER, and donate them.
  • Find a member of the armed forces, shake their hand, and thank them for their service.

If you have the chance to write a note with your RAK (Rebel Act of Kindness), write “For The Rebellion! Pay it forward :)” on it.  We’ll see how many of these random acts make their way back to us :)

Last year we built a freaking library down in Peru, raising THOUSANDS of dollars more than we had hoped to raise.  That was us just getting started.

I’m not gonna lie, I totally expect Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion to take over the world some day.  After all, we’re building an army of super smart, super strong, travel hacking rebels!)…and that means we have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than it was the day before.

So, for my 30th (!) birthday, and for Full-Time Nerd Fitness’s (4th birthday!!), I want you to pay it forward, and encourage the random folks you help out to do the same.

Let’s make today better than yesterday, for ourselves and for everybody else.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for being a part of the Rebellion.  We have some great things to announce and update over the next few weeks, but for today – let’s just focus on our RAKs.  I love this community and I’m honored that I get to spend every day working on it.

ONE FINAL REQUEST: If you happen to RECEIVE a random act of kindness today, I’d love for you to share it in the comments for this article – it’ll be a good reminder that there are awesome people out there who do good things just for the sake of doing good things.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Rebel Acts of Kindness to carry out!

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

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