Nerd Fitness » Blog http://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:46:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.7 How to Make Pineapple Coconut Thai Curry http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/02/04/how-to-make-pineapple-coconut-thai-curry/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/02/04/how-to-make-pineapple-coconut-thai-curry/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:52:42 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=331619

This is an article from NF Rebel Chef, Noel.

We’re well into the start of the new year, and the motivation of other people’s New Years Resolutions has worn thin, but here at Nerd Fitness we don’t do resolutions. Instead we’re all about Epic Quests that keep us moving year round.

One of my Epic Quest goals is to improve my cooking by trying to cook new things. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t your job is cooking… shouldn’t you already be great at it?” Well, sure, but even experienced cooks get stuck in food-ruts. And my friends, I am in deep.

So here’s one of my first food experiments for the year. It has something I love: the simplicity of three easy steps while appearing fancy at the end: red Thai curry (remember last time we experimented with curry?). If you’ve never been to a Thai restaurant and don’t know the difference between Thai and Indian curries, don’t worry. I didn’t until recently, but I’m in love with the coconutty richness of this dish and the number of different veggies included.

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Thai curry has a different texture and flavor than Indian curry. What’s the difference? Thai curry using Thai spices tend to be a bit spicier, is coconut milk based, contains different veggies, and is more soupy than Indian curry.

Now that we have the general idea, let’s put it into practice!

This might look like a lot of a lot of ingredients, but all we’re really doing is mixing meat, veggies, and sauce. Honestly, making this curry is a lot like making Steve’s easy chicken stir fry, but you’re adding a little bit of sauce to the mix.

Here are the three steps:

  1. Cook the meat
  2. Cook the and flavor the veggies
  3. Add the sauce

Think you can handle this? I sure do.

*Side note, this recipe makes a LOT of food. It’s great for feeding a family or friends or meal prep for the week. If you’re not into that, cut the recipe in half.

Pineapple Coconut Curry

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Serves: 7-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Meat of your choice

    • 1lb protein (453g)– chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, or a combination of your favorites – slice the land animal(s) into thin strips. If you’re using shrimp, leave them whole – just wash and peel those guys. I’m using beef in my recipe because that’s what my heart wants. Always do what your heart tells you.
  2. Veggies
    • 1 small yellow oniondiced
    • 2 cloves garlicminced
    • 1 tbsp (15mL)chopped or grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp [5mL] dry ground)
    • Filler veggies of your choice (suggestions below)
  3. Sauce (notes below!)
    • 3 tbsp (45mL) Thai red curry paste
    • 2 cans (403mL x2) full fat coconut milk
    • 1.5 cups (354mL) chicken broth

Plus, you’ll also want some fat to cook everything in: 1.5 tbsp (22mL) coconut or olive oil – separated into 1 tbsp and .5 tbsp

Filler Veggies

*Note: If washing and chopping feels like too much work, grab a couple bags of frozen stir fry veggies from the frozen aisle. It’s a little more expensive, but it takes less effort. Here’s what I used for the recipe below, but feel free to choose your veggies based on what you like!

  • 2 bell peppers – your favorite color, cut into strips
  • 1 head of broccolicut the florets smaller so that they cook more quickly like this – see regular sized florets in the background and (adorable) mini florets in the foreground: Thai_Curry_009
  • 1 handful of snow peas (for me, this is about 20) – not paleo, but I like the texture of snowpeas in stir fry. If you’re hardcore, omit them.

Other optional veggies you can add:

  • 6 mushroomscut into eighths
  • 2 carrots sliced into medallions
  • 1 tomato cut into wedges and 1/2 a cucumber cut into medallions. You’ll want to add these in the last couple minutes of cooking so they don’t get mushy.
  • pineapple chunks, 2 cups (about 1 can or 473mL) with juice drained. I’m not going to make you cut a pineapple today, because if they’re not on sale at the store, they’re usually too expensive for me to consider buying. So, feel free to grab a can of pineapple chunks from the store. (That is, unless you want to serve your curry in half of a shelled out pineapple. Fancy pants.)

Sauce

Add more paste to make it hotter, less to make it more mild. Thai restaurants usually offer measures of spiciness 1-5. One being the least spicy and 5 being the most spicy. 3 Tbsp red curry paste gets you to a level 1, so if you like it hotter, add more, use red chile flakes, or try  some cayenne pepper.

kattebelletje_thai_curryRed Curry Paste might be the only ingredient you have a little trouble finding at the store. Look for it in the asian foods section (also where you’ll likely find your coconut milk). Thai Kitchen is the brand that I normally use as it has no weird ingredients, chemicals, or sugar (and for you vegetarians, this paste is vegan).

Other fancy options:

  • Fresh thai basil leaves – fancy! Tasty! You can find these in an Asian grocery store.
  • Red pepper flake or cayenne pepper – if you’re feeling devilish and like your food spicy
  • Rice or cauliflower rice to serve with the dish.

Instructions:

The instructions below are using the veggies I used above. If you selected different veggies, try to dice them up in a similar way and continue with the instructions!

Remember, all we’re really doing below is cutting and cooking the veggies and meat, cooking the sauce, and mixing everything together.

1. Dice your onion, peel and mince garlic cloves, (if you don’t know how to dice an onion, check out this link.)

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For the garlic, remember the difference between cloves and bulbs? Cloves are the little guys inside the bulbs. To peel, smash the clove under the flat side of a knife and easily pull away the paper-like wrapping. Then cut the garlic super small.

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2. Peel and chop your ginger. After last month’s recipe for Sesame Chicken Wings, a few of you lovely people pointed out that there’s a way easier method of peeling ginger, which is done with a spoon.

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This is definitely the easiest way to do this. Check out a how-to video here:

You can either mince your ginger like we did for this recipe or shred it with a cheese grater. The difference between these two methods is in the texture of the ginger. If you shred it, it’ll incorporate straight into the sauce. If you mince it, you’ll get little bites of ginger while you’re eating.

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If you do choose to shred it, be careful with your fingers and note that you’ll be holding onto a weird, stringy little stump when you’ve finished shredding. Just toss that bit. You don’t really want a knot of ginger fibers (or finger fibers) in your meal.

3. Wash and chop your veggies (if using fresh). Set aside. Refer to this article on how to chop your veggies.

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If using snow peas, you don’t have to chop them, but do remember to remove the fibrous string located on the inside of the veggie (explained in the first 30 seconds of this video).

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I separated my veggie ingredients into different bowls depending on which point in the recipe I use them. Onions, garlic, and ginger are all added to the pan in step 9, so they go together in one bowl.

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All other veggies are used in step 10, so I kept these in a separate bowl for simplicity.

4. Slice your meat and/or peel, de-vein, and wash your shrimp. Thin slices are best for stir frying as they’ll cook faster.

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5. Measure out all your other ingredients, open cans, etc. We do this ahead of time so that there’s nothing to distract you from *just* cooking.

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More experienced cooks can measure and open containers while they’re cooking other stuff, but for those of you who are new to this, it’s best if you prep all your ingredients ahead of time. This cuts down the possibility of us burning stuff and making mistakes that can ruin our meal.

6. Heat up your skillet. This takes about 2 minutes depending on the size of your skillet and the thickness of the material it’s made from. You can tell if it’s warm by placing your hand about 6 inches above the center of the pan. If you can feel heat, the pan is ready. If the pan is so hot that it’s smoking, it’s too hot. Remove it from the heat for a couple minutes and try again.

7. Once it’s hot, put 1 Tbsp of oil in the middle of the pan and let it warm up. You’ll know the oil is warm when you can tilt the pan from side to side and the oil moves quickly in the direction you’re tilting. If you’re using coconut oil, it’ll melt from solid to a liquid form.

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8. Once the oil is melted and warm, toss in your sliced up meats and sauté them until browned and just cooked through (about 10-15 minutes for beef, pork and chicken, 5 minutes for shrimp).

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You’ll know the meat is done when it’s no longer pink. If you’re not sure, take out one of the bigger pieces of meat and cut it in half, if it’s done, it won’t be pink in the middle. If you’re cooking shrimp, however, you’ll want the shrimp to turn from grey (raw) to pink. Those suckers turn pink when they’re cooked.

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Once it’s done cooking, dump the protein into a clean bowl. We’ll come back to it in a little bit.

9. Now keep your pan hot, add that last .5 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up.

10. Once the oil is warm, carefully add your red Thai curry paste to the pan. You don’t want it to drop into the oil as the hot oil can splash and burn you. The easiest way to do this is to use your mixing tool to transfer the curry into the oil and mix it around. Mix it for about 30 seconds.

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11. Now toss your onions, garlic, and ginger in the pan. Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and coated in the curry paste.

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12. Now add all your chopped veggies and pineapple and let them cook until they’re sort of soft (about 5-7 minutes).

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13. Add your protein back into the pan and stir it around.

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14. Now it’s time to make the sauce! Add your chicken broth and coconut milk to the pan, stir it together and bring to a simmering boil (about 5-7 minutes).

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15. And you’re done! Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or just by itself in a bowl!

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Complete a Cooking Quest

There you have it! A warm, spicy, comforting out-of-the-ordinary meal full of vegetable-y-goodness. That wasn’t so tough, was it?

Now, this is probably only my 3rd time making Thai curry; if you’re a seasoned pro, I’d love to hear your suggestions or recommendations on how to make this even better. And if one of your 4 week challenges involves getting more veggies into your diet or prepping your meals, this recipe might help you tackle that challenge!

How many of you have cooking-related epic quests? 

What new recipes are you trying? 

Do you have any recommendations or secret techniques you use to make your own Thai curry? 

Let us know in the comments!

-Noel

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Photos: Justin Gaurav Murgai: Wat Benchamabophit, drburtoni: wholesale fresh food market Series, Jinny: Chef Emmet, kattebelletje: Thai red curry paste

 

How to Make Pineapple Coconut Thai Curry
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A tasty paleo Thai curry!
Ingredients
  • 1lb protein (453g)– chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, or a combination of your favorites
  • 1 small yellow onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 tbsp (15mL)chopped or grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp [5mL] dry ground)
  • 1 handful of snow peas
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 6 mushrooms
  • pineapple chunks, 2 cups (about 1 can or 473mL) with juice drained
  • 3 tbsp (45mL) Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cans (403mL x2) full fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups (354mL) chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Dice your onion, peel and mince garlic cloves, peel and chop your ginger.
  2. Wash and chop your veggies (if using fresh)
  3. Slice your meat
  4. Measure out all your other ingredients, open cans, etc. so that they're ready to use.
  5. Heat up your skillet. Once it’s hot, put 1 Tbsp of oil in the middle of the pan and let it warm up.
  6. toss in your sliced up meats and sauté them until browned and just cooked through (about 10-15 minutes for beef, pork and chicken, 5 minutes for shrimp). Once it’s done cooking, dump the protein into a clean bowl.
  7. Now keep your pan hot, add that last .5 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up.
  8. Once the oil is warm, carefully add your red Thai curry paste to the pan. Mix it for about 30 seconds.
  9. Now toss your onions, garlic, and ginger in the pan. Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and coated in the curry paste.
  10. Now add all your chopped veggies and pineapple and let them cook until they’re sort of soft (about 5-7 minutes).
  11. Add your protein back into the pan and stir it around.
  12. Add your chicken broth and coconut milk to the pan, stir it together and bring to a simmering boil (about 5-7 minutes).
  13. And you’re done! Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or just by itself in a bowl!

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From Skinny Fat To Ripped: Jasper’s Journey to Real Life Superhero http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/02/01/from-skinny-fat-to-ripped-jaspers-journey-to-real-life-superhero/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/02/01/from-skinny-fat-to-ripped-jaspers-journey-to-real-life-superhero/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:03:18 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=353143 Meet Jasper, a 30-year-old sports teacher (and basketball coach) living in the Netherlands. At the start of Jasper’s hero’s journey, he found himself in a place many Rebels can relate to:

Jasper wasn’t hundreds of pounds overweight, but he certainly wouldn’t describe himself as active or in shape.

He was just sort of… stuck. Stuck with a bad back from ignoring a problem for several years. Stuck avoiding everyday activities, and constantly making excuses. Stuck feeling lazy and never really knowing where to get the motivation or a plan to make a change.

And the most relatable part? He let one setback, one barrier in his life slowly become an excuse to live a sedentary existence. For Jasper, that was his back.

Everybody knew I had ‘a bad back’. I was in bad shape, because of my back. Coach, you want to play? Hmm… I’d better not. Carrying groceries? Careful! Run up the stairs? Better not! My best friend jokingly referred to me as an “old man.”

But enough was enough – after doing some research Jasper found the Nerd Fitness Academy, and was thrown into a pre-designed plan. He built momentum, found workouts he loved, and all of a sudden what seemed like an endless climb to the top of a mountain felt different. Instead he had the momentum he needed and found his groove, his path to a leveled up life.

Let’s hear from Jasper about how exactly he did it.

Jasper’s Story

Jasper before and after

Steve: Thanks for being an inspiration for the Rebellion brother! So, let’s start from the beginning: tell me about the old you. 

A typical day started with me taking a hot shower to help with the stiffness in my back after waking up. Maybe a painkiller, maybe not. Breakfast? Meh. Coffee and sugar. Then, off to work to teach some classes, making sure I move carefully to not strain my back and also not sit too long to have it stiff up again. I taught basketball at nights, and then came home. In the evenings I would fix up some food and play some video games until my wife came home from practice (she played professional basketball), and then we’d play a board game or watch a movie before bed. No exercise or intention to eat healthy – I didn’t even participate in my classes!

Steve: So, tell me about the moment you decided to make a change.

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It just got to be too much. I was too much out of shape to take myself seriously as a role model for the kids I worked with. Just a few too many jokes from friends about my back, my weight or ‘what could have been.’ Too many conversations had “And how’s your back?” in them. Too many “you shouldn’t do this with your back and all.” Most of all, I was fed up. I did not like the version of myself I saw in the mirror.

I was casually surfing the web to see what this “crossfit hype” was about when I stumbled onto Nerdfitness.com. Steve’s story resonated so much with me, that I instantly signed up for the NF Academy and decided then and there that this was it: time for change.

Steve: Awesome man, glad we were a part of your journey back to the light side. So, tell me about your exercise strategy.

Smaaaall steps. I jumped into the Academy’s pre-built workouts and progression scheme right away. First, I remember the Academy’s “Recruit Workout” kicked my ass. Then, I started at Bodyweight Brigade level 1 and did a LOT of home workouts. I tried to keep them challenging and adding/scaling things myself. I was committed to 3x a week.

Steve: What about after the NF Academy? Where has your journey taken you today?

When I got out of my comfort zone and asked a friend to teach me how to do some proper weightlifting, I did one heavy workout at the gym and two NF home workouts each week. Then, I joined a local unofficial crossfit gym and went there 3,4 times a week.

Since August of 2015, my wife and I are working out at Crossfit Ninja’s (The Hague) anywhere between 3 and 6 times a week, where 3 times is the minimum. It’s crazy fun and very motivating, and I love crushing PR’s left and right.

Oh, and did I mention? No back pain!!

Steve: That’s awesome! As one with back issues myself, I know it can be tremendously rewarding to slay a dragon you thought would haunt you forever.  So what about your diet – did you follow the Academy philosophy there too?

I started at step 1 in the Academy’s nutrition module and decided to see it through. I just gave it a chance and I am very, very happy I did.

The whole “nutrition is 90% of the equation” is just 100% true. The “Never twice in a row” and “no cheat days but conscious decisions” are habits for us now. We did research the whole Paleo philosophy (Rebellion rule: we question everything!), and while we didn’t adopt it fully, we did incorporate some major aspects of the lifestyle: No sugar, low carbs, all real foods. It’s like you reinvent eating for yourself and I love it.

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Steve: It sounds like you really get it – once we accept that we need to change just a few things, everything seems to fall effortlessly into place. So, how did you track your progress? How often did you weigh yourself? Did you take any other measurements?

I started late October and decided to give this ‘program’ a real shot until my 30th birthday (March). I planned to measure and weigh myself at Christmas as a checkpoint. With the Academy community (Battle Log and the great responses I got there), I couldn’t help weighing in earlier and measuring sooner. So eventually, every month I did the measurements and pictures, for three months.

All the support we had going on in the NF community groups were a great platform to vent. The incredible results and the community did all the motivating I needed to keep going.

Steve: It’s so true that when you surround yourself with people who push you forward, you slowly become the average of your awesome friends. Was there a mindset shift that really helped you succeed?

Deciding I wasn’t going to be a victim anymore. I really feel that mental switch got me in the direction I wanted to go. From then on, all I had to do was keep going.

Steve: Sounds like my realization that we need to take personal responsibility, no matter how bad of a hand life seemed to have dealt us. So, other than the community, did you have any other support system in place?

Well, first: my wife. I consider myself very blessed to have her in my life. Me actively becoming the fittest version of myself did great things for our relationship. As far as the Academy, we started a Whatsapp group, a 24/7 accountability group in a chat application on your phone. That was great fun. Other than that, it was all a matter of putting in the effort yourself. If you took the time and effort to support fellow rebels and be an active member; you’d be surprised at the support you receive. Hell, one conversation through the Academy actually lead to a fellow Rebel flying in to visit us! (This was John from Scotland; he and I are very good friends now!)

Steve: That’s awesome. I know thousands of people across the world have found friends in our remote corner of the internet – friends who help push us forward and keep us going. So, what made this time different? Had you tried getting healthy before? 

Many, many times. And many, many times did I fail. I’d stick with working out or playing basketball again until it hurt. Then, the conclusion was always the same: I just can’t. Not with my back. Biggest difference: nutrition and small steps.

Steve: Give some advice to all those reading your story right now – what’s one thing you would tell someone who has failed but thinks they are ready to try again?

Give it a real chance: give it one year. Give it three months. Hell, give it ten weeks. Pick a time frame and stick to it. If someone has advice, thank them for it and then keep doing what you’re doing. Also: share! Share what you are doing. You’ll find there are two types of people: supporting people (“good for you!”) and motivating people (“you’ll never make it”).

Steve: I love the idea of thinking of haters as motivating people. Turning what seems to be a negative into a force that only makes you stronger. That’s some superhero stuff right there. So, what’s next for you? 

My wife and I just got our visa approved to move to the United States. We’ve started a company called Freestyle Sports in Austin, Texas. We teach soccer and basketball to kids through creativity and fun. It’s a longtime dream of ours and we’re working hard to make it happen. Plus… both of us have entered The CrossFit Games Open for the first time. Yikes!

Steve: It sounds like you guys are on an upward spiral to awesome. Does life feel different now?

Totally – living an active life and not worrying about my physical capabilities anymore has been transformative. One year ago I would really hurt myself if I ran up a set of stairs. Last month, I deadlifted 330 lbs! Being able to just move freely is very exciting. Getting stronger every single day is absolutely amazing.

I feel like I took control of my life, physically. When I’m working with the kids, I feel like a superhero.

Steve: Okay, on to the all-important nerd cred: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

lt’s a tough one, but I have to say Lord of the Rings. Just because I prefer fantasy over science fiction.

Steve: Jason Bourne or James Bond?
Jason Bourne. I feel like James Bond has no issues whatsoever. That gets old fast.

Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
NBA 2k. No, Hearthstone! Or maybe Super Mario World! How about Mass Effect? Ooh, Skyrim! Ugh… Next!

Steve:  Do you have any nerdy passions or pursuits?

I am fascinated by the concept of “play”, be it in games or sports. I play tons of board games, yet it was only recently that fellow rebel John showed me Dungeons & Dragons and I am loving that very much at the moment.

Steve: Tell us something interesting about you!

I’m a two-time National Champion in Freestyle Basketball. Basically, I do basketball tricks. In my clinics, I mix my love of basketball with motivational speaking, music, humour and show. I would love to do a basketball clinic at Camp Nerd Fitness someday!

Why Jasper Was Successful

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Jasper could have spent the next 30+ years of his life consumed by an excuse – his back. Many of us find ourselves in these situations every day: We can’t workout or adopt a better diet – impossible! We have kids, an injury, or are just too busy.

We all have excuses.

The difference is Jasper said enough is enough, and put a real plan in place to make sure he succeeded this time.

Success requires the motivation to make a change, and smart systems to make sure you actually follow through. Without the motivation you never get started, and without the systems you fail and fail again. Let’s take a look at how Jasper finally broke through and cracked the code:

He called himself on his own BS, and cut off the source of his apathy: Without this key step, Jasper never decides he needs to learn more about getting healthy, he never finds the NF Academy or learns about his love of Crossfit. When we buy into their power, excuses don’t feel like excuses – they feel like legitimate reasons we can’t do something. But once we look at them more closely and really call ourselves out on our own BS, excuses transform into obstacles to overcome, no longer a jail to hold us in for our whole lives.

Small changes:  Jasper says small changes were the key to his success – not trying to transform his diet overnight or jump into crazy workouts. Instead, he adopted the NF Academy mindset of slowly transforming the person you are. When Jasper made a change, it wasn’t a part of a two-week diet or six-week workout plan. He was making changes that were permanent – changes that were just “who he was now.” When we approach our quest of getting healthy like this, instead of like a temporary fix, a huge burden comes off our shoulders. We no longer look and long for the finish line, but just go about getting sh*$ done. It becomes an automatic part of who we are, not a constant, daily struggle of eating better and forcing ourselves to be active.

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Jasper found something he loved: Jasper used the Academy workouts to introduce him to strength training, sort of like leveling up before choosing your specialty class. Once he discovered he loved barbell and high intensity workouts, he learned more about Crossfit and discovered he loved it! Workouts no longer became a thing to be avoided, but something to look forward to!

This allowed him to turn momentum to his side. By just doing what he found fun and natural, he was improving himself every week and making small progress towards his goals. If you think exercise sounds miserable, it’s time to find something you enjoy doing. Not sure where to look? Here are some ideas.

Diet, diet, diet: If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a while, it may feel like we’re beating a dead horse by now, but we have to say it every time because it’s TRUE every time: Jasper made sure to put an emphasis on his diet. Yep – just like every other success story, you HAVE to be aware what you are putting in your body and make intentional changes. Working out more while ignoring how you fuel your body just doesn’t work.

If you’ve tried this strategy in the past, try something different. Start with one small change, like dropping one soda from your week or removing one candy indulgence. It doesn’t have to be huge, but you do need to start thinking about your diet instead of ignoring it because it feels like too much work.

Support and community: Simply put, Jasper had cheerleaders all around him. In the Academy he found a group of friends who he not only shared his progress with on a regular basis, but they even created a separate group to keep each other accountable 24/7. At home his wife not only supported him on his own path, but was walking a similar path of her own!

When you have people who are pulling you up instead of holding you down, it can feel like your character goes from having weights around his feet to being armed with the best armor in the realm. Suddenly, everything is a little bit easier, and when you find yourself stuck or unmotivated, you aren’t alone.

Life is a multiplayer game, and when we don’t realize how the people around us affect us, we can find ourselves being pulled back to status quo without realizing it. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can help you on this path, don’t fret! We have a community of tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds who are in need of a team just like you.

Be Like Jasper

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Jasper transformed himself from a sedentary, out of shape dude to a ripped hero at the center of his own story. What’s more, these diet and exercise changes often can be the catalyst we need to make other changes our lives: Jasper and his wife are moving to the U.S. to start a business, Freestyle Sportschecking off epic quest item.

Whether you have 200 lbs to lose or 20, making the first step and figuring out how to break out of your static life can feel like an impossible quest. Millions upon millions of people across the country and world are struggling to figure out how to get started and how to actually follow through.

Jasper’s story shows us that if we can summon a moment of inspiration and put the right systems in place, getting healthy doesn’t have to be the awful, painful, every-day struggle that we have imagined in our heads.

Instead, it can be a process of triumph over challenges and of built-in inspiration and progress.

Jasper used the Academy to make sure he was on a path that took him where he needed to go. We have workouts and a nutrition plan that take you through, step by step, how to make changes that last.

But if you’re not ready for a commitment like that, there are all sorts of free resources right here on NerdFitness.com – check out our beginner bodyweight workout, our guide to eating healthy, and learn how to build habits that stick.

Whether you use the Academy to get healthy or use our free resources, thanks for being here. We’re all in this journey for a leveled up life together.

What questions do you have for Jasper?

Stop by the comments section and leave a note of congrats!

-Steve

PS – I’m doing a live chat over at Product Hunt tomorrow at 3:00 pm EST (12:00 PST). Come on over and say hi!

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How to Fight the Tired Parent Syndrome http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/28/how-to-fight-the-tired-parent-syndrome/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/28/how-to-fight-the-tired-parent-syndrome/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:53:55 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=96334 This is a post from NF Rebel Correspondent and Fatherhood Specialist, Dan.

Creating and shaping a little one’s life is full of wonder, amazement, joy and smells – a journey which is truly gratifying and unfortunately, bloody tiring.

Any parent will tell you that as soon as Player 2 or 3 enters the game, the sleep level difficulty instantly shifts from ‘tutorial’ to ‘expert’. It’s no surprise that you see new parents in the office stumbling around like zombies by the time 2 pm comes around.

New parents have to learn to function on much less sleep, which is why we’re going to delve into this topic a little further with some tips specifically for Rebels with young ones (but with some sleep tips applicable to everyone).

Let’s pick up the master controller to our slumber, and try to help all you struggling parents, shift workers, students, and Fallout 4 players.

Engage in Multiplayer Mode

game

CHILD used TIRE. It’s SUPER EFFECTIVE!

If you and your partner really feel burnt out (or you’re a single parent and you’re struggling), I have one big message for you:

Ask for help. 

Let go of the feeling that asking for help is some epic inconvenience or that you’ll no longer be this self-sufficient superhero. Even Batman needs Robin. Asking partners, family, or friends to take your little one out for a walk or just keep an eye on them while you have a moment’s rest can be the difference between getting through a week with energy and struggling to the end of a week feeling exhausted.

If you’re lucky enough to have a partner or someone who can help out, try taking turns settling or feeding overnight, and work with what best fits your sleep type.

Couples, talk to each other! So many parents I’ve worked with have been struggling for so long because they simply haven’t spoken with their partner about their needs.

Feel like you’re a night person and you’re always exhausted when you feed the baby in the morning? A short conversation could really make a huge impact: “I think I’d be better off putting the baby to bed and feeding at night if you can do the morning feed and let me sleep until 7. What do you think?”

Figure out what you both want, try a few things out, and come to an agreement on what works best for both of you.

My wife and I found a way take advantage of my ‘night owl’ tendencies by expressing the milk beforehand (and storing it safely). I stayed up late like normal, allowing my wife to go to bed early, and I covered the 2 am feed.

Even if you don’t have kids, this is a great strategy for couples or roomates to divide responsibilities.

What responsibilities and chores can you divide to work to your advantage, allowing you to rest when you need it?

Do less, be better

At the end of the day, you can’t do it all. Most days I go about doing everything I can, pretending I’m a Superman, but in the end, we’re all just Clark Kent. If we’re feeling like we’ve been exposed to Kryptonite, we won’t be able to effectively look after our little ones or get the things done that need doing.

Sometimes our expectations of ourselves are simply too high; we make a list of things to do that is unrealistic. As parents especially, but also for anyone who feels like they “just never have time”, making hard choices and prioritizing what’s important can help take the pressure off while improving your overall output.

We all like to think that we can play with the kids, get them dressed, go to work, cook an amazing dinner, clean the house, get the ironing done, put the kids to sleep, go to the gym and play ‘just 15 minutes’ of our favorite video game in between everything else going on in our lives. But as parents and busy people of all varieties, we need to accept that our lives are different now, and we need to let go of certain things that might not be as important anymore.

Try picking a few things out of your week to stop doing so you can focus on what’s really important to you. It may feel weird at first, but you’ll be able to focus on the big wins and accept that you’re not going to be able to fit EVERYTHING from your old schedule in your new life.

Move More

child play

“But I’m already so tired, and you expect me to move more?!”

I know it’s a really tough ask. But it’s been shown that physical activity can actually increase your energy levels, make you feel better, and even increase the quality of the little sleep that you do get.

As parents, we’re usually short on time, so the easiest way to get moving more is to sneak light exercise into everyday activities. This could be a walk with your child to somewhere nearby that you would usually drive to, rolling around on the floor with them, or some roughhousing.

For non-parents and parents alike, try to complete some smaller “move more” quests like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the long way, or dancing in your house when you’re just hanging out or cooking a meal.

Movement really matters. Think of this like a small investment in your day – you pay in a little movement up front, but you’ll start to notice that these tweaks will pay dividends in your energy and mood. It’s amazing how these small movements add up to not only help you get through the day, but in turn help you sleep better and set you up for success the next day. It’s a cycle of awesome!

Steve shared some great tips on “How to Stay Active When You Have a Family” if you’re looking for a more complete guide.

Eat well regularly

child

“Wait, so a fitness site is telling me to eat better and move more? Interesting.”

Yes, I know you’ve heard it all before, but this isn’t just cliche advice. It’s crucially important, research-backed advice. Eating healthy and moving more isn’t just a physical fitness thing, it’s about keeping your brain working at full capacity and your energy levels up.

Once you become a parent, there will be changes in your lifestyle, daily routine, social values and spending power. This makes the temptation of unhealthy snacks and cheap fast-food that much more appealing: it’s cheap, it’s easy, and it tastes great it’s designed to manipulate your taste buds and hit the perfect bliss point.

But as we all know by now, this is a recipe for a downward spiral of energy, mood, and health. Eating the right amount of calories and the right types of food is the foundation for feeling great every day.

Regular healthy snacks can be important as a parent, especially if you’re throwing off your body’s clock by being awake at all hours of the night. A small hit of fat or protein to the system will really help you work up the motivation to take baby for a walk, wash those bottles, or spend some time on the floor with your little one. Don’t be afraid to keep a jar of almond butter near by!

For more on snacking, check out Steve’s full article here.

Rethink your silly sleep schedule

alarm

The sooner you actually think about your sleep and establish a bedtime routine, the better. Your baby will be more relaxed if they know what’s coming next. It’s been shown that with a routine, your kids will be more likely to go to bed easily, fall asleep quicker, and even improve their wakeful state afterwards as well!

But establishing a sleep routine is great for parents (and other adults) too, as it gives you time to wind down, and makes your day a little more predictable. Studies show understanding sleep routines may help in making choices that will lead to better quality sleep. Once you start to fall into a good routine, you’ll be able to know when you can get things done around your little Rebel’s slumber, and maybe even get some extra shuteye yourself.

So, if you don’t have a sleep routine, it’s time to implement one starting now. I suggest working it around when your child naturally sleeps best. Don’t swim upstream if you don’t have to.

A good way of going about this is to track your child’s sleep pattern for at least a week so you can really recognize any patterns. I’ve even compiled the official ‘Nerd Fitness Child Sleep Diary’ (or the Tired Parent Syndrome (TPS) Report) for you to print out and keep record in. Just open the document and go to file –> “Make a copy.”

Start establishing routine by giving your child a bath, bedtime story, feed and a lullaby. Stick to the same time and order each night and your child will be more settled as time goes on.

Once you’ve figured out and established your routine, try to rest around the time your child is resting. I know not everybody has this luxury, but if possible, try to lay down, relax, meditate or even have a power nap during their day sleeps.

Level Up Your Sleep Game

sleeping kid

When you become a parent, chances are you’ll be sleeping like a baby for a few years, even if you don’t get a lot of shut eye. (Whoever coined that phrase obviously never had kids.) You’ll likely be waking up really grumpy every few hours and taking a long time to settle back down.

Let’s be realistic here: you’re more than likely not going to get as much sleep as you need, and you’re going to feel tired more often than not. Recognizing this, knowing your limitations, and knowing how to optimize your energy levels is the key to staying on top of your game.

Here are a few bonus tips to ensure you’re getting the best rest you can:

  • Follow good sleep hygiene rules – limit media use in the bedroom and have time to wind down. If you don’t get much sleep time anymore, you should make sure the little shuteye you get is good quality.
  • Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol for the hours leading up to bedtime – they can lead to poor sleep. If you do drink caffeine (most parents need to), use it wisely. See Taylor’s article for ways to go about this.
  • Do some stress-busting things like yoga and meditation as often as you can. As mentioned, your child will pick up on and react to your mood, so being calm is always a good thing.
  • If you feel the lack of sleep is really taking its toll on yourself or your child, seek professional advice as soon as you can. (My wife and I saw a specialized child sleep psychologist with our second child as he was constantly waking throughout the night, which made a world of difference.)

Your priorities change once you have children. You want what’s best for them and to be the best parent you can be. This means you must be rested, calm and healthy. An investment in you is an investment in them. Looking after yourself is paramount in caring for your child; they deserve nothing less.

So get started. Tonight, have a roll around on the floor with your child. The ironing can wait and the Reddit frontpage will still be full of reposts later on. Start figuring out your routine with our official Tired Parent Syndrome Report (yeah, if you can get those TPS reports done as soon as possible, that would be great). Talk to your partner about your schedules, or set up a time for a loved one to come lend a hand this week so you can get in a power nap or exercise.

To parent best, rest.

I love hearing from other Rebel parents, I’m always willing to try new ideas:

How do you rest?
Is your child a Zubat or a Snorlax?
How do you fit exercise into your busy day?

-Dan

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Rey from Star Wars Deadlifted 176 Pounds. How Does that Make You Feel? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/25/rey-from-star-wars-deadlifted-187-pounds-how-does-that-make-you-feel/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/25/rey-from-star-wars-deadlifted-187-pounds-how-does-that-make-you-feel/#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:08:03 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=147782 Last week we shared a video on Facebook that created more excitement and controversy than anything we’ve ever posted: A video of Daisy Ridley (Rey from Star Wars Ep VII) deadlifting with great form, 176 lbs/80 kilos:

This post exploded, with 1000+ likes and a few hundred comments. What we saw as the most “Nerd + Fitness” ever, combining two of our favorite things (Star Wars and Deadlifts), soon became a fascinating look into the psyche of society.

The wide reach of the post pulled in people outside of the Nerd Fitness community, and we ended up with responses that fell into a few distinct categories:

  • “Good for her! That’s awesome and it’s great to see a role model like that not afraid to strength train.”
  • “Hey I lift more than that, good for me!”
  • “Why are we celebrating mediocrity? She should be able to lift more than that. Anybody should.”
  • “That’s amazing and I hope I can get there some day.”

Obviously a HUGE majority of people fell into the first category, but a number of responses fell into categories 2, 3, 4. And that’s okay – we all have gut-reactions to things and it doesn’t make us bad people.

I bet you instantly had a reaction that fit into one of the above categories, good or bad. Let’s talk about these reactions, and challenge ourselves to fight back against them when they are counterproductive.

We All Start Somewhere

Start

Good or bad, it’s almost impossible not to instantly compare ourselves to the people around us: in line at Starbucks, at the gym, on the subway, at the office, and so on.

We are social creatures. Our brains excel at managing our reputation and navigating animal kingdom concepts like status and hierarchy.

In the case of the Daisy Ridley video, and other fitness media, this can lead to two unfortunate reactions:

  • At least I don’t look like that. Good for me!
  • Why can’t I look like that person? I suck.

Here’s the problem with the first one (aka any variation of “hey look I can deadlift more than Daisy Ridley, I’m awesome!”) – If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, it’s easy to find somebody else who is bigger, fatter, weaker, slower, or more unhealthy than us and say “at least I don’t look like that person! Phew!” That person you’re comparing yourself to in the gym? They might be there for their FIRST TIME.

Conversely, we can always find someone who is a level higher than us – faster, stronger, more healthy, etc. They might have professional chefs at their disposal, or a day job as a trainer.

Daisy Ridley who is only deadlifting 176 pounds? That might be her new personal best, and has been deadlifting for just a month. It might be a 6-month journey where she’s only going up 5 pounds a month, and will continue to do so for the next two years. She might only weigh 100 pounds, which would be the equivalent of a 200 pound male deadlifting 380 lbs. The truth is: we don’t know!

And here’s the problem with the second one (aka “Why can’t I do what that person is doing? I suck.”). We have NO IDEA how long somebody has been training, how hard they work, or what their genetics are. I find that I often compare myself to other people in my gym and wish I was looking like them or why it’s taking me “so long” to get stronger in certain lifts compared to others. But this is silly: we all play this game of life as different characters with different difficulty modes.

There’s a reason that the only comparison you should make is to yourself the day before; whether you look at a video like that and it makes you feel good or bad about yourself, it’s not a valid comparison.

We have no clue just how hard somebody has been training, how long they have been training, if they used to be a competitive athlete, what their genetics look like, or what other challenges or advantages they had. We also don’t know how miserable they might be for comparing themselves to somebody else.

When we see a video like this, we just see one moment. That’s it. Remember that we compare our behind-the-scenes journey with everyone else’s high reels.

Comparisons Lead to the Dark Side

Darth

Years ago when I started exercising, I wanted to look like somebody else because I wasn’t comfortable and confident in my own skin. I figured if I could train, bulk, and get stronger, I would look like the guys in the gym or the guys in movies, and my life would be complete.

I spent every day comparing myself to others and impatiently asking myself “when will I get there?”

It’s a losing battle. When you spend your time comparing your achievements to others, the comparison makes you feel either better or worse than them, but neither are productive:

“He might be able to squat that much, but I can do way more pull ups.”

“I bet she can’t even touch her toes.”

“Why is that person celebrating so much over a 5k? I ran a marathon last week!”

“I just hit a PR. And then the person next to me lifted 100 pounds more. I’m so weak!”

This comparison business is an exercise that will only drive us mad.

And the same can be said when we incorrectly compare ourselves to our past selves that existed under different circumstances. For example, if you get hurt, or need to have surgery, or you have a child and suddenly all of your free time is zapped from you, it’s really depressing when you think about where you are compared to where you used to be.

“I used to lift way more than this. Ugh.”

“How did I take a million steps back? This sucks.”

When we think this way, it’s easy to get derailed and depressed and give up because we ask: “What’s the point? I’m so far behind where I used to be and it’s going to take forever to get back there.”

Instead, I want you to embody a new philosophy. I’d like to think it’s one Master Yoda would teach if he were here:

You do You.

darth vader lego and ostrich

Like Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, our biggest battle in this journey to a healthier life will be with ourselves. Our largest hurdle? The Dark Side that pulls our brain in a direction that keeps us from the goal:

To be better today than you were yesterday.

That’s it.

Not the “you” before you were injured. No the “you” when you were 18 and had all the time in the world. Not the girl who posted on Facebook or the guy who’s blowing up your Instagram with perfectly framed photos. Just the “you” from yesterday.

No matter what you are training or how you are trying to change yourself, there will be people behind you, and ahead of you. They live a completely different life, they have different goals, different genetics, different insecurities, different time constraints, different lives.

Instead, stay in the moment.

Can you be better today than you were yesterday in a way that lines up with your goals? Can you run a second faster than your personal best? Can you touch one inch further down your shins? Can you deadlift one single pound more?

I’d love to hear about the internal battle you struggle with, and be honest.

Here’s me: I compare myself unfavorably against guys 50-100 lbs heavier than me in the gym and what they can lift, and I compare myself a bit too favorably against people who haven’t been training as long as I have been. Conversely, I get jealous when I see people make rapid progress on their squats. My squat is my weakest lift for sure, so I have to constantly remind myself that every day I squat I’m stronger than I have EVER been before, and this has been true every week for the past six months.

The truth is, I’m stronger and more fit than I was yesterday. I’ll try to do the same tomorrow.

Your turn. May the Force, and the Gains, be with you.

-Steve

PS: THOUSANDS of people have already picked up Level Up Your Life! If you’ve gotten a chance to read through it, you’d be my hero if you took 2 minutes to leave an honest review over on Amazon.com.

photo: Pedro Venzini: Dark Side Legos, Kennie Louie: Ostritch

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Create Your Free Nerd Fitness Character Now! http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/18/create-your-free-nerd-fitness-character-now/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/18/create-your-free-nerd-fitness-character-now/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2016 16:46:33 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=112398 Life is game! Join me?

Almost six years ago I wrote an article called “Real-Life Role Playing: What is your Profession?” and then turned my life into a game, tracking my life quests with pen and paper (and text). I had so much fun, but I knew it was just the start. I had a dream that one day, you’d be able to log in to Nerd Fitness, create your character and your own Epic Quest list, check off those quests as you complete them, earn XP, level up, and share this profile with your friends.

We’ve been quietly (and furiously) working behind the scenes for the past year on this feature. You can now create a full Nerd Fitness Avatar and actually turn your life into an RPG! Now that my book Level Up Your Life is officially out nationwide, I’m so pumped that we can make this a big part of Nerd Fitness moving forward! This character is also going to tie into a big portion of the Nerd Fitness ecosystem over the next number of years.

Speaking of Level Up Your Life, if you’ve read the book, can you please go leave an honest review over on Amazon? More than ever these reviews can be the difference for somebody who isn’t familiar with Nerd Fitness or my writing! THANK YOU!

Note: This is a crazy, awesome, evolving platform; consider this current launch a version 1.0.

How it Works

create character

If you visit the following link: NerdFitness.com/Level-Up, you can sign up with your email address and create your Nerd Fitness character. Note: if you have already purchased Nerd Fitness Academy or Nerd Fitness Yoga, it will link this character to that account!

Everybody will start as a Rebel, but if you are interested in nerding out a bit more, you can pick which Class most lines up with your training goals:

  • Warrior: strength training, powerlifting, olympic lifting, weights
  • Scout: running, swimming, biking, endurance
  • Adventurer: exploration, hiking, camping, climbing, travel excursions
  • Ranger: cross training, metabolic conditioning, jack of all trades
  • Assassin: parkour, gymnastics, bodyweight training, movement
  • Monk: martial arts
  • Druid: yoga, tai chi, meditation, nature

Note: This is just a fun way to classify your avatar a bit more, and you can change classes as often as you’d like depending on how you’re feeling! And there’s no reason you can’t add quests that might belong to another Class. 

Next, you can pick which hand-drawn character art (Courtesy of NF artist Darryl Jones) best describes you, write your origin story, and then create your list of quests and missions determining what kind of game you want to play!

To clarify: you’ll have TWO leveling systems tied to your NF Character:

  • Your Epic Quest (EQ) level, displayed in the badge icon on the right side on your character page. This is created and maintained by you, creating your own quests and assigning point values.
  • Your Nerd Fitness (NF) level, displayed to the left of the experience bar on your character page. If you have the NF Academy, the quests completed there will fill up that XP bar. If you do NOT have the NF Academy, that XP bar and your NF Level will be greyed out for the time being.

Later this year, we’ll be bringing the Nerd Fitness questing system to other NF products (like Yoga) and all free accounts, but for now that portion will remain with just the Academy as we make sure the Epic Quest system functions properly and is scalable for tens of thousands of Rebels! Thanks for your patience!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started! To create your character, go here.

Have some fun and mess around with it, create categories, assign experience point values, and start tracking your missions. Again, this all ties closely to my book Level Up Your Life, and should get you started down the path towards a more adventurous life!

We have a full help and FAQ page here. PLEASE READ THIS! If you’re still lost after checking that out, email us at contact@nerdfitness.com.

To answer your next question: We already have a ton of features and tweaks we want to make on this system, and we’ve already begun development on that too! We’ll reach out soon to hear how things are going and what things you’d like to us to add to the system.

If you happen to find any bugs or cracks that cause a problem with your character, please email us at contact@nerdfitness.com.

Some Example Character Pages!

steve assassin

Now, one of my favorite parts about this whole thing is seeing just how differently everybody is playing the game of life. I wanted to share with you some examples of the characters we have created at Team Nerd Fitness. Feel free to get as creative and weird as you want!

  • Steve (Assassin), Rebel Leader: Steve has an alter ego, a superhero version of himself who is capable of far greater things than anybody ever expected of him. His name? Rebel One. Steve and his alter ego are like a modern day Indiana Jones: making discoveries, helping those in need, and creating a lifetime of stories and adventures. He dutifully splits time between the two lives, cycling and transforming with each completed quest or mission.
  • Staci (Warrior) heads up Rebel Operations at Nerd Fitness. Staci’s main focus fitness wise is powerlifting – so the majority of her quests are lifting related. Although recently she has been enjoying gymnastics and yoga, and has been focusing on meditation and being more mindful. Staci’s epic quest list focuses around her love for learning and trying out new things.
  • Darryl (Warrior with some Monkish tendencies) is the Nerd Fitness Design Wizard. In between deadlifts he’s usually thinking of ways to make the website look cooler or a new shirt design. If he’s not designing, drawing or lifting, he’s training to reach his next TaeKwonDo belt or making something out of wood in his garage.
  • Alek (Scout) is a developer with Nerd Fitness. He spends most of his time building out features and products. If something isn’t working right on the website, it’s definitely his fault. He’s a scout because he plays competitive Ultimate Frisbee, but also begrudgingly performs strength training for more explosive power.
  • Noel (Adventurer) is Nerd Fitness’s Rebel Chef and Support Wizard. Noel’s priorities include exploring the world, getting Nerd Fitness’s inboxes to zero, and enjoying a good cup of tea. Training-wise, she focuses on activities that will help her complete adventurous quests such as hiking long distances, training in kung fu, and occasionally lifting heavy things.
  • Taylor (Druid) is the Chief Wordsmith at Nerd Fitness, and plans to focus his goals in 2016 around meditation and mindfulness. As part warrior and part ranger, he’ll also include some diverse fitness goals to keep him on his toes.
  • Lauren (Rebel) brings Nerd Fitness events to life, like Camp NF and the Level Up Your Life book tour. As a Rebel, she is still trying to find the right path for her fitness journey, but currently focuses on body weight strength training, yoga, and meditation.
  • Baker (Monk) is in charge of Product Development and Strategy at Nerd Fitness. He trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu actively with his oldest of three daughters. His quests for 2016 include learning archery, piano, cooking, and ramping up his strength training.

Again, these are just examples. Use this platform however you want!

What’s Next For Nerd Fitness

nerdfitness-title-720p

This is a big step for the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!

I’ve seriously been dreaming about us being able to do something like this for YEARS and YEARS, and now we finally can visualize our alter egos right here on Nerd Fitness. I’m excited to see what kind of game you decide to play, and how I can help you along the way.

This is only the beginning of what we’ve got coming, and I’m so psyched you’ve decided to be a part of the journey as a member of the Rebellion! We’re currently on a book tour (3 more stops – come out and say hi!), and we have a series of updates planned for your NF Character.

After we add quests to NF Yoga and to free NF accounts, we’ll be working on our next premium program: Hint: it’ll help turn you into a real superhero that gets sh** done.

We’re going to continue creating new (and FREE!) features, articles, and content here on Nerd Fitness to help you live a better life. For those looking for their own walk-through, we’ll launch the occasional paid course and hosting live events. Basically, we’ll keep doing what we always do: help each other get healthier and happier in a supportive and fun way.

This community has been my entire life, and it’s been so much fun to watch it grow and evolve over the past seven years (!). I’ve learned a lot about how to best serve the Rebellion, and how to practice what I preach on Nerd Fitness: happiness, health, balance, and fun.

I’m excited to see what kind of character you create, what your origin story becomes, and how your Epic Quest takes shape.

My request to you: Leave a comment with a link to your (PUBLIC) character page so I can see what kind of character you’re creating! 

If you’re on our message boards, we recommend you add your character profile link to your signature too, until we can get the message board account linked with your NF character.

-Steve and Team Nerd Fitness

PS: Speaking of leveling up your life, I wanted to give a quick shout out to my friend Ramit Sethi – he’s putting on a free mini course (registration ends tomorrow) on growing yourself in fitness, business, psychology, and relationships. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years and his free content is better than most people’s paid stuff!

PPS: One more request, just in case you forgot due to creating an awesome character above! Can you please leave an honest book review on Amazon for me? This will help others determine if this crazy idea of looking at life like a game is for them. Thanks!

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Level Up Your Life is Now Available! Here’s Why You Need to Buy It. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/12/level-up-your-life-is-now-available-heres-why-you-need-to-buy-it/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/12/level-up-your-life-is-now-available-heres-why-you-need-to-buy-it/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:00:16 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=128642
You are now free to level up your life! RIGHT NOW.

Today, right now, my first ever book, Level Up Your Life, is available online (at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and in bookstores throughout the United States. Like, right now.

While you’re reading this, I’m probably running through New York City bookstores (skipping and giggling like a five-year old schoolgirl) and signing as many copies as I can. I might also be crying because this is really surreal. You can follow the adventure over on my instagram.

If you’ve been a reader of Nerd Fitness in the past, I’m just going to come right out and say it: BUY THIS BOOK. I’ve dedicated the majority of my last two years to writing this for you! I’m so excited to be able to share a physical guide to leveling up your life that can sit on your bookshelf (or kindle) for you refer back to as you begin to make changes and move forward.

You will be impressed with the quality and content of the book, I promise. I was blown away when I opened the first copy from the publisher.

Now, if you’re new to Nerd Fitness, I want to explain why today is such a big day, and why this book is going to help you do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Eight years ago I walked into a bookstore during my lunch break on miserable day at my day job, and purchased a book that altered the path for my life (Thanks Tim Ferriss!).

Now it’s my turn to pass along that feeling. I wrote this book to be that same “call to action” to spark change in your life.

6 Reasons You’ll Love Level Up Your Life

SteveKambBookPile

1) This is a strategy guide not just for health, but for life. All my friends thought I was crazy when I told them I was writing a book and it wasn’t a traditional health and fitness book. That book didn’t excite me – I wanted to write something that I wish I had all those years ago when I was trying to figure out how to play this game we call life. I’m so freaking proud of this book, and busted my ass to create the best framework for leveling up that I could. If you’re somebody who wants to finally start crossing goals off your list and live a fulfilling life you can be proud of, this book gives you that blueprint.

2) It teaches you how to be adventurous. We humans (and even the self-aware robots out there) love adventure. It’s why we get lost in epic games, books, and movies: because they let us live vicariously through our favorite characters. I used to escape in those books and games when life sucked, and through a lot of trial and error I learned how to start living vicariously through myself. It resulted in me visiting 20+ countries, crossing off dozens of things from my list, and getting in the best shape of my life. If you’ve ever wanted to try a new hobby, travel, or kickstart a new part of your life, this is for you.

3) You learn how to become a superhero. I get it! You have daily responsibilities. Whether it’s going to your day job or picking up your kids from school or taking care of a relative, we all have things we HAVE to do every day. You know who else had daily responsibilities? Our favorite heroes! Superman was a mild-mannered reporter. Indiana Jones was an Archaeology professor. Buffy the vampire slayer was a Sunnydale High School cheerleader! You can have an alter-ego too, and this book shows you how to live like a normal human being AND do awesome things.

4) No matter your age, income, gender, or life stage, there is something in this for you. Throughout the book, I share stories from members of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion who have learned to live healthier, happier, more adventurous lives. These are men and women, young and old, retired or gainfully employed or unemployed, divorced or single or married with children, who have found ways to level up their lives. From a single dad and construction manager who’s gamified his martial arts training to include his son, to a married mother of three who became a bodybuilding competitor – there’s something for everybody.

5) It teaches you how to stop procrastinating.  We all say things like “I’d love to travel” or “Some day I’m going to learn a language” or “I wanna run a 5k” and we never do those things. This book systematically destroys every excuse, roadblock, and obstacle you have so you can finally start getting the things done you’ve said you’ve always wanted to do. Of course, this is all done by drawing inspiration and motivation from our favorite stories, characters, and heroes.

6) It gets results. When I set out to write this book, I wanted to prove that the concepts in it will work for anything, not just getting more fit. So, I actually learned to play the fiddle using the step-by-step strategies in the book, while writing it! I also volunteered weekly at a children’s hospital, traveled to 10+ states and multiple countries, and packed on roughly 20 pounds of muscle since I began writing it! I’m not saying these things to impress you, but rather to show you what’s possible when you put the right systems in place in your life. In addition to my story, our community has shown that this blueprint works: hundreds of Rebels have already transformed their lives.

How You Can Help

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This is a massive week for the NF Rebellion, and I’m looking for all the help I can get. Thanks in advance!

If you haven’t already pre-ordered the book, I would be honored if you headed over to your local bookstore or went to Amazon and picked one up! This would officially place you in my hall of heroes. Kind of a big deal :)

Other than purchasing the book, there are a few key ways you can spread the word about Level Up Your Life:

1) Share the book on your social networks! It could be a Tweet or a Facebook post:

Post on TwitterLevel up your life today! Turn your life into a giant game and complete your first quest today: http://ow.ly/WVJ4h

Facebook: I’m leveling up my life with Steve Kamb’s new book, Level Up Your Life. Care to join me? http://ow.ly/WVJ4h

2) Review it on Amazon.com and Goodreads – Good or bad, once you read the book it would mean A LOT to me if you would review the book on Amazon. For those who aren’t familiar with Nerd Fitness or the book, reviews play a huge part in determining how well the book can do outside of this community. If you read the book and determine it’s worthy of your time to write a review, I would be honored!

3) Share a photo of you with your book on Instagram with the hashtag #LevelUpYourLife. The more adventurous your photo, the better. And remember, everybody sees adventure differently!

4) Say hey on Reddit! Today from Noon-1 pm EST, I’ll be hosting an “Ask Me Anything” talking about how I went from risk-averse desk jockey to world-traveling, music-playing, powerlifting, adventurous nerd. Come ask me anything you want. Anything. Yes, even that.

5) Join me on tour! Events are FREE and we’re hitting up 6 major cities in the next 12 days – New York, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. I can’t wait to meet and complete adventures with members of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. I hope you see you at one of the stops!

You Made This Possible. Thank You.

Chicago Meetup

I came up with the concept for Nerd Fitness 8 years ago because I wanted to help people live better lives.

It’s been a lot of long nights, early mornings, and crazy adventures, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to wake up every day and work on projects I love and be part of this crazy awesome community :)

I love you guys. This book is something I’ve poured my life into for the past two years and has been a dream of mine ever since I started the site.

I can’t wait for you to read it, and I truly hope it helps you move down a path that brings you growth, happiness, health, and adventure. Thank you for being a part of this community and thanks for being so damn supportive. Today is a really big day for the Rebellion – it’s our first big strike back against the Empire. Watch out conventional wisdom!

I want to quickly thank my mom, dad, and gramma. They couldn’t have been more supportive of my decision to start this site or quit my day job to take a chance on NF, even though it was risky as hell. They’ve been my biggest and loudest fans since day one, and I know this is a pretty special moment for them too.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for reading Nerd Fitness, thank you for putting our words into action, and thank you for spreading the word. We’re just getting started as a community, and we couldn’t do this without you.

Let’s take over the freakin’ world!

-Steve

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The Year of Adventure Begins. Join me next week? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/07/the-year-of-adventure-begins-join-me-next-week/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/07/the-year-of-adventure-begins-join-me-next-week/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2016 17:04:41 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=103689 A lot can happen in 20 seconds.

The concept of “20 seconds of courage” has become a rallying cry of sorts for our humble Rebellion over here: it’s an idea that you only need 20 seconds to get yourself to commit to something you want to do but you’re scared to try. You can be scared as hell before and after, so long as you focus having insane courage for just 20 seconds.

Three months ago, I watched 300 Rebels come to Camp Nerd Fitness, using 20 seconds of courage to travel (from all over the world) and sign up for new activities and classes. We attempted our first rolls in parkour, struck our first pose in a yoga class, tried sword fighting for the first time, and more. This 20 seconds of courage helps us to jump in and commit, before we can get scared and back out.

After all, when we’re trying to learn new stuff, it can be scary… we don’t want to mess up, we’re worried people are watching us, we think people might be making fun of us, etc. It’s easy to avoid trying new things, to stick with the stuff we’re good at and avoid potential embarrassment.

Not this year! Not here in The Rebellion.

Imagine you just rebuilt an old car. Sure it was broken down, beat up and out of shape, but you dutifully spent months working on it in the garage: installing a new engine, replacing a dented fender, and giving it a brand new shiny coat of paint. What’s the next step?

Leaving it in the garage so only you can look at it? Hell no! You get to fire that baby up and take it out on the open road. After all, what’s all the hard work for if you can’t take it out and do what it’s meant to do, right?

(See what I’m getting at yet?)

It’s time to stand proud and find out what we’re capable of. That’s why I’m laying down a challenge.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

I want you to find out what you are capable of, too. I want you to take your “car” (body) out for a spin and do what it’s meant to do: move, climb, crawl, learn, pick-up, push, and pull. We’re doing these things in our lives so that we can attempt the activities we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t been able to try due to health or confidence issues:

  • Rock climbing
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • LARPing
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Martial arts
  • Parkour
  • Hiking to the top of a mountain
  • Just going for a 10 minute hike to the top of the hill in your neighborhood

Adventure means something different for everybody, as we’re all leading different lives. And “adventure” is for everyone.

Why? 

Because growth happens at our limits: If you want to level up your life, you’re going to have to do sh*! that scares you. The unknown is where you grow and learn, how you level up and become the next version of yourself.

Adventure shifts our goal from the scale to performance. If you found Nerd Fitness because you want to lose weight, if you can shift your mindset from, “I get my self worth from a number on a scale” and more towards “I want to find out what my body is capable of this week compared to last week,” you’ll be FAR MORE LIKELY to actually stick with it. We’re no longer running on a treadmill and dieting until we reach a target weight so that we can go back to our old life.

Adventure introduces us to the RIGHT kind of people. We are the average of the people we associate the most with – so why not surround yourself with people who are doing healthy things and supportive of others? When you try a new activity like one of those listed above, you get introduced to a new group of friends that are living healthier lives too. We nerds tend to stick to our hobbit holes, and thanks to modern technology we can “connect” with people online without having to actually interact with them in person. Social interaction is a crucial component to a long and healthy life. Might as well make friends with people who encourage and inspire you to be better.

You might freaking love it. We are designed to move. My goal for you this year in 2016 is to get you to try a new activity that you’ve never attempted before. You’ll learn how to be okay with sucking at something (we’re all terrible when we start at something), and also quickly learn that nobody cares if you’re not good at it! You might also realize that you LOVE the challenge of the new activity, that you get hooked on the leveling system in rock climbing, or earning new belts in Tai Kwon Do, or that your favorite moment of the week is hanging with your new friends after power lifting.

Which is why I’m challenging you this year, RIGHT NOW, to use 20 seconds of courage to sign up for a new adventure. It can be big or small, near or far… but I want you to commit.

Because I know 20 seconds of courage can be enough to change your life. Take Natacsha’s story.

Natascha’s Story

Natascha_Kotte

In my book released next week,  Level Up Your Life, I feature a ton of real life stories from members of the Rebellion, men and women, young and old, who have turned themselves into heroes in unique ways.

One of my FAVORITES comes from Natascha, a college student in the Rebellion who changed her life with 20 seconds of courage.

Here’s her story from the book. Take it away, Natascha!

It started when I got an article from the Nerd Fitness Rebellion about 20 seconds of courage. I’ve been using the hell out of it ever since. That day, I decided to try out this new power-up and sign myself up for a college ballroom dancing class.

It was one of the best things I could have done for myself even though I was terrified and didn’t speak to anyone in class for the first half of the semester. Learning ballroom dancing at first is exactly like the sweetness of working a skill tree in a role playing game and grinding until I was at a high enough level to move on to the next.

Once I realized that I could gamify the rest of my world, that there was more to life than being in a rut, I shot outwards in all directions I could think of and just went for everything. I quit my college bookstore job and applied to become a lab assistant. I now get to work in my major and it’s the best job on campus. I asked out my studio instructor out for lunch last year. We’re still together and met each other’s respective families.

I spent the summer working on my social and dance skill trees in Las Vegas: dancing every night to live music and learning to hang out and kick back with great performers. I’ve even decided to try out a leadership quest and I am now the president of the UNLV American Chemical Society student chapter.

Now, it hasn’t been the smoothest of roads. I went from a terrified novice hiding in the back of ballroom class to gliding out onto the competition floor for the first time only to trip over my own feet. That’s just one of the many things that would have sent me scuttling back to my cave if I didn’t have the mindset I do now. I work with the perspective now that life has become one big game for me and it’s only going to get better as I level up. Sometimes I may trip, but that doesn’t mean I have to whack the reset button and start all over again in the training fields.

Join me on an Adventure next week?

20 seconds of courage cat

Now, hopefully Natascha’s story inspired you to take the importance of this adventure thing a bit more seriously.

But I’m going to bribe you even further.

Starting next week, we’re holding 6 mini-adventure-events over the next two weeks throughout the country in honor of my book release. These adventures are taking place in 6 major cities throughout the United States, and are 100% free to attend. Not only that, but each event will take place in a cool location and include instruction in a new activity I bet you’ve always wanted to try.

So, I’m challenging you: use 20 seconds of courage, invite an ally, and come hang with me and your fellow Rebels at one of our awesome events in the next two weeks! The Nerd Fitness Rebellion is a powerful community, and I want you to come meet your fellow Rebels in your area!

Make sure you RSVP by clicking on the Facebook Event link for each of the events. And remember – these are free events.

EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO OR CAN’T DO THE ACTIVITY, please come hang with me anyway. I’ll be signing books, giving a talk about adventure, and taking pictures and high-fiving/hugging everybody :) But I want you to give it a try if you’re up for it. You’ll never be around a more supportive group of people than at these events when you’re amongst fellow Rebels.

Mostly, I just want to give out a lot of high fives and hugs, so come hang :)

New York City, NY: Ninja Warrior Training

Brookyn-Zoo-Ninja-Warrior-Classes

Less “zoo,” and more “gym,” but you can still hang around like a monkey on the Salmon Ladder!  For a launch party like no other, we’re headed to Brooklyn Zoo (sorry, it’s not a real zoo, it’s a parkour/adventure gym!) for Ninja Warrior training! I’ll be giving a brief talk about leveling up your life, and then we have the entire facility rented out, with instructors, to teach us how to attempt some fun obstacles from Nerd Fitness.

Wear comfy gym clothes, bring a friend, and come say hey! People of all levels and sizes welcome!

Date and Time: Tuesday, January 12, 6:30-9:30pm

Location: Brooklyn Zoo

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP 

Austin, TX: 2-DAY LIGHTSABER AND SWORD FIGHTING TRAINING

Light Saber Class Photo copy

After Steve’s talk about creating your own Epic Quest, cross something off your list: lightsaber training to become an actual Jedi alongside your fellow Rebels!  We’re so excited about this one, that we’re stretching the fun over two days, and crashing the Capitol in the process!

Date and Time: Friday, January 15, 6:00-10:00pm & Saturday, January 16 11:00am-1:00pm

Location: Friday – BAM Academy (South Location), Saturday – Austin State Capitol (Southwest Lawn)

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP 

Los Angeles, Ca: Parkour!

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Parkour! We’ll learn how to turn the world into a giant playground together at one of the most famous parkour training facilities on the planet. I even stopped by Tempest Freerunning Academy for a quick session when I exercised around the world. Learn how to get started with this incredibly fun and enjoyable activity. See you there! 

Date and Time: Saturday, January 17, 12:00pm-2:30pm

Location: Tempest Freerunning Academy (South Bay)

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP

San Francisco, Ca: Casino Night

casino_party_monte_carlo_night

Remember that time I lived like James Bond for a weekend? I just had to figure out a way to relive it with you guys, so we’re building a casino from scratch, and this time, I’ll be dealing! To answer your next question, YES I’ll be in a tuxedo, and dressing up is strongly encouraged. Even if you have no idea how to gamble, come hang and let’s have our own Casino Royale moment together.

Date and Time: Tuesday, January 19, 7:00pm-11:00pm 

Location: Crimson Lounge.  Casino tables and dealers provided by 21 Fun!

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP

ChicaGo, IL: Swing Dancing!

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Chicago has such a storied past, and we couldn’t help but embrace the unique spirit for our tour stop! Take a step back in time with us, wear your best zoot suit, gangster getup, or flapper costume, and let’s have some fun (and swing outside our comfort zone) as we learn dance moves from the Roaring 20’s!

You don’t need to dress up, but I certainly will be. Also, I don’t care if you think you have two left feet, we’ll be learning and dancing and moving together!

Date and Time: Thursday, January 21, 7:00pm-10:00pm

Location: Fizz Chicago. Dance instruction provided by Stephanie Schoenherr of May I Have This Dance

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP

Atlanta, GA: Rock Climbing

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Climbing stuff is awesome. We’re built for it, so might as well make an event out of it, right!?

I’ll be giving a talk teaching participants how to level up their lives, and then we’ll tackle all the various levels of challenging climbing walls at Atlanta Rocks! All ages and levels encouraged to come hang out. Now, not only will we be climbing walls, but we have some live music too! My friend Matt Bannister and his band Sunset Love Affair will be performing on top of the bouldering platform. How awesome is that?

Gotta give a shout out to In Concert Productions, who’s helping us with all of the sound and band production stuff so we can rock out while we rock climb :)

Date and Time: Saturday, January 23, 8:00pm-10:30pm

Location: Atlanta Rocks! Climbing Gym

Event: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS AND TO RSVP

Adventure is Out There!

adventure landscape

And there you have it. 6 Epic Events. An inspiring story. And a challenge laid down:

What adventure will you take on this year? 

Regardless of where you are on your fitness journey, I want you to commit to trying something new this year. Something that makes you feel butterflies in your stomach when you think about attempting it. Something that reminds you “Hey, I’m alive. Life is awesome.”

And then I want you to put a plan in place to make it happen.

Just 5 more days until Level Up Your Life hits bookstore shelves. I’m excited that this book built around helping people find adventure, health, and happiness in their lives is nearly here, and I can’t wait for you to read it. Don’t forget, just a few more days to get some epic pre-order bonuses when you order the book now, so if you haven’t already done so, head over to LevelUpYourLife.com.

I would love to hear from you below: what’s ONE adventure you’re going to undertake this year? And if you’re coming to one of the six events listed above, which one will I see you at?

2016 is the Year of the Adventurous Rebel. Let’s get after it!

-Steve

PS: We’re currently running a free contest over on Goodreads where you can win a signed copy of my book along with 4 books that changed my life. Check it out!

PPS: Next week we’re launching a new free feature here on Nerd Fitness that has been in development for YEARS. Let’s just say, you’ll be able to level up your life here on Nerd Fitness… literally :)

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photo: Jose Manuel: Cat

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Stop Making New Year’s Resolutions. Do this Instead. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/04/new-years-resolutions-suck-heres-what-to-do-instead/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2016/01/04/new-years-resolutions-suck-heres-what-to-do-instead/#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2016 14:30:14 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=97518
Great Odin’s raven, please no more New Year’s Resolutions.

They’re about as useful as a flux capacitor on a car that can’t go 88 miles per hour (see what I did there?).

It’s that time of year again, and I want 2016 to be the year you actually accomplish stuff. Getting your first pull-up. Running your first 5k. Learning to play that piano that sits there unused. Taking that first trip overseas. And the way you’re going to do that is by saying no to resolutions.

Yup, the guy who built his life around goals (and wrote an entire book about it!)  wants to you stop making resolutions. Why?

Because New Year’s resolutions, as most people think of them, are hollow:

“I’m going to exercise every day.”

“I’m going to start flossing!”

“I’m going to eat better.”

Let’s be honest, we know these things aren’t going to become habit – we declare a random hodge podge of nebulous goals, and then we look back at year’s end and realize we never really got out of the starting gate.

Want to actually get stuff done? You don’t need resolutions.

Here’s exactly what you need instead.

Step 1: Screw Motivation!

Runner

“Well I told myself I wanted to run more and eat better, and I was motivated for a few weeks, but then life got busy and it kind of faded away. Oops”

Sound familiar?

A few months back, I stumbled across a response on Imgur (foul language warning) that perfectly encapsulated why we fail at making changes in our life:

  • “I wish I had the willpower to eat healthier.”
  • “I’m just not motivated to exercise right now.”
  • “I’m just waiting to be inspired for the adventure I want to have.”

Motivation and inspiration can certainly help to get started, but without understanding how our crazy, irrational brains work, we’re doomed to another year of “oh yeah, I forgot I said I was going to do that.” SUCK!

Motivation can get you started, and that’s great! I don’t care what gets you started or how you got here, just that you’re here. Remember, Rule #1 of the Rebellion is “We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going.” But motivation wanes, and inspiration fades quickly when life kicks in.

If you are going to succeed this year, there are three truths that you NEED to learn immediately before we move onto anything else:

  • We are creatures of habit.
  • We are products of our environment.
  • We are the average of the people we associate most with.

To accomplish things this year, you need to build systems that deliver success. Systems take willpower out of the picture and set you up for success by routine:

  • Instead of always trying to remember where you put your keys, you hang a nail by your door and always hang your keys up when you walk in the door.
  • Instead of trying to summon the willpower to cook healthy food each night, you cook five meals on Sunday to quickly reheat daily.
  • Instead of having to remember to follow up with people a month from now, you set up google calendar reminder to do it for you, automatically.

Systems don’t rely on motivation, willpower, or inspiration to operate once they’re set up. They are emotion-free. Systems make your default behavior: “I’m going to do this [awesome] thing.”

Want to actually get things done? Screw motivation, manufacture discipline. How?

Step 2: Build the Habit

Cat Brush Teeth

We are creatures of habit.

That decision to sit on the couch instead of going for a run isn’t just a lack of building the habit of running — it’s reinforcing the habit of sitting on the couch. The decision to eat fast food rather than something healthy isn’t just a decision to not eat better, it’s running through and reinforcing the behavior of eating junk food.

Our brains are always looking for the past of least resistance, and when you perform an activity over and over again, it requires less brain power to get you to do that thing (remember how tough it was to drive a car for the first time? Now it’s something you can do with your eyes closed… wait, don’t do that).

When you are looking to build a new habit, start by keeping the habit small and actionable. Make it black-and-white: I did this/I did not do this. The smaller the better. A five minute walk. 5 minutes of playing the piano every day. 250 words written in your book.

Next, you need to put a system in place and set up a reward/accountability system that does two key things: increases the pain associated with skipping the new habit, and increases the pleasure associated with completing the habit.

You NEED to take the power away from your brain to say “meh, I can skip the run this one time” or “meh, I just don’t feel like it.”

On the positive side:

  • If you go for a short run every day for the next 4 weeks, you earn a new pair of running shoes that encourages you to continue running. Reward yourself with things that reward you back.

On the negative side:

  • Conversely, every day you skip a run, your friend will donate $50 of your hard earned cash to a political cause you hate. Might as well just do the run, right?

If you rely on just yourself without systems, your brain will default to the easiest path. But if you set up these incentives correctly, you take the power away from your brain (that loves to justify being lazy), and you will naturally start to build your new habit.

  • Increase the pain associated with a punishment for skipping the new habit (no running = losing money)
  • Increase the pleasure associated with building the new habit with a reward (running = new clothes/a class/fun that I love)

One way to create this systems is with the examples above. Another way to build these systems is through hacking our environment.

Step 3: Hack Your Batcave

Batman Lego

Every day, everything around us subtly influences us.

Think of it like the the Force. It’s a battle between the Light and the Dark, and if you’re not careful, the Dark Side can pull your strings and influence you without even knowing it.

That bowl of candy on your desk is begging for you to acknowledge its existence. You have to use willpower throughout the day to tell yourself “don’t eat the candy, don’t eat the candy.”

At your computer, you have to use willpower all day long… “Don’t check Facebook. Don’t go to Buzzfeed. Don’t go to Imgur.” Of course, we all cave in. We check Facebook, Gmail, Imgur constantly. And then it takes us four times as long to get anything done. If our new habit was around productivity, our batcave would be a part of our system that sets us up for failure.

When we come home from work, we have to tell ourselves “don’t watch TV, go exercise.” “Don’t go to McDonalds, even though that makes you happy. Go eat a salad again.”

In every scenario above, you have to use willpower and motivation to do the thing you NEED to do, instead of the thing your brain desperately WANTS to do. And remember, willpower is limited.

So, what’s a nerd to do? Take control and alter your environment to remove the Dark Side from the equation. Build systems that automate healthy behavior. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s tough to fall back on old habits when those old habits are literally impossible to continue doing.

We call this Building Your Batcave at Nerd Fitness: Just like Bruce Wayne uses his Batcave to improve his chances of being a better Batman and protecting Gotham, you are going to build your batcave to improve your chances at being more awesome at life.

Step 1: Increase the steps between you and a bad habit you’re trying to get rid of. This is just like the above examples – make it harder to do the old habit. Changes that fight your old habits might include:

  • Throwing out all junk food in your house.
  • Blocking time wasting websites on your computer.
  • Canceling your cable and Netflix (after you’ve watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones).
  • Putting your TV in your closet. Giving the power cord to your Playstation 4 to your friend.
  • Putting your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  • Moving your cell phone charger out of your bedroom so you can’t lie in bed and check it.

Step 2: Decrease the steps between you and a good habit you’re trying to build. The fewer the steps, the greater the chance you’ll actually do it. Examples include:

  • Only stocking your fridge with healthy food.
  • Sleeping in your workout clothes.
  • Packing your gym bag and leaving it in the back of your car always so you can work out before work/after work.
  • Buy a Kindle with books loaded on it and bring it everywhere so you read more.
  • Put the instrument you’re learning in the middle of your living room.
  • Changing the language on Facebook to the language you’re trying to learn so you’re always practicing.

Remember, screw willpower. Don’t leave it up to the whims of inspiration or motivation. Create your own success by structuring your life and building your batcave so your life is a system designed to change for the better.

So, now we have a reward and accountability system. We have hacked our batcave and put systems in place to get us to do what needs to get done.

Lastly, if you really want to succeed, you need allies.

Step 4: Surround Yourself with Allies

Mockingjay

Now that you have systems in place, it’s time to recruit allies and teammates (just like in a video game) to help. This could mean joining a running club at work, starting a gym group on Facebook, or joining our message boards (they’re free and supportive as hell).

We become the average of the people we associate most with. If those people are successful, fit, and happy, we are subtly influenced in that direction. On the otherhand, if we surround ourselves with negative people (or are in a negative relationship), you will be influenced in that direction.

So build yourself a jedi council of people who want to level up!

  • People who have succeeded in the way you want to succeed (your Yoda).
  • People who are at the same level as you to keep each other accountable (your fellow Jedi).
  • People who are slightly behind you. People you can teach and help (your Padawan).
  • People who help push you outside your comfort zone and challenge you to be different and take risks (your Han Solo).

You do not have to go it alone… surrounding yourself with allies can be the difference between completing your quest and never building that new habit.

how to implement this strategy NOW.

Blob Camp Nerd Fitness

Instead of resolutions, I want you to implement the above strategy by picking a habit/quest you would like to complete, and putting the system in place to make it happen. This includes identifying the daily habit and system, hacking your batcave, and recruiting allies.

Following the advice of the three steps above, here are some examples to get your brain thinking about how this can work:

I WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT:

  • Eat one vegetable every day for a month to earn a new pair of pants.
  • Sleep in your workout clothes, and pay your friend $50 for every skipped workout.
  • Find an accountabilibuddy at your office who will work out with you.

I WANT TO LEARN A LANGUAGE:

  • I will practice my language (starting on day 1) for 10 minutes each day. After two weeks I get to go to that expensive restaurant I’ve had my eye on.
  • I will change my Facebook account to French.
  • I will use iTalki.com to hire a language teacher for 1 hour per week.

I WANT TO RUN MY FIRST 5K:

  • I will run/walk for at least five minutes, five days per week for the next month. After one month I’ve earned a new pair of running shoes.
  • I will put my alarm clock across the room.
  • I will join a running club.

I WANT TO START A BLOG:

  • I will write 250 words every morning before I check my email.
  • I will use Freedom.to to block time wasting websites, and give my friend $50 every time I don’t write.
  • I will join the writer’s group on the nerd fitness message board!

I WANT TO LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT:

  • I will rent a guitar from the local store and play for five minutes every day.
  • I will put the guitar in the middle of my living room, and I will cancel my cable.
  • I will reach out to my friend who already plays and ask him for a lesson.

Level Up Your LIfe

new years

2016 is going to be a big year for you. 

You’re not going to rely on motivation and willpower. Those things stand no chance against the Dark Side.

Instead, you are going to build systems and create proper habits the right way. You’re are going to level up yourself as you reach goals and reward yourself with things that reward you back.

You are going to surround yourself with people who positively influence you. And you are going to level up your life. Starting right now.

If your quests are health and fitness based, this site has all the free resources you need to get started. If you are looking for more specific instruction, accountability, and community, check out the Nerd Fitness Academy and Nerd Fitness Yoga to start building better habits!

BUT START! RIGHT FREAKING NOW!

I’d love to hear from you: What is ONE quest you are going to work on? And what are the three ways you’re going to put a system in place to guarantee its success?

  • Add a reward and accountability
  • Restructure your batcave
  • Recruit an ally.

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Look out for another article this Thursday with even more tips on how to make 2016 the year you level up your life.

-Steve

PS: 8 Days until my first ever published book, Level Up Your Life, hits bookshelves! Holy crap! Don’t forget: for the next week, anybody who preorders a copy (or multiple copies) will get some pretty sweet bonuses. Make sure you check out LevelUpYourLife.com for more info!

PPS: If you are on our message boards, we’re launching a new Month-Long challenge there!

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photo: Evan Leeson: New Years, Kendra Miller: Hunger Games, Vintage Fairytale: Batman, Luiz Fillipe: Cat, Josh Janssen: Runner, clement127: New Years Legos

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How Star Wars Made Me a Better Person http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/12/23/how-star-wars-helped-me-become-a-better-person/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/12/23/how-star-wars-helped-me-become-a-better-person/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2015 13:54:25 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=97231 “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”

Every time those words pop up on a screen, my spine tingles. Excitement swells in me as the text fades to a starlit sky.

That fraction of a second before the horns blare the Star Wars theme… my heart skips a beat.

And then it happens.

Trumpets blare and I’m instantly transported to another galaxy.

Any time I watched Star Wars as a kid, it was like hitting the pause button. The homework I had due or the big Little League game I lost disappeared. The complexities of junior high (and figuring out how to navigate awkward hormones) took a back seat. The acne and braces stopped feeling so overwhelming.

This past weekend, I was one of the millions who saw the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and life paused again. I was giddy through the entire movie. Several scenes filled my arms with goosebumps and I’m not afraid to admit I even teared up once or twice. Sitting there watching at 31 years old, I felt five again sitting on my living room floor. For a brief moment, nothing else mattered. I was on an adventure in galaxy far, far away.

Here’s the thing, though: my relationship with Star Wars is more than just a boyish crush. This saga has helped shape and mold the person I am today. It’s made me a better person.

Today I want to share this magic with you.

You Always Have a Choice.

storm troopers

In my research for my book Level Up Your Life, I stumbled across something that is now tattooed on the wall in my brain.

In the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the #1 regret voiced by those on their deathbeds, having the ability to look back at what they had done or not done in their lives, is that they wished they’d had the courage to live lives true to themselves, as opposed to the lives others expected of them.

Let that sink in for a moment.

These are not philosophical or hypothetical ponderings, but rather real-life reflections from people who know they’re down to their last quarter in the arcade, so to speak. These people didn’t live the lives they wanted to live; they felt a call to adventure or a call to a path that challenged and fulfilled them, and yet refused the call because they didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or were scared of what that path might reveal. They were the Lukes who never left home.

They chose the easy, safe, non-conflicting path; a life that others expected them to live, and they would give anything now for an extra life to try again and take the more adventurous route.

Until we develop time machines, older folks at the end of their lives will never have the luxury of trying again, but you can certainly learn from the wisdom of their words.

Start with this: stop thinking of what others want for you, and instead start asking what you want for yourself.

Regardless of where you are now, you have a choice. No matter how old you are, or far down a path you think you might be, you can always turn back or change course.

Whether or not you realize it, YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE:

Remember, Luke was initially considered too old to be trained as a Jedi according to Master Yoda.

Han Solo bailed on the Rebel Alliance before coming back to save Luke on his trench run.

Vader’s redemption at the end of The Return of the Jedi was only possible because he realized no matter how far down a path he had gone, he could change.

You might be overweight and in a job you hate and a relationship that sucks, simply because you’re worried that this is the best it’s going to get. Or that you should be thankful in this economy.

Choose to take care of yourself and live the life you feel you deserve. And you deserve better. I promise you.

You might think you’re too old for adventure. That you’re too out of shape to ever do the things you want to do. That you’re too far down a career path to ever change, even though it stopped being fulfilling a decade ago.

Be honest with yourself. What’s the life you really want?

What’s the choice you need to make? Yep, there will be consequences either way, but you always have a choice.

Fighting the Dark Side Is hard… But Worth it.

pilot poe

Here at Nerd Fitness, we don’t sugar-coat things. In fact, we DEFINITELY try to avoid sugar-coated things. So here it is:

Fighting back against the Dark Side is tough. There are no quick fixes, fad diets (that actually work), or magic bullets.

Being a member of the Rebellion isn’t an easy path, but the journey and the adventure is worth every ounce of struggle you will put into overcoming your own Dark Side.

For you it may be years of bad habits holding you back. It may be an addiction. It may be an unfulfilling career, a failed or unhappy relationship, overdue bills, medication, or depression. Yours may be mental… physical… professional… or personal.

And the faces of the Dark Side are always evolving. The Sith, the Empire, the First Order… you may have several hurdles to overcome on your adventure. This is a marathon labyrinth, not a sprint.

If Han Solo taught me anything, it’s where ever you are now, how far down a certain path you might be, you can redeem yourself and find a way to succeed, just never listen to the odds.

Now, one of the key principles we help teach people is to think of what we call the “Very Next Step.”

If you would’ve pulled Luke from Tatooine and told him to duel Vader immediately, starting today… he would’ve been struck down in the first few seconds of the fight.

That’s why I’ve learned to ask myself, “Steve, if you want XXX result in the future… what’s the Very Next Step you can do today that will start you in that direction.”

For some that’s throwing out the junk food in their house. For others it’s researching gym options on their commute home from work. It may be just making it to your martial arts class tonight when you’ve had a hard day.

For many it’s making a list of the people who will make up your Rebel Alliance and have your back as you continue your journey.

Figure out your Very Next Step, because fighting the Dark Side is daunting and challenging. You can’t take the Empire on all at once.

Harness The Force

droids

Star Wars captured the hearts and minds of the world because it had the power to stir something inside of us – hope.

Hope that a young boy on a farm could change the fate of the galaxy. That a scoundrel like Han Solo could surprise us and save the day. That an evil monster like Darth Vader could sacrifice himself to right the wrongs and save his son.

There was this magic to Star Wars that made it something more than just an epic action movie – the Force brought out a sense of awe and wonder. An idea that we CAN be what we want, that we CAN change the fate of the world, that no matter what, there’s hope.

I remember feeling the magic as a kid. The flashlight next to my bed was a freaking lightsaber. The tall trees in my back yard? Endor!

This feeling, this Force, it was magical. Filled with this child-like sense of awe and wonder, it felt like my possibilities were endless.

Then life happens, and we all know what happens when we age. We lose that spark. Our imaginations dull. The energy and the optimism become muffled. By the time we reach adulthood, this mentality is sucked out of us with each passing day of living a life we aren’t proud of.

Enter the REAL power of the Force – to wake us the @%#$ up!

Are you passively living an unhappy, unhealthy, unfulfilling life? Does life feel like it’s one big routine?  

Sometimes we need to be shaken – pulled from the Dark Side and shown another option… shown that there is always hope

That’s what Star Wars means to me, and what The Force Awakens means for the Rebellion.

The new year marks a change – it’s time for the Rebellion to strike back at the Empire. And I’m giddy with being able to share that with you the tactics and systems I’ve used to turn myself and other Rebels in the community into real life Jedi doing big things.

This is what I love more than anything: helping people get to where they want to go. My upcoming book, Level Up Your Life, digs into all of this in great detail and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I know it’s going to help a lot of people and give you a plan to follow to start improving your life immediately.

It’s just the beginning, and  I’m stoked you are along with us for the ride.

Leave a comment answering the two questions below:

1) What’s your first Star Wars memory you can remember as a kid? Be as descriptive as possible.

2) What’s a choice you’ve been running from for years, and you will commit to re-examine and take action on in 2016?

May the force be with you!

-Steve

PS: Speaking of the book, we’re doing an EPIC mini adventure tour so I can meet as many members of this community as possible and we can have adventures TOGETHER. It starts in NYC at a Ninja Warrior training facility on January 12th, and I hope to see you there (or at the other 5 stops where we’re doing some other amazing activities!)

If you happened to have already pre-ordered the book, make sure you go to LevelUpYourLife.com to get your pre-order bonuses!

PPS: Members of the Holiday Watch, you better be holding your post!

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photo source: Kenny Louie: Luke, Dale Jackson: Poe, Martin Hajeck: Droids, leg0fenris: storm troopers

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How to Make Six-Ingredient Sesame Chicken Wings http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/12/17/how-to-make-six-ingredient-sesame-chicken-wings/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2015/12/17/how-to-make-six-ingredient-sesame-chicken-wings/#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:47:31 +0000 https://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=94347 When some people start eating healthier and eliminating junk from their diets, they miss things like pasta, bread, and cheese. Personally, I pine over Americanized Asian foods. Deep fried chicken smothered in sugary, sweet and sour sauces with mountains of rice and fluffy steam buns were staples of my childhood. My grandfather knew the owner of every Chinese restaurant in my home town because all he ate was Chinese food (sometimes he let us eat pizza).

Unfortunately, now that I know what goes into that kind of food, though delicious, it’s definitely not great for you. Even vegetable stir fries at Chinese restaurants are tossed in sauces that will crash your blood sugar and cooked in stuff you probably don’t want going into your body regularly.

So what’s an Asian food lover who also loves feeling well to do?

Americanized Chinese food is a tough thing to master without those mystery oils and sugary sauces, but we do our best. Here’s a healthy recipe that takes about an hour, has only 6 ingredients, and might just satisfy your craving for a vinegary, spicy Asian dish.

Lets go!

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_001

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs (.90kg) chicken wings/drumsticks/thighs
  • 1.5 tsp (5mL) coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (59mL) coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp (30mL) vinegar (white or apple cider)
  • 1.5 tsp (7.5mL) fresh ginger – find this in the produce section of your grocery store. It looks like a wonky root. If you’ve never seen what a ginger root looks like before, don’t sweat it. Check out the top, center of the ingredient photo above.
  • 1 tbsp (15mL) Sriracha (from Nom Nom Paleo)

PLUS: Your favorite stir fry veggies. You’re an adult; You’re not just having chicken wings for dinner. Mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, and carrots make a pretty good stir fry. If you’re feeling fancy, grab some bok-choy and snow peas too!

Optional ingredients – for making your food look nice and taste even better:

  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 lime – cut into wedges
  • 2 chopped green onions

Equipment:

  • Glass baking dish or metal cake pan – 9×13 is a good size. You can actually do this in any baking dish or pan that has high sides (so the sauce doesn’t bubble over and burn in your oven). Dripping a sauce into your oven is a total bummer.
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Bowl – for mixing the sauce together
  • Fork – for mixing the sauce together
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Tongs for flipping

Instructions:

1. Turn on your favorite song and have a 30 second dance party. You know you want to.

2. First Second, we’re going to prepare the ginger. This is probably the most difficult part of the whole recipe, so stick with me! Once you get through this, you can get through anything.

If peeling and prepping ginger is a mystery to you, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered:

  • First, cut off a piece that’s about an inch long. This is called a “thumb” of ginger, because it’s about the size of a human thumb. Clever.
  • Next, use your knife to carefully peel off the thin layer of brown skin. I like to stand the ginger up vertically. Set the flat surface that you just cut from the larger part of the ginger root against the cutting board so that you have better control over the ginger as you’re peeling it, like this:

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_013

 

Use the knife to peel down towards the cutting board (and away from yourself) while holding and turning the ginger with your other hand so that you get all the skin off.

  • Next, slice your skinned piece of ginger into medallions.

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_014

  • Then stack 2-3 medallions on top of each other and slice those into matchsticks (hot dog style). Turn the matchsticks 90 degrees (hamburger style) and cut them into tiny cubes (mincing).

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_015

In this photo, on the left, you have the “matchsticks” and on the right you have the minced ginger.

And that’s it! You did it!

3. Now take your coconut oil, coconut aminos, vinegar, ginger, and Sriracha and toss them in a bowl (if the coconut oil is solid, you might have to warm it up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds). Mix the ingredients up well with your fork.

4. Take your chicken and put it in your baking dish. Be sure to wash your hands well after touching the chicken!

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_004

5. Pour your sauce over the chicken. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. (If the coconut oil cools and solidifies like mine did, that’s totally cool. It’ll re-heat once it goes in the oven.)

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_005

6. While the chicken is marinating, preheat your oven to 400F (204C). Turn the music up louder and continue your dance party OR watch an episode of Adventure Time. (Set a timer if you’re prone to forgetting that you’re cooking).

Use your tongs to flip the chicken about half way through the marinating so that both sides get coated in saucy goodness. Be sure to wash your tongs after touching the raw chicken with them!

7. Once your 15 minutes is up and your oven is pre-heated, toss your chicken in the oven and bake until it’s cooked through (~40 minutes).

Flip chicken about half way through the cooking time.

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_010

If you want the wings to crisp up a bit, change the setting on the oven to a broil for the last 5 minutes.

8. Serve with cauliflower fried rice or stir fried veggies (recipe below). Spoon some of that sauce over the veggies, and add a little more sriracha if you’re feeling brave.

Sprinkle some sesame seeds and chopped green onion on top, and garnish with lime wedges if you’re trying to impress a special someone – or if you want to feel extra proud of your solo dinner.

9. Dig in!

BONUS RECIPE: We’re not just having chicken wings for dinner. While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to make a stir fry.

Hop on over to Steve’s stir fry recipe and skip to Step 10, or keep reading this:

1. Wash and chop your veggies.

Noel_Sesame_Chicken_008

2. Heat up some oil in a pan. Once it’s hot, toss your veggies in.

3. Toss some salt and pepper on those bad boys and stir them up with your spatula.

4. Let them cook for about 10 minutes. (As Steve says, “if it tastes done, it’s done.”)

5. Remove from heat. If you’re so damn good at cooking that you’re finished with the veggies way ahead of the chicken, cover them to keep them hot or turn the heat back on for 1-2 minutes to re-heat after the chicken is done.

Enjoy

Charles_Rodstrom_Takeout_Box

Boo-yah! Another Asian inspired meal complete! Although it’s not exactly something you might order from your favorite local take-out joint, it is pretty darn tasty, and you made it yourself! Take a bow.

Are there any foods you miss from your pre-paleo days?

Have you indulged in them since? How did they make you feel?

What is your favorite song to dance/headbang/rock out to in the kitchen?

Let us know in the comments!

– Noel

P.S. from Steve – Have you checked out the new Nerd Fitness book, Level Up Your Life? No? Head on over to LevelUpYourLife.com to hear all about it and snag some awesome loot!

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Photos: Charles Rodstorm: Red Takeout Box 

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