Nerd Fitness » Blog http://www.nerdfitness.com Level up your life, every single day. Fri, 29 Aug 2014 03:28:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Steve Finally Does the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (Also, We’re Hiring!) http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/28/steve-finally-does-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge-also-were-hiring/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/28/steve-finally-does-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge-also-were-hiring/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:52:12 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23830 Hey guys!

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, your social media has been taken over by people dumping buckets of ice on themselves in the name of raising money for a cure for ALS.  I’ve been challenged a few times from friends, teammates, and rebels, but due to travel, I haven’t been able to get in on the action.

You can stop asking, because I finally took the challenge, and had a bit of fun with it.

Yesterday, equipped with help from a few of my childhood heroes, a camera, a few buckets of ice water, four hours of amateur video editing (and no shame), I put together a quick, corny, and hopefully funny video for such a great cause.

Nerd Fitness will also be matching a big chunk of donations that come into the Nerd Fitness page!

Check it out:

Steve does the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Big shout out to my buddy Adam Moore for selflessly throwing ice cold water on me four times. A true humanitarian.

What is this all about?

strike out ALS Pete Frates

In case you HAVE been living under a rock, a few weeks back Pete Frates, former baseball player for Boston College who has been battling ALS for the past two years, challenged his friends to donate to the ALS Association within 24 hours or post a video of them dumping ice water on their heads. Before long, people were doing both.

Growing up as a little leaguer in Massachusetts, I immediately fell in love with this idea.  And it was this piece on ESPN that brought me to tears.  

Well, what started as a small thing in Boston amongst baseball players went viral and took over the internet.  It was fun to watch. Although some folks were tired of watching video after video, the campaign was a wild success, raising over 88 million dollars!

Now, my favorite part of Nerd Fitness is just how truly helpful and supportive this community can be.  I’m proud to be part of it, and I’m excited to support a great cause.  So, hopefully you have a chance to watch the above silly video and consider donating:

Team Nerd Fitness Donation Page

To sweeten the pot, we’ll be matching the first $5,000 donated, in honor of Pete Frates and all that are suffering from this brutal disease.

If you can’t donate, that’s totally fine…instead, do something nice for somebody today!

If you’ve already donated, that’s FANTASTIC.

Regardless, thanks for your sharing, supporting, and donating!

Team Nerd Fitness is hiring

Before I wish you all a great weekend, I wanna make a quick announcement.

Nerd Fitness is hiring!  

Darryl, our awesome designer who helped us update the Nerd Fitness Academy and Camp NF Pages, was hired to become the lead designer on a video game.  How freaking cool is that!?

So, since we have massive plans for the next year when it comes to Nerd Fitness we need some help!

We’re hiring for two full time positions:

  • Web Development Master
  • Graphic Design Wizard

If you’re a web developer (especially if you specialize in WordPress development) or a web designer, these are both HUGE roles we’re filling trying out *immediately*.

We also have a few hours a month of work for:

  • Video/Audio Editing Ninja

This is *not* a full-time role, but as we ramp up our online media we’d need someone we can trust to help us edit videos, fix audio, and manage media.

You can find out all of the details and how to apply for either position over on our “Work With Us” page.

I hope you have an awesome long weekend, I know I plan on having some fun.  Also, we’re only THREE weeks away from Camp Nerd Fitness!  If you’re joining us, see you there! If not, we still have room :)

-Steve

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How to Make Chicken Veggie Kabobs http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/25/greek-chicken-veggie-kabobs/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/25/greek-chicken-veggie-kabobs/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:07:40 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23644 This is a post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

Well Rebels, winter is coming. It’s August and (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), summertime is nearing its end. Soon it will be time for stews, squashes, and Paleo comfort foods.

But I’m ready for one last hurrah of summer: Outdoor cooking. For those of you in the southern hemisphere, you have this to look forward to! You lucky dogs.

If you already have burgers and dogs down, it’s time to level up your grilling game. Today I’m gonna show you how to make some super quick and easy Greek-inspired chicken kabobs.  You can get tons of veggies into your meal, and you won’t have to heat up your kitchen by turning on the oven or stove.

If you want to watch a video of this recipe get made, check it out here!

Lets get started!

Chicken Veggie Kabobs

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

 

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_1


Ingredients

For the kabobs:

2 lbs chicken breast
1/2 cup olive oil - My mixing bowls were not big enough to fit all the chicken and the vegetables. If you also have this problem, you can split these ingredients in half for the veggies and the chicken. (So for the olive oil, 1/4 c goes into each mixing bowl.)
2 tbsp lemon juice - you can use fresh squeezed or the kind from the bottle. I used the bottled stuff because I am lazy. 1 tbsp will go to the chicken and the other to the veggies.
2 tbsp dried basil - Again, 1 tbsp for the chicken and 1 for the veggies.
2 tsp dried oregano - Split this up into two sets. Half for the chicken and half for the veggies.
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 head cauliflower
4 oz cherry tomatoes - this is about half of one of those containers that they sell at the store.
1 red onion
2 bell peppers - choose your favorite colors. I like red and orange best.

Equipment:

A grill - Charcoal or gas. It doesn’t matter.
Cutting board - For chopping on.
Knife - For chopping.
Skewers - you can buy bamboo ones for very cheap or you can buy reusable metal ones at your local grocery store. I like the metal ones because they don’t splinter or break.
2 Large mixing bowls - for mixing your veggies and chicken
Smaller bowl - for mixing your marinade
Tongs - for flipping the skewers

Paleo Kabobs

Alright, we’re all set to put these suckers together! All we have to do is wash and cut our veggies and chicken, add some spices, and assemble it all on skewers! 

1. Wash your veggies.

2. Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into medallions.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-36

3. Cut the bell peppers into square-ish pieces.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-37

4. Cut the onion in quarters and cut off each end, then peel it. First remove the skin, then separate each layer.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-40

5.  Grab your head of cauliflower (or broccoli). Chop the stem of the cauliflower off then chop it in half. After that, tear the “florets” off of the stem with your hands.  You animal.

6. Toss your tomatoes into the bowl with all the other veggies. (You may have to use multiple mixing bowls. I can never find a mixing bowl that is big enough for all of the veggies that I want to cook. Life is rough, I know.)

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-42

7. Cut your chicken into cube-like chunks. Toss this into a separate bowl.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-34

Note* I use separate bowls, even though I am going to cook the veggies and chicken together, because I like to practice good kitchen hygiene. Cross contaminating fresh veggies with raw chicken (while using the same knife and cutting board without washing them) can make you super sick and discourage you from cooking in the future. We do not want this!

8. Once all your veggies and chicken are cut up and in your bowl, it’s time to mix up the sauce. Start with 1/2 cup olive oil.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-43

9. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-45

10. Add your basil, oregano, salt and pepper and mix it up with a fork.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-47

11. Drizzle the oil mixture over the veggies and the chicken in even amounts. Mix it up with a fork or your hands. (If you use your hands, be sure to wash them well after touching raw chicken!)

Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-50

12. Fire up your grill! You’ll want to pre-heat it so that it’s ready to cook once all your kabobs are assembled.

13. Now grab your skewers and start with the veggies. Put veggies on about 1/3 of the skewer. Put them in whatever order you want.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-53

14. Now fill the middle of the skewer with chicken. Yes, you’re touching raw chicken with your hands. Be brave! Also, be careful not to poke yourself with the skewer. I do this at least once every time I make kabobs. It is not recommended.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-54

15. Finally, finish off the last 1/3 with more veggies! Once you finish assembling each kabob, place them on a large plate or cutting board so that you can take them out to the grill!

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-55

The reason we are skewering in this order is because we want all the meat to cook at the same time. If you put meat all over the kabobs, the meat on the outside will cook faster than the meat on the inside (which means the meat on the outside will dry out and burn). So, keep it all in the middle.

On one final note, I ran out of chicken and I had lots of left over veggies that needed to be cooked. If this happens to you, just make veg-only skewers. No problemo.

16. Your grill should be heated up by now. Take your beautiful works of art outside and place them on the grill. Close the lid and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-27

17. After 10 minutes, go back outside with some tongs and flip the skewers over. Wait another 10 minutes.

18. When the kabobs are done, take them off the grill! Serve with a side of tzatziki dipping sauce (you can use store bought sauce or our recipe below!). You can also dip them in guacamole (see our Paleo taco recipe). They also have a great taste all by themselves! 

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-30

Bonus recipe: Paleo Tzaziki Sauce

If the above recipe depleted all your willpower, read no further! However, if you are looking for a bonus level for some extra experience, try this Paleo tazaziki sauce.

Sauces and spices are two things that really level up a new cook’s skills. If you think about it, all food isn’t all that different. What makes each dish different (and awesome) are the spices and sauces that you add to each one.

Tzaziki is a yogurt based sauce that is served in most Greek restaurants along with dishes like falafel, souvlaki, and gyros. It contains cucumber, garlic, lemon juice and fresh dill. Its super simple, but it packs a flavor punch and pulls this dish together nicely. Follow these instructions if you feel like adding a homemade sauce to your repertoire:

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe_Test-3

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut cream - place a can of coconut milk or coconut cream in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (or overnight if you’re one of those people who thinks ahead). Once the can is sufficiently chilled, open it up and scrape the thick cream off the top. This stuff can be used for all kinds of deliciousness. If you’re cool with dairy and don’t want to use coconut cream, you can use 1 cup of plain, full fat greek yogurt. Make sure it’s not sweetened or flavored!
1/2 of a cucumber - peeled and diced into tiny pieces
2 tbsp fresh dill
3 cloves of garlic, minced - I love garlic. You can add more or less depending on your personal preferences.
2 tsp lemon juice - again, both fresh and bottled are fine
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

For the sauce: 

If you do opt for the bonus recipe, make the sauce first because if you let it sit in the fridge while you’re cooking and prepping the skewers, the flavors of the sauce have more time to combine together into deliciousness.

1. Wash your cucumber and dill.

2. Cut the cucumber in half. Peel it with a potato peeler or small knife.

Noel_Kabob_2

3. Scrape out the seeds from the inside with a spoon.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_3

4. Slice the cucumber in very thin strips length-wise.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_4

Then turn them at a 90 degree angle and chop them into smaller pieces short-wise.

Noel_Kabob_Recipe_5

5. Now we’re gonna chop that cucumber super small. Hold the knife parallel to your body. Place your hand lightly on the top front end of the knife to keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board and use the heel of the knife, the part close to your hands, to chop the cucumber. Use a rocking motion and move the heel of the knife back and forth over the cucumber until it is minced. Take all that cucumber and put it in your small mixing bowl.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_6

6. Take your fresh dill. Remove the “leaves” from the stems of the plants. Remove enough leaves so that you can measure 2 tbsp of leaves in a spoon before chopping.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe_7

7. Mince the dill the same way you did the cucumber in step 5 and toss it in the bowl with the cucumber.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-12

8. Mince your garlic: Take your cloves of garlic, chop off the end that was attached to the bulb. This end is hard and flat.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-18

Place your knife flat side on top of the garlic. Smash the clove under your knife.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-17

Remove the peel from the clove and cut the garlic into strips. Then mince like you did with the cucumber and dill. Place your garlic cloves in the bowl.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-21

9. Open your can of coconut milk. Scrape off the cream layer and place it in your bowl with the chopped stuff. Alternately, if you’re using yogurt, measure out 1 cup of yogurt and put it in your bowl.

Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-23

10. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and mix it all together.

Noel_Chicken_Kabob_Recipe-25

11. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge. Move on to the next part of the recipe!

Cook like a caveman!

lord_jim_banksy_caveman

There you have it!

Take your favorite veggies, add some meat, toss in oil and spices, put it on a stick, and cook for 20 minutes. The best part is that your kitchen never heats up. (If you live in an apartment like I do, this is a major plus during the summer.)

Kabobs are one of my favorite quick and easy ways to make a ton of food. They’re great for gatherings, super colorful, and kiddos can enjoy helping you assemble the skewers (under strict adult supervision, of course). Plus, there are tons of different combinations you can use to mix up a kabob recipe and make it your own:

Are you a vegetarian? Omit the meat!

Want to add a little sweetness? Add some fresh pineapple or peaches!

Tired of chicken or beef? Use shrimp, salmon, scallops, or pork chops!

Other veggie possibilities include: Sweet potatoes, broccoli, whole button mushrooms, whole sweet peppers, jalapenos, yellow onions, carrots, etc. Pretty much any veggie but leafy greens will work on the grill.

What are your favorite foods to grill?

Are there any types of cuisine you’re dying to see (paleo or non-plaeo)?

Let us know in the comments!

-Noel

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Photos: cszar, Lord Jim

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Days of Future Past: How to Use Time Travel for Success http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/21/days-of-future-past-how-to-use-time-travel-for-success/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/21/days-of-future-past-how-to-use-time-travel-for-success/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:30:09 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22893
One of the hottest movies so far this summer has undoubtedly been X-Men: Days of Future Past.

It combined the best of the new X-Men films with the best of the old X-men films (though sadly no Nightcrawler), and stuck them in one giant blockbuster.

How can you have young wolverine and old wolverine, young Magneto and old Magneto, young Charles Xavier and old Charles Xavier?

Time travel!

Everybody loves a good time travel story – from Star Trek to Looper to Chrono Trigger - it’s so much fun to think about what could happen if we could go back into the past, talk to our younger selves, and rewrite our own history.

Today we’re going to join Charles Xavier, and use time travel to level up our lives.

You in the Past

space future

Yeah yeah, I hear you. The past is done.  Written in stone.  Done.

We can’t go back and rearrange history (…yet), but we can learn from it.

However, I want you to take a few minutes and think about what you would tell yourself if you COULD go back in time 10 years ago.  This is what I would tell myself:

1) Stop reading Muscle and Fitness Magazine and working out six days a week with individual body parts. It’s not working.  Instead, learn how to do big lifts, and just focus on getting strong.

2) Macaroni and cheese served in a pot does not count as a healthy meal.  And pizza doesn’t count either.  If you want to get bigger, focus on eating quality food before just quantity.  You’re spinning your wheels.

3) Dude, she’s not worth it, cheer up.  And the next won’t be worth it.  You’re going to be fine :)  And they’re not scary, it’s okay to talk to them!

4) A few years from now you’re going to have a bunch of dumb ideas, and then an idea to start a fitness site for nerds….which you will do nothing with for 18 months.  Start sooner!

5) Things work out. You’re going to panic about all sorts of things, and blow so many other things wayyyy out of proportion.  You’re going to freak out.  That test? Those papers? They’re important, but you won’t remember a damn thing about them. You WILL remember those road trips with friends and late nights.  So relax.  Get your shit done, but don’t forget to enjoy today too.

Yeah, it would be awesome to go back and talk to 20-year old Steve. Sure, he was young, naive, weak, and terrified of women…but he was a good kid trying to figure stuff out!

Stick with me – this isn’t just a silly exercise – we’re about to do some more time traveling and figure out how this affects the YOU right now.

You in the Future

future

A few weeks ago at the World Domination Summit, attendees were asked, “What’s life like in the future for you?”

Most people had answers that were so incredibly positive and exciting (or hilarious):

  • “The future is great! I’m now a published author!”
  • “I started that school and now I’m helping kids get educated in third world countries. Everything is awesome.”
  • “I’m pretty happy, but also sad. Sure life is great in the future, but there are still no jet packs.” (from my buddy Thomas Frank)

Now, for your next exercise: Instead of transplanting ourselves back 10 years, I want you to think 10 years into the future.  What is life like for you?  I’m going to guess life is pretty damn good for you – you should be getting closer and closer to reaching that “Level 50″ version of yourself.

Here’s what life is like for me:

Life is freaking awesome.  You’re in better shape at age 40 than you were at age 30.  The Assassin’s guild in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is proud to have you, because you’re crushing gymnastic holds and reaching new records.  

Both of those books you wrote? They hit the New York Times List, and more importantly helped a LOT of people.

Your epic quest is marching onward, and you’ve reached Level 25.

Your violin and piano skills have lead you onto the stage for small shows simply because you enjoy play the music and having fun.

The Rebellion has effectively transformed the fitness industry.  No longer is it the norm for people to fall for scams and shady products.  You turned down that buy-out from the Natural Life Food Company, and have continued to focus on providing value, education, support, and really corny humor to your tribe.

Oh, and you have a jet pack.

Your turn.  We’re talking about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, so feel free to dream away as to what you’re going to accomplish with your future.

BE VERY SPECIFIC:

  • You didn’t just become a runner, you officially ran the Boston Marathon.
  • You didn’t just become a traveler, you hiked Kilimanjaro and found Nemo.
  • You didn’t just lose weight and get stronger, but you deadlifted 405 lbs and fit into size 32 jeans.

I want you to paint as vivid a picture as you can.  Project yourself into that future and see what life is like.

Days of Future Past

future past

I have ONE final step for you.

It’s time to do a little Future-Past living.

Imagine you actually accomplish the life you hope to live 10 years from now.  You are living this epic life.  10 years from now, both jet packs AND time travel exist, and you get to come back to visit yourself TODAY.

TODAY-you takes a look at the time-traveling FUTURE-you and (after initially freaking out) starts up a dialogue.  Today-you wants to know where you end up.  You see all these choices laid out before you, and there are so many possibilities. More importantly, there are the paths that lead to accomplishments, and other paths where things aren’t going so well.

Think of this like Spock in the reboot of Star Trek. There is a good path and a great future, and a poor path and a poor future.  What do you think the “future you” tells the “now you” to ensure you are heading down the proper path?

Ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? The smallest of decisions can result in massive changes. That decisions to finally give getting healthy a real chance leads to a lifetime of new habits and a new you.

That “what the hell, sure” response to your friend asking if you want to go play frisbee or try rockclimbing turned out to open an entirely new chapter in your life. You finally decided to stop avoiding the kitchen and try the easiest chicken ever…now you cook all the time!

Future-you knows better, and knows all the things that you wish you could have done differently starting today. This is that chance.

Here’s some things your future-you might tell the YOU from right now:

  • Stop eating that crap food – you know it’s not making you happier in the long-term, and 10 years from now you’ll wish you had started making small changes today.
  • Go to that _____ class!  Who cares if you’re self-conscious and are gonna suck at it?  Everybody else there is self-conscious too!
  • Stop spending money on useless junk!  That trip you always wanted to take…eventually? Well it’s 10 years later, and “eventually” hasn’t happened yet.  Experiences trump possessions!

It’s now your turn. I realize this is QUITE the exercise, so I’m going to bribe you.  I want you to leave a comment with the following three things:

  1. Something the current you would tell yourself 10 years ago.
  2. What your future looks like, being as specific and detailed as possible.
  3. What’s one thing the FUTURE you would come back and tell TODAY you so that you head down the right path?

Leave a comment before Thursday, August 28th at 11:59 pm, and we’ll pick two winners: one at random, and one that’s our favorite. We’ll send the winners a free Nerd Fitness shirt.

That’s right, I’m bribing you to mentally time travel.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some teeny tiny steps to take :)

-Steve

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photo pin: Ian Sane: Time to Walk Like a Rebel, Carsten Tolkmit: time tunnel, BagoGames: Future Past, Joe Penniston: orbit

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Proper Gym Etiquette: How to Not be a Newbie in the Gym http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/18/proper-gym-etiquette-how-to-not-be-a-newbie-in-the-gym/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/18/proper-gym-etiquette-how-to-not-be-a-newbie-in-the-gym/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:30:53 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23555 I remember the first time I ever set foot in a gym.

I was 16, a day removed from getting cut from the basketball team, and I planned on getting “big and strong.”  The problem, was…I didn’t know what I was doing!  I sheepishly wandered from machine to machine, doing a set of this, 10 reps of that…and then I tried to do the ONE exercise I thought I knew: the bench press!

After loading up more weight on the bar than my total weight, my spaghetti arms shakily removed the weight from the safety rack, and I proceeded to drop it directly on my chest.  Panicking, I slowly rolled my body to the left, and watched as the weights spiraled off the end of the bar.

BOOM!

The weight hit the ground and sounded like a gunshot. My entire body (now lopsided due to only having weight on ONE side of the bar) drastically shifted to the right. Those weights spun off and hit the ground too. Another gunshot.

I quickly raised the bar to the safety rack, and hoped nobody noticed…until I saw about 40 pairs of eyes staring at me.

That was day 1.

Fortunately, since then, I’ve made every mistake known to man when it comes to training in a gym over the past fourteen years. Today I’m going to review all of the fundamentals of gym etiquette to give you the confidence to get out of my dreams your head and into my car the gym!

Let’s take a field trip to the gym.

It’s all in your head

Steve Ostrich

The most important lesson I had to learn while training in a gym: nobody actually cares about you.

Sure, I had a room full of people looking at me when I almost broke the gym floor, but two minutes later they went back to doing their own thing.

Here’s the truth: everybody else is also self-conscious of how they look in the gym.  They’re wayyyy too concerned with how they look in a mirror to notice you.

  • That dude who is super jacked? He’s looking in the mirror wondering why he’s not as big as that other guy.
  • That woman on the treadmill? She wishes she was confident enough to go to the free weights section!
  • That guy running sprints? He’s praying the girl next to him won’t notice the sweat pool forming in the back of his shirt.
  • And that guy? He’s self conscious too.

And if you’re afraid that people are judging you because you’re out of shape – the majority of people I’ve talked to actually have told me they love seeing someone out of weight trying their hardest – because they know how hard it is to get started.

If you’re not convinced by the idea that most people aren’t paying attention, you should know that you aren’t exactly a lvl 1 entering a lvl 50 zone.

I’d say that in my 14 years in a gym, 90% of the gym-going population doesn’t know how to exercise properly.

Because you’re reading Nerd Fitness, you know how to build your own workout and that machines are the devil. This already puts you essentially in the top 10% of gym goers.

Now, you just need to give yourself a little confidence that says you belong in the free weights section.

Don’t Fear the Free Weights

TightRope

 

Regardless of whether you’re a male or female, young or old, overweight or skinny…you have just as much of a right to use the free weights section as anybody else.

Whether you’re squatting 45 lbs and someone else is squatting 450 lbs, it doesn’t matter – you pay the same as they do, and your workout is just as important as theirs.

So, here’s what I want you to do to complete your first free weights session in a gym:

  • Pick ONE free-weight exercise you’re going to master. Maybe it’s the squat or overhead press. Read the articles, watch the videos, practice the form in your house.
  • Turn yourself into a superhero version of you, one that loves free weights.
  • Or, activate Beastmode, and take 20 seconds of courage to wander into the free weights.
  • Focus on that ONE exercise and block out everything else. Like Happy Gilmore in his happy place.
  • Don’t look around you.  Don’t focus on everyone else.  Focus 100% on you.

And that’s it! Then you can go back to the machines, the elliptical, the stretching station, or yoga class.  But I want you to push your limits and step outside of that comfort zone.

Don’t be that guy/girl!

Lego Lifting Dumbbell

I think the biggest reason we’re afraid of gyms is that we don’t want to make mistakes, and we don’t want to appear foolish.

Like any other activity, there are some unwritten rules.  If you’ve done these before, DON’T WORRY – remember 90% of people have probably done them too.

The more you know…

1) The squat rack and power rack are for squatting, overhead presses, and other compound barbell exercises, not bicep curls.  A few weeks ago, I observed a gentleman who proceeded to occupy the squat rack so that he could do bicep curls…with dumbbells.  Yes, he stopped others from squatting, or even using the barbell, so that he could stand inside the cage to watch himself in the mirror doing dumbbell curls.

There’s actually a “curl rack” made for you to curl in.

Don’t be that guy or girl! In many gyms squat racks are limited…those safeties are valuable! Please don’t use the squat rack for bicep curls. 

2) Wipe down the bench/equipment after use. Hopefully 90% of your exercises are done standing, but if you DO use a piece of equipment, or are stretching on a mat afterwards, don’t forget to wipe it down after use!

If your gym allows chalk (and I hope it does) and it gets all over the place – clean it up.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for a spot! If you are doing something like a bench press, don’t be too scared to ask somebody to spot you.  Here’s how it will go down:

  • You: Hey, can you give me a quick spot?
  • Them: Sure!
  • You: I’m gonna try and get 8 reps
  • Them: Okay!
  • You: 7, 8…
  • Them: You got one more!
  • You: 9!
  • Them: ALL YOU!
  • You: Thanks!

It’s that simple. Don’t be afraid!  We’re all in the gym trying to get better too, so just ask. Chances are, you’ll likely make a new gym friend.

If someone asks you to spot them, here’s a great article on how to spot people.

4) Don’t completely tie up 2 pieces of equipment at once, and don’t be afraid to “work in.”  Don’t be the person that does a circuit of squats, pull ups, and bench presses all at the same time in a gym during the busiest time of the day. Only occupy ONE piece of equipment at a time whenever possible, and if you are doing a “superset,” bring your dumbbells or whatever else you need over to you. If the gym isn’t packed and you want to give your circuit or supersets a try, go for it. Just make sure that you let anybody “work in” who wants to (trading off using the equipment in between sets).

Conversely, if you see a piece of equipment somebody else is using, it’s okay to ask them:  How many sets do you have left? Could I “work in?”

  • If they say less than 2, smile and say “oh okay cool, I’ll jump in when you’re done.”
  • If they say more than 2, ask if you can work in with them.

5) Re-rack your weights and put any equipment back where it belongs! There’s nothing worse than finding a piece of empty equipment loaded up with a bunch of weird weight on it. If you don’t have time to re-rack your weight and put all the equipment back where it belongs, you don’t have time for that exercise!

6) Not sure how to do something? ASK!  Ask a trainer in the gym if you’re not sure how a piece of equipment works or are unsure of how to do a lift. OR, if you’ve been in your gym for a while, and you see somebody who knows how to lift properly, ask them!

Personally, I’d be flattered if somebody came up and asked about how to do a deadlift or squat. The way I see it, that’s one more for the good guys, one less for the zombies :)

7) Be courteous of other members – Don’t sit on your phone and hog equipment or interrupt others mid-set. Keep your own things tidy, preferably in the locker room. Don’t critique others unless they ask for help (you wouldn’t want others to tell you how to exercise).

specific gym tips for women

OHP Staci

This section was written by NF Team Member Staci.

Lifting weights in public for the first time is intimidating for everyone – but for a lot of women, it’s downright terrifying.  There’s been this stigma that we don’t belong in the weight room for years, so not only is it weird for many of us to be there, but guys are still getting used to seeing women not afraid to lift weights.

And the truth is – a lot of guys get just as nervous being around a girl who is lifting as we are nervous lifting around them.

I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms of all shapes and sizes, and trust me – I’ve seen everything from someone explaining the difference between pounds and kilo numbers on the plates (because I shouldn’t attempt to lift that many pounds), to “you know, if you keep lifting heavy, you’re going to get bulky.”

And then there’s always the classic, “Hey baby, you foam roll often?”

One of the biggest questions I get asked from girls starting out is “how do you deal with getting hit on by guys at the gym?”

Sure, it can be annoying, but I remind myself: “I didn’t stop eating because a guy hit on me at the grocery store, and I’m certainly not going to stop lifting because someone might possibly hit on me at the gym.”

So guess what? My advice for girls in the gym is the exact same as for guys in the gym – the most important thing you can do is go in with confidence, be polite, and do your own thing.

If someone treats you like you’re an idiot, or if they start telling you you’re doing things wrong, I always reiterate a very simple and polite line: “I appreciate your input, but I’ve got to finish my workout now, I’m on a tight schedule.”

It doesn’t matter what they said or if they’re wrong. Just move on.

And don’t underestimate the power of headphones. It’s not rude to quickly finish a conversation by saying goodbye and putting on your headphones to “go finish your workout!”

The point is this: Handle yourself the same way as you would handle yourself elsewhere. You deserve to be there.

You got this

gym

Feeling a bit of anxiety in a new gym atmosphere is completely normal. Making a few mistakes is completely normal too. Here are a few stories from NF Team Members, now avid gym goers.

Staci:

When I first wanted to try squats, I was really nervous to do it in public – so I watched a ton of videos online, got a PVC so I could practice at home, and did all the research I could.  When I got to the gym, I noticed the rack looked a little different in the videos, but it had all the main points, so I figured out how to use it and went with it.  I went home and was super excited to tell all of my Nerd Fitness rebels on the message boards about my amazing freeweight squatting experience, but turns out, the machine I used was actually a free motion smith machine – not a squat rack at all.  Fail :(

Taylor:

When I first started working out in the free weights section, I ONLY did dumbbell exercises. I was petrified of the very idea of a barbell…proper form, getting injured, asking for a spot – it all felt like too much. Finally I asked one of the staff members and he took me through some movements. Another guy who I saw around the gym often was watching, and commented that he realized he had been doing the movement wrong this whole time. All of a sudden my fear was shattered.

Page:

The first time I worked out in a gym by myself, it was actually pretty great. I signed up for a gym that was open 24 hours – at the time I still worked odd schedules that would regularly change. I ended up working out anywhere between 10pm-2am regularly, so it was usually pretty empty, and I didn’t have to worry about anyone bugging me or trying to “correct” my form. A funny moment that sticks is when a guy offered me the bar pad that he was using on the Smith Machine and I turned it down. He said I made him feel weak!

Hopefully you can learn from our experiences and mistakes and hit the gym feeling like a pro.

What was your first time at the gym like? Do you have a great newbie story? Please leave a comment, we’d love to hear!

-Steve

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photo pin: Nicole Paternoster: tight rope, Pascal: Dumbbell, W_Minshull: Legos at Gym

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How to Become a Morning Person http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/14/how-to-become-a-morning-person/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/14/how-to-become-a-morning-person/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:30:21 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23322 I have been on Team “Night Owl” for as long as I can remember.

Sure, I remember waking up as a kid to watch Mr. Wizard before taking the bus school, but as I grew older I shifted my daily routine further and further back.  By high school, I was struggling to get out of bed to get to school on time, and all through through college an “early” bed time was 2 am.

Even in my adult life I struggled to get to bed before 1 am.  During my nearly six years of writing articles for Nerd Fitness, I’d guess that 90% of my writing was done after 10 pm.

And I wanted to be a morning person, but I just couldn’t do it.  I remember asking on Twitter:

“I can’t seem to get myself to focus during the day, and do my best work at night. How do I become a morning person?”

And the responses all came back saying the same thing: “You’re a night person, just learn to live with it.”

But as we explained in our comprehensive article on sleep, just two in ten of us are true “night owls.” The rest of us are morning people (larks) or somewhere in the middle (hummingbirds).

Little did I know that I fell where most people do – somewhere in the middle! I wasn’t a true night owl – just someone with bad habits! And I was missing out on all sorts of stuff as a result – namely quality sleep, sunlight, and a social life!

So, I stopped making excuses, and over the past six months, I’ve turned a corner. 

Today, I’m going to talk about HOW I became a morning person and why you should consider it too.

If you’re somebody working weird hours, don’t worry, we got you covered there too.

Why Become a Morning Person?

Morning

You might already be thinking, “Steve, I’m a night person too, and I like it that way. Why mess with a good thing?”

However, you might also have realized: “Hmmm, I never seem to exercise after work, I wake up feeling like crap, and I drag myself through the first half of the work day before finally getting my act together around 2 PM.”

Why should you switch teams and give the morning a chance? I’m glad you asked:

1) Your willpower bar is fully charged in the AM.  Remember our talk about willpower, and how it’s a finite resource?  Like in any RPG game (sleeping in the Inn recharges your health meter), getting a good night’s sleep recharges your willpower.  If you’re somebody that tends to get bogged down and busy at work and never has the energy to work out after work, use some of that willpower BEFORE work on getting to the gym and you’ll never miss it.  Your willpower is most full in the morning.

Hat tip to my buddy James Clear for this one :)

2) Get your sh** done before anybody can bother you.  I realized that the reason why I was so productive at night wasn’t because it was night… it was because there was nobody awake to distract me!  Once I discovered that I could do the same thing early in the morning, my life changed.

If you’re somebody with children, or hectic roommates, you may find it difficult to get anything done AFTER work, try getting it done before.

3) Actively prepare for the day rather than stress the f*** out!  Prepare your lunch. Sit down and eat breakfast (or don’t eat it at all). Go through your morning ritual. Get in the groove…instead of snoozing a million times and then running out the door with a bagel in your mouth.

4) Stop leaving things hanging over your head.  When I worked only at night, there was always that looming feeling of “I have things that need to get done” hanging over me.  It was stressful – it’s tough to relax when there are things that need doing.

HOWEVER, when you exercise in the morning, or get your work done early, you can close up that laptop at the end of the day and say “I’m done.” Now I truly enjoy my evenings.

There are two main components of becoming a morning person: getting to bed earlier, and then waking up earlier.

Let’s tackle them both.

How to get to bed earlier

alarm

When I decided to transition into a morning person, my first thoughts were “this is going to be tough.”

You see, we can lie, justify, and rationalize anything and everything to ourselves.  It’s actually quite impressive.  So, I started by accepting the fact that I can get to bed earlier, and wake up earlier.

Here’s how I did it:

1) Focus on small incremental changes.  When most people decide to “get up earlier,” they go from waking up at 8:30 am to waking up at 6:00 am. They set a few alarms, go to bed at their usual hour (probably midnight or later), and then struggle for a week to get up at 6:00…or they snooze and have to start over.

Instead of going from 8:30 to 6:00, I went from 8:30 to 8:15 for a week. Then from 8:15 to 8:00 for a week. Then from 8:00 to 7:45, and so on.

By SLOWLY adjusting my sleeping schedule, my body didn’t freak out, and I could actually let it happen.

2) Go to bed earlier.  I’ve covered this in our extensive guide on How to Not Suck at Sleeping, but I’ll lay out the basics here.  For starters, the reason I was always up so late was because I was sitting at my computer staring at bright lights until 10 minutes before bed, or watching TV/playing videogames and then struggling to fall asleep.

So, I set myself up to win by upgrading my batcave:

  • I installed Fl.ux on my computer.  It automatically adjusts the brightness of your computer screen after the sun has set, so you’re not staring at glaring lights at night (which can mess up sleeping patterns).
  • I used Self-Control to block specific time-wasting websites after a certain hour.  I found that I was sitting at my computer doing NOTHING at the end of the day. So I blocked those sites (gmail, facebook, etc.), and suddenly I had no reason to still be at my computer.
  • Commit to no video games or TV after 10:30 PM.  Assassin’s Creed IV kept me up until 2 am for too many nights.  Damn you, Edward Kenway.  I also set alarms and committed to turning off my TV after 10:30 pm.  That has since shifted to 10 pm, and now even earlier.  Oh, and I know if I watch Cosmos before bed I’m going to lie awake questioning my existence…so instead, I read.
  • Reading [fiction] in bed. This one was Steve-specific, but I realized I couldn’t read nonfiction (I get too excited and come up with ideas). Instead I read fiction that wound my brain down and puts me to sleep.  For me, that was The Martian.

I realized my struggle was not with getting up, but rather going to bed earlier. Making a commitment to get to bed early is a crucial part of the process.

So, stop staring at bright screens!  Put the phone down. Turn off the TV. Get off your computer. Read a freaking book :)

Now, let’s focus on the other half of the equation: getting up earlier!

How to wake up earlier

Cat

First and foremost, DON’T RELY ON YOURSELF.  Remember how I said we’ll justify anything?  You know those mornings where you wonder why you snoozed without even waking up?  If you’re not used to waking up early, your body might refuse to do so.  So we’re going to use our batcave to set us up to succeed.

1) Put your alarm clock across the room.  Remember how we talked about building a better batcave to help you get to sleep earlier?  You can do the same thing for getting up earlier.  If you can reach your alarm clock while still lying in bed, the chance of you hitting snooze is approximately 1000000.33333% higher.  That’s a fact.  So, put your alarm clock across the room!  Make it SUPER loud and annoying, so your only option is to just get out of bed and turn it off.

In college I had my alarm clock across the room and on my dresser. I fell asleep one night with both arms behind my head, and woke up to a blaring alarm at 7 am…with both of my arms dead asleep. As my roommate looked angrily at me, I had to swing my arms, Ace Ventura style, until I knocked it off the bureau and broke the damn thing.

2) Wake your ass up!  The toughest part about waking up earlier than normal is that fogginess we all experience first thing, which can affect our productivity, mood, etc.  So, the first thing I do is splash cold water on my face, and then go through a basic mobility warm-up and handstand practice exercise.

Another great option is to use this time to go for a brisk 5-10 minute walk. You know, like a Morning Mile.  In fact, 5-10 minutes of walking every day will eventually get you to Mordor if you follow through!

3) Caffeine is your friend.  Instead of using caffeine to stay awake later playing more video games, use it as part of your morning routine to wake up earlier.  We’ve already covered caffeine extensively on the site, so I won’t dig in too deeply.  The goal: enough caffeine to give you focus, but not too much that it becomes less effective with each increased day.

4) Use technology to your advantage:  If you couldn’t tell already – I’m a big fan of using technology to remove willpower from the equation and actually force ourselves to do stuff.  Now, we don’t need to shock ourselves to get out of bed (though if you want to, my buddy Maneesh can help)…but you can use technology to make your wake up easier:

  • Use Twitter scheduler:  Schedule an embarrassing tweet to go out the next morning, 10 minutes after you’re supposed to wake up. If you don’t get up and go to your computer in time, the tweet goes out.  Hat tip to Thomas Frank.
  • Try a sunrise alarm clock: Part of the reason we struggle with earlier mornings is the grogginess, and that can stem from being woken up while we’re in deep sleep.  By using something like a sunrise alarm clock, we can gradually come out of deep sleep into light sleep, and then be woken up.
  • Check out the Sleep Cycle App: Not only does it track your sleep, but it can also tell when you’re in deep sleep or light sleep, and will wake you up when your sleep pattern is least likely to make you groggy. It’s been fascinating for me to track those stats…when I can actually remember to set it up!

In all of these instances we are taking the decision making process out of your hands and putting it in the hands of technology or a third party.  The fewer decisions you need to make, the less willpower you need to use, the more likely you’ll be to find success in becoming an early bird.

build a morning routine

morning sky

The last piece of advice for you: build a morning routine around something you’re looking forward to doing.  I used to love my quiet nights spent yelling into my computer or at my TV playing games, but now I honestly look forward to my quiet mornings, waking up with the sun, and going through my full morning routine in a silent house.

Here’s a morning routine that works for me:

  • Wake up with sunrise alarm clock, which wakes me up gradually.
  • Put on water to boil for tea.
  • Perform a basic mobility routine.
  • Five minutes of handstands.
  • Sit down at my computer, put on my epic trance playlist (thanks PM!)
  • Spend 10 minutes checking ESPN, Yahoo, scanning for any important emails.
  • Jump into writing mode, and block all big sites.
  • Take over the world.

That’s my routine, but I’d love to hear yours.  How do you crush your mornings?  What’s your morning routine?

And if you’ve transitioned from night-owl to early bird, what was your favorite tactic?

If you’re trying and failing to transition, what’s your biggest hurdle?

-Steve

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photo source: Michael: cheerios, Reji: morning sky, Kevin Dooley: sleeping cat, Khalid Almasoud: lonely place

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Limitless: What if you could access more of your brain? http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/11/limitless-what-if-you-could-access-more-of-your-brain/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/11/limitless-what-if-you-could-access-more-of-your-brain/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:30:46 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23153 “You know how they say we can only access 10% of our brain? This lets you access all of it.”

And just like that (with the help of a tiny myth), the plot for the book/movie Limitless was established, and my brain started to go absolutely bonkers thinking of all of the possibilities.

I know I’m not alone.  Although this novel came out years ago and the movie came out in 2011, I’ve continually heard it mentioned in excited conversations amongst my friends.

It’s no surprised it garnered so much attention – it’s a story that we’ve all probably dreamed about for years:

Limitless Trailer

A scatterbrained writer, down on his luck, takes a pill that gives him unlimited brain power, allowing him to write a book in four days, learn new languages, stop smoking, lose weight, get healthy, and even conquer the stock market.

As a guy who’s turned his life into a video game, and taken inspiration from fictional characters to have real world adventures (like that time I became James Bond), I figured it was my duty to explore the nuances of Limitless and find out if it’s truly possible to become more productive, without the use of medication.

Shall we see how deep the rabbit hole goes?

How to become Limitless

nzt

The point of becoming Limitless is to completely satisfy our curiosity and accomplish all of the things we hope to cross off our list:

If we want to read more often, we can fly through books at a rapid pace while retaining all of the knowledge required.

If we want to write a book, it can be done in a matter of days or weeks, instead of years (or never, as is the case with most people).

If we want to learn a language, within a few weeks we can speak the language and interact with native speakers. No need for years and years of studying

If we want to get in better shape, we can do so in an efficient way, without spending hours on a treadmill struggle to see results.

I’m sure if you have a bucket list like I do; your goals probably revolve around some variation of the above.

So, how can we start accomplishing more and sucking less?

It comes down to a few key things:

  • The ability to retain more information.
  • The ability to spend more time learning.
  • Making the time you spend learning be more efficient.
  • The ability to learn lots of different things quickly.

Step One: Exercise

lego workout

Here’s an excerpt from an article my buddy Scott (Live Your Legend) wrote:

While on a boat with Richard Branson, a man asked How can I be more productive?” Keep in mind, Richard is the founder and operator of a 400-company conglomerate. He also has dyslexia and a pretty piss poor academic track record.

Yet somehow, from space travel to deep sea exploration, to music and cell phones, this guy has literally been able to accomplish a bazillion times more than the average Joe. And he’s still only 61.

Hence, the crowd of boat passengers hung on the edge of their seat cushions in anticipation of what turned out to be an unbelievably simple answer…

Richard responded: “Work out.”

Sounds kind of ridiculous, but there’s plenty of scientific fact to back up this up.  Exercise is a key component in improving our overall disposition, allowing us to focus more, retain more, and stay productive long after others have given up.

Charles Basch of Columbia University summarized how exercise may affect executive functioning:

  • Increased oxygen flow to the brain
  • Increased brain neurotransmitters
  • “[Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins assure the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking.

Dr John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and Driven to Distraction: The Study of Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder, offers up tons of compelling studies linking physical activity to increased focused and increased retention when studying.  “Exercise doesn’t make you smarter, but what it does do is optimise the brain for learning.”

Think of it this way: exercise doesn’t increase the size of the sponge, but it can help improve just how much the sponge can soak up.

That’s why students at Naperville High School make exercise the first class of the day.

And that’s why in this study, Charles Hillman discovered that a single bout of exercise prior to studying could result in 5-10% increased amount of cognition amongst children.

Regardless of what you’re trying to learn, increase your chance for success by making exercise part of your routine. 

Step Two: Have a game plan

have a plan

Now we have our brains prepped and ready to absorb more information.  

However, none of this matters if we’re not prepared to learn in the right kind of way.

Malcolm Gladwell asserts in Outliers that people become experts after 10,000 hours of practice.  That’s not the entire story. 10,000 hours of haphazard practice, or learning things incorrectly will make us REALLY good at being bad at that activity.

So, we need to have hours and hours of good practice in order to become an expert.  Which means if we practiced something, perfectly, for 8 hours a day, every day, it would take us approximately 3 and a half years to become an expert at something.

But we don’t have that kind of time – and we don’t need to achieve “mastery.” 

When it comes to learning language, dance moves, martial arts, or a new instrument, identify the movements or words you need to become PROFICIENT in the skill.  Don’t worry about the rest of the stuff – we’re aiming for efficiency here.

Here are my favorite examples:

LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE: My friend Benny learns a new language every 3 months. He now speaks 10+ languages, despite graduating college only knowing one.

PLAYING A NEW MUSICAL INSTRUMENT: Instead of studying sheet music for years and learning complex classical pieces, look at current music, and begin to see patterns:

  • If you can learn to play basic chords on guitar, you can learn 80% of popular music.
  • If you can learn basic chords on the piano, you can quickly learn most pop songs you’ve ever wanted to play.

The goal isn’t to make it to the symphony or qualify for a job as a foreign translator. Instead we want to pick up the basics, and the enjoyment and personal advancement that comes along with it.

Check out the book The Talent Code for more information on learning properly.

Step THREE: Build a proper environment

batman batcave

We’ve got our brain prepped for learning, we’ve identified the skills we want to learn or the goal we hope to accomplish, now it’s time to build an environment for success.

You know how I had you build a Batcave to help you build better habits? We’re going to do the same to help you become Limitless.

Step One: STOP F***ING MULTITASKING!  We like to think we’re the masters of multi-tasking, but it absolutely ruins us when it comes to learning and being more productive.  Every time you shift from writing your book to watching a youtube video, your productivity suffers.  Every time you swap between your work and gchat window to talk to coworkers and friends, your level of creativity and concentration suffers.

If you want to be more productive while sitting at your computer, focus completely on one task. If you are going to learn a language, set aside time to learn that language and do nothing else.

EFFICIENCY rules!  

Step Two: Remove Distractions. All of them.  I used to think that I could ONLY work at night.  I would struggle to write all day long, and then suddenly, at 9 or 10PM, I became a focused machine, cranking out content like nobody’s business. I just assumed it was because I was a night owl…nope. It’s because I allowed myself to get distracted VERY easily, because everybody was awake and talking to me all day.  I spent all day in Gmail, on Gchat, reading IGN, and Reddit. Then, when everybody else was in bed, I would finally get stuff done.

Earlier this past week, I sat down at my computer at 6 AM and wrote four articles (a total of 8,000 words), finishing up around 4 PM. This is something I have NEVER done before.

How the hell did I do that? BY REMOVING ALL DISTRACTIONS!

  • I signed off Gchat, and Skype.
  • I closed out all tabs non-essential to the task at hand.
  • I used Self-Control to block all time wasting websites.
  • And one final tactic I’ll share with you at the end of the article.

You don’t have to follow these exact steps. Here are a few other examples:

If you want to write a book, set yourself up to succeed. As my friend Chris G. points out, “If you want to write a book, go to a boring place.”  Don’t go to a place where the weather is great and you don’t want to be inside writing.

If you want to read more books and become more learned, get rid of your damn TV.  Cancel your cable, get rid of your TV, don’t give yourself a chance to get stuck on your couch watching reruns.

It’s not that people who read more or do more necessarily have more time than you, they simply stop spending time on the nonessential. Remove distractions whenever possible, and focus on the important.

Step four: Use caffeine properly

Caffeine

This is the hack most closely related to the drug NZT in Limitless.  

Most of us use caffeine to wake us up after a late night and early morning.  Just think of how many Facebook messages you see from friends that say something along the lines of “don’t talk to me yet, I haven’t had my caffeine.”

It’s true: when we become addicted to caffeine (it’s a drug), its effectiveness is severely diminished, and we have to use caffeine to get us up to our normal baseline. Without it, we are distant, irritable, and awkward.

Instead, try aiming to use caffeine for bouts of hyper-focused activity.  

As we point out in our Guide to Caffeine, we need to closely manage our tolerance to caffeine. Personally, I try not to have it every day, and oftentimes take a week or two off from consuming it at all.  Then, when I need to get hyper-focused and accomplish a ton of writing (like today for example), black coffee, green tea, or Yerba Mate tea is enough to get my brain focused on the task at hand – It’s now 3pm and I’ve been writing since 8AM!

Sure, it’s no NZT, but as this PubMed study shows:  

“…caffeine can significantly affect cognitive performance, mood and thirst at doses within and even lower than the range of amounts of caffeine contained in a single serving of popular caffeine-containing drinks.”

NOTE: This is not a prescription to start mainlining cappuccinos into your arteries. Like any drug, caffeine affects everybody differently – know your limits, and if you have a history of hypertension or any other medical condition, talk to a medical professional.

The more you know…

Become Limitless

limitless road

I actually wrote this article following the exact principles laid out above:

  1. Exercise. My day started with a dynamic warm up and five minutes of handstand practice.
  2. Have a game plan. I knew exactly what needed to get done today: two articles. And a time limit (before 4PM)
  3. Set up my environment. I’ve signed off from gchat, closed my email tab, and blocked myself from time-wasting sites. I also canceled my cable so TV isn’t a distraction.
  4. Caffeine ftw.  A few cups of yerba mate tea gave me plenty of focus, and I stopped worrying about the challenges.

Here are some other quick hacks to help you become more productive and successful.

  • Show up every day.  Hat tip to James Clear on this one.  If you are trying to learn a musical instrument or language, tell yourself that you only have to play for five minutes every day. Establishing the habit is more important than that “perfect” time to learn.
  • Use others to help - If you want to learn something quickly, identify somebody who has learned quickly.  Ask them to break down the task into the basics and get started on those. I enlisted the help of Jim Bathurst who helped me learn how to complete a muscle up in a single afternoon, because he was a great teacher.
  • Start making mistakes on day ONE. You could spend years studying foreign language grammar books, but it doesn’t help if you don’t start speaking the language. Whether deadlifting or a new hobby, embrace the fail.
  • Don’t pick too many new things to learn at once.  Trying to learn Kung Fu, play the Violin, and learn French might prove to be quite challenging.  Instead, pick ONE or TWO new things to learn.
  • Consider different types of music.  If you’re trying to write more or read more, or be more productive at work, experiment with different kinds of music.  A killer vocal trance mix can put me in the zone where I black out like Will Ferrell in Old School and have suddenly produced thousands of words of content. For other people, it might be classical, or Katy Perry. Probably not Katy, but hey “Teenage Dream” is pretty fantastic.
  • Sleep more.  Unfortunately, we can’t be like Eddie Mora in Limitless - he functions on minimal sleep every day and uses that extra time to learn more. As I point out in the Nerd Fitness Guide to Sleep, if you manage to only get four hours of sleep, a sleep deprived body can actually act similarly to an intoxicated body.

I now lay down a challenge for you:

What’s ONE skill you want to learn or goal you want to accomplish?  Be it a new language, an instrument, writing a book, whatever.

What’s ONE distraction you can remove from your environment to actually have you get started on that skill/goal?

And what’s ONE step you are going to take TODAY to get one step closer to limitless?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some violin to practice!

-Steve

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photo pin: Johnson Cameraface: Batcave, JD Hancock: High-OCtane Villain, Angus MacRae: Road, Ben De Jesus: Espresso, Nick Royer: Pushups!, Vy Vu: Limitless, Limitless Poster

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Stop Delaying the Inevitable http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/07/stop-delaying-the-inevitable/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/07/stop-delaying-the-inevitable/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:32:53 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23255 “Do you hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.”  - Agent Smith, The Matrix

Whether it’s the Matrix, Terminator, or just about any comic, inevitability is a pretty awesome plot device. But it’s also a whole lot more than that.

Without you realizing it, “inevitability” can govern our lives, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fortunately, we get to choose the ending of this prophecy:

Person A: Blah, I’m just going to end up fat and sad and have blood pressure problems like my dad.  It runs in my family and I’m going to become him.  No wonder I keep failing.

Person B: I’m going to break this cycle.  My kids are going to be the first in my family who grow up with a healthy dad and healthy habits.  It’s gonna happen.

Person A: I’ll just fail at losing weight like I did the last dozen times. I’m stuck at this weight and I’m not going to win against my genetics.  Why bother.  What’s the number for Voodoo Doughnuts?

Person B: I’m going to get healthy.  This is a long journey and I’m going to hit some rough patches, but my success is mine for the taking.  I know that as long as I put one foot in front of the other, I’m going to get to where I want to go.

If you associate more with Person A, today we’re going to take the first steps towards making you into Person B.

After all, it’s inevitable, so you might as well just go along with me :)

The power of inevitability

water

I remember seven years ago, I had just stumbled across Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek.  I read it in a few days, and for some reason in my head, I told myself, “Hey, if he can do it, I can too.  I have no idea how, but I’m going to create my own business helping people get healthy, and along the way I’m going to have epic adventures…maybe even become a real life James Bond.”

I then bought NerdFitness.com, and with more than a few speed bumps and leaps of faith along the way, here we are seven years later.

When I started Nerd Fitness, I knew I could make it work. But why didn’t I know when it came to getting big and strong? 

I thought the inevitable was that I would never get big and strong, that my genetics wouldn’t allow it. Like I was swimming against the current and there was nothing I could do but fight an uphill battle.

Not surprisingly, my results never seemed to stick.  When I found out I had a spine that didn’t line up, it was a relief: I can blame my lack of progress on genetics!  Personal responsibility is no longer needed!

Then…I spent the past seven months proving myself wrongbecoming antifragile, and my mentality has completely shifted.  If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll reach my goals. I’ve had more success than ever over these six months, and it kills me to think where I would be if I only started with this mindset of “positive inevitability” – knowing you are going to do it.

What kind of relationship do you have with yourself?

sunset

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Yes, I realize you’re probably saying, “Okay Steve, you’re starting to sound like one of those quacks who want me to make a vision board, read The Secret, and just sit around and wait for people to help me.”

Ok, skip the vision board and the book, but ask yourself this:

Are you the type of person who consistently looks for things to go wrong, or waits for things to go wrong, and then says “See, I told you so!”

Or are you the type of person who assumes things work out for the best and that good things are on the way…and takes action to make the best things more likely?

Whichever one you believe to be true, IS true.  We all know that pessimistic person who seems to have all of the bad luck, and conversely we all seem to know the person that has the golden touch and can’t seem to lose.

YOU get to decide which inevitability you’re working towards!

We see setbacks as speed bumps, not roadblocks.  We know what we want, and we know we need to work hard to get it, so we do so.  While everybody else is waiting for luck to find them, we’re out making our own.

As Winston Churchill famously said:  “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Each failure is one less speed bump that can block us from that inevitable success.  Like scientists proving a hypothesis wrong, each failure is a chance to get closer…NOT a reason to give up.

We expect to win. We expect to succeed. And then damnit, we bust our asses to prove that eventuality correct.  We have a personal responsibility to our inevitability.

Prove it to yourself

mirror

I realize simply “expecting to win” or “feeling more positive about yourself” is only half of the equation.

Whether you sit around waiting for good luck to strike, or waiting around for bad luck to kick in, you’ll get the same result: nothing.

As we learned from Andy in The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is nothing without action.”

In the AMAZING book UnbrokenLouis Zamperini endured the most incredible set of setbacks and never once gave up hope. He consistently did what he could to prove to himself that he was fighting and enduring for a reason.

The best way to prove to yourself that your positive inevitability (the leveled up version of you) is waiting around the corner is to achieve small wins.

Want to be healthy? Prove to yourself you CAN change with 30 straight days of walking for just five minutes.

Want to build a business? Make ONE dollar or help ONE person. After that, its simply a matter of hustle and scale.

Want to run a marathon? Run for one minute.  After that, it’s simply finding a way to run a bit further than the day before.

Identify that future version of you, that Level 50, and then take one step in that direction.

Make a change, no matter how small. With each additional change and each additional small victory, that “eventual” future becomes more and more concrete.

And before you know it, “eventually” becomes a reality.

Expect the inevitable

Victory

I bet we have a lot of rebels who fall on the dark side of inevitability, and I want to help you get over to the light. After all, we’re Rebels!

Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, run a marathon, or put on some muscle,  stop waiting for shit to go wrong and start expecting things to go right.  

Here’s the truth:

You’re reading Nerd Fitness, which means you’re a pretty smart person.

You’re surrounded by awesome people who are here to help you get healthy.

You know what you need to do, and every day you’re taking a tiny step closer.

You deserve this. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be healthy.

Every day is a chance to get closer to that eventual success, or a chance to delay it.

I’d love to hear from you:  If you were somebody that consistently saw the negative side of inevitability, how have things shifted since you became more positive?  Was it a gradual shift? Did you have to prove a win to yourself first before you started to believe?

Leave a comment and share your story.

-Steve

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photo pin: Kristina Alexanderson: Troopers in the sunlight, Kristina Alexanderson: Farval – Goodbye, Stathis Stavrianos: infinity, sergio venuto: agent smith, Benjamin Staudinger: victory

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Workout http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/04/the-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-workout/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/04/the-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-workout/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:44:39 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=23318 I grew up with Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Not literally. That would have been sweet, though.

But I did spend the formative years of my childhood wondering what it would be like to be part of the Ninja Turtle team: learning from Master Splinter (aka Mister Miyagi in Rat form), sneaking around, saving the world, and eating pizza ALL DAY. Wow, did they really nail the trifecta.

In fact, I think my entire existence is a combination of the following:

With Michael Bay taking a crack at rebooting this franchise (which I’m not sold on), I thought I should at least pay homage to the original Ninja Turtles who inspired me to run around my house in TMNT pajamas, swinging plastic swords and nunchucks made out of sticks, and fighting an imaginary Shredder to help save New York City.

To go along with our other nerdy workouts (Legend of Zelda, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars), today I’ve created a workout designed to turn you into a legitimate ninja. I can’t do much about turning your skin green though.

The Ninja Turtles Workout

turtle bus

If you’re going to BECOME a Ninja Turtle, we need to focus on a few key things:

  • Mobility
  • Balance
  • Power
  • Strength

Strength and size are important, but they mean nothing if they hinder movement.  It’s tough to be a ninja turtle if your movements and attacks are slow (and thus easy to block or dodge), so strength and power must be accompanied by an equal amount of agility.

This means we’ll be working on our mobility too. Our limbs will be our weapons…until Splinter decides which weapons fit our fighting style.

Got it. We need mobility, balance, power, and strength.

Let’s look at how we’re going to earn each of those things:

  • MOBILITY: We need to be able to move freely in every direction.  Kicks behind us, punches above us, cartwheels and somersaults to dodge danger, and dance skills that impress even Vanilla Ice.
  • BALANCE: If we’re going to be climbing on roofs and doing backflips through mobs of bad guys, we’ll need to make sure our balance is at ninja level.
  • POWER: Our focus will be on explosive movements that recruit multiple muscles and have them working in unison to accomplish a single goal: maximum force.
  • STRENGTH: If we are training for strength, we will keep the reps low and difficulty high, building tight, dense muscle.  We’ll be doing exercises that don’t require a gym, as you never know where you’ll be training as a Ninja.

Ninja Mobility

kick

Without mobility, our power and speed are useless.  

Without balance, our attacks will leave us open to counterattack.

Thus, each workout (and every morning when not training) should begin with mobility drills to keep us limber.  This is doubly important if your non-ninja responsibilities include sitting at a desk all day.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING MOBILITY WARM UP BEFORE TRAINING:

Seems like a crazy warm-up right?  Depending on your current level of fitness, THIS could feel like a complete workout!  The important thing is to not fly through this warm up quickly, but rather to use each movement to stretch your muscles and joints out and get them prepared to actually begin training.

If you cannot complete all movements through full range of motion, that’s okay! DO THE BEST YOU CAN.

Once you complete your warm-up above, I want you to work on your WRIST mobility.  Here’s a video from Anthony Mychal (AKA my “Splinter”) doing a complete wrist and finger warm-up (which is going to help us for the next activity).  Notice the killer NF T-shirt.

Anthony Mychal Wrist Warm-Up

I realize the above seems like a tremendous amount of warm up – however, if your goal is to become a fearsome fighting machine…or even if you just want to not have your hips and joints crack every time you do anything remotely physical, working on mobility is CRUCIAL.

This Ninja Warm Up is actually the exact routine I follow each morning and before every workout.  7 months straight of intense power lifting and gymnastic work and zero issues – because I’ve focused on my mobility.

Ninja Balance

donatello

Now that we’ve completed our Ninja Warm Up, it’s time to focus on our balance.

Specifically, I want you to learn and get really good at handstands.

We’ve already covered handstands in a previous post (including a great progression for those that can’t do handstands), so I won’t go too in depth today.

Handstands are a fantastic way to build strength and endurance, both mental and physical.  If you’ve ever attempted to hold a freestanding handstand perfectly still for longer than half a second, your brain must be in line with every muscle in your body.

So, after you’ve completed your warm-up, including your wrists and fingers, spend five minutes working on your handstands.

Depending on your skill, that could mean:

  • Wall planks
  • Handstands against the wall
  • Freestanding handstands

I don’t care where you start, I just want you to start.  This is one of the most difficult moves to conquer, due to it requiring strong mental will, physical endurance, and muscular strength.  So, before we move onto power and strength, we must first apply all efforts into building our balance.

Looking for more? After you have completed your five minutes of practice on handstands, do 10 cartwheels in each direction, using the following as a guide:

Cartwheel

As with Ninja Mobility above, we can complete Ninja Balance every single day too, and it is strongly recommended.  

Ninja power

michaelangelo

Now that we’ve completed Ninja Mobility, and Ninja Balance, we can move onto the bread and butter of the routine: 

Combine speed with strength and we have the most important attribute: Ninja POWER.

This is the reason why Bruce Lee, a relatively small dude could deliver such force with a one inch punch and six inch punch.

It was strength combined with speed – thus power.

We’re going to start with a superset (do one set of the first movement, then immediately do one set of the second movement. After rest, repeat that cycle two more times).

MOVEMENT ONE:

Pick the movement that provides you with the most challenge: 

  • If you are new to fitness, focus on simple vertical jumps. Jump as high as you can.
  • If you are a bit more advanced, do hurdle jumps. You don’t have to jump over an actual hurdle – any object that is a challenging height will do.
  • If you are a true ninja, work on box jumps. Pick a height that is challenging but achievable. When you land on the box, stand up straight and then step down (don’t jump down).

Jump as HIGH as you can, really focusing on explosive vertical movement.

MOVEMENT TWO:

In each of these movements your goal is to LAUNCH yourself off the wall/bench/floor with such velocity that your hands leave the surface.

Here is a plyometric push up for example (from our Nerd Fitness Academy):

If this is too challenging, you can do a similar movements by doing your push ups on the side of a bench, or even against a wall.

To recap, complete 3 circuits of Ninja Power:

  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups
  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups
  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups

Ninja Strength

raphael

Okay, so now we’re warmed up, we’ve improved our balance, we’ve dumped the lion’s share of our efforts into POWER, and now we can build another crucial component of being a Ninja Turtle: Strength.

Speed is key, but only when combined with strength does its impact become exponential.

We’re going to do three bodyweight movements that are 100% focused around building a strong, dense muscle.  If you’re wondering how we’re going to do that without picking up any weights, take a look at any gymnast – that muscle is built using only bodyweight movements.

We’re going to think about this in three basic ways:

  • LEGS
  • PUSH
  • PULL

Complete 3 sets of ten reps of each exercise below, and then move onto the next movement. As SOON as you can complete 3 sets of 10 reps, increase the difficulty by ranking up!  The goal is to consistently up the challenge – this is what builds tight, dense muscle.

LEGS (3 sets of 10 Reps)

PULL (3 sets of 10 reps)

PUSH (3 sets of 10 reps)

So to recap:

  • 3 sets of 10 reps of LEGS
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PULL
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PUSH

WHEW!  By the time you’ve completed the STRENGTH Portion of the TMNT Workout, you should be pretty worn out, but hopefully happy that you’ve started walking down a path towards becoming a true Ninja (Turtle).

Finish up your workout with a solid cool down stretching routine and you’ll be ready to complete this workout again two days from now. Remember, give your muscles 48 hours to recover, especially if the workout is particularly taxing!

Go Ninja Go Ninja Go

turtles

Thus concludes your ninja training for today. Here is a recap:

MOBILITY AND BALANCE:

  • 5-10 minutes of warm up, limbs and wrists
  • 5 minutes of handstands, 10 cartwheels in each direction

POWER

  • 3 circuits of jumps and plyometric push ups
  • Pick the level that matches your ability

STRENGTH

  • 3 sets of 10 reps of powerful LEG exercises (working towards pistol squats)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PULL movements (working towards archer pull ups)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PUSH movements (working towards handstand push ups)

COOL DOWN

  • Stretch after you’re done, spending 5-10 minutes stretching out your muscles.

Complete this workout every other day, combined with your martial art of choice, and you will level up your life in NO time (and make the Monk Guild in the Nerd Fitness Community proud!)

Are there any questions I can answer for you?

Do you plan on seeing the new movie on Friday?  My expectations are so low I can step over them, but I’ll most likely see it. You know, market research.

Who is the best Ninja Turtle? [The answer is Raphael, duh]

TURTLE POWER!

-Steve

PS: If you are looking for workouts like this, along with high def demonstrations of each exercise, check out our recently updated Nerd Fitness Academy, which now has the ability for you to actually level up and gain experience by completing quests!

PPS: KOWABUNGA!

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photo source: Adam Mangan: Turtle Kick, Rubenstein: Turtles Bus, John: Raphael, frogDNA: Donatello, Nathan Rupert: Leonardo, frogDNA: Turtle Action, Jeremy G: turtles in a line

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How Anthony the Developer Lost Over 200 Lbs…in ONE year. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/31/how-anthony-the-developer-lost-over-200-lbs-in-one-year/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/31/how-anthony-the-developer-lost-over-200-lbs-in-one-year/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:17:54 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22865
Anthony is a 30 year old application developer out of Raleigh, NC, and one of the most amazing transformations I’ve ever seen.  He dropped 210 pounds in one year as part of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, and documented the entire process along the way!

I’ve been watching Anthony since he first shared his journey with me months ago, WAITING for the day to finally share it with you.

Let’s meet Anthony!  He describes his old self as an “elite” gamer as depicted by South Park (NSFW language…obviously). Anthony used video games (specifically World of Warcraft) to retreat from the world:

I would get up in the morning and put back two bowls of cereal and an easy 12 -14 ounces of coffee loaded with sugar and milk or creamer and begin my day of gaming.

Whenever I would get hungry I would snack on chips of some form. Lunch and dinner were frozen foods or takeout. I would continue to play video games until I had to go to work, and then until 3 in the morning after I get home. If I did not work I would play games straight through the day. And to top all of that off I could easily crush a 12 pack of soda a day, MT. Dew, Dr.Pepper, and Orange Crush were my poison.

Video games and our favorite sci-fi and fantasy series have the ability to inspire us to explore new things and push our limits. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, have used these awesome nerdy resources to withdraw from leveling up in real life (leaving us happy and unproductive).

But one day, Anthony realized that he needed to do something more than level up his World of Warcraft character – he needed to level up his real life too.

Today Anthony’s life is completely changed – he’s no longer living someone else’s life, but has used his nerdy powers to write his own epic story.

Let’s take a look at how he did it.

Humble Beginnings

first_shot

Anthony started his journey last July, exactly one year ago.

One year ago, Anthony weighed in at 450 lbs.  He had tried in the past to get healthy, but never attacked the problem head on.  He never had a plan, so never took serious action. He knew this time had to be different.

After lurking around Nerd Fitness for about six months, Anthony decided that enough was enough, and the timing was right to get started.  I know we have a LOT of readers who hang out for months before finally “jumping in” - you’re not alone.

So he made an investment in himself – he started with the Rebel Fitness Guide (now the new Nerd Fitness Academy) and never looked back.

Anthony Initial progressWhen Anthony first emailed me, he was down to size 50 jeans (down from 60) and down to a 3-4 xl shirt (from 6 xl).

But he didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next year Anthony left the newbie zone and today he’s moving towards those big end-game bosses.

Anthony progression

Let’s hear from Anthony!

Anthony’s Story

anthony before after

Steve: Was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change? What inspired you to get started? 

I have been obese as long as I can remember, and while I was not happy with it, I just did not have the motivation to fix it…I was a high school dropout with no life aspirations.

Over the past 4 years during school I kept saying I was going to eventually lose the weight and one day last summer I just snapped and decided I had had enough. My clothes (6x shirt and 60 jeans) were starting to not fit anymore and I went on a date which ended badly because of my weight. At this point I was a 7 month lurker on Reddit/ProgressPics and NerdFitness (which I believe I found through Reddit).

I was truly inspired by Joe’s story and a combination of everything above lead me to make a life changing decision to no longer be the man I was. I dove right in, bought your Fitness and Strength Training guides and on July 25th, and started making changes.

Steve: So, what’s a typical day like now?

I wake up around 7 and eat breakfast (3 eggs, 2 pieces of Low Sodium Bacon, 2 pieces of sausage, and a orange or Banana with a glass of water). Then I work from 9-5.

Throughout the workday I will have a couple cups of black coffee. An average lunch every day is about 8 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast, baked and covered in Franks Red Hot sauce, with about 3 cups of frozen California blend veggies.

I do my work outs after work, then go home and eat the same thing for dinner but sometimes I will add in a sweet potatoes with a little cinnamon.

Pants after anthony

Steve: That’s quite the change. What about exercise?

I started out working out in my car port using the Nerd Fitness Guide, I picked up all of the tools I needed (a pair of adjustable weights, a mat, exercise ball, resistance bands) from amazon.

From the start I did 3 days strength (M-W-F) and 3 days of running (T-TH-S). This is still the same today, but instead of working out at home on my own, I work out in the gym

Steve: Three days of running on top of strength training is a lot. Did you start small?

I started out walk/jogging for 30 minutes and about six months later I began doing the 3 mile loop around campus (my first times around were about 45- minutes). Now I make the loop in about 33 minutes on a good day.

This week I begin my half marathon training and I am running more and more miles each day until the race in October.

Steve: Congratulations brother!  Next step: how have you fueled this epic progress? Healthy eating? Paleo?

You convinced me from the start that Paleo was the way to go, and I have been about 95% Paleo (got to have that occasional Ale and or cheat night). What made the most since to me is since the dawn of humanity we have ate one way and it has only been the past 100 years that we started eating like we do today. My meals have been pretty consistently the same every day and I love it, I see food as a fuel not a pleasure!

Steve: You seem like you made some pretty serious changes, what was the toughest one?

Everything haha, but really I would say getting out and being active but the more active I become the easier it is to remain active.

Steve: How did you track your progress? How often did you weigh yourself? Did you take any other measurements?

I did not weigh myself from the beginning until I received a Fitbit scale for Christmas because I knew I was over 450 (last time I was on a scale in 2012 I was at 450 and had only gotten bigger judging from the fit of my clothes).

I have been taking a front and profile pictures on the 25th of every month and I tracked everything in the excel sheet that with your guides (workouts and diet). Now I use My Fitness pal for nutrition tracking and Nike Run for running (oh, BIG shutout for Zombies Run!, that app has made running fun for me!!).

Now I just do my monthly weigh in on the 25th of each month and send you the update!

Steve: What was the MOST important change you made that helped you succeed?

Tracking all of my nutrition intake which in turn affected portion control. I went from easily over 4000 calories a day to about 1400 for the longest time. Now I range from about 1400 – 2200 depending on the day.

Anthony rig

Steve: So who made up your accountability team?

Everybody! My friends and family all know about what I have been doing and whenever I post anything about it on Facebook they cheer me on. I made a post on Reddit/progressPics for Christmas and received really good feedback. Heck I even tell strangers I just met about my change and love the reaction when I tell them I have lost over 180 pounds since July!

Steve: Have you tried and failed to get healthy before in the past? What made this time different?

Never seriously. One time I half ass attempted to work out which lasted like a week. I think the biggest thing that made this time different was research and an action plan. Before I started I knew exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it from nutrition to work out!

Steve: What would you tell somebody in your situation right now to help them? Somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?

Make sure this is something you truly want and that the alternative (being unhealthy) is just not an option.

Understand what it is you want and make sure you have a concrete plan to get there. That is half the battle; the other half is all mental: pat yourself on the back every day and be proud of the changes you made. Right now when I go a month without any change in the pounds I just look back at all of the previous months and tell myself how amazing I am for what I have done.

This keeps me motivated and pushes me on!

Steve: So man, what’s next?

My goal is still somewhere around 200 pounds and as I get closer to that goal I am hoping to build more strength.

I will need to build up my plan for exactly what I want to do as far as my workouts (right now I am thinking of getting the gear I need and start the Tough Mudder workouts). I will continue to eat right and workout as I start the next chapter of my life.

Sometime next year I plan on starting some form of martial arts training for fun, I am thinking jiu jitsu.

Steve: What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before? Any activities in particular?

I started handstand training last week which I have NEVER been able to do, so that is pretty amazing!

Steve: Because you lost such a dramatic amount of weight in such a short amount of time, understandably you have some loose skin (which seems to be tightening up with each month!) – does it bother you or is it just kind of something that comes with the territory?

From the start I told my buddy Tom that I would rather deal with loose skin than the fat that was there, so in a sense it just comes with the territory. Right now it is really bad in the underarms and thigh and chest. I have been doing some research and bought some St. Ives Collagen Elastin (about 5 bucks at WalMart) and use it every night before bed. I think this lotion along with continued strength training will be the key to tightening up.

Eventually (a few years down the road) once I get my body where I want if the skin is too bad I MIGHT consider the surgery, but that is a big MAYBE!

Steve: What would you say to somebody who is worried about the loose skin should they lose a lot of weight quickly? We have a lot of readers that are really big and this is definitely an issue that most other sites won’t talk about!

It does bother me a little but you know what, it’s a good problem to have given the alternative. I say just go for it and worry about the skin in the future once you are where you want to be weight and body fat % wise. It can be disturbing but its ok, it’s a battle scar that you can show off! You should definitely try strength training and not just 100% cardio, eat lots of veggies and check out that St. Ives and Palmers Cocoa Butter.

Steve: I know you’ve transformed TREMENDOUSLY on the outside – what has that done for your confidence?

Yeah so I am no longer the same person on the inside or outside. Growing up obese always caused me to have extremely low confidence to the point were I would not talk to the ladies. Now that I am within 40 pounds of my goal and really liking the way I look and feel my confidence is through the roof.

It is much easier for me to put myself out there now, not just with the ladies but with people in general. Sometimes I will catch the ladies checking me out and it just makes me swell up with confidence.

Steve: Judging by the smiles in your photos you’re just a happy dude now – has that changed how others have treated you? How you treat yourself?

I treat my self completely different. For example I no longer think down or bad about my self. I am extremely happy with who I am and what I have accomplished over this past year and I am even more excited about the next year.

I am signing up for Taekwondo within the next couple weeks as the beginning of my trying new things. People treat me completely different also, its crazy how differently people treat you, but I think that it also depends on how you treat yourself, I imagine that if you have high confidence and treat yourself well then that radiates off and people will also treat you well.

Steve: Onto the Nerdy Stuff: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

Hmm Star Trek! HAHA but no seriously May the Force be with you!

Steve: I really do need to include Star Trek as an option :). Okay, favorite video game (series) of all time? What about other any nerdy passions or pursuits? 

For video games, anything by Blizzard. I have been playing their games (Warcraft and Diablo) for the past 14+ years. I love to read, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is my favorite series. I am also looking to get into Cosplay (already planning out the 11th Doctor for Halloween).

Steve: If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?

Telepathic powers, because with any other power you are limited, but with the power to unlock your mind you are limitless. Think Professor-X and Yoda, two of the most badass dudes In the Universe and vastly intelligent, both have Telepathic powers.

Why Anthony Was Successful

Anthony_graduation

Anthony has one of the most dramatic success stories I have EVER seen. It’s clear that he found a path that worked and changes that are sticking.

Let’s take a look at how he did it.

Anthony wasn’t afraid to change his diet - Anthony didn’t just recognize that diet was 90% of the battle, he unleashed a blitzkrieg. He started by going 95% Paleo - a change which helped him get with his portion control. But he didn’t stop there. In addition to shifting what he ate, he also ate less, a lot less. He moved from over 4,000 calories from to 2200 and under.

One big reason we recommend Paleo? It’s a lot easier to eat less and feel satisfied and full when eating whole Paleo foods compared to McDonalds, pasta, or cake!

He took pictures - The scale can lie, but consistent picture taking tells the full story. As evidenced by the ridiculous amount of photos above, Anthony wasn’t afraid to make sure he was staying on target. In fact, he made this a regular thing – the 25th of each month. His photos served both as a measuring stick and a reminder. If something was off and he wasn’t improving, it became immediately clear. Just knowing you have a picture coming up can help you follow through. After all, knowing you have to take a picture next Monday makes it that much harder to reach for that donut!

Anthony didn’t weigh himself obsessively or take pictures every day. Instead he took monthly pictures and understood progress takes time. He knew he didn’t fall into his bad habits overnight, and it would take a serious investment to see progress.

He was a man with a plan – Some people find success by gradually getting their feet wet with exercise, testing the waters to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Anthony was the opposite. After failing in the past without an a game plan, he knew this time needed to be different. He attributes this change to the biggest thing that made this time different:

I think the biggest thing that made this time different was research and an action plan. Before I started I knew exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it from nutrition to work out!

Are you wandering around the gym without a plan? Or telling yourself you need to “eat better” without a meal plan or recipes? Maybe your goal is to “run more”?

Try one of our many free workouts. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, we’d love to have you in the newly revamped Academy.

He made sure he was leveling up - Anthony didn’t get lucky – he didn’t leave anything to chance. He made SURE he was leveling up by tracking his workouts just as fastidiously as his photo progress.

Anthony used multiple apps to stay on track – but the most crucial factor was his focus on keeping his workout numbers moving in the right direction. He didn’t stay happy with 1 mile. He said “I want more!” to 3 miles. Now he’s training for a half marathon.

He trained to be Antifragile - Anthony didn’t purely strength train nor did he simply run. He realized that a balance of a strong and conditioned body would be a balanced and effective route. It doesn’t surprise me that Anthony is one of the most epic stories we’ve had: his training turned him antifragile. He was never derailed due to an injury – he built a body that is always ready to tackle the next challenge.

Live your own epic quest

Anthony is proof that you can become the best version of yourself if you are willing to invest in yourself.

A quick note from me:

Anthony’s weight loss and transformation is dramatic and not typical, but not out of reach for people.  I know many people might wonder, “is it healthy to lose that much weight so quickly?”  In my humble opinion, I believe that it YES, it was healthy for Anthony. He drastically altered his diet, started strength training and walking, and stayed consistent with this plan for ONE year.  There were no supplements, unhealthy starvation techniques, pills.  Just education, dedication, and support.

Also, as Anthony started out at over 450 pounds, he had a LOT of weight to lose.  It’s typically considered safe to lose 1% per week – so for someone of Anthony’s size, that would be a much higher number than for someone who weighs 180 pounds. My advice: don’t worry about the amount of weight lost. Focus instead on sustainable changes every day, put your faith in the process, and your weight will take care of itself.

Lastly, I’m really proud of Anthony for his attitude on his loose skin.  I know we have a lot of rebels who are concerned about this, but I agree with Anthony: loose skin is a fantastic problem to have compared to remaining severely overweight and headed towards an early grave. Loose skin and stretch marks are battle scars to be proud of. Evidence that you came out out the other side and won!

Anthony is a reminder that a healthy life is a wonderful thing, but that a healthy life must be EARNED.

And yes, it’s worth it.

It may not be easy, but we’re all in this together. Over 200,000 nerds to lean on. And today, one nerd to learn from.

What questions do you have for Anthony?

I‘m sure he’d love it if you just left a simple “WAY TO GO DUDE!” comment.  He’s so excited and proud to share this story, and so are we.

So, who’s going to be the next Nerd Fitness success story?

-Steve

PS: These are my favorite articles to put together, and this is why we do what we do at Nerd Fitness – Anthony saved his own life by putting our words and advice into action. I feel like a proud parent! If you’re somebody who needs specific help getting started and staying motivated too, I’d be honored if you checked out the Nerd Fitness Academy.

Speaking of which – in honor of these new quests tracking and level features, we’re offering a bonus kickass webinar to anybody that signs up before tomorrow night at 11:59 pm! See you on the inside.

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The Improved Nerd Fitness Academy: Literally Level Up Your Life http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/29/the-improved-nerd-fitness-academy-literally-level-up-your-life/ http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/07/29/the-improved-nerd-fitness-academy-literally-level-up-your-life/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:13:24 +0000 http://www.nerdfitness.com/?p=22683 DING!

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of Nerd Fitness leveling up.

And the sound of YOU leveling up.

When I started Nerd Fitness 5.5 years ago, I created the tagline “Level up your life, every single day.”

I wanted to encourage people to look at life like a game, and look at themselves as the main character. I wanted to gamify how we changed and grew in our lives.

About four years ago, I created “professions” based on different methods of exercise and video game archetypes:

  • Warrior - power lifting
  • Ranger - cross training
  • Scout - endurance training
  • Assassin - bodyweight and gymnastics
  • Druid - yoga and tai chi
  • Monk - martial arts

At the time, I had this vision for a massively mutliplayer online fitness “game” in which Nerd Fitness Rebels could select their classes and start leveling up by completing health and fitness quests. The game was called “Rising Heroes,” and we even spent over a year and significant resources trying to bring it to life.

Ultimately, the timing wasn’t right, and I had to put the project on hold.  This broke my heart, as I knew the NF community was as excited for it as I was!  However, I knew there would be a way to eventually make this massive dream a reality.

Nerd Fitness started as just a blog, then it became a community, and now it’s evolving even further to literally turn life into a game.  Although we have been around for five years, I feel like this is a new beginning.

The start of a new phase in our Rebellion’s history.

Rising Heroes isn’t a reality quite yet, but today we get to take a giant step closer to building the perfect platform for this “life is a game” vision.

After years of idea mapping, planning, and building the right the right team around us to make it happen, we’ve overhauled the Nerd Fitness Academy, our online fitness course and community that’s been helping over 5,500 people get fit just this year.

After months of behind the scene work, we can finally announce all of the epic and awesome changes that have come to the Academy.  

Including, yes… the ability to track quests, earn experience, and literally level up your character on your way to a healthier life!

Personal Video Tour With Steve

Nerd Fitness Academy Walkthrough Video

Video overview:

  • 0:15 - Steve’s original idea (5 years ago).
  • 1:30 - What the Academy teaches (and can help you with).
  • 2:57 - Teleport inside the Academy itself for a walkthrough!
  • 5:00 - How leveling and gaining experience actually works.
  • 5:40 - Quest types and examples of actual quests.
  • 7:10 - Marking quests complete and leveling up (DING!).
  • 8:45 - Available classes and plans for expansion.
  • 9:27 - Walkthrough of the rest of the Academy modules and workouts.

Here’s some more information on what we’ve changed in this new update…

A Leveling and Quest System

quest page

The Nerd Fitness tagline has always been, “Level Up Your Life.”

I wanted to encourage people to look at life like a video game, and themselves as a character in that game – leveling up as quests are completed, missions are won, and skills are learned.  Unfortunately, back then it was just an idea.

Now, when you sign up for the Nerd Fitness Academy, you’ll be prompted to choose which Class you’d like to be, based on classic Role-Playing Archetypes.

If you’ve been around Nerd Fitness or been on our boards, these will be obvious:

  • Warrior - power lifting/strength training
  • Scout - endurance, biking, running
  • Ranger - cross training
  • Assassin – gymnastics, bodyweight training, parkour

Once you’ve selected your class, you’ll have the opportunity to start crossing off and completing missions, quests, and achievements…and yes, leveling up :)

We have over 150 quests/missions in the Academy already, and we’re going to be adding more along the way.

And don’t worry, we’ll be adding Druid and Monk in no time!

It’s taken me years longer than I would have liked to bring this to Nerd Fitness, but we’ve finally done it.  I’m excited to work with the Rebels in the Academy over the next few months to make sure, like any RPG, that our quests and achievements are balanced.

Eventually, our goal is to bring this feature to EVERYBODY on Nerd Fitness, regardless of whether or not you purchase anything from NF.  Because development is going to take a long time on making sure we implement this right, I’m excited to share this feature with Nerd Fitness Academy members and work with them to continually improve the experience.

The Nerd Fitness Diet

We know the Paleo Diet can be too restrictive, and we know counting calories can lead to neurotic behavior and confusion.

So we’ve created our own system that is designed to help our community tackle this concept of eating better, which is 80-90% of the battle.

The Nerd Fitness Diet, isn’t really a diet, per se, but rather a tiered system of levels based on your current diet and where you want your nutrition to be.

To start, you’ll select the level of diet that most closely resembles your current diet. Then you’ll complete a two week challenge to graduate to the next level.  Each level has been designed with the NF Philosophy in mind: small, deliberate changes that focus on long-term, sustained results.

We’re excited to help you level up your nutrition, and will be continuing to improve this experience!

A Simplified System

quest page

Getting fit, losing weight, and strength training is confusing work.

One of the biggest issues people have on their journey is getting overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.

We hear ya.  So we’ve simplified the hell out of the Academy, and structured it in a way so that ANYBODY, whether you’re 18 or 80, will know exactly what to do to get started:

  • Which missions and quests are critical
  • Which side quests can be completed at a later date
  • Specifically which workout plan to follow, and for how long

Along with ALL of that, you’ll get every tool and feature you need for the confidence to get started, a few dozen workout plans applicable for ANY situation (gym, home, park, outer space, etc.), dozens of recipes to help you get started with cooking, and a special supportive community of Academy students who are going through the Academy alongside you.

We’ve taken all of the great stuff that’s helping 5,500+ people get healthy, and we’ve made it even easier to get started. We want to remove any barrier between you and your leveled-up self, whether those barriers are mental, physical, or emotional.

Rebels of All Shapes and Sizes Getting Results

I wanted to share with you some testimonials and success stories from people already inside the Academy.

It’s easy to hear me say “Here’s why this is important,” but I want you to hear from actual students too.  Here are REAL people with jobs, children, and busy lives and are still having success:

testimonial2

testimonial 5

testimonial1

testimonial4

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Join us this week for special bonus

bonus video graphic

We’re just getting started.  

You know how Marvel used Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America to set up The Avengers?

Think of the NF Academy as the first piece in a master plan over the next few years to truly bring the Nerd Fitness philosophy to life! 

The NF Academy will continue to improve, character pages and leveling will be introduced to all parts of Nerd Fitness (both paid and free), and I have no doubt this community will be prepped and ready for world domination.

Now, I like people who take action, and I know one of the best ways to succeed is to invest in yourself.  On top of that, I want to get your thoughts and results on the new and improved Academy. 

So I’m gonna sweeten the pot: for the next four days (until Friday August 1st at 11:59PM PST), we’re offering a special bonus to people that join the Academy (don’t worry, current Academy owners – you’ll get this too).

If you join the NF Academy before Friday at midnight (or if you’re already in the Academy), I’ll be hosting a LIVE webinar and exclusive Q&A on Thursday Evening, August 21st.  

We’ll be focusing the half-party, half-training webinar on the best way to APPLY every part of the Academy to your own life. We’re going to make sure this sticks for you – and for you to see results even in the first few weeks.

And I’ll be hanging around for as long as necessary to answer any and all questions you have about your first three weeks in the Academy. (We’re recording it all for you, too).

If you’re one of those people that says “oh I’ll join eventually” or “meh, maybe some day” consider this the fire lit under your ass to FINALLY TAKE ACTION.

I’m so proud of what the NF Team has been able to put together.

Thanks again for being part of Nerd Fitness, and make sure you’ve got sunglasses: the future is bright and we’re just getting started.

FOR THE REBELLION!

-Steve

PS: I hope you join us in the Academy - this course comes with a LIFETIME money back guarantee, because I want you to feel confident that this is the best way you can help yourself level up your life (literally!).

See you on the inside!

PPS: Keep an eye out for our article on Thursday - We’re sharing the biggest success story in Nerd Fitness History! Anthony who dropped 210 pounds over the past 12 months following the Nerd Fitness philosophy - his story brought me to tears.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

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