Life is a Game: A Major Epic Quest Update (Plus, a Request!)

As kids we have all sorts of dreams and fantasies…defeating the dragon, visiting far off lands, going on grand adventures.

As adults, we continue to dream, but more often than not, we never act.

This was me, five and a half years ago when I started Nerd Fitness with the tagline “Level Up Your Life.”

Having never traveled outside of North America, and being generally risk averse, a picky eater, and quite shy…I decided to turn life into a giant video game.

I wanted to prove that any regular Joe Steve could improve their life by applying game mechanics to it and having fun along the way.

That’s the idea behind my Epic Quest of Awesome, to send myself on epic adventures and challenges, and inspire other desk jockeys to leave our cubicles and create unforgettable experiences.

So, what’s going on with my epic quest these days? I’m glad you asked!

Seeing as I went and had crazy adventures in Croatia this summer – where I completed three quests - I figure today would be a good day to talk about my making a game of life, how it works, and what’s next for me.

On top, of that…I have a request for some help on a super secret project I’m working on!

Shall we?

Does it REALLY Matter?

“I have a WHAT!?”

“You probably have an ulcer. It’s like a small hole in your stomach.”

“Yeah, but I’m 27. How the hell can I have an ulcer?!”

It was 2012, the day before I was getting ready to move to Ecuador for a month.  I had just hired my first full-time team member for Nerd Fitness (Hi Staci!), and I got some news from my doctor after having stomach pains for the previous three weeks.

Now, I know there’s no TRUE evidence that says stress causes ulcers, but all I could think of was how stressed I had been for the previous few months: working 16-hour days, freaking out about the tiniest things, having absolutely no balance, etc.  I had started Nerd Fitness to help people get healthy, and I was driving myself to an unhealthy existence.

It was a wake-up call.  

Until now, I haven’t told many people about the ulcer – in fact, I’m not even sure I told my parents.  Ooops, sorry Mom!

At the time, this inspired some serious self reflection: What was I doing? Were my priorities right? Why was I so stressed?

This all came back to me just a few weeks ago when tragedy struck a close friend of mine, reminding me what’s truly important in this big game we call life.

Lessons Learned From Camp Nerd Fitness

“Holy crap, did that actually just happen?”

A few weeks ago I sat in my car, tears streaming down my face, as I reflected on what had transpired over the previous 72 hours. After two years of planning, months of late nights and early mornings, and more than a few “are we crazy for doing this?” thoughts…we had just completed our first ever Camp Nerd Fitness.

Roughly 200 rebels came together in the mountains of Clayton, GA, for a weekend of community, education, inspiration, and late night dance parties.  Oh and parkour, and kung fu, and yoga, and deadlifts.  Because, deadlifts.

It was like an awesome culmination of our online community, blog posts, the NF Academy, and 200 of my closest friends all together for a weekend.

Although we hit a few snags along the way, Camp Nerd Fitness was a resounding success, and the first event of MANY MORE TO COME that brings together our our online community in real life.

We’re already planning for next year’s event, so make sure you sign up on the interest list to be the first to receive more info!

If You Start, Go All the Way

I want you to think back to the last time you truly threw yourself 100% into transforming your life (which is different than this transforming).

If you’re like me, that might be difficult. You see, I don’t know what it is about us nerds, but we’re often afraid to try with all of our effort. We’re afraid of failing, that giving our all and not succeeding is a knock against who we are at our core. If we don’t put it all on the line, then “we” are protected.

So, instead of going all in, of giving everything we’ve got…we kind of half-ass it. We give half an effort, and then when things fail, we’re quick to say “this system doesn’t work,” “well I didn’t really try,” or “I knew it would fail.”

Well, Charles Bukowski has something to say about that.

If you watch one thing today, let it be this (hat tip to Anthony):

Charles Bukowski: All the Way

Although Bukowski probably wasn’t talking about physical fitness and training, I think it’s perfectly applicable to everything we do at Nerd Fitness.

Strength Training 101: The Deadlift


This is a post by NF Team Member Staci Ardison, who recently deadlifted 405 lbs at Camp Nerd Fitness.

Deadlift day is my favorite day.

And it’s Piglet’s too. 

When my story came out in July of 2011, I said that I’m simply happier on days that I deadlift – and that holds true to this day.  There’s really nothing more satisfying than picking up a ton of weight off the floor and holding it in your hands.

Jón Páll Sigmarsson, the Icelandic Strongman/Powerlifter once said (while deadlifting 1005 lbs), “There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift.”

Now, that may be a bit extreme, but deadlifting is truly a romantic lift.

On deadlift day, I don’t need assistance or a spotter – it’s just me, the barbell, and the weight.  I love nothing more than to put my headphones in, put on a favorite playlist, and focus on nothing but me and that weight.

But even with so much going for it, many people are afraid of the deadlift and avoid it at all costs, citing fear of injury.

However, deadlifting in itself is not dangerous – but like with any movement, deadlifting wrong can be. Properly executing the deadlift will allow you to build a stronger posterior chain, less fragile joints, and a body that can handle whatever life throws at you.

We love the Deadlift, and it’s a key component of the Barbell Battalion section of the Nerd Fitness Academy.

Today we’re going to fall in love with the deadlift, and make sure you can do them right!

Don’t Escape. Get Inspired.

In my nearly six years of writing for Nerd Fitness, I’ve come to a big realization that has guided my daily decision making process.

Books, games, movies, and our own experiences are a chance to do one of two things: temporarily escape our own existences, or get inspired to improve ourselves in real life.

These decisions start innocently at an early age. 

As kids, we use those books, games, and moves as both a fun escape and inspiration. When our parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and we mentioned things like:  “I’m gonna be strong like Popeye!” or “I’m going to travel like Dora!” – the response was always “you can be whatever you want, you can do anything!”

I remember playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as a kid; I would go out into my backyard, imagine it was the Lost Woods, picture myself as Link, and feel like the fate of Hyrule was truly in my hands.  It was a great mixture of imagination AND adventure.

Then, something happens: we grow up.

Stay Healthy on Vacation With This Simple Hack

Vacation: a chance to relax, unwind… and completely fall off the “healthy living” wagon!

How is it that we can go months and months in perfect routine, dutifully eating healthy, never missing a workout, and staying on target, but a single week of vacation can be enough to throw us completely off balance and send us back to square one?

Sure, it’s one thing to try and stay on target while traveling for work (which we cover here), but it can be a completely different beast to tackle while we’re on vacation.

Late nights, early mornings, funky travel schedules, alcohol, and “once in a lifetime” moments all seem to take priority over healthy decisions.

And… the thing is… generally these things SHOULD take priority!  

Normally, a single bad meal or missed workout is not cause for alarm. However, when that one day of unhealthy decisions becomes 7-10 days of abnormal decisions, it can make it almost impossible to get back on track once we return home.

And soon enough, a week can very quickly turn into months of poor decision making.

Over the years of traveling, both for work and pleasure, I’ve devised a game that keeps me in shape, despite far too many late nights, eating off schedule, and missing workouts.

Here’s how I stay in shape while also enjoying the spoils of vacation and having fun.

How Dave the Radio Host Lost Over 170 lbs!

Meet Dave Ferguson, a 23 year-old Canadian living on the Gaspé coast in Eastern Quebec.

Dave is currently working as a webmaster, radio host, and as the assistant to the music director at a local radio station. Plus, he’s a volunteer firefighter.

Dave started his journey at 418 lbs. Stuck in a cycle of weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle, Dave decided to try something new. He didn’t go about getting healthy like he had the millions of times before. This time was different, and he’s been documenting his progress through Nerd Fitness along the way.

After losing 170 lbs, he’s a different person. 

His transformation is freaking amazing, so let’s find out how he did it!

The Super Simple, 7 Ingredient Fish and Veggies

This is a post from Rebel Chef Noel.

It’s confession time. Ready? Here goes…

I have always hated water levels.

I hate them because I totally suck at them. That music still haunts me. (I’m not alone in this, right?)

My very first game system growing up was the NES, and my favorite game was Super Mario Bros. 3, but every time I got to World 3: Ocean Side, it was Game Over. It wasn’t until I teamed up with friends who could show me how to make it through the levels that I was able to make it to World 4. Go team!

MarioFireworks

Cooking can be the water level of getting healthy for some folks. You’ve completed other levels, you’ve gotten active, set up your batcave, and maybe even figured out how to make healthy choices in restaurants.

But when it comes to cooking, it’s Game Over for you.

Well, I’ve got good news, gang. I’m here today to be your player 2 and show you how to get past this mega challenge.

This fish tastes like fish. I’m not gonna lie to you.  It is a mild recipe, but if you don’t like fish, look away (or try one of our other awesome recipes…). But if you do like fish, and have never tried to cook it because it seems difficult, listen up. This one’s for you.

This colorful recipe takes about 20 minutes (15 of those minutes are just waiting for it to cook!), and only uses 7 ingredients.

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a printable recipe and shopping list.)

It’s easier than stomping goombas.

The Oath of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion


I’ve been thinking a quite a bit lately about honor, brotherhood, and duty.

Right around the time I came up with the idea for Nerd Fitness, 300 had just hit the big screen and I was captivated by the cohesive heartbeat of the Spartan Army.

I felt the same way as I watched Spartacus lead his rebel army in the epic Starz series that left me teary-eyed by the end.

As this Nerd Fitness evolved from part-time blog to full time community, I was devouring page after page of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series, recently brought to life in the TV series.

In each of these cases, “the cause” becomes something greater than the person fighting.  They become greater than the sum of their parts.

As funny as it sounds, these awesome and epic stories seriously relate to the goofy, rambunctious underdogs here in the growing Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Let’s find out how.

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