Reader Spotlight: Learn How Matt Lost 157 Pounds in One Year.

In this edition of the Nerd Fitness Reader Spotlight, I had to opportunity to interview Matt (67Alecto on the NF Message Boards), a guy who has lost 157 pounds in ONE YEAR.  Yup, Matt is the man.  I love his story because it wasn’t just “running on a treadmill for four hours a day,” it was an adjustment in his diet, mindset, and weight training!

Steve: Hey Matt!  Thanks for the interview man.  If you could, describe a typical day before you decided to change your life.

Matt: Apathy is a good word. I could detail eating 4000-7000 calories on a regular basis, but what it really came down to was apathy. I’d eat without thinking, eat without even really being hungry, and then snack simply because it was the usual time to have a snack.

My activity level was basically nil. I had torn my rotator cuff a few years ago and it took me from playing tennis 5x a week, playing on softball and flag football teams, plus working out at the company gym to nothing. My shoulder wasn’t much better after finishing physical therapy, and I only made a half-hearted effort the following year to try to workout again. It was “hard”, so I quit.

I went from being active enough to where I could at least keep up with the fork, to zero activity and no change in eating habits. I was already overweight, but over the next 4 years it added 100+lbs.

I’d go to work, come home, play computer games, go to bed sometime after midnight, wake up 6 hours later and start all over again.

Steve: What was your motivation to make that change? What put you over the edge?

Matt: The infamous “Ah hah!” moment that all obese people have when they decide to lose weight – I didn’t have one. I knew I had to lose weight, and that my health was horrible (I was taking 4 medications for cholesterol and bloodsugar). I just always told myself I’d get to it later.

I had been vaguely aware of Tyler over at 344pounds.com starting his weight loss blog. Consumerist had a few updates over the course of 6 months, and I had been curious as to how he would do. When he hit 100lbs lost, my thought was “If some random blogger can do it, I sure as hell can”. I set aside the excuses and got to work. I wasn’t happy, wasn’t feeling good, and it was no longer an option to continue this way.

Steve: So that was you a year ago.  What does your life look like now?  What’s a typical day for you?

Matt: Instead of letting the day happen to me, I attack it.

I value time I can spend outside being active. I started in July of 2009 and it was a mild summer. I could work in the yard, go walking in the neighborhood, and hiking on the weekends. I went from playing computer games 20+ hours a week to less than half that. It’s not that I’ve felt I had to sacrifice playing on the computer, it’s just that if I’m going to do it, I want it to be a richer experience rather than doing it just to do it.

Oh, and picking clothes out to wear is actually an enjoyable experience…or at least doesn’t suck like it used to.  In 1 year, I have lost 157lbs, went from 48″ pants to 34″, and in shirts from 5XL to 2X/XL (depending on the cut of the shirt, I wear either an XL or a 2XL to accommodate my shoulders). Shopping for clothes, needless to say, is much easier.

Steve: Congrats man, that’s a hell of a transformation in just one year.  If you could pick, what’s the one thing you think that had the most impact on your weight loss?

Matt: Setting aside all of the bull****. One of my favorite scenes from both the graphic novel and movie “Wanted” is with The Repairman. When asked by Wesley what he repairs, he simply states “A lifetime of bad habits” and then he proceeds to punch him over and over. That’s it right there.

At some point, we all need someone to tie us to a chair and beat the crap out of us (metaphorically speaking) until we realize we have to be accountable for our actions and stop making excuses. [Steve's note: AMEN.]

“I’m tired. I’m hungry. I gained 10lbs after eating a Hershey’s kiss last night. It’s hard. It hurts. I’ll just circle the parking lot one more time to see if that spot opens up. I drank 12 beers and ate 40 wings over the weekend, but I don’t understand how I didn’t lose weight this week. It’s a holiday, so I’m federally required to eat 10,000 calories.”

If you can’t be accountable to yourself…if you can’t stop lying to yourself, then you just aren’t ready to change.

Steve: That’s a helluva attitude Matt, I love it.  This is question I couldn’t wait to ask: wow important has weight training been to your success?

Matt: Extremely. I started out walking, and supplemented it with resistance band workouts every other day. Eventually, I discovered the “No Gym, No Problem” post at Nerd Fitness and started doing level 1. I couldn’t do a pushup, but instead of skipping it because it was hard, I tried it on my knees. Nope, not happening. Should I quit? Nope…do them on the stairs. I started about 5 stairs up and was able to do the sets with wide and close grips.

I couldn’t do pullups, nor inverted rows, so I had to skip those. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t do the squats, lunges, and so on.

Once winter was truly here, I went ahead and joined a gym since walking outside wasn’t an option. The gym is 24×7, and I started with a mix of dumbbell and machine work. Farmer’s carries, squats on the smith machine, cable rows, bicep curls, tricep extensions, seated shoulder press, and so on. It could have been worse, but it wasn’t as good as it was once I discovered Stronglifts 5×5. I started out doing the overhead, bench, and squats in the smith machine because the freeweights were always being used by these two guys who worked out at the same time.

Like most gym goers they eventually stopped coming, and I switched to the free weights.

I started out with the bar, and have worked up to overhead 115, squats 340, bench 165, and deadlift 235. The ego kicks in every now and then about how my bench and overhead are so far behind, but I remind myself that I am running a calorie deficit and can’t expect big gains. I’ve currently deloaded on bench and deadlift and am working my way back up to ensure my form is good.

Steve: Had you tried losing weight in the past? If you had failed then, what has made you succeed now?

Matt: When the mood would strike me, I could lose weight by portion control and working out 5x a week. About 10 years ago I started working for a company that had an on-site gym, and I lost about 50lbs over the course of 2 years. As my job changed, I’d like to say that I didn’t have time to workout, but really what it was was the apathy…I let it drop down in my priorities. I remember just before I started the new position, I bought a pair of 38″ jeans that I couldn’t quite button. I figured that I’d be in them in the next month. Never happened. Donated those jeans a few years later.***

As a young person, you always think that you’ll have time for everything you want to do. 10 years later, I know that I can’t be wasting my time anymore.

The reason why it is working for me now is because I’ve cut out the excuses.

Steve: Do you have any specific advice for other guys in the same boat, trying to lose a large amount of weight?

Matt: 4 things are essential:

  • Figure out what your calorie needs are. There are tons of online calorie calculators out there. The one at http://www.phord.com/cc/ is great. Losing weight is “calories in < calories out.”
  • Set your calorie goal at a point where you will lose weight regardless of your activity. Don’t let being sick, or getting an injury be an excuse to shovel food in your mouth.
  • Keep a food log and track all of your calories. I use http://caloriecount.about.com/ because they were always coming up near the top of searches when I’d look up calorie information. All free, it has online logs for everything, and a giant database of foods and activities that are easily accessed.
  • Be more active. Get at least 30 minutes of some sort of activity a day. I started out walking, and shooting around on the basketball court. But do the little things, too. Take the stairs, park in the first spot you find, walk to the mailbox, and so on.

Steve: Thanks Matt, that’s great advice. Onto the Nerd Stuff: favorite video game of all time?

Matt: Toss-up between Max Payne 1 and 2, and GTA: Vice City.

Max Payne 1 and 2 had amazing writing and great gameplay. I keep them together because the sequel had practically no changes to game play and just extended the story. The user mods for it like Kung Fu 3.0 took it even further. I used to love making gameplay movies since the developer keys enabled you move the camera around, slow things down, and more. Here’s one of my videos that has gotten a lot of attention over the years:

Vice City was such an immersive world. I’m still floored about how much they put into the 80s radio stations. Being the nerd that I am, I have ripped those files out of the game and have MP3s of VROCK, Flash, and Wave 103 that I still listen to regularly. I’d just drive around listening to the radio stations and try insane stunts. A big advantage of playing on the PC vs the consoles is having built-in replay functions which allow you to save out all the insanity.

Steve: Are you playing any game right now?

Matt: Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 are the ones I play on a regular basis.

Steve: If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

Matt: Super strength. Chicks dig it when you can open jars for them.

Steve: Hahahahaha, touche’.  What’s your movie to live by?

Matt: They Live. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Steve: What’s one piece of advice you would give to a random stranger?

Matt: Set a goal and start yesterday.

There ya have it folks – this is what’s possible when you “put aside all the bull****,” start to eat better, and pick up some weights.  And if you’re a female reading this article, don’t think weight lifting is only for guys – just ask Moe: the powerlifting gamer-girl you didn’t know existed.

-Steve

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The Donkey Kong Guide to Weight Loss

Today, an 800-pound virtual gorilla is going to help you get in shape.

Everybody has played the original Donkey Kong at one point or another, right?  If you haven’t, here’s the premise: Donkey Kong has kidnapped the princess, and it’s your job as Mario to climb up ladders and over obstacles until you reach the top of the level where she’s being held captive.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take 30 seconds to watch this video, and then join the conversation.

Who’s your princess?

Mario is constantly risking life and limb to scale a treacherous obstacle course, climbing faulty ladders, dodging rolling barrels, and escaping pesky flames. Why?  Because his lady friend has been captured by an damn dirty ape and he is her only hope of survival!  If you were put in Mario’s comically oversized boots, I bet you would do the same thing.

Take a look at your life and your quest for health: who is your “princess?” Why do you want to get in shape?  If you say “why not!” or “my friend told me to,” you probably won’t be jumping through hoops or over barrels to get there anytime soon.

Now, if you said, “because  I want to grow old with my wife” or “because my father died of heart failure at 53, and I want to actually see my kids grow up,” I bet you’ll actually take steps to turn your life around.

It doesn’t have to be this serious either: maybe your motivation is “I want to impress the cute waitress at the coffee shop and I know she works out” or “I want to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see.”  Whatever your “princess” is, keep that in your mind every day, especially on days when you feel like sleeping in/pigging out/doing nothing.

Secondly, do you have a set goal? Mario’s girlfriend was waiting at the top of the level, which meant Mario had a specific challenge to accomplish to rescue her.  What are your specific goals?

  • Lose 95 pounds.
  • Run 3 marathons in 2010.
  • Bench press 200 pounds 5 times.
  • Get down to a 34-inch waist.

Depending on how far away you are from your goal at the start, the longer  and more perilous the level might be.  No matter how far away that goal is however, as long as it’s in your mind and SPECIFIC, you’ll remember why you’re going through all this trouble and you’ll know how much further you need to go.

Barrels and Hammers

Mario’s journey from the bottom of the screen to the top is no cakewalk.  He’s got all kinds of garbage to contend with, including barrels hurled with ferocity by our furry villain.  Fortunately, Mario’s quite the acrobatic plumber, and provided he’s paying attention he can leap over these rolling barrels with ease.  Of course, he can also grab a super hammer instead, turning temporarily invisible and whacking the hell out of those things.

What are the barrels in your life? These are the obstacles that have derailed your previous weight loss efforts and will threaten to do so again if you’re not prepared.  Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar:

1) Extra difficult project at work. In the past, these stressful times at work are a reason to say “hell with it” and order pizza, hit up Taco Bell for fourth meal, and generally completely disregard your own well-being while putting the company first.

  • Jump - Although it’s difficult, find a way to eat sensibly while going out for food during these few bad days and make a pact to get right back on the train once the workload slows down.  You also de-stress by going for a brisk walk every few hours to clear your mind.
  • Hammer - In anticipation of a rough work week, you fire up a bunch of grilled chicken and cut up a bunch of veggies on Sunday night so you have all meals ready for the week.  You deftly avoid the vending machines and instead chomp down on a healthy snack brought from home.  Recognizing the importance of a clear mind, you still find time to exercise and come back to your desk refreshed.

2) 3-day holiday weekend. Ugh.  A million beers, six dozen hot wings, a truckload of hamburgers, and a pallet full of Ruffles have all been invited to a party in your stomach.

  • Jump - You know that a long weekend is coming up, so you eat extra diligently for the days leading up to it.  A few days off the wagon aren’t enough to sabotage your adventure, and you get right back on track when the holiday is over.
  • Hammer – It’s a weekend in the US, which means there’s probably a fun race going on that morning.   Instead of sleeping in, you sign up for the race, maybe raise some money for a good cause, and get something accomplished before you would even normally wake up!  That runner’s high carries you through the rest of the day while you enjoy some beers and surprisingly decent eating.

3) Freak snowstorm. Aw crap, you were going to go to the gym today, but there’s now eighteen inches of snow on the ground.  Oh well, looks like you now have the perfect excuse to lie the couch, eat Oreos, and watch a marathon of America’s Funniest Home Videos, right?  Fail.

  • Jump - Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold.  Go about your normal routine, do a kick ass body weight exercise routine inside, and take care of business.
  • Hammer - Screw the gym and pretend like you’re recreating the training montage from Rocky IV: go shovel the driveway, chop some wood, and climb a freaking mountain while screaming the name of your arch rival.

Our lives are full of these barrels.  Identify yours and have a game plan for how you’re going to deal with them.  Be prepared, plan ahead, and then either jump over them or hammer the hell out of them.

What happens if you get hit by one? Sh** happens, and every now and again you’ll get hit.  We’re all human, and this game of life isn’t easy.  Fortunately, unless you literally got run over by a barrel, you’re probably okay to get up and try again (wooo extra lives!).   So you ate like a pig, drank like a fish, and exercised less than Jabba the Hutt, WHO CARES.

Set your alarm for 7AM the next morning, get your ass out of bed, and get back on track.  That princess isn’t going to save herself.

The flames

As Mario is climbing the level, dodging barrels, grabbing hammers, and scaling ladders, there’s this little rinky-dink flame hanging out at the bottom.  It’s slow and clumsy, but it will eventually catch up to Mario should he become complacent and not advance further.

That flame is chasing you too.  Standing still and jumping over obstacles as they come to you can only take you so far – it’s time to make some progress.  Be stronger and faster today than you were yesterday – find a way to lift one extra pound, do one extra rep, and be one second faster.

Always be leveling up, and always be moving forward.

How’s your game of life going?

This is the part where we all help each other win.  Who’s your “princess,” what are your barrels, and how do jump/hammer them?

Leave your advice for others in the comments!

-Steve

PS – Exciting news!  Over the weekend, I was contacted by the cool folks that run The Daily Brainstorm who asked me to be a contributor!  This online newspaper pulls in articles from a select group of bloggers, including Leo at ZenHabits, Everett at Far Beyond the Stars, and Darren over at ProBlogger.  I’m a BIG fan of these guys (and most of the other contributors too), so I’m quite honored to have my name occupy the same webspace. If you got a few minutes I’d encourage you to check it out!

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22 Fitness Milestones to Mark Your Journey From Chump to Champ

This post is heavily inspired by Corbett Barr’s great article over on ThinkTraffic.net. I couldn’t help but think how a similar article based around fitness milestones would work well for Nerd Fitness (with some Super Mario Bros. thrown in there).

As Corbett explained in his post, everybody’s journey will be different.  If I left something out or you think I put things out of order, let me know in the comments!

Level 1-1, Start! (Here we go!)

1. You lose your first pound. You step on the scale after a few days of eating less and you’re down a pound, headed in the right direction for the first time in your life!  Hopefully you don’t celebrate by eating everything off the dollar menu at Wendy’s.

2. You prepare your your first healthy meal. After realizing that it actually was pretty good and saved you some money, you decide to bring your lunch in to work at least two times a week instead of fast food.  Somewhere, the Burger King silently weeps.

3. You walk your first mile. Dusting the cobwebs off your old running shoes, you head out for a walk around your block and make it a whole mile without stopping.  Sure you were huffing a puffing along the way and you got passed by a kid on a tricycle, but it’s a start.  You take note to start the couch to 5k program.

4.  You do your first set of 5 push ups. Using the success and confidence from your first few weeks of weight loss, you’ve worked your way up to five whole push ups and that distant pipedream (get it? Mario? Pipe? ZING!) of 20 in a row no longer seems impossible.

5. You tighten your belt a few notches. You put on your favorite pair of jeans and realize that your belt is now two loops farther over from where it started.  Take that, pants!

First mushroom (Yahoo! Big Mario!)

6. You get your first “hey, did you lose weight?” comment, and DAMN it feels good. “Thanks, Marcia from Accounting!  I HAVE lost weight, thanks for noticing.”  You reside on cloud 9 for the rest of the day, even after getting yelled at for not putting cover sheets on your TPS reports.

7. You run in your first 5k, and survive. Who cares that you lost to an 80 year old grandmother pushing a stroller with two grandkids in it.  You signed up for a race, you trained for it, and then you did it.  You briefly entertain the thought of sabotaging future grandmothers pushing strollers before deciding to just train harder next time.

8. You buy new clothes. Your shirts now feel two sizes too big, and your pants keep falling down!  You drop your old clothes off at Goodwill and make the trip over to the mall for a whole new wardrobe, punching one of the ‘real life mannequins’ at Abercrombie & Fitch in the face while you’re there.

9. You finally stop drinking soda for good. It took you two months of weening yourself off that daily case of Mountain Dew, but you’re at the point now where you water actually sounds like a good idea to you.  Sure you’ll have the occasional Jack and Coke on the weekends, but other than that, soda is a distant afterthought.

10. You sign up for your company’s softball team/Ultimate Frisbee team/running club. You’re no longer ashamed of your body and start exercising with other people that you know.  You might still end up at the end of the lineup or back of the pack, but damnit you’re having fun.

Hit by your first enemy (Booo, back to little Mario)

11. You hit a weight-loss plateau. Despite an great week of eating healthy and running, you step on the scale and see the same damn number you saw last week!  WTF, mate?

12.  A friend of yours has already lost more weight than you in half the time. You start to blame your poor genetics and/or assume he took a shortcut (when in reality you have no idea how hard he’s trained or how clean his diet has become).

13. You get hurt and can’t exercise for two weeks. You twist an ankle when you play Wii Tennis with a little too much intensity, and the doctor says “no exercise until you recover.”  Damn!  All of that hard work and momentum comes to a screeching halt.  Oh well, at least you’re still eating well, right?

14. You have a bad week of eating. Crap.  A destination wedding, vacation with college buddies, or a trip with your kids to Grandma’s for the week means TONS of bad food.  Back home, you step on the scale while covering your eyes, afraid of what you’ll see.

Fire-Flower time (Back on track, picking up steam…)

15. You mix things up. Up to this point, you’ve been counting calories (instead of paying attention to the quality of your calories) and only jogging for your workouts.  After the wake-up call from your previous bad week of vacation, you step it up a notch – You adopt a healthier diet of mostly lean meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts, and you start putting serious effort into legitimate weight training and interval training.

16. You do a pull up. You struggle, sweat, and squirm your way until your chin is above the bar before dropping like a sack of hammers to the floor.  When you recover twenty minutes later, you realize that you just lifted your entire body weight off the ground and over the bar!  If Chuck Norris was presented, he would have started a slow clap for you, before roundhouse-kicking a criminal in the face.

17. You buy a new bathing suit and can’t wait to show it off. No more t-shirts in the pool for you!  You have a weekend beach trip coming up and for the first time in your life you’re excited about it.  Tickets to the gun show are free, ladies!

18. You hit a big weight milestone. 100 pounds lost, 30% of your body weight, etc.  Whatever that big number was in your head, you’re actually THERE.  Now, instead of focusing on the scale, you’re solely focused on getting stronger and faster.  Big day.

Star Power (It’s go time!)

19. People start to ask YOU for advice. Bob from IT wants to know if he’s doing push ups properly, Linda from Reception asks you questions about eating healthy, and your Dad emails you with questions on how to get rid of his beer gut.

20.  You can see your abs. Holy crap, they exist!  It’s taken months/years of hard work in the gym, a dedicated approach to your diet, and time for the extra skin around your gut to tighten up, but that six pack of abs is finally starting to pop out.  “Giddy” hardly describes your disposition these days.

21.  You get seriously excited about exercising daily. Bench pressing your body weight, deadlifting twice your weight, doing 10 pull ups in a row, running a 5k in under 20 minutes, and so on.  It’s weird, but now for some reason you can’t WAIT to exercise each day.  You’ve been transformed into a completely different person.  Optimus Prime would be proud.

22. You look back at an old picture of you and don’t even recognize yourself. You stumble through some old pictures of yourself on Facebook and your jaw drops.  Looking at pictures of yourself feels like looking at pictures of a different person.  In many ways, it is.

Where you at?

So, where are you on your journey?  What milestones do you look for?  Did I mix up the order on any of these?

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve

photo source

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I Want YOU to Join the Nerd Fitness Rebel Army!


It’s official: you can now enlist in the Nerd Fitness Rebel Army!

If you’re currently at NerdFitness.com, you’ll notice a nifty sign-up box for the Rebel Army over in the right hand column of the screen.  If you’re reading this in a feed reader or through the previous email sign up, stop on by the site and see what you’re missing!  Okay so it’s not that exciting, but still.

What’s the Nerd Fitness Rebel Army?

This email list/newsletter is reserved for people who are really passionate about the Nerd Fitness community. I realized that after a year and a half of running this site, I didn’t really have a good way to get a message to Nerd Fitness readers.  Some are on RSS, some stop by the site occasionally, others subscribe via the previous email service.  Whenever I wrote a new article or found something awesome to share, my only options were to post it and then wait for it to get spread through these various channels.

As Maximus once said, “the time for half-measures and talk is over.” After months of dragging my feet, I finally did something about it!

Now, whenever I post a new article, stumble across something cool to give away, or have important information regarding all things related to the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, I can get a message out to all rebels in a matter of minutes.  God bless the Internet!

Why You Should Enlist

This will help the rebel movement function far more smoothly, and I want you to be a part of it. Here’s what you’ll get when you sign up for the Rebel Army:

  • Emails from me twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) with the latest blog post, sent out minutes after I finish posting it.
  • Occasional messages from me when I receive cool stuff to give away.
  • Insider information and special offers regarding future Nerd Fitness guides, products, t-shirts, and more.

Don’t worry, I effing hate spam. I promise to never give your email address out to anybody – can’t have important info like that falling into the wrong hands!  I plan on running things like stated above for a few weeks, at which point I’ll send a survey out to subscribers and see how things are going, what I need to change/improve, and then go from there.  Everybody suffers occasionally from growing pains, and I imagine building a worldwide rebel army of super-strong nerds will be no different.

If you’re not happy with the emails, simply go ahead and unsubscribe – it’s pretty freaking simple.

Now, I know there are quite a few readers out there who read Nerd Fitness through the previous email service. I’ll be switching over to this new service, but I won’t be shutting the old one down for a while.  If you want to be part of the cool kids club, I’d recommend making the switch over to the Rebel Army newsletter and unsubscribing from the old service.

I might consolidate the lists eventually, but until then you can be ahead of the curve.

Rebel Fitness Guide

The rough draft for the Rebel Fitness Guide is DONE, and I hope to be able to launch this sucker in the next few weeks. Obviously it has to go through a bunch of revisions, get sent off to the designer, and all that jazz, but we’re getting down to crunch time!  I’ve dumped some serious hours into this thing and I can’t wait to get it out the door.

I had a great long weekend with friends, now it’s time to get back to work and down to business.

Enlist in the Rebel Army today!

For the Rebellion,

-Steve

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5 Life Lessons Learned From The Karate Kid

Other than Top Gun, no movie molded my childhood moreso than the Karate Kid.

Thanks to Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, I spent a good portion of my early years attending Karate classes, practicing the crane kick in my back yard on tree stumps, and cleaning the windows of our house only using the “wax on, wax off” motion.  To say I was obsessed with the Karate Kid would be an understatement.

Why did this movie leave such a lasting impression on me?

Let’s see: a skinny, out-of-shape kid goes against the popular crowd (Cobra Kai), trains in an unorthodox manner (thanks to Mr. Miyagi), and ultimately levels up his life while winning the girl of his dreams (and kicking the crap out of the town bully).

That’s pretty much every nerd’s dream, and I LOVE a good underdog story.

Although they’ve recently remade the Karate Kid with Will Smith’s kid and Jackie Chan, nothing will ever top the original in my eyes.  Here are five life lessons we can learn from Mr. Miayagi, Daniel-san, and the Karate Kid.

“Either you karate do ‘yes’ or karate do ‘no.’ You karate do ‘guess so,’ *squish!*”

When Mr. Miyagi asked Daniel if he was ready to learn Karate, Daniel’s response of “I guess so” pissed him off to no end.  The old man compared Daniel’s half-assed response to walking down a road: walking on the left side of the road is fine, walking on the right side of the road is fine, but walking down the middle of the road will eventually get you squished.

Like Yoda has taught us, “Do or do not.  There is no try.” The people who “try to get in shape” or say “I guess I’ll get in shape” will most likely fail.  If you want to lose weight and level up your life, you need to attack it with 100% of your heart and mind.  Giving it a shot for a week or two isn’t going to get you results, and thinking about it only half of the time isn’t going to get you where you want to be either.

This journey needs to become part of who you are:

  • Mentally, you’re focused. You have specific goals in mind that you want to accomplish, and then you set out to do them.  Whether it’s win the All-Valley Karate Tournament, lose 50 pounds, and/or run a marathon, you must recognize the fact that every day is an opportunity for you to get one step closer.
  • You’re not “on a diet.” Instead, you’re making conscious decisions every day to eat healthier food and follow a plan that you can stick with indefinitely.
  • You’re training with conviction. Half-assing it on a treadmill while chugging a Gatorade doesn’t count as a workout.  When exercising, be focused and efficient – if you pushed hard enough there should be sweat dripping off of you by the the time you’re done.

“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”

Daniel desperately wanted to learn how to do the crane kick after just a few lessons.  Miyagi responded that there’s a specific order of things in Karate just like in nature.  It is nature’s progression that allows animals to survive in the wild, and it’s Karate’s progression that would ultimately allow Daniel-san to succeed as a student.

Had Miyagi put the kid up on the stump and forced him to learn a Crane Kick before anything else, he might have failed miserably and given up.  Instead, he taught Daniel progressively more difficult strikes, balancing techniques, and blocks, built up his confidence, and only then did he allow Daniel-san to learn the Crane Kick.

Your life is no different.

If you’re 200 pounds overweight, don’t try to run a marathon tomorrow. Instead, you must learn to walk a mile, then two, then learn to run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and finally a full marathon.  Baby steps!

If you want to get stronger, don’t go into a gym and load 300 pounds onto a bar to bench press. Instead, start with an small amount of weight, learn the proper movement, and progress steadily each week, getting stronger and building momentum until you reach your goal.

If you want to acquire a new skill – Parkour, Capoeira, Rock Climbing, whatever – check your ego at the door. Take the beginner class, don’t overestimate your skills, and advance from there.  Who cares if you’re taking a Karate class with a bunch of 6-year olds, at least you don’t have to wait for your mom to come pick you up after (hopefully).

“In Okinawa, all Miyagi know two things: fish and karate.”

Growing up in Okinawa, Mr. Miyagi learned two things from his father: fishing, and karate.  How did he find time to become a great Karate master AND a great fisherman?  Because he found a good balance in his life and recognized the importance of having both.

[Side note: a great fisherman who happens to also be in incredible shape...sounds a lot like my Ninja Warrior hero, Makoto Nagano!]

Personally, I enjoy fitness and exercise, but I am no gym rat. In fact, I only go to the gym three times a week for about an hour each time.  Being in shape is part of my life, but it’s not the only thing that makes me happy.  I consider myself more of a gamer/nerd/writer/piano player/gambler/artist/reader  who happens to also be in pretty good shape.

I encourage you to find that balance in your life as well.  You can still be a great…

  • father, husband, wife, mother, friend, employee, and/or boss while having fun…
  • playing video games, taking photography classes, and/or going to the movies…
  • while ALSO living a healthy lifestyle.

Good time management and a solid balance of work and fun is crucial to your happiness. As I’ve said previously, find a way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into what you are, but not at the expense of who you are.

Mr. Miyagi said it best: “Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance, everything be better.”

“Hey, what kind of belt do you have?”Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?”

When asked by Daniel-san what kind of belt he had, Miyagi gave a smart-ass answer that was also quite deep philosophically.  How the hell does one of the best Karate teachers out there not have any idea what level belt he is?

Because at the end of the day it just doesn’t matter.

Competitions, contests, and achievements are great motivators to help you move forward, but never forget that the only person you’re really competing with when it comes to your health is yourself.  Who cares if you ran in a 5k race and got beat by a 10-year old girl?  Who cares if you can only bench 20 pounds while the cute girl next to you is putting up 135 for a set of 10?  After you’ve checked your ego (a common theme today), think of it like this:

  • So you got beat by a 10 year old in a 5k. Suck it up, remember your time from this race, and make sure you run your next race at least one second faster.  If you’re getting faster, that’s all that matters.
  • So you’re getting ‘outlifted’ at the gym. Suck it up, remember how much you lifted and how many times you lifted it, and then next time make sure you either lift more weight or the same amount for more repetitions.  If you’re getting stronger, that’s all that matters.
  • So you only lost one pound this week while your cubicle-mate lost 5 pounds. Suck it up, remember that you still lost weight, and continue to find ways to level up your life and the success will follow.  If you’re making progress, that’s all that matters.

Having a class system to determine your level is nice, but don’t let it be the only benchmark you use to determine your success. No matter how big, slow or weak you are compared to those around you, it really only matters if you’re getting healthier, faster, and stronger compared to the You from yesterday.

“You mean there were times when you were scared to fight?” “Always scared.”

Mr. Miyagi, the guy who could single-handedly defeat six Cobra Kai at once, was always scared to fight.  And yet, he still took care of business when necessary.  This might be the most important lesson of all and one I’ll always remember.

We’re surrounded these days with images and movies of heroic men who march bravely into battle without an ounce of fear:

Thanks to these heroes, it’s tough to not feel inadequate when that initial fear sets in, no matter how inconsequential the action you’re afraid of might be.  Maybe you’re scared to go to the gym for the first time, try rock climbing, eat sushi, wear a bathing suit, run a marathon, ask out that cute waitress, whatever.  Don’t worry; it happens to everybody.  What’s not okay is to allow that fear to become so irrationally over-sized in your mind that it paralyzes you from taking action.

Courage is not being fearless, but rather carrying on to perform the action despite being afraid.  As Miyagi said in Karate Kid III: “It’s okay to lose to opponent. It’s never okay to lose to FEAR!”

Unless it’s going to actually kill you, sometimes you just have to get out of your head, turn off your brain, and go for it.

What movie defined your childhood?

Hopefully I’m not the only one around here that practiced the crane kick in his back yard. Sure The Karate Kid Parts II and III weren’t nearly as good, but Part II gave us Peter Cetera and The Glory of Love, and Part III gave us the psychopath that is Terry Silver.  What’s not to like!

This is one movie from my childhood that I’ll never forget.

What was yours, and what did you learn from it?

-Steve

PS - I bet more than a few NF readers will say “The Goonies.” Don’t worry, I’ve already started planning a Goonies article. 

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Nerd Fitness Rebel HQ House Cleaning

It’s house cleaning time over here at Nerd Fitness HQ!

My first week of working full time for the Rebellion went incredibly well; now that I’m settled in, this is the week where I really start to step on the gas pedal for my whole “this is my future” thing.  This is what went down since we last talked.

New How-To Video Page

If you’re on the site now, you’ll notice at the top of the page that there’s two new tabs, one of which is “How-To Videos.”  Under this tab, along with links to the two “Body Weight Circuits” that I posted earlier this year, you’ll also find links to almost 100 videos of me doing various exercises out in a local park.

Why did I video myself doing 100 exercises?

These are the exercises that I use in the upcoming Rebel Fitness Guide available for sale through the site (hopefully out by early to mid July).  Rather than trying to find a way to password protect these instructional videos and only give them to people who buy the guide, I decided instead to just put them up for free on YouTube.  Of course, the four months worth of routines (with specific numbers of reps and sets) will only be available in the guide; but the videos will always stay free.

If you’re creative and want to take a chance at creating your own workout routine, you can use the How-To page as a menu to create your own plan.

(Not so) funny story: It took me forever to edit these damn things, and then after uploading all of them I realized that I had only exported them at standard resolution. Suck. So, I spent an extra four hours this morning re-uploading all videos in 720p HD so now you can actually tell me what I’m doing in each one.

Go check ‘em out!

“Start Here” Page Added

I’ve also added a “Start Here” page for people who are just discovering Nerd Fitness for the first time. Finding a new blog with a ton of posts can really be overwhelming, so I put together this page as sort of a primer for what to expect when reading: instructional and inspirational posts surrounded with nerd humor.  Hopefully this will help new readers become quickly acquainted with the Nerd Fitness philosophy and community.

Check it out here!

Updated About NF Page

And last but not least, I also went ahead and updated the “About” page to reflect my recent decision to throw caution into the wind and dive headfirst into the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.  Not too many changes, but it’s definitely been beefed up.

Check out the updated NF page here.

Twitter and Facebook

In case you’re not already doing so, consider following Nerd Fitness on Twitter! I realize the numbers are completely arbitrary and ultimately pretty useless, but NF is only 4 people short of 1000 followers and four digits is WAY better than three.

Also, there’s been some good debate recently over on the Nerd Fitness Facebook page, including discussion on Universal Studios’ decision to turn certain fans away from the new Harry Potter ride from being overweight.  Why not join the party?  I’ll bring Twister.

How Was Your Weekend?

Other than the US choking in the World Cup, I had a pretty damn good weekend.  My first week of the 4th 28-Day Challenge was a big success too, and I’m looking forward to building on that momentum.

How did YOU do with your first week in your challenge? Make sure to post your progress in the Roll Call thread on the boards!

-Steve

PS – Now that the US is out, who should I root for?  Tell me who and why in the comments and then I’ll throw my irrationally passionate support behind them.

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photo: Iwan Gabovitch

5 Geeky Wonders to Conquer Your Health

This is a guest post from Matt Gartland over at HealthyLifestyleDesign.com

What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Biz Stone, Mark Zuckerberg, and Matt Mullenweg all have in common?

They’re all geeks – wildly successful and accomplished geeks!

Geeks are creative problem solvers. They perceive and interact with the world differently. They have seemingly divine abilities to conjure remarkable solutions that improve the lives and capture the imaginations of millions. This power is born from challenging conventional wisdom, exploring the boundaries of what’s possible, and taking risks.

And they’re changing the world – from communications, to philanthropy, to publication, to activism, to education, and beyond.

What does this have to do with designing a healthy lifestyle?

Everything!

First, you can learn from their examples and apply their creative philosophies to designing a fulfilling and healthy life.  Second, you can (and should) use the clever creations of the geek-community to empower your healthy lifestyle. Remember, geeks are creative problem solvers. And simplifying the process of getting healthy in a fun and practical way can be tricky.

So, here are five geeky wonders to conquer your heath:

1. DailyBurn – Your One-Stop, Personal Health Headquarters

DailyBurn will mesmerize you at first use. This web-based application has a ridiculously simple and almost game-like user interface. You’ll get hooked. Trust me.

Why give DailyBurn a go?

  • Because you have access to over 244,000 foods and recipes
  • Because you can track what you eat with a few, simple clicks
  • Because you can record your workout data in minutes
  • Because you can compete in fun, health challenges with your friends on DailyBurn
  • Because you get motivation and support from the entire DailyBurn community
  • Because you can easily track your progress with idiot-proof and insightful analytics
  • Because it’s FREE

But wait, DailyBurn doesn’t stop there.

They also have a revolutionary mobile application for the iPhone – FoodScanner. It allows you to retrieve the nutritional data of any food item with a UPC barcode. You can enter how many servings you ate of that food after a scan, which automatically updates your food journal in DailyBurn.

It’s dead-easy to use. Watch for yourself.

FoodScanner Demo

2. SparkPeople.com – America’s #1 Weight Loss and Fitness Website

SparkPeople is a jaw-dropper. It’s bursting with information and tools on all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Whatever your healthy lifestyle passions and goals, you can learn more and find like-minded friends at SparkPeople.

They aim to “make healthy living fun & easy with our tools, content & community.” This fits perfectly with their mission “to help millions of people live healthier lives and reach their goals”.

Why should you fancy SparkPeople?

  • Because over 7 million people believe in SparkPeople and have joined the movement
  • Because they offer personalized diet and fitness plans
  • Because they provide calorie calculators, fitness trackers, and instructional videos
  • Because you can connect with certified dietitians and fitness trainers
  • Because the supportive community will help you on your quest to greater health
  • Because it’s FREE

3. Twitter & Facebook – Life 2.0

What else could possibly be said about Twitter and Facebook? Not much. If you don’t know about these two social network juggernauts I’d check your pulse to see if you’re alive.

But emphasizing Twitter’s and Facebook’s contributions to radically evolving the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle cannot be overstated.

At no point in human history has it been easier to build, connect, and grow communities of supportive and compassionate friends – thanks largely to Twitter and Facebook. Such social relationships are vital to consistent healthy living. Why? Because of the motivation, inspiration, and sense of belonging they provide.

But there’s more.

Twitter and Facebook grant unprecedented access to premier healthy lifestyle experts. You can “friend” and follow renowned nutritionists, acclaimed trainers, brilliant doctors, distinguished healthy publicists, professional athletes, etc. Their wisdom is at your fingertips.

This isn’t about sharing what you ate for lunch. It’s about learning what you should eat for lunch. And so much more.

So get social and join the Healthy Lifestyle Design Tribe on Twitter and Facebook! And if you haven’t already, enlist in the NerdFitness Rebellion on Twitter and Facebook too!

4. FitBit – The Intergalactic Pedometer from the Future

Are you familiar with pedometers? That’s right. Those goofy things you attach to your belt to track your steps.

FitBit is a pedometer, on steroids and from the future.

The FitBit device automatically collects your fitness and sleep data. Specifically, it accurately tracks calories burned, distance traveled, and hours of quality sleep. Seriously, it monitors your sleep – time you went to bed, time to fall asleep, times awakened, actual sleep time.

How can it do all that? According to FitBit, it “contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii.”

You guessed it, there’s more.

The FitBit device easily syncs with FitBit.com, providing you the ability to track and analyze your daily activity data. Merely walk within 15 feet of the provided docking station and your data will be automatically uploaded.

Oh, and FitBit tracks your steps too.

5. HealthCentral.com – Your All-Knowing Personal Physician at Your Call 24/7

HealthCentral is akin to having unfettered access to a prestigious medical library. It offers intuitive information on copious health conditions, diseases, symptoms, and more. While it has parallels with WebMD, I enjoy HealthCentral for it’s simplicity and quick answers.

What else is special about HealthCentral?

  • You can perform a self-examination of various symptoms
  • You can watch videos of medical experts
  • You can find a therapist in your area
  • Everything is FREE

Disclosure - I had the privilege of meeting HealthCentral’s CEO Chris Schroeder at a 2009 conference on how social technologies are changing the future of healthcare and healthy living. Chris was the keynote – a brilliant and impassioned person with a genuine vision for helping others via social technology innovation.

Bonus: Withings – The OMG Scale of Your Dreams

Scales are boring.

Not this one.

The Withings scale revolutionizes the whole idea behind weighing yourself. With old school scales you hoop on, grimace at your weight, hoop off, done. Weighing yourself was an episodic event with no tangible output or call-to-action. And it definitely wasn’t fun.

With the Withings scale, those days are gone. Welcome to new school.

The Withings scale captures not only your weight but also calculates your lean mass, fat mass, and body-mass-index (BMI). It then transmits that data to the Internet via an encrypted WiFi signal where it is accessible via the Withings.com system.

Once online at Withings.com, you can monitor the historical progress of your body composition measurements. According to Withings…

“The web dashboard offers a rich graphical interface with easy browsing over time and allows you to zoom in on the date ranges of your choice. You therefore take pleasure in observing the evolution of your fitness in a simple, intuitive environment.”

It can also integrate with your DailyBurn account or others like Google Health.

They also offer an iPhone application so that you can access your data while mobile.

***

These geeky wonders are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more abound on the Internets. Feel free to look around.

But don’t overwhelm yourself. These technologies (or any other) should make your healthy life easier, not harder. Forcing yourself to adopt anything doesn’t work. So don’t do it.

And when in doubt, do as the geeks – challenge conventional wisdoms and use/create remarkable solutions to transform your life.

Now go forth and geek-out your healthy lifestyle!

What other geeky creations do you use to manage your healthy lifestyle?

What healthy lifestyle challenges are you encountering that warrant a new geeky gadget?

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Matt Gartland is a healthy lifestyle geek extraordinaire, blogger, world traveler, lifestyle entrepreneur, coffee fanatic, web techie, lifelong kid, bookworm, and more. He writes at Healthy Lifestyle Design (HLD), where he unleashes his passion for remarkable and unconventional living propelled by amazing health. Follow Matt on Twitter and join the HLD Tribe on Facebook.

(Photo: pragmagraphr)

Nerd Fitness 28-Day Challenge #4: Jump Right In.

Today officially marks the first day of the rest of my life.

Gulp.

After getting home from the wedding/birthday celebration/vacation last night, I went to bed and told myself I was going to wake up without an alarm for the first time in a long time.  Of course, I woke up an hour earlier than I used to wake up when I had a job, COMPLETELY WIRED.  I guess my body was just ready to get started down this new path.

Today also marks the first day of the 4th NF 28-Day Challenge.

I’m in. Are you?

28-Day Challenge #4

If you’re new-ish to Nerd Fitness, every month we have a new challenge on the Nerd Fitness message boards, where you make a pledge to do three things to the best of your ability that will level up your life.  Whether it’s lose 5 pounds, give up soda, stop smoking, bench press 150 pounds 6 times, and/or run in a 5k race, pick three challenging quests that you think you can accomplish in four weeks if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I’ve found that once you put something in writing, and send it out to the world (or the NF Community in this case), you’re going to be far more likely to push yourself to actually succeed on your goals. At the end of each month, we’ll nominate a a guy and a girl who leveled up his/her life the most.  Once I actually get around to making NF t-shirts, I’ll be sending them out to previous winners and future winners.

Join the Nerd Fitness Message Boards and post your 28-Day Challenge Goals here.

Accountability for the win!

Although I completely tanked the 3rd challenge due to everything that had been going on in my life at the time, I’m looking forward to rededicating myself to getting in the best possible shape for this 4th  challenge. Here are my 3 goals for this upcoming challenge, beginning today and ending on July 19th:

  • Gain at least 5 pounds, hopefully mostly muscle. Ultimately, I’m at a weight that I’m really happy with, but I’d like to get stronger and a little bit bigger.  If I’m going to get in the best shape of my life, I’m going to need to pack on some more muscle.  This will be done with a heavily-focused strength and mass-building routine – three days a week in the gym, doing super-intense workouts that only last for about an hour.
  • Eat enough calories every day – In order to build some muscle over these next 28 days, I’m going to need to eat more calories than I burn daily.  This is going to require 4 or 5 healthy meals to get enough protein, good carbs, and good fats in my system.  Luckily, now that I’m at home I”ll have the opportunity to save some money by cooking all of my own healthy meals right here in my kitchen.  I have a feeling I’ll be eating a lot of my Go-To Meal.
  • Sleep – Sleep is one of the most important things when it comes to staying healthy.  I’m going to do what I can to make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a night, because my average over the past six months has been FAR less than that and it really affected my training.  No more getting sick, no more wasted days in the gyms from being too tired, I’m actually going to take care of myself.

My Business 28-Day Challenge

Now, outside of my goals for my personal health, I also have 3 big goals for the next 28 days for Nerd Fitness:

  • Finish writing and launch the Nerd Fitness Rebel Fitness Guide: This will be my first paid product available for purchase on the site, and the first step I’m taking to make NF into a business.  If I get my act together I should have it done and launched by the end of this challenge.
  • Launch the Nerd Fitness Rebellion Newsletter: After seeing the great success that Baker and Chris (my heroes) have had with their free “newsletters,” where along with their bi-weekly articles they give away cool stuff and announce special early offers to their insiders, I feel it’s finally time to launch my own service.
  • Write At Least Two Guest Posts: I had a lot of fun writing guest posts for World’s Strongest Librarian and Art of Manliness, and those articles allowed me to connect with a whole new audience.  I’m looking to write a few more posts for other sites to further grow the NF Rebel Army.  Now that I have time to actually write more often, I’m excited to get in front of some new readers!

It’s going to be an action-packed 28 days over here at Nerd Fitness HQ, and I can’t wait to get started.  Make sure to sign up for the 28-day challenge over on the NF Boards!

Day 1, you’re mine.

-Steve

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photo: cmiked

Taking Up the Cause Full-Time.

Dear Nerd Fitness reader,

Today is certainly one of the most important, exciting, terrifying, and bittersweet moments of my life.  A few weeks back, I informed my company Sixthman that I would be leaving the company to work on this website full time.

That’s right, I’m devoting all of my time and energy to Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion.

Today will be my last day of work here in the office, and then tomorrow I depart for the Bahamas along with a dozen of my college friends for a wedding on Harbour Island.  That day of the wedding also happens to be my 26th birthday; I’ve enjoyed the first twenty-five years on this planet; I’m eager to see what’s I’m capable of in the next twenty five and beyond.

Why I Made This Decision.

Nerd Fitness has become something bigger than just a guy and a blog; it is now a full-blown community of people turning their lives around and helping others do the same. After many sleepless nights, I came to the realization that the longer I waited on putting my full effort behind this site, the tougher it would be for me to eventually take that leap.  I told myself, “if you’ve found what you’re meant to do, why wait any longer?”

Since starting Nerd Fitness sixteen months ago, my excitement for this site and its future has grown with each passing day.  Every new email, every new member to the NF message boards, and every new comment on the site makes me smile just a little bit bigger.  I know I’m doing something right.

There were a few other reasons that I really wanted to free up my time:

  • I want to see my family more. My brother lives out in California, and my parents and sister live up in Massachusetts.  With me being down in Atlanta I only get to see them a few times a year, and often only for a day or two.  I want to have the freedom to go spend an expended period of time in both locations because I really do miss them.
  • I want to travel more. Ever since discovering Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Nonconformity blog two years ago, I’ve become addicted to the concept of travel hacking.  There’s a whole world of travel hackers out there that I didn’t even know existed!  I now have 120,000 American Airline miles and 110,000 British Airways miles, enough for a few round trip flights to some pretty exotic locations.  I’ve already begun planning trips to Australia/New Zealand and Europe.  Why those locations? Why not!
  • I want to acquire more skills. Yeah, I realize I sounded like Napoelon Dynamite there.  My hobbies are incredibly varied and mostly ridiculous; I want to learn more stuff and get better at the stuff I already know.  I want to get better at the piano, better at the guitar, start taking Capoeria classes (yup, breakdance fighting), become a better break dancer, go rock climbing and hiking, try out hashing, learn how to cook, take a kettlebell class, acquire more personal trainer certifications, read a lot more, etc.
  • I want to volunteer more. I’ve been volunteering at the Children’s Hospital here in Atlanta for the past year and a half and it’s usually the most fulfilling part of my week.  I plan on identifying some other great organizations here in Atlanta that could use some help and go spend time with them.  If you live in Atlanta and are associated with any volunteer programs, let me know!
  • I want to sleep. The past six months have been incredibly challenging for me as I’ve been truly burning the candle at both ends for my day job and Nerd Fitness.  Sleep and my own personal well-being have taken a backseat to everything else in my life and it’s really caught up to me recently.  I’m looking forward to actually taking care of my body, eating well, and getting more than a few hours of sleep a night.

What’s the Plan?

You’re probably wondering, “um, Steve…how is this a company if you’re not making any money yet?”

Great question.  Ultimately, I have big plans for this site and I can’t wait to get started on them (beginning with the Nerd Fitness rebel guide) – the only thing I’ve been running terribly short on lately is time.  I believe so strongly in this site and this community that I’m willing to “risk” my future for it.  I put risk in quotations because I believe strongly enough in myself to do whatever it takes to make this plan work.

When failure is the only other option, I will do whatever necessary to succeed.

In the meantime, I’ve got quite a few things in the works to cut my expenses way down until I’m turning a profit.  I plan on channeling my inner Baker by selling all of my crap that I no longer use – my digital piano, electric guitar and amp, old video games, dvds, and books.  I plan on channeling my inner Everett and Leo by living far more minimally than I’m used to.  I have some great contacts here in the Atlanta area and a few backup plans to help pay the bills until I’ve established a positive cash flow.

I am incredibly sad to be leaving Sixthman; coming to work for this company has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If you EVER get a chance to go on a Sixthman cruise, I guarantee you’ll have the time of your life.  I told myself the only way I’d ever leave this company would be to go work for myself – that day has finally come.

Hope is a Good Thing.

I’m headed to the Bahamas tomorrow, where I’ll be completely unplugged from the world for a few days.  I’ll celebrate my 26th birthday with my friends on Saturday, return to Atlanta on Sunday completely recharged and refreshed, and then Monday morning I’ll be putting on my “hard hat” and going to work for Nerd Fitness.

I leave you today with a slightly modified quote from my favorite movie, The Shawshank Redemption:

“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope Nerd Fitness will be successful. I hope to see my friends and shake their hands. I hope the Caribbean is as blue as it has been in my dreams.  I hope.”

Get ready.

-Steve

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If you want to stay up to date on all rebellion news, please sign up for the RSS Feed of Nerd Fitness, get NF posts via email, or join the kick-ass conversation over on the Nerd Fitness Message Boards!

photo: flynutAA

9 Geeky Gateway Activities to Get You Fit

This is a guest post from George Titsworth over at GeekIntoShape.

We geeks have an unfortunate dilemma when attempting to go from geek to super awesome fitness geek of infinite power.

Our hobbies — gaming, coding, reading, correcting people on the internet — tend to be measured in hours and days of time commitment and normally involve some sort of social commitment as well — guild raiding, project deadlines, book club meetings, a lot of dumb people on the internet that need to be corrected. Adding a new heavy time commitment like proper nutrition and exercise seems like an impossible thing to do with all of our other interests and commitments.

But don’t feel like you don’t have time to get fit, and don’t feel like if you dive in to fitness, you will have to leave your geeky hobbies behind. There are so many ways to merge fitness into your geeky lifestyle and incorporate your geeky lifestyle into fitness. And that is exactly what this list is intended to help you out with.

So dial in the 9th chevron, because we are about to open a gateway to new fitness worlds…

Note: the goal of this list is not to get you to peak physical performance (I’ll leave that job to Steve and the Nerd Fitness Rebellion), but rather to give you fun ways to kick start the transition to a healthy lifestyle.

1) Paintball

Put down the the controller, take off the headset, and get thee to a paintball field! You may think nothing is more fun than owning newbs on the console, but wait until you pull off a double kill of colorful bliss with your semi-automatic paintball gun.

Note: I do not claim responsibility for you lack of leet-ness on the paintball field. Not only do you get to have fun fragging your friends, but a half day of paintball is one hell of a workout. You will be running, squatting, crawling, and more!

Some estimates show that ~400 calories are burned during an hour of paintball. The best part is, the adrenaline from the battle keeps you from feeling fatigued like individual exercises might. This means you often get a 2-4 hour workout without even noticing it.

2) Martial Arts

Two words: Cobra Kai. Who wants to let those tools run the place?

I sure don’t.

That’s why martial arts is number two on my list. Whether you focus on Jujitsu, Karate, or Taekwondo, practicing any form of martial arts is a fantastic way to get fit — build strength, master body control, and boost mental focus — you will get it all.

Most schools that teach martial arts have fantastic programs and classes that accommodate for novices and experts alike for a reasonable cost. You even get colorful belts as you level up – that’s right, a real-life achievement reward. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a ninja? So find do some dojo research around your town and find your very own Mr. Miyagi – and get one of those cool spinnung hand drums while your there.

3) Hashing

I have to thank Branwyn32 from the Nerd Fitness Community Forums for letting me know about hashing. The international group called the Hash House Harriers is, in a simple phrase, a “drinking club with a running problem.”

While there is not anything inherently geeky about hashing, the open and social atmosphere makes it a perfect gateway activity for anyone with an adventurous side and a good sense of humor to get into running. Hashing is basically a bunch of people following a leader down a trail, normally non-established (through urban areas, woods, etc.), that usually ends at bar serving some good brew.

The trails are often set up so it can accommodate all fitness levels and running speeds, though don’t think it is just a walk in the park. Some clubs even celebrate the person who comes in DFL (Dead F-word Last) with extra booze… and who doesn’t love extra booze. Find a local hash near where you live!

4) Disc Golf

You might be asking how disc golf made my list. Well, because: I love disc golf!

I suppose I relate disc golf to geeky activities because this was where my computer science buddies and I would go to blow off some segmentation fault steam. The game is simple, get the Frisbee in the basket in the fewest tosses possible and repeat. All you need to get started is a basic Frisbee or you can spend a little extra to get specialized disc made for long distances or slower discs for putting.

In the past, there were only a few dedicated courses to play disc golf on, but there has been an explosion of new, free disc golf courses: on university campuses, in parks, on green-ways. One rule my friends and I like to add to is no walking. Run everywhere — after drives, between holes, everywhere. Doing this always adds enough movement to the game to get a great workout and have a great time by yourself or with friends.

5) Zombie Walk

Zombieland Rule 1: Cardio. Rule 19: Blend in. Well you can knock out two birds with a single stone by going on a zombie walk. Zombie walks have been gaining popularity over the last few years, and I think that’s awesome-sauce.

Zombie-fy yourself and then go for a long walk with hundreds of your un-dead kindred. Zombie walking not enough for you? Some places have even been starting up Zombie 5k’s. I can’t think of a better time than running my ass off while dressed as a zombie Vanilla Ice.

Ice Ice Braiiiinnnnssss.

6) LARPing

I have never been live action role playing (LARPing), but I will be the first to admit that it looks freaking fun.

Now, I know this activity is considered by many to be radically geeky (Lighting Bolt!), but who wouldn’t want to don some epic armor and smash some skulls? Many approaches can be taken for a LARP event, from a theatrical event to a full fledge role playing game with quests, boss fights, and mass battles.

Most LARPing events take place in a large open field or wooded area, so there is plenty of room to run, duck, jump, and fight — the perfect way to get a full body workout. The cost of LARPing can vary. The upfront cost of buying a costume can be a big expense, but most events are relatively cheap – between $5 and $50 normally.

If you are a big RPG fan, I highly suggest searching for a local LARPing group. Stop sitting at a table rolling dice or clicking a mouse and start running through the wood swinging a mace! +5 to Dexterity. -5 to Flab.

7) Geocaching

So I have mentioened ways to become a ninja. And I given you tips on how to become a zombie… What’s next? You guessed it:

Pirates!

The internet and GPS enable smartphones have brought treasure hunting back to the masses. Geocaching is basically a game of high-tech hide and go seek. People plant hidden treasures (caches) and provide clues on how to find the treasures. Your mission is find the caches with the help of GPS and good ol’ fashion brain power.

While some geocaches will take you across a city, some are localized to a smaller area, which is great for running and biking from treasure to treasure. The Groundspeak iPhone app for geocaching is a great tool to get out and find caches near enough to walk, run, or bike, making for a great day of fun physical activity. So get out there and hunt some treasure (you get bonus points if you do it with a parrot on your shoulder).

8 ) Kendo/Kenjutsu

While Kendo technically falls into the category of martial arts, I had to list it separately because of it’s incredible radness.

I spent upwards of 1 trillion hours watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, and I loved Leonardo. Why? Because he was the leader, and leaders carry giant swords. Like Master Splinter taught the turtles, Kendo teaches you mold the mind and body and always strive for improvement. It is a great way to get fit while learning fun skills at the same time.

I only caution you to wait until you have trained a few months before moving to a real sword. You have been warned. Cowabunga.

9) Wii Fit

And, of course, a list of geeky things to help get you fit is not complete without mentioning Wii Fit. Play video games and exercise at the same time. You can’t beat that. ‘Nuff Said.

What geeky things do you do to get fit?

The list doesn’t stop here. I’m sure there are things that you do every day that I haven’t even thought about. So please post a comment and tell me and the other readers your favorite geeky activities that launched you into the world of fitness.

What else would you YOU add?

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George Titsworth is a father, MMO geek, and software developer who is in the process of converting his flabby software into rock solid hardware. He blogs at GeekIntoShape.com and you can follow him on Twitter @geekintoshape.

Photos courtesy of: the name is josh, kaibara87, silent7seven, .Mitch, JamesMalone, William Hook, fighter-arts, and jk5854

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