The Best Show on TV You’re Not Watching

I have a new hero, and he is a shoe salesman.

No, I’m not talking about Al Bundy.  I’m talking about Yuuji Urushihara, a humble 30-something shoe salesman from Japan.  What makes this seller of soles so great?  He’s one of the rising stars on Ninja Warrior, a biannual competition that takes place in Japan.  There have only been three champions in the tournament’s twelve year history – that’s three winners out of 2300 total attempts.

If you’re not watching this show, you are doing yourself a disservice.

What the Hell Is Ninja Warrior?

Ninja Warrior is a competition where “100 determined athletes” set out to conquer a ridiculously complex and difficult obstacle course made up of four stages.

Everybody who completes Stage 1 moves onto Stage 2, and whoever beats that moves on to Stage 3, etc.  Each stage gets progressively more grueling and exhausting.  By the time Stage 3 rolls around (at which point there are only a handful of people left), incredibly insane feats of strength and endurance are required.  It’s one of the most inspiring and spectacular shows you’ll ever watch.  Watch this quick video profiling Yuuji’s, and then let me tell you why Ninja Warrior deserves your undivided attention:


Yuuji Urushihara Ninja Warrior Profile

1. These are ordinary guys doing extraordinary things.

These aren’t overpaid athletes with steroid problems.  These aren’t hired mercenaries who compete for endorsements.

They are teachers, fisherman, firefighters, students, gas station attendants, and SHOE SALESMEN who compete because they love challenge.  Despite the normalcy of their day jobs, Ninja Warrior competitors are some of the most well-conditioned athletes I’ve ever seen.  Due to the unique openness of the competition; anybody can attempt to qualify, and anybody can win.  This year’s victory is equivalent to a no-name Macy’s employee qualifying for and winning the US Open in Golf, except with less man-boobs (sorry Phil).

Every once and a while there are some famous Olympic or professional athletes that attempt to conquer Ninja Warrior, and 100 times out of 100 they go home empty handed.  It must be humbling for an gold medalist to fall on Stage 1 and then watch as a 30-something shoe peddler go on to “achieve total victory.”  I can’t think of a better example to show that anything is truly possible if you are willing to work for it.

Even if you sell shoes.

2. These athletes train with purpose.

Ever since I started watching Ninja Warrior a few years back, I have developed a serious man-crush on Makoto Nagano (pictured).

This humble fisherman was the 2nd Grand Champion of Ninja Warrior back in the 17th tournament and has since become the leader of the “Ninja Warrior All-Stars.”  He’s built like a machine, trains like a machine, and it shows.  Look at his picture, and then think about how he probably trains.  Which one of these sounds right?

  • A) “Well, I go to a gym once or twice a week, if I’m not feeling lazy.  I hop on the treadmill for a few minutes, I go do a few bicep curls, and then I work on my abs.  I almost broke a sweat this time – what a workout!”
  • B) “I wake up at dawn on my fishing boat out in the middle of the ocean.  I climb the various ropes attached the mast, up and down, until my arms are ready to fall off.  After putting in a full day of work, I dock my ship, come home and train on my homemade ninja warrior obstacle course until midnight so that I can prepare for the newest obstacles on Stage 3.  I need to train harder.”

As Mark Twight, the trainer who prepared the actors for their roles in 300, explains: “Appearance is a consequence of fitness.” If you spend your time working to become harder, better, faster, stronger, you will absolutely start to look better as a result.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to looking good, but make sure you are training with purpose to get there.  Every day in the gym should be an improvement in some way (even if by only one pound or one second) over the previous day.

Here’s a video profiling the man, the myth, the fisherman – Makoto Nagano:

Makoto Nagano Profile

3. They support each other.

I have never seen this level of camaraderie among such fierce competitors. Before taking on Stage 3 in this most recent competition, Yuuji was asked by a reporter what he was looking forward to after the tournament ended.  I can’t remember the exact quote, but it went something like “well, the tournament is great, but I’m really looking forward to continuing the great friendships I’ve made since joining Ninja Warrior.”  AWWWWWW.  And then to top it all off, after his run this year, a humble Yuuji simply remarked, “I owe all of my success to the competitors who came before me.  Without them this wouldn’t have been possible, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Yuuji, could you BE any more humble?

Here’s another great example of compassion – although Makoto Nagano was knocked out in the first round of Ninja Warrior 23, he stuck around to watch his friend Toshihiro Takeda, a fire fighter, take on the third stage.  When Toshihiro’s arms finally gave out and he fell into the water, a quick-cut to Nagano showed tears streaming down his face.

That’s how badly these guys want each other to win.

The men and women who compete in Ninja Warrior are all trying to better themselves.  When it’s not their turn, they become each others loudest and more encouraging supporters.  Hmmm, a group of people who are collectively trying to better their lives and elevate those around them…sounds verrrrry familiar.

4. They don’t whine when things don’t go their way.

Ninja Warrior is so enjoyable to watch because everyone competes on the same course with the same rules.  There are no referees to screw up a call, no teammate to use as a scapegoat, no “unlucky bounce” to blame a loss on.  After watching any other professional sport where multi-millionaires bitch and moan about ridiculous things, it’s a breath of fresh air to watch a competition completely devoid of that crap.  I don’t care what they say Ninja Warrior athletes are the ones who do it “for the love of the game.”

Imagine training every waking moment for a competition that happens only once every six months. During your first run, you finger slips accidentally 30 seconds in and suddenly you’re done.  I don’t know about you, but I would start letting the expletives fly.

Not these guys.

Considering how hard they train and how badly they want to succeed, it’s pretty incredible to watch an interview after somebody has just fallen.  The loser never says “I got unlucky” or “that shouldn’t have been there.”  It’s always something like this:

“I am disappointed, I guess I should have trained harder.  I will do better next time.”

Ain’t that the truth.  Sometimes you have bad luck; sometimes sh** happens.  Dwelling on it isn’t going to do anybody any good, so why bother?  Suck it up, move on, and start training for the next one.

Go Set Your DVR. Now.

I love this show, I love these competitors, I love how freaking inspired I get after every episode. If you have cable, run to your TV right now and set your DVR to record Ninja Warrior (it’s on G4TV, the nerd channel).  Re-runs of old episodes are shown pretty much every day, so you really have no excuse.  No cable?  YouTube Ninja Warrior, and kiss the rest of your afternoon goodbye.

If you’re REALLY crazy, G4 is currently hosting a competition this summer that will send a few Americans to compete on the next Ninja Warrior.  Who knows, maybe in a few years you’ll see me on Ninja Warrior…getting my ass kicked by a shoe salesman.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go do some pull ups.

-Steve

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NF Site Update: T-Shirts, Warrior Dash, And Steve’s Life

Busy is good.

All kinds of crazy things are happening over here at NF Headquarters these days, so I figured today would be a great opportunity to bring you up to date: t-shirts, warrior dashes, my hectic life, and more info about the NF Rebel Fitness Guide (not fully operational).

Nerd Fitness T-Shirts!

Screen shot 2010-04-15 at 7.50.41 AM

After months of planning and 80,000 hours spent in design (not really), I’m ready to unveil the first official Nerd Fitness t-shirt!  Purdy, ain’t she?  I wanted to keep things basic, understated, and still remain kick-ass.  My initial plan was to go through a fulfillment company that would handle everything other than design for me.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place that didn’t have unreasonably high prices, which doesn’t work for me or for you.  Here’s the new plan:

  • Plan A: order a few dozen t-shirts at a time through a local printer here in Atlanta
  • Plan B: order them from my back-up printer online if Plan A falls through

Once I actually have the shirts in hand, I’ll be sending them out via the Pony Express (that still exists, right?) whenever I get a few orders.  This really isn’t the most efficient way to do things, but it’s absolutely the most cost-effective way for me to handle things to start.

How Much? I haven’t determined the final price yet, have to wait on Plan A or Plan B, but I’m guessing it’s going to be something like 20 bucks with free-shipping – I just want to keep things simple.  I’d love to be able to charge less, but at the moment I just can’t afford to order in mass quantity yet.

Plans? Hopefully by next week I should be able to start accepting pre-orders (would help me with ordering if I knew your size and if you were ready to put up the 20 bucks to buy one).

Other Designs? Don’t worry – this is just the beginning.  I definitely plan on creating other shirts down the road too, this is just the one that will get the ball rolling.

Warrior Dash

Remember a few months back when I announced that my friends and I were all going to compete in the Southeastern Warrior Dash on May 22nd? Well, I’m getting close to announcing our official plans on how we plan to make complete asses of ourselves and raise some money for a great cause! Expect a full-blown announcement on Monday, but it’ll be something like this:

  • Steve announces fundraiser for kick-ass charity
  • Steve announces the amount of money he’d like to raise, broken down into 5 levels.
  • Steve announces 5 awesome/ridiculous costumes.
  • Depending on the amount of money raised for said charity, Steve and his friends will wear the awesome/ridiculous costume that corresponds to that amount.
  • Everybody wins.

Sounds like this race is going to be a LOT of fun, and I HATE running!  Plus, it’s for a cause that I think everybody will have no problem supporting.  Monday people, monday!

NF Message Boards

Wow.

In the six weeks since officially launching the Nerd Fitness Message Boards, we’ve had 2500+ posts, 325+ topics, and 185+ members join.  It’s honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of – nerds helping nerds, people answering each others questions, offering up encouragement, engaging in debate, and holding each other accountable for reaching their goals.

It’s awesome.

I’d like to draw your attention to my favorite post from this past week, written by DanBell.  He makes a great point that we’re all different kinds of nerds (hell, even the “cool kids” are nerds on the inside) and we’re all just trying to become better people.  I know these boards have helped me improve my life, and I know they’re helping others do the same.

If you haven’t signed up and and want to join the conversation, we’d love to have you.

Other News and Notes

Here’s what else is going on in my life:

  • I updated the About page here on the site. Check it out, and you can see a picture of me with a poodle for some reason, my favorite movie, tv shows, desired super powers, some of my hobbies, and why I got this site started.  Good times!
  • I finished filming all of the exercises for the NF Rebel Fitness Guide. Writing for the guide is progressing slower than I had expected, but I’m still plugging away.  I’m hoping it will be ready to go by next month!
  • I started my online $100 small business seminar with Chris Guillebeau and Pam Slim on Monday! I’m really looking forward to learning from these two how to successfully launch the fitness guide, develop a good system for selling t-shirts, and have a good direction for redesigning the website.
  • I’ll be spending my birthday in the Bahamas – two of my best friends from college are getting married on Harbour Island in the Bahamas on June 19th, which happens to also be my birthday!  A big group of my friends rented a house there for half a week, and I couldn’t be more excited.
  • I’m writing like crazy - I have a few guest posts in the works for some other websites, I have my next few article ideas lined up for this site, and I’m hauling ass to finish up this Fitness Guide.

How Are You?

So that’s my life – very busy, very short on sleep, and very happy.

How are you?  What’s going on in your world?  Any interest in a t-shirt?

-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!

The 11 Rules of The Nerd Fitness Rebel Army

Welcome to the Rebellion, my friend.

With all this talk of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, Rebel HQ, Rebel Army, etc., I realized that I hadn’t exactly established what we’re rebelling against or what we stand for as a group.  No more!

Below are the eleven…commandments? rules? regulations? that make up the core of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. I apologize for the length of this article, but this is going to become a cornerstone of the NF philosophy so I wanted to lay it all out there and get your opinion.

Let’s get started.

#1. We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going.

400 pounds overweight? Welcome aboard.

50 pounds underweight? Glad to have you.

This army doesn’t care where you came from or how you got here, as we all have different backgrounds, genetics, social statuses, and commitments.  Like creating a random character in a role playing game, we’re all “dealt a hand” that we had absolutely no control over – it’s now up to us to play that hand to the best of our ability.   We ask that you don’t complain about your past, and don’t use it as an crutch.

Don’t make excuses, offer solutions.

Everybody has baggage they’re dealing with (sh** happens, remember?) – luckily this is a kick-ass group of people pushing each other to level up our lives.  We figure out what went wrong, and then we work together to find a way to fix it.

#2. When you join, you’re in for life.

None of this “dieting for three weeks” crap and then going back to the way things were.  We promote permanent changes that can be sustained for the rest of your life; slow and steady will almost always win out over quick and easy.  Small changes on a daily basis can add up to incredible changes over time if you allow the momentum to carry you forward.

The rebellion is where the light is. Don’t fear it – embrace it.  If your friends won’t join you on your mission, then you’ll have to lead by example until they decide to follow.  It’s a heavy burden to bear, but one that will absolutely make your life more fulfilling.  You may be an army of one in real life, but here on this website you have over 1000 brothers and sisters who have your back, and a leader who wants nothing more than for you to succeed.

#3. We train as naturally as possible.

Bench press machines, squat machines, ab machines, inner thigh machines – forget them.

These are tools created by the empire to lull the uninformed public into a false sense of security. Weight machines only work your muscles in a straight line – forward and back, up and down, etc.  Because of this, there is NO opportunity for your muscles to build up stability and balance that you would get from using dumbbells, free weights, and body weight exercises.  You’re pretty much training your muscles for situations that don’t really exist.

Because of this, when you DO need to use these movements in life, your body isn’t prepared and you get injured.  Suck!  Luckily, stuff like this doesn’t happen around here because we train for the real world by training with real world movements.  It’s going to require some research on your part, but don’t be afraid of the free weights – they will keep you injury free, more in balance, and far stronger.  This is true for both men and women (pssst, ladies – here’s why you should lift heavy) Here are some changes you can make:

  • Don’t do squats in the smith machine, take the time to learn to do a real squat with the bar across your shoulders.
  • Don’t use a bench press machine, do some dumbbell chest presses or push ups (even if you have to do them on your knees).
  • Don’t do lat pull downs, do pull ups instead. If you can’t do pull ups, do inverted rows or assisted pull ups.

Here’s my complete stance on weights vs. machines.

#4. We understand that you can’t outrun your fork.

If you don’t change what you eat and how much you eat, there’s no amount of exercise that will get you where you want to be.

What we put into our system is 80% of the battle (sorry G.I. Joe) and will determine how successful we will be on the battlefield of life.  This is why the first thing that must change when joining the NF Rebellion is your diet.

Now, I’m not talking about switching to all salads and water, but I am talking about making small calculated changes to what you eat over a long period of time.  We understand that although the total number of calories we eat certainly impacts our health (eating less will make you lose weight), WHAT we eat is just as important, if not more so:

#5. We understand that fat is NOT the enemy.

Fake foods, sugar, high fructose corn-syrup, and simple carbs are the enemy, and here’s why.  We’re rebelling against the notion that low-fat meals are healthy for you, “healthy choice” meals loaded with chemicals are somehow good for you, and fat is bad for you.  The government has been telling us for years that fat is the enemy, and it clearly isn’t true.

What’s sad is the government and FDA know it, they’re either too stubborn or too scared to admit it.

Here’s my stance on fat, carbs, and food in general: How to Lose Weight Without Doing a Minute of Exercise.

#6. We train with conviction and intelligence.

When exercising, we have a plan for what we’re going to do, and we know how hard we need to push ourselves to be better than the day before.

Then, we do it.

The “do a few bicep curls, walk on a treadmill for three hours, and talk on my cell phone the whole time” doesn’t work for me.  Get in, take care of business, and get out.  If you’re going to the gym, you should leave drenched in sweat, knowing that you gave it your all.  If you’re going for a run today, you’re going to run at least one second faster than you did the day before.

Make sure you don’t suck at working out.

Plan out who you want to be, and work every day to become that person.  I have NO doubt in my mind that if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to the cause, you will accomplish your goals.

Settling is not an option, so don’t even bother trying to justify it.

#7. We exercise because it’s fun.

If the idea of spending two hours on a treadmill sounds like hell to you, don’t do it!  If you don’t like lifting weights (after giving it a FAIR CHANCE), don’t do it!  Find something that makes you happy, gets your heart pumping, and will keep you in shape.  There is something out there for everybody, so keep searching and keep pushing until you find something that drives you to succeed.

Luckily, because our diet is responsible for 80% of our success, this exercise is just the really enjoyable icing on the cake.  Yoga, karate, ultimate Frisbee, cycling, Belegarth, whatever it is – find it, and do it. A lot.

#8. We never leave our wingmen.

We’re all in this together, and we’re here to support each other.

Although we have friendly competitions on the site to see who can get in shape the fastest or lose the most weight over a certain amount of time, it’s all in good fun.  We have over 170 members now on the Nerd Fitness message boards, and everybody is extremely supportive of each other.

If you are training with friends in real life or online, pick them up when they’re down, motivate them when they’re tired, push them when they need encouragement, and yell when they need tough love.  They’ll do the same for you one day, and we’ll all be better off because of it.

Never leave your wingman.

#9. We question everything.

Just because the FDA says it’s good for you doesn’t mean that it’s true.  Just because you heard it on TV or read it in a magazine doesn’t mean it’s true.  Hell, just because it’s on Nerd Fitness doesn’t mean it’s true either!

I promise to continue researching every article and testing things on myself before I present my findings, but I’m just one man doing what I can with my limited time, experience, and resources.  I’m no expert, I certainly make mistakes, and I’m sure new studies will come out in the future that will make me rethink my stance on certain things.  However, I’m going to do my best to give you both sides of the story and then tell you my thoughts before opening the floor for discussion.

This is probably my favorite “both sides of the coin” article I’ve ever written: Is Barefoot Running Better For You?.

Nerd Fitness and the Rebellion exist to open our minds to a whole new world (You’re damn right I linked to Aladdin) of possibilities.  It’s then up to us to take what we’ve learned, question it, and find a way to apply it to our lives.

#10. We take care of business

Anybody who says they don’t have time for exercise is either lying or lazy. However, I don’t encourage people to shirk their other more important duties to make time.  You just need to get creative.

If you’re a gamer, keep gaming (unless your addiction has become truly unhealthy).  If you’re a family man, you better put your kid’s soccer game before a trip to the gym.  We all have things that we love in life, that are important to us, that make us who we are.  As long as these things aren’t detrimental to our health, then I encourage you to keep doing them.

Your exercise and diet can become part of what you are, but not at the expense of who you are.

#11. We take pride in ourselves.

Too many people blame their unfortunate situation on the government, the weather, their genetics, global warming, the economy, their parents, etc.  Not us.  We don’t expect anything to be handed to us on a silver platter; we are not owed anything by anybody.  We know that we can get in great shape without a gym membership, using just our body weight as resistance.  We want to be better people, we want to be stronger and healthier people, and we know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination to get there.

We welcome the challenge.

I want to be the best damn Steve Kamb that I can be, and part of that means I need to be in the best shape of my life and help others to do the same.  I’m building an army of incredibly intelligent, efficient, informed, and fit nerds.  Don’t worry Mom, when we take over we’ll be using our powers for good, inspiring others to transform their own lives.

Ultimately, we just want to make Optimus Prime proud.

So…

These are the eleven most important rebel rules that I can think of.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on which ones you agree with, disagree with, and what I left out.

After that, I only have one question left:

Are you in?

-Steve

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How to Cook Steve’s Go-To Healthy Meal

I’m about as useless in a kitchen as a chef is with a lightsaber.

Actually, that sounds awesome, so I’m way more useless than that.

I’m a picky eater, I don’t know how to cook anything, and I’m an impatient S.O.B.  Honestly, I’d much rather play video games than spend an hour in the kitchen making some delicious creation.  I imagine I’m not the only nerd who feels this way, right?

Now, as a 25 year-old living with college buddies, my options for dining are severely limited – go out and pick up something, eat in at a restaurant, or find a way to eat something at home.  Because eating out is expensive and usually unhealthy, I learned how to make a few meals that are quick, cheap, and easy.  [Insert immature joke here about "quick, cheap, and easy"].

teeheehee.

Steve’s Go-To Meal

Chicken, brown rice, and asparagus.

Win.

Protein, veggies, and a pretty dang good carbohydrate.  I went ahead and tried to film myself preparing the meal.  This might be a waste of time for most of you, but hopefully there are a few other clueless nerds out there who will get some use out of this.  Just a heads up, it’s kind of long – about 6 and a half minutes, but it’s worth a watch if you’re a complete n00b in the kitchen.

Yeah, I know there are ways to make this healthier, more complex, etc.  I wanted to keep it RIDICULOUSLY simple to start, and then you can start messing around with other options after that once you’re used to actually cooking yourself a meal.  Here we go:


Steve Cooks…Seriously

In case you can’t watch the video, here’s what I cover:

What to Buy

  • Tyson Frozen chicken tenderloins – Yeah, I know it’s not organic free-range, blah blah blah.  If you’re strapped for cash and need protein, a bag of these tenderloins is a perfect source and only like 8 bucks at any store.
  • 10 minute Boil-In-A-Bag brown rice – doesn’t get much easier than this.  Yeah you can go with a rice steamer, buy organic brown rice, etc.  However, if you’re new to this whole cooking thing this is a good way to get started.  Remember, brown rice – good. White rice – bad.
  • Asparagus - buy it in a bundle/bushel? at your supermarket.
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray – you can go with regular olive oil, but the spray just makes things so much easier.
  • Garlic powder – hit up the spices aisle in your supermarket, and look for one of these
  • Ground pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

How to Cook It

Once you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to get started.  Here ya go:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and wait for it to get to the right temp.
  2. Wash your asparagus and dry off with a paper towel.
  3. Put down a piece of tinfoil on a cookie sheet, and lay out the tenderloins on the foil.  Spray both sides of each piece with the olive oil spray.  Sprinkle the garlic poder, ground pepper, and sea salt on the chicken, then stick it in the oven for 33 minutes.
  4. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  5. Pull the chicken out of the oven and stop the timer when there are 13 minutes still left.
  6. Take your asparagus, and break off the bottom of each ‘stem’ – if you grab towards the bottom, you’ll feel where it’s supposed to break.
  7. Put them on the cookie sheet next to the chicken, and spray again with olive oil spray.  Use your hands to roll the asparagus so they’re well coated with the stuff.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  8. Put the chicken and asparagus back in the oven, and restart the timer.  Drop your bag of brown rice right into the boiling water on the stove.
  9. With 3 minutes left on the oven timer, your rice is done.  Carefully empty the pot in your sink, then open the bag, and empty onto a plate.
  10. When the chicken and asparagus is done, put it on the plate with your rice, and EAT.

Thoughts?

Photo on 2010-04-07 at 21.21 #3I honestly have no clue how this is going to be received, but I figure we’re all friends here right?  I think it’d be good to have half a dozen meals on here so everybody knows how to make at least a few meals that are healthy.  In the future I should have some camera help so it’s not as awkward…can’t promise I’ll be any less of a tool though (exhibit A is pictured to the right).

I need your help though.  As I said in the video, I don’t know how to cook much, and because I’m a picky eater I don’t vary my meals that much.  I bet there are a few of you out there who LOVE to cook though, and probably know how to make some great healthy dishes.

If you’re one of those people, I’d really appreciate it if you posted your healthy recipe over on the Nerd Fitness Message Boards under the recipes section.  The Rebel Army is counting on you – proper nutrition is a key component of world domination (or so I’ve been told).  Maybe some day we can put out a NF cookbook.

A boy can dream…

Alright, let’s hear it. More food? No more food? Got some food ideas you want to share with the rest of the rebel army?  Hook a brother up!

-Steve

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photo: Arbon

My Upcoming Plans for World Domination

Yup, the next two months are going to be effing crazy.

Remember a few weeks back when I said that “everything happens for a reason”? It’s true.  I just had one of the busiest, most productive, and inspiring weekends of my life, and I’m really excited to share it with you.  The next few months of my life are going to be probably busier than they’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to dive right in.

Let’s go over what’s happening in my life these days.  Sorry for this post being kind of long – if you have to browse, read the first section “Rebel Fitness Guide” and the last section “Help Me Nerd Fitness Readers.”  I REALLY need your feedback on this.

Rebel Fitness Guide

This past Tuesday, I received a phone call from my mentor/yoda/fitness guru Mike Rickett. He told me that he was going to be in town this weekend and asked if I wanted to get together Thursday night to workout and grab some dinner.  Considering I would have been on a cruise had my vacation worked out and never got this phone call, I had a hunch that something great was going to come out of this meeting.

I was right.

After exercising with Mike, I shared a plan with him that I had been working on for months – a day-by-day fitness guide for Nerd Fitness readers.  I told him that I get tons of emails from people looking for super-specific advice on how to get in shape – what exercises, how many sets and reps, what kind of warm-up and cool down.  I explained that I had the passion and desire to help, I just didn’t feel comfortable creating workout routines for readers that would produce results because I didn’t have enough experience in training individuals.

I asked Mike if he was interested in creating some fitness routines for Nerd Fitness (backed by his 27 years of experience), which I could then nerdify and turn into a kick-ass guide. 

His eyes lit up and said “hell yeah, let’s do this.”

Mike and I spent two hours yesterday at a local park filming and shooting myself doing all of the exercises that we’ll be using in the guide – no gym necessary.  The only equipment I used was a set of dumbbells and some resistance bands, both of which I picked up at Walmart yesterday morning for CHEAP.  I wanted to introduce you all to Mike so you know where the information is coming from.  I trust him with my life, which is why I trust him to help you turn yours around.  This video was shot on the back porch of Nerd Fitness HQ (my apartment) in Atlanta, GA:


Mike Rickett and Steve talk Rebel Fitness Guide

As of right now, this is what we expect to have in the plan:

  • Three or four 4-week, day-by-day, exercise-by-exercise guides, each increasing in difficulty.
  • A few interviews in mp3 format between Mike and Steve discussing tips and tricks on how to best get in shape
  • A full diet plan, including insight from Mike and Steve on methods that will get results if you stick with it.
  • Videos, pictures, and description of every exercise used.
  • Full 100% money back guarantee.  If it doesn’t work for you, I will give you all of your money back.
  • No gym required – just your surroundings and some exercise bands and/or dumbbells.

That’s where we’re at currently. After fifteen months of writing for this site daily, I felt like this weekend seemed like the right time to take it to the next level by creating a product for sale that will provide people with a great way to get in shape.

Don’t worry, if you have absolutely no desire in buying this product or can’t afford it now, nothing else is going to change.  I’ll still be writing two articles a week, I’ll still be spending way too much time over on the Nerd Fitness Rebellion Headquarters, and I’ll still answer all of your emails (when I have time, sorry for the delays).  Hell, I’m even going to try and do more videos so you can get to know me more.  More pictures on the site too…get some personality up in this site.

This product is a long time in the making, it just took this weekend for it to finally come together.  I’m really excited about it and I really think it can help quite a few people turn their lives around.  Expect a lot more information and updates coming up in the near future.

New Design

Rebellion_CSo yeah, how BAD ASS is that new NF logo and color scheme?

I’ve probably spent a good seven hours (slight exaggeration) just staring at it because it’s so damn good looking.  When I told my friend Joe to help me design an NF logo with the rebellion in it, I never expected it to look THIS good.  Joe, you’re the freaking man, thanks.

Joe even redid the artwork for my Facebook Fan Page too. If you’re not a fan on there already, you definitely should be, because it would make me happy.  I’m going to work on incorporating this artwork and color scheme more into the blog on a short term basis until I can get the site fully redesigned, which should start happening in the next few months.

I’ll also be working with Joe to design some t-shirts that will be heavily influenced by this artwork. Unfortunately, the shirt plan has taken longer than expected to get off the ground, but I think I’ve found a solution that will keep costs down and allow me to actually afford to get the process started.

Stay tuned.

28-Day Challenge Winners

Last month, we had our first ever 28-Day Challenge, and to say it was a success is an understatement. I finally got a chance to read over everybody’s threads and picked my two winners.  Actually, I narrowed down to about four or five possible winners, after spending hours last night reading everybody’s stories and agonizing over the decision, and then had to pick two winners out of a hat because I just couldn’t decide.  Congrats to “Brendaisbored” and “RobotRogue” for winning the 1st ever 28-day Challenge!

  • Brenda managed to lose almost 8 pounds, most of which came in the last two weeks after switching her diet to be mostly Paleo.  She also bought a bike for the first time ever, discovered her passion for riding, lost a few inches off her waist, and blew straight past her goals of exercising three times a week.  Booyah.
  • RobotRogue has lost 13 pounds since March 4th (hope you don’t mind, I stole your stats from DailyBurn!), can now do four pull ups, and nearly completed all of his goals by the end of the month despite starting 10 days later than every else.  Freaking awesome.

Brenda and Robot, email me with your addresses and whenever I finally get around to making t-shirts (I swear they’re coming), I’ll be sending them to you.

The Next 28-Day Challenge

That’s right, people had so much fun with the first one that I had to do another one!  There are already 20 people signed up for the next challenge on the Message Boards here, so join the party!  There will be two more winners this month (who will get a NF t-shirt), but I have no idea how I’m going to pick them – if you guys have any ideas let me know…not that spending eight hours agonizing over message board posts isn’t the best use of my time, but I think we can do better.   I’m open to any idea that doesn’t require me to do what I had to go through last night.

Here are my goals for the next 28-days:

  • Gain another 5 pounds – It worked for me last month, let’s do it again – 5 pounds of muscle gain!
  • Work out 3 days a week – gonna stick with my plan from last time, heavy strength and power training to pack on some muscle.
  • Don’t fall apart! Honestly, the next two months of my life are going to be chaotic (and amazing).  I’ll be launching a new event at work, going on two cruises for work, attending three weddings, redesigning this site, taking a month long online seminar starting next Monday, launching the Nerd Fitness t-shirt line, launching and running a fundraiser for the Warrior Dash (details coming soon), and creating, building, promoting, and selling the Rebel Fitness Guide.  How I plan to fit sleeping, working out, and eating in there, I have no clue.

If you want to join in on the madness this month, head over to the Nerd Fitness Message Boards, and start a new thread with 2 or 3 things you hope to accomplish by May 3rd.

Help Me Nerd Fitness Readers, You’re My Only Hope.

Yeah, life is gonna get a little nuts until probably the end of June, and I’m fired up about it.  As you can see I’ll be quite busy, so if my email responses take longer than normal, please bear with me.  I do want your help though, specifically pertaining to the Rebel Fitness Guide:

  • What isn’t in this guide that you would like to see? 4 months worth of workouts, a full diet plan, videos of every exercise that you’ll be doing, and a 100% money back guarantee.  What else do you want in there?
  • How much do you think we should charge for it? I have a rough estimate in my head, but I want to see what it would be worth to you considering how much is going in it.
  • What should we call it?  Right now I’m going with Rebel Fitness Guide, but I’m not attached to it.  If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

PLEASE leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the guide and how we can make it the best effing thing you’ve ever bought.

For the Rebellion,

Steve

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Meet Moe: The Powerlifting Gamer Girl You Didn’t Know Existed.

A few weeks back, a gamer/graphic designer by the name of “MoePower” found her way onto the Nerd Fitness Message Boards, and talked about how she got into the best shape of her life by lifting heavy weights.

ilovenerdsConsidering I get a few emails a week from female readers who either don’t want to lift weights because they’re afraid of getting bulky or just don’t consider lifting when it comes to losing weight, I was ecstatic to hear Moe’s story.  She was nice enough to answer a few questions for the first ever female Nerd Fitness reader spotlight!

Steve: Hey Moe, thanks for taking the time to answer a few nerdy questions!  Now, have you always been interested in fitness? Describe a typical day of exercise for you before you started lifting weights?

Moe: My interest in fitness throughout my life sort of varies from here to there. I was in to all kinds of activities as a kid but as a teenager, I became very stagnant. In High School I started gaming a lot more and I fell really far into an Anime fandom that consumed my life for several years. I started gaining weight because I just sat on my butt all the time and ate fast food.

It hadn’t been till now that I realized how chubby I was back then.

My exercise was button mashing my Playstation controller.  In college, I managed to drop close to 120lbs by simply not eating more than maybe once or twice a day.  I was very unhealthy and I could barely walk up the steps to my room without feeling exhausted.  When I DID start going to the gym though, I was nothing but a hamster…running on the treadmill for hours at a time because I thought that’s what women did to lose weight.  I saw no progress and was actually GAINING weight because I found myself eating more to make up for the lost energy spent constantly running.

Steve: That seems to be the belief from many females (and a LOT of dudes) out there who are looking to get in shape: just spend hours on the treadmill or elliptical and hope for the best.  Fast forward to today – what’s a normal day like for you now in the gym? What kind of changes have you seen in your physique since switching to your new program?

Moe: A normal day for me in the gym consists of mostly weight training that focuses on certain parts of my body. A really simple outline of my current schedule follows something like this:

  • Sunday: Chest & Cardio
  • Monday: Off Day
  • Tuesday: Triceps & Shoulders
  • Wednesday: Heavy Leg Day & Abs
  • Thursday: Back & Biceps
  • Friday: Cardio & Abs
  • Saturday: Light Leg Day

Once every few months, I’ll take a week off to really give my body a good rest. As for my physique, it has seen some really amazing progress from following a good weight training program and eating healthy. I’m stronger, first and foremost, which is what I was focusing on. Gaining muscle for a female is more difficult, naturally, then it is for a man. I’ve been at it for a good year and a half and I still have a LONG way to go before I tell myself “okay, it’s time to lean down.” There are hints of muscle on my body…my arms are more firm and my butt is definitively more perky thanks to walking lunges! However, I’m most proud of my back. I also find it has improved my posture. My weight hasn’t really changed much from the day that I started. I just simply replaced the fat with muscle. I am not afraid to tell you that I weigh 130lbs!

Steve: Congrats Moe, that’s awesome!  Were you scared on your first day going into the free weight section with all the beefcake dudes?

Moe: I. WAS. PETRIFIED. Thankfully, I had my fiance with me to ease my fears, but on the days he didn’t go with me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being stared at like a lost puppy who had accidentally found her way into a big dogs only club.  The actual gym itself made a big difference too because it is a very popular gym in our area that we were new to at the time and I didn’t quite know my way around the machines or free-weights yet.

I was literally tossed into a snake pit.

I remember this one time…I sat down at a machine and not a second later some jerk came up to me and goes “ARE YOU DONE YET!? I HAVE TO USE THAT!” like I was just sitting there keeping the seat warm for him. It made me so insanely nervous then. Now (and I hate to toot my own horn) the guys in the weight room are so used to seeing me in there every day that they don’t dare talk to me disrespectfully because they know I’m serious.

Steve: That’s okay, please toot away.  Wait, that didn’t come out right.  Um, moving on!  So, did you have any reservations about lifting weights and “getting too bulky” like most women?

Moe: I did.  I think every woman who wonders about lifting weights gets scared because they don’t want to turn out looking like the She-Hulk and sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger on helium.

However, that’s where the personal research I did came in handy. I ran across a lot of great articles on bodybuilding.com and read every single “Women’s Transformation Of The Week” interviews and they all looked fantastic! The consistent thing, sans the clean eating, was that all of these women lifted weights! Not only that but they lifted HEAVY weights! Women just simply aren’t going to get beastly and bulky from lifting weights. Our bodies aren’t naturally made to be that way. Some women may be thicker or skinnier than others, but the scary women you see that look and sound like men? They use anabolic steroids. On a similar note, a good documentary on steroid use in America is called Bigger, Stronger, Faster (Steve: this is an Affiliate Link).  I recommend that everyone watch it, but especially my friends who ask me about such subjects.

Steve: Great point Moe – it’s really really tough to get TOO bulky as either a guy OR a girl unless that’s what you’re specifically working towards.  What would you say to the female NF readers out there who are hesitant to start lifting weights?

Moe: Don’t be afraid of the free-weights! Do your research, know the good stuff from the B.S. and just get in there and go!  Steve has a LOT of information in his articles and NF is a great place for anyone to start.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most trainers or assistants at your gym will teach you how to use the equipment properly if that is what scares you.  Ignore the dumb dudes who may eye you a little. That sort of comes with the territory unfortunately, but you have to realize that guys do that to other guys too!

Start off easy and work your way up. Get to know what weight work best for you for each exercise. You want to make sure that you are giving your muscles a good workout, but don’t use too much weight so that you end up hurting yourself. There really is no reason that women and men shouldn’t do the same exercises…the only difference should be the amount of weight. There are some things that I don’t do, however.  I find that side-bends tend to make women look wider…especially if they carry their weight in the belly section.  I also never use the Inner Thigh machine!  Some women, such as myself, tend to carry their weight in the thigh area. If you are building muscle faster than you are losing the fat, you’re just making it seem thicker.

Fellow ladies, if you want to lose your cellulite – LIFT WEIGHTS!

Steve: Have you noticed a difference in the way people treat you now as opposed to before you started working out and getting fit?

preprom

Moe: Definitely. It’s sort of been like a double-edge sword, interestingly enough (though a lot more positive than negative). I never really had a boyfriend in High School and didn’t even get asked to my prom which, at the time, didn’t bug me so much (This is a pic of me from High School). Now that I look back on it, I regret not going and realized that the reason boys didn’t like me was because I really didn’t take care of myself! I was just the girl that “drew those Japanese cartoons”. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve had a chance to reunite with some old friends and schoolmates and have gotten some really nice feedback. On the other hand, I’ve gotten remarks such as “How can you live like that?” or “How can you eat the way you do?”. I just tell people that I don’t do it for others, I do it for myself and for my health. There are certain health issues that run on my Mother’s side of the family (Type 2 Diabetes being the biggest), so I’m really trying now to prevent any long-term health issues as I get older.

I’ll be bench pressing when I’m 80 if I can help it!

Steve: That would be amazing.  Now, you met your fiancee in the coolest, nerdiest way possible – how did it go down?

me&mikeMoe: Some years ago, he and I used to belong to the same internet gaming forum. We knew OF each other and played Halo 2 a few times on Xbox Live with our mutual forum buddies, but that was the extent of it. One summer, the members of the forum all decided to meet up and have a huge LAN party. That is when we met for the first time face to face…and he and I, at that point, had some negative feelings towards each other because I thought he was kind of a jerk. During that weekend, we ended up talking and worked out our differences.

Some time later, we decided to try and have a relationship. Problem was, he lived in Louisiana and I lived in Maryland. My previous relationship was long distance which sucked, so I really didn’t want to get into another. He ended up doing a college-related internship in Virginia Beach and stayed with our mutual friend which was perfect. Every weekend he would drive up to see me or I would drive down to see him (5 -7 hour drive depending on traffic). In December of 07, a few months after his Internship was up, he asked me to marry him…so I packed up my stuff and moved to Louisiana! We are FINALLY getting married on April 15th this year in New Orleans! (Yes, April 15th is Tax Day…)

Steve: Congratulations!  I’m definitely sending you an elaborate wedding gift (read: a Nerd Fitness t-shirt).  Okay onto the important stuff: If you could have any super power in the world, what would it be?

Moe: Definitely strength. One of my favorite Anime characters of all time is A-ko Magami from Project A-ko. She is just so bad-ass and can take down giant robots with one swing!

Steve: Favorite video game of all time?

Moe: People who know me pretty well know that my most favorite video game of all time is Toejam & Earl for the Sega Genesis. It’s about 2 hip-hop aliens who crash land on Earth and they are forced to deal with crazy Earthlings all while trying to find pieces of their broken ship. I spent HOURS trying to beat that game.

Steve: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a complete stranger?

Moe: As cliche as it is, treat others the way you would want to be treated. I really try my best to live by that motto, but sometimes people need a good verbal slap in the face! Hah!

Steve: Thanks Moe, you rule.

So there you have it guys and girls, don’t be afraid to lift weights!  Don’t know what exercises to do?  Learn how to develop your own workout plan here. Worried you’re going to do something wrong?  Learn how to NOT suck at working out.  If Moe can do it and see kick-ass results, you can too.  I’m a HUGE advocate of weight lifting (especially heavy lifting) for both men and women, so I’m really excited to share this story with you all.

Now, if this isn’t enough to convince you that women can and should lift weights, maybe this 70 YEAR OLD POWERLIFTING GREAT-GRANDMOTHER will:


70 Year old Powerlifting Great-Grandmother

If you want to hear more about Moe and congratulate her on her upcoming nuptials, she posts over on the Nerd Fitness Rebellion Headquarters as “MoePower.”  You can read her intro thread here.

Speaking of message boards and challenges (see what I did there?), because the first NF 28-Day Challenge was so damn successful, we’re starting up another challenge on April 5th!  Expect more details on Monday, but you can get a head start by signing up on the boards now.

Until Monday!

-Steve

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The End of a Challenge and the Beginning of a Rebellion

Done!

Today marks the official ending of the first ever Nerd Fitness 28-Day challenge.  What started out as a challenge for myself to get in great shape for a vacation quickly turned into something far bigger – 50+ people pledging to take the challenge along with me.  Well, my vacation didn’t end up happening (sh** happens), but I still took care of business and managed to get through the challenge.

Did you?

Steve’s Challenge

28 days ago, I put out a challenge on NF to pick two or three things and stick with them for the entirety of the challenge.  Let’s see how I did!  Here were the three things I wanted to work on for these 28 days and why:

  • Gain at least five pounds, hopefully all muscle – I know you’re saying “damnit steve you suck, who wants to gain weight?” Well, I’m a skinny mofo and I want to be bigger and stronger.  The only way to do that is by eating lots of good, healthy food over these next four weeks.  I’ve gained 18 pounds in 30 days before, but this time I’m going to do it in a much healthier fashion.
  • Hit the weights hard three times a week – If I’m going to get bigger, I need to lift heavy weights with consistency, so I’ll be working out at a gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Sleep more - I never sleep – I stay up way too late answering emails and writing articles (like this one), which is great for the site but terrible for my health.  I’m never going to get bigger and stronger if I don’t take care of myself.

Overall, I give myself a solid B+. I ended up gaining six pounds, which was more than I was hoping for.  I checked my body fat percentage this morning and it remained the same, so looks like most of the weight gain was muscle (woot).  I did hit the weights hard three days a week.  My schedule was supposed to be Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but for the last two weeks I ended up going with Monday-Thursday-Saturday due to life getting in the way.

There were definitely some days where I didn’t feel like going to the gym (early on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day comes to mind), but I got my ass out of bed, sucked it up, and pushed around some weight.  Why?  Because I knew that 50+ people were doing this thing with me – if I skipped a day then what would stop everybody else from skipping?  I looked at this as a team effort.  Woohoo for public accountability – it absolutely works.

The only thing I didn’t manage to do extremely well was sleep more.  There were a few nights where I managed to get some extra sleep, but too many nights where I stayed up too late for whatever reason and paid for it the next day.  I feel like this is something I will always struggle with I feel like.  Oh well, it’s still a work in progress

Your Challenge

So how did YOU do? Did you make it all the way through the challenge? Quite a few people were posting on their own sites, while others were posting on the Nerd Fitness message boards.  I think the best part about this challenge was that it gave the boards a great kickstart – now there are over 120 members, 1500 posts, and some kick-ass conversations going down.  I really want this community to succeed, as I think it’s doing a lot of good for quite a few people.

If you’re on there, thank you for helping.  If you’re not, why not join us!

I did say I’d be awarding some awesome(ly average) prizes for the winners of the NF challenge.  If you want to be considered for the prize, post in the comments your goals and how you did with them.  I’ll be checking the boards too, but it would be easier for me to hear if you made it all the way through instead of scanning the 50+ threads.

Make sure you leave your comment with your proper email address in case I decide you’re the winner.  I’ll be scanning everybody’s threads this week and I’ll make a choice before the weekend.

A Rebellion Begins

NF Rebellion2Last week, an idea popped into my head when talking about how I wanted to build Nerd Fitness into an empire.  Then I thought to myself, “hmmmm, maybe people would rather join a rebellion than an empire.”  Regardless of the name, I think we all need a flag to rally around, a cause that we can all support, and a unifying message that we can all believe in.

So, after asking “Rebellion or Empire?” on Facebook, Twitter, and in the comments section of the last post, the votes came in overwhelmingly in favor of joining a rebellion.  I feel like the NF crowd is a bunch of underdogs  anyway (I love a good underdog story) who are eager to prove typical nerd stereotypes wrong, which sets up quite nicely for a worldwide rebellion of epic proportions.  I’m gonna go all-out with this idea coming up in the next few weeks, so be patient.  Your rebel leader is working on a master plan, it’s just going to take some time to execute!

Even though it’s Monday, I’m feeling pretty good right about now. If you were in the 28-Day Challenge, leave a comment and let me know how you did, and also let me know if you’re cool with being part of a rebellion :)

Oh, and one more question: should I do ANOTHER challenge right away?  Have people to sign up for their own personal challenges on the boards?  What’s the best thing to do from here on out?  I want to keep pushing people to level up, and I want to keep the boards growing, so I think I’m going to start another one on next Monday, April 5th.

Stay on target.

-Steve
Rebel Leader of Nerd Fitness
(has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

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photo: Jayneannd

9.5 Reasons Why I Exercise – Your Help Required!

Why are you here?

Maybe your boss made a fat joke at work today that sent you over the edge.  Maybe you got dumped and you want to look good for the next time you run into the ex.  Maybe your wife just had a baby boy and you realized you won’t be around to see him grow up if you don’t start taking care of yourself.  Maybe your doctor told you that you need to get in shape or you don’t stand a chance of living to 2011.  Hell, maybe you stumbled over here by accident.

Whatever it is that got you here, thanks for coming.

Everybody has different reasons why they’re trying to get in shape, and that’s awesome.  I want to give you 10 reasons you why I’m here and why I decided to start a fitness website, and then I’d love to hear why YOU’RE here, what you hope to accomplish, and how I can help.

1. I exercise because there is a direct correlation between my success in the gym with my success in life. A great day in the gym makes me feel like I’m going to have a great day outside of the gym…and I usually do.  Establishing a routine that makes me stronger and faster has helped me make great strides in both my job and Nerd Fitness as well.

Remember: momentum is a powerful thing.

2. I exercise because one day I want to be on the cover of Men’s Health for building an empire of healthy nerds. Last time I checked, they don’t put people eating doughnuts on there.  I have no doubt in my mind that I am going to change this world for the better before I leave.  Whether it’s helping people improve their own lives, or helping out those who really could use it (don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about my pledge for the warrior dash, more details coming soon), I feel like I’m in a great position to really make a difference.  This is both scary and exciting.

3. I exercise because I don’t want to be the skinny, weak kid anymore. Growing up, I was always short, skinny, and weak.  After that, I was tall, skinny, and weak.  Once I got to college, I made the decision that something had to change.  I’ve been able to pack on some muscle over the past few years, and I want to continue that trend.  Although I have no plans on becoming the Incredible Hulk, I would still love to be strong as hell.  I’m not really that skinny any more (thanks to years of hard work), but I still have a ways to go before I’m where I want to be.

4. I exercise because it helps me forget the bad day I had. Everybody has bad days.  Life sucks sometimes, and sh** happens.  As Bruce Wayne said in Batman Begins, “It’s not who we are, but what we do that defines us.”

Amen, Bruce.

Whenever I have a crappy day or things don’t go my way, I choose to look at life like a challenge.  I can curl up on the couch and watch Arrested Development re-runs (actually, that sounds awesome) while drowning myself in a case of beers, or I can MAN UP and take that sadness and anger and channel it into something productive.  Ever pumped iron or gone for a run when you’re mad as hell?  Try it next time – it’s awesome.

5. I exercise because I’m inspired. After watching 300, I wanted to look like Gerard Butler.  After watching Blade 3 (which was awful), I wanted to be Ryan Reynolds.  Casino Royale had me sprinting to the gym to look like Daniel Craig.  I get inspired when I see somebody who has turned himself into a machine, and it makes me want to go and do the same.  I realize I don’t have the time, money, or resources that these guys do, but it’s awesome to know what’s possible if you are truly dedicated.

I know a lot of you guys are runners and don’t like lifting weights (or aren’t ready to start yet), but please take 10 minutes and read “Iron and the Soul,” by Henry Rollins.  This article is a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me, and will help you understand the appeal of pushing around some plates at the gym.

6. I exercise because I want to be around for my kids and grandkids. Now, I don’t have kids yet.  Hell, I’m not even married.  However, I do know that taking care of myself and creating good habits now will allow me to live a long and healthy life, raising children and grandchildren who have the same appreciation for this whole “living” thing that I do.

I love life, and I plan on sticking around for as long as possible.

7. I exercise because I freaking love you guys. I love getting emails from you (Big thanks to Pedro from Chile for one of the nicest emails I’ve ever received last week), I love reading your comments, I love answering your questions, and I love reading your posts on the NF message boards.  Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have never been overweight, I’m still constantly striving for a leveled-up version of myself, just like you – I’m just coming at it from the other end of the spectrum.

Every time I feel like skipping a gym workout, I know that there’s a NF reader out there who is toughing it out because they don’t want to let himself or his fellow nerds down.  Thanks for keeping me accountable.

8. I exercise because I want to look good without a shirt on. So I want to look good naked.  Shoot me.  I want to look good when I go down to our neighborhood pool this summer to play cornhole, I want to look good when I’m down in the Caribbean for work, and I want to look good because it makes me feel better about myself.  Self-confidence and high-self esteem are things that I’ve always struggled with in the past (hopefully you can relate), but it’s gotten much better in the past few years since I started exercising and filling out my frame.

Provided you’re doing it the right way and not putting yourself in danger, getting in shape to look better is okay in my book.

9. I exercise because I want to be an inspiration. I want people to come to this site and say, “that Steve character, he’s got this whole thing figured out.  I want to be like him some day.”  I have no doubt in my mind that there is a better version of yourself hiding within you – I want to inspire and motivate you to get to that level.  I feel more confident about my articles and my recommendations when I’m in shape, and I feel like my words and videos will make a bigger impact when they’re coming from the best “version” of Steve possible.

9.5. I exercise because I’m inspired by YOUR reasons for exercising. So, how bout it: what gets you going in the morning?  If you need some ideas, here are 32 ways to kick-start your life.

Let me know what your reasons are, and if there’s any way I can help.

-Steve

ALSO: Just out of curiosity, would you rather join the Nerd Fitness Empire and be able to give yourself some ridiculously awesome title like “Supreme Vice Chancellor of blah blah blah”…or would you rather join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion and stick it to the man?  Both names are awesome, both make sense, but I can’t decide which direction to go with it.  If your answer is “how about let people pick either, and then have competitions between the two,” yes I thought of that, I just have no idea how I could actually get that to work.

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photo source

Lessons From a Former Fat Guy

This is a guest post from my friend Jim Hodgson.  Jim went from being a really big guy to a really in-shape guy, completing a freaking Ironman Triathlon this past July.  When he asked me about writing a guest post about the fat guy perspective when it comes to food and fitness, I said hell yeah.  Here’s Jim!

This web site, Nerd Fitness, is great. I’ve known Steve in real life since around the time he started working on it, so I have a little real-life perspective to share. Here is why it’s good: because Steve really wants it to be good. He works very hard on it, and it shows.

However, for all his hard work and enthusiasm, Steve has never been, nor will he probably ever be, fat. He does not know what it’s like to hear Kool and The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” in his head every time he eats like I do. Oh yeah baby, food time is party time to me.

Yes, I have intimate knowledge of fatness and nerdy-ness, as I believe the following photo will adequately attest:

Note that not only am I one half of the above photo, my dad and sister taking up the other half, but I am wearing a Perl shirt to boot. I was around 320lbs at that time, and as of March of 2010 I was 210 lbs, so I’ve lost over 100 lbs since beginning my journey. I’m still working every day on eating right and being more fit, but this photo is pretty much a textbook case of fat nerd.

The thing is, I have a extremely slow metabolism. It seems sometimes that if I eat a single leaf of lettuce, I will see a pound on the scale as a result. Contrast that with Steve, who could probably eat pretty much whatever he wants and never gain a pound.

Fortunately, good advice on healthy living works for both the fast-metabolism-Steves of the world who wish to put on muscle as well as for the fat Jims of the world who wish to lose weight.  After all, being healthy is being healthy no matter what.  The challenges can be different along the way though, so I’ve talked Steve into letting me write a guest post from a fat guy’s perspective.

I believe that overeating is just like drug or alcohol addiction in that you never really shake it. What’s more, you can give up cigarettes or booze entirely, but you can’t give up food for long.

Keep in mind that I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor, so you should ask licensed, trained professionals about everything I say to make sure you don’t explode or get a bad case of the farts or something.

You can’t outrun a bad diet

This is something I once tried really hard to do. When I started exercising to lose more weight, I bought a HRM (heart rate monitor). It tracks calories in addition to timing workouts, but no one’s really saying the calorie counts it keeps are exactly accurate, so I’d advise taking them with a grain of… caution, not salt, because we need to watch our sodium intake! Zing!

Anyway, when I got my HRM I figured a pound was 3500 calories, so I’d just do 3500 calories of cardio per week and lose a pound. Easy!

Well, that actually might work IF I ate the same thing in a week of no workouts as a week WITH workouts, but doing the equivalent of 500 calories of exercise a day is nothing to sneeze at. I usually burn around 1100 calories per hour running, 900 or so for an hour of cycling, and 6-700 for an hour of swimming, so any way you slice it that is a half hour plus per day, every day, for a whole week with no rest days.

The problem comes when I eat more because I have worked out hard and I’m hungrier, or worse, when I tell myself that pizza is okay because I just burned 1000 calories in a workout. Sometimes this is true, but it can easily get out of hand – running to the fridge does not earn me a burger.

If you are like me and you have a super slow metabolism, there is probably not a functional level of exercise where you will be able to eat whatever you want and be slim. To me that’s like saying there’s no such thing as true love — because believe me brother, I LOVE food — but that’s where I’m at right now on weight loss philosophy, or “weilossophy”.

I cut out alcohol entirely for nine months leading up to my race. I gave up sodas as well, even diet sodas. I believe that diet soda keeps you fat, or at least hampers weight loss, though I have no scientific data to support that belief.  I also used a food diary to calculate my intake of calories, and hardest of all, watch my carbohydrate intake.

Whenever I thought about cheating, or letting it slide just this one time, I said to myself “No, this time I’m going to do it right.”

Pick a course, stay the course, and do it for you

Life change can be a real pain in the hind parts. Sometimes it feels like you’re just slogging away with no measurable results, and for
what? Isn’t life too short to be miserable? Well, yes and no. Its my personal belief that some suffering is good for you, but you have to suffer smart.

I observed a big bump in people exercising alongside me in January of each year due to New Years resolutions. By June they were almost all gone. I knew I had been that person before, but not this time. This time I knew I had to stick with it.

110 lbs later, I am so dreaming of a cheeseburger here.

Originally I started losing weight because I wanted to have more success with girls. I’m ashamed to admit it because I should have done it just to be a better me, but that’s the truth of the matter. As time went on, other factors came into play. My mom passed away, and as a result I had a highly increased sense of my own mortality. I’ve always thought that I would someday lose the weight and become more athletic. I just finally realized that the time had come.

During the middle of this last summer I was fighting a severe case of burn out with only a few months to go until my Ironman race. It sucked. All I can tell you is that I just made myself do my workouts anyway. I had been working for it for a year, my dad was coming to see me race, as well as my sister, girlfriend, and a bunch of other friends. I couldn’t let them see me fail, but more importantly I couldn’t let ME see me fail.

I told myself, okay, if you’re hurting or tired or whatever, that’s fine, but you have to show up. Everyone has bad days or feels unmotivated, but I made myself show up every time.

I knew if I let myself skip workouts entirely I was finished, and I found that once I got myself to go I was usually okay.  Just moving my feet and starting the workout was usually the hardest part.

I think that is the biggest difference between me now and me then. I might not be at my best every day, but I’ll be on time and in the game.

Wow, if only there were a handy forum where people who are working on fitness and weight loss gathered to discuss these sorts of things. Oh wait, there’s one right here! My name is Jim on the Nerd Fitness forums, and I want to hear about your goals.

Be mentally ready for change

One of the things I noticed after I lost the first 60 or 70 pounds was that I was no longer invisible. I would say something in a group of people and someone would laugh or agree with me and I would be shocked. I hadn’t even realized until that moment how disregarded I was when I was a wobbling stack of ham.

I’m not sure if this happens to people who gain muscle or not, but I suspect that it does. I can only speak from my own fat experience.

Mind you, I am not a fatness apologist. I try not to tell people their business, and I believe that increased kindness and understanding between human beings is ultimately a good thing, but I also think that if I can lose over 100lbs, anyone can.

After all, in many ways I am a buffoon.

For better or worse, though, when you go through your body shape changes, people will treat you differently. Don’t let it shake you.

You picked a course for yourself and now you will stay on it. The people who love you for you are still going to love you when you’re more fit, and you’ll be alive longer to enjoy it!

-Jim

For more adventures and gripping philosophy, you can find Jim practicing the manly art of writing every weekday on his own blog. Check out the RSS feed or subscribe via email!

Stop Looking At Me, Swan – Life Lessons Learned From Billy Madison

I realize that my last few posts have been quite heavy and serious, but don’t think that means I’m all done with making ridiculous connections and analogies between healthy living and seemingly unrelated movies. For today’s article, I decided to draw inspiration from one of the funniest and dumbest movies of all time:

Billy Madison

If you haven’t seen this gem of a movie, well…shame on you.  Here’s a quick synopsis: Billy Madison (played by Adam Sandler) is waste of space 20-something who lives with his billionaire father in a mansion.  He finds out that his father had paid of all of his grade school teachers so that he could graduate.  In order to prove that he’s fit to one day take over the family business, Billy goes back to school and repeats each grade, first grade through twelfth, in the most comedic way possible.

I watched this movie for the eight-millionth time this past weekend, looking at it through the eyes of a motivational fitness blogger, and realized there’s quite a few lessons to be learned from Mr. Madison.  I’ve pulled my favorite quotes and turned them into motivational moments…because that’s what I do.

Here we go!

Stop looking at me, swan!

At one point in the movie, Billy is sitting in a tub and decides to yell at the swan faucet fixture for looking at him.  Now, what the hell does this have to do with self-improvement?  This.

Are you like Billy every time you go to the gym, paranoid that everybody around you is a staring ‘swan’? I get one or two emails a week from people who are either afraid to go to the gym, afraid to take a group class, or too afraid to use anything other than the treadmill because they’re worried people will stare at them for being out of shape or uncoordinated.

Don’t worry about the swan Billy!

Besides, they’re just people – you’d be surprised how many of them are so vain that they hardly notice anybody other than themselves anyways.  Or, they’re just like you and too busy being self-conscious about themselves to worry about you.  So, get out of your head, put in your head phones, and do what you need to do at the gym to take care of business.

If you want to try free weights, take a fun dance class, or go to yoga for the first time, do it because it makes you happy.  I guarantee the people around you will either:

  • Not notice you because they’re just as self-conscious as you.
  • Admire you for taking control and trying to better yourself.

If they ARE giving you funny looks, I’d recommend not free-balling it to the gym next time.

First and second grade were easy, but social studies, division? This is gonna be tough.

Sure Billy breezed through first and second grade, but as soon as he made it to third grade he instantly became nervous about all of the new things he’d have to learn.  Do you spend all of your time on a treadmill or elliptical simply because you’re scared to wander over to the free weights section?  Maybe you’re not afraid of ‘swans’ looking at you, but you simply don’t know what weights to lift or how to lift them.

It’s time to graduate sucka!

Weight training has been proven to be more efficient at burning calories than straight cardio. Don’t be scared, the weights won’t bite.  Unless they’re killer zombie weights, in which case you have bigger problems to deal with.  Let’s assume they’re not.  You can start here:

If you’re not ready for weight training, you can start with body weight training instead.  Think of this as grade 2.5:

Veronica, I thank you, for kicking the sh** out of me!

Every once and a while, you need somebody to tell you like it is.  After getting screwed over, Billy drank himself stupid and gave up on his quest to graduate high school.  It took an actual ass-kicking by his first grade teacher, Ms. Veronica Vaughn, to realize that he wasn’t living up to his potential.  Billy pulled his head out of his ass, stepped up his game, and ended up winning the competition.

I had a good friend last year who was overweight and had recently lost his job. This is one of my best friends and favorite people on the planet, so when he had started getting down on himself for everything that had gone wrong, I gave him a virtual kick in the ass and told him that he wasn’t living up to his potential.  Of course, I only did this because I knew he could handle it, and it was exactly what he needed to hear.

This same friend, now a completely different and improved person, recently yelled at me when he didn’t think I was living up to my potential.  I needed it.

I know for a fact there’s a better person hiding inside of you (not literally, that’s creepy) – it’s up to you to bring him/her out.  Be honest with yourself, or find a friend who is willing to be honest with you, and start taking steps to improve your life.

Don’t make me send Veronica Vaughn to kick your ass.

Of course I peed my pants.  Peeing your pants is the coolest!

While on a school field trip, one of Billy’s 3rd grade buddies accidentally peed his pants.  Suck.  Now, rather than rip on the poor kid, who’s already having the worst day of his life, Billy turned the situation around by “peeing” his own pants and then claiming that “you ain’t cool unless you pee your pants!”

Sure the quote might be random, but the lesson behind it is incredibly important: never underestimate how important your friends are!

They can pick you up when you’re down, make you laugh when you’re crying, motivate you when you’re lazy, and even splash water on their crotches when you’ve pissed yourself.  If you can find somebody to try this whole exercise thing alongside you, you’ll be far more likely to succeed and get better results.  I know this is absolutely true for me.  If you don’t have anybody local who can keep tabs on you and keep pushing you, join the Nerd Fitness Message Boards, where we’re all motivating each other.

Take care of those closest you, and they’ll take care of you in return.

You get your ass out there and you find that f***ing dog.

Remember when Miss Lippy read The Puppy Who Lost His Way to Billy’s first grade class – the kid in the story lost his dog, looked for a little while, and then gave up.  Eventually the dog found his way home, and everything was happy!  Not for Billy.  He delivered one of the funniest monologues ever:

The part of the story I don’t like is that the little boy gave up looking for Happy after an hour. He didn’t put posters up or anything, he just sat on the porch like a goon and waited. That little boy’s gotta think ‘You got a pet. You got a responsibility.’ If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that f***ing dog.

If you’re trying to get in shape, you can’t eat a couple of carrots, do two push ups, and then give up when things don’t go your way. Don’t just sit on the front porch like a goon and wait for your gut to disappear either.  It’s going to take hard work, consistency, strong will, and determination.  This ain’t no cake-walk.

You need get your ass out there, eat right and exercise, and turn your f***ing life around!

Hopefully this gave you a few laughs and the kick in the ass you needed to stay motivated.  Either that, or you thought this was one of the most insanely idiotic things you’ve ever read.  Fingers crossed for the former.

O’Doyle rules!

-Steve

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Here are some other ridiculous movie analogies I’ve made:

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