Use Your Success in the Gym to Level up Your Life

Sure you know exercising will make you feel better, but did you ever think of how else it will improve your life?   Getting in shape will not only improve your health, but it will certainly improve your appearance and increase your self-confidence.  Think about it: with all of these things going right for you, things can only get better, right?  2/3rds of the country is considered overweight; why not put yourself ahead of those 2/3rds and see what happens.  At the very least, you’ll be in great shape and probably live much longer.  Let’s see a few examples:

  • You go into a job interview, and you’re up against a fat guy with the same qualifications as you.  Who do you think they’re going to pick?  The guy in shape, who is far less likely to have health problems and need sick days, or the overweight unkempt guy?  All other things being equal, I’d bet 9 times out 10 you’d be the one selected.  They say one of the most important things about a job interview (other than height) is attractiveness when it comes to success.  Sure you might ugly, but you can at least control whether or not you have a gut!  When it’s a variable you can control, take advantage.
  • You’re out at a bar, and you meet a cute girl.  It doesn’t make her superficial if she’d prefer to date a guy that takes care of himself and his body.  Also, I bet you’ll feel more confident approaching her if you feel good about how you look.  Let’s say you’re older and you’re looking for a wife: if she’s looking for “husband” material, do you think she’d select the slob with a beer belly?  Hell no!  She’ll take the guy who’s going to provide her with the best opportunity to raise a family for many years to come.  You can develop that beer guy AFTER you get married (joke).
  • If you get fired from your job (which is like 10% of the country these days), start exercising.  If you get dumped by your girlfriend, join a gym.   Just 30 minutes a day can have a dramatic effect on your self esteem, energy, confidence, plus it will help you keep your mind off the stuff in your life that might not be going so well.
  • Use your successes in the gym to get the ball rolling for other successes in your life.  Getting ready to start a company and nervous about it?  Want to launch a website and don’t know where to begin, think back to your goals in the gym: lose 15 lbs, bench 150lbs, do 10 pull ups.  I bet most of those goals seemed unrealistic too until you accomplished them.  Realize that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and have some fun with it.

Be who you want to be, and make it happen.


What’s Your Motivation?

"You see Bob, it's a lack of motivation..."

"You see Bob, it's a lack of motivation..."

It’s 5AM on Friday, and you’re exhausted.  You’re on the road, and you have only 30 minutes before you have to check out from your hotel.  It’s Saturday afternoon and all you friends are drinking and playing video games.  There are literally a million reasons you can give yourself to skip a workout, and it generally only takes one of them to tip towards laziness.  You need to find that one reason that makes you move.  It’s this one reason, every single day, that will drive you to be a better person, improve your health, and get stronger.

A lot of people decide to get in shape because their doctors said so.  Others make the decision because they’re in a competition with office buddies to lose weight.  The reasons to start are endless: New Year’s resolutions, curiosity, because your friend convinced you to do it.  I don’t care what reason gets you to start exercising, as long as you’re doing it.

Now, the reason that got you to start exercising might not last very long; it might get you started but could fade very quickly as soon as adversity shows itself (traveling, vacation, holidays, a cold, etc).  In order to be successful, you have to find the motivation to KEEP going, to break through those tough days.  It’s this motivation that will drive you to exercise when you’re tired, not miss a workout because you’re sleepy, and get out of bed early on a Saturday while your friends lie in bed hung over.

Whatever that motivation is, find it. If it’s a movie quote, a picture of what you want to look like, song lyrics, make it a part of your daily routine first thing in the morning.  I wake up every morning to a quote from my favorite movie hanging on the wall: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”  In the gym, at work, and in life, I try to improve myself every single day.

What’s your motivation?  How do you remind yourself every day of what you want to accomplish?


6 Things You Need to Do Before Buying a Gym Membership

So, you’re motivated, you’re eager, and you’ve decided that you want to get a gym membership.  Luckily, in this economy people are dropping like flies from gyms so most places will pretty much do anything to get you to join their club.  Did you hear that Cinderella?  You’re practically the prettiest girl at the ball! Now, here are six things to consider before giving it up (your money).

Now, let’s be honest…most gyms suck, and the managers that run them are only after your money.  Family Guy explains this perfectly in this short clip below.  It’s important you do your research so you don’t get suckered into a crappy commitment with a crappy gym.

1) Do your research – If you live in a big city, there are probably dozens and dozens of gyms within a 15 mile radius.  Type in “gym” or “health club” and your address into Google and see what pops up.  Start making some phone calls and find out what their membership rates are, if there is a initiation fee, what their hours are, etc.  Interested in playing basketball, taking classes, swimming, etc.?  Check out different options.  One gym might be $50 a month compared to another at $25, but check to see what you get for that money: if you’re going to be doing things other than just lifting weights and hitting a treadmill, might not be a bad idea to splurge for the more expensive gym with all the bells and whistles.  Your choice.

2) Chain gym or local gym? Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Local gyms often have better trainers, more reasonable management (who aren’t solely after getting your money), while chain gyms often allow you to work out at any of their gyms in the country.  Big traveler? Might be good to get a nationwide membership.  Want to support local businesses? Find a good gym and get to know the owner…he might be more lenient on your membership rates.  Big chains have rates that generally set in stone, and many of them are only after your wallet.  It all comes down to what you want out of your gym.

3) What time of day will you usually go the gym? Decide if you want to work out before work, after work, late at night before bed, etc.  Obviously if you want to go straight from work every day, you’ll want to pick a gym by your office, and if you want to work out at home…go look at gyms there.  Timing is everything, and location.  If it’s really close to where you are, you’re far more likely to make the trip than if you have to drive half an hour.  Location, location, location.

4) Get a guest pass. Most gyms offer guest passes, which allow you to work out at their gym free for a week.  Make sure you go to the gym at the same time that you’ll usually be working out once you get a membership.  A gym could be great on a weekend when you go into to look at it, but right after work it could be more packed than Old Country Buffet on half-priced Tuesdays.  If they give you a free week, make sure you use it multiple times.  You might get a bad impression of a gym on one day simply because they were having a free open house or something.

5) Talk to other members. Find somebody at the gym you’re testing it out and ask them what they like and dislike about it.  They could tell you that there’s always a weird funk in the locker room, the trainers are a bunch of creeps, or the equipment is always busted.  They could also tell you it’s fantastic and they’ve had a nothing but great experiences there!  You won’t know unless you ask.  I’d recommend catching people after their workout or before…I wouldn’t really bring it up in the shower or when somebody is halfway through a set.

6) Find a good gym?  Good! Now try out two other ones. After you decide on a gym, sit down with their management and find out what kind of deals they can offer.  Do they have a family discount?  A lot of gyms will have specials if you can sign up with a friend.  Another thing you want to decide is if you want to do a short term month-to-month deal, or pay a discounted price but get locked into a contract.  Tell them you want to think about it, and then find another gym and use their free week membership.  You can probably get at least a good month worth of fitness in without paying a dime if you play your cards right.


Iron and the Soul – Henry Rollins

This dude will equalize you.

This dude will equalize you.

This weekend I was hanging out with my friend Chris, playing some music and talking about life. 

He recently started exercising and getting in shape, and has already lost about 10 pounds.  He told me about this great article he had read that really inspired him, and I had to share it here because it got me really fired up too.  Written by Henry Rollins (yes, THAT Henry Rollins), this article truly put a lot of things into perspective for me.  Regardless of your thoughts on Rollins’s political views, music, etc…the guy wrote one hell of an article.  Here it is reprinted.

It’s very long, but make sure you get all the way through it, especially the last paragraph:

Iron and the Soul

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes.

Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my adviser. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard.

Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing.

In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in. Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say **** to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a ceratin amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body. Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live.

Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole. I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind. The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go.

But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

-Henry Rollins

Great article.  That last paragraph really resonated with me: you can be whoever you want to be, hear whatever you want to hear from anybody around…but at the end of the day you only have to answer to yourself.  Think about it, lifting weights and exercising gives you immediate feedback and sense of accomplishment.  If you ran a mile in 6 minutes last week, and 5:55 this week…you’re improving.  If you lifted 200 lbs last month and 205 this month, you’re getting stronger.  One day at a time, one pound at a time, one rep at time.

Set a list of goals, and you can work every single day towards reaching them.  When you get there, you’ll know it’s because of your hard work and dedication.  Make it happen.



The 300 Workout

Yup, the guy's in pretty good shape.

Yup, the guy's in pretty good shape.

You’ve seen the movie 300 and you’ve seen how freaking jacked those guys are.  Well, as it turns out, many of the actors in the movie went through a certain routine that they had to finish in order to be considered “ready.”  I love this routine because it’s a full body workout that teaches both strength and endurance.  Every day in a gym I see guys working out their forearms, doing 5 different triceps exercises to hit the arms from all different angles, specializing in tiny muscles.  For this 300 workout, each exercise is a compound exercise, working multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Think about it: 2000 years ago, these warriors didn’t have cable pull machines and exercise balls and Nautilus machines – they had their body weight, they had heavy things to pick up, and things to hang off of. That’s it…oh yeah and they had to fight for their lives every freaking day.  They were in peak physical shape and scared the crap out of every other “army.”   I guarantee if a Spartan walked around in that loin cloth thing nobody nobody would question it.  Gerard Butler (who plays King Leonidas in 300) told Men’s Health: “You know that every bead of sweat falling off your head, every weight you’ve pumped — the history of that is all in your eyes.  That was a great thing, to put on that cape and put on that helmet, and not have to think, shit, I should have trained more. Instead, I was standing there feeling like a lion.”  Yeah, I want to feel like that.

So here the routine.  If you can complete this test, you’ve completed the final level, you beat the last boss, you did it.  So what is this routine?

  1. Pullups – 25 reps
  2. Deadlifts with 135lbs – 50 reps
  3. Pushups – 50 reps
  4. 24-inch Box jumps – 50 reps
  5. Floor wipers – 50 reps
  6. Single-arm Clean-and-Press with 36lbs Kettlebell – 50 reps
  7. Pullups – 25 reps

To see what these moves look like, check out Craig Ballentyne’s explanation for each:

300 Workout

There you have it.  Even though I’ve been working out and “in shape” for years, this test scares the crap out of me.  It’s a great goal to have though.  Once I get back from my next cruise in a few weeks, I’m going to try and attempt this test; I’ll record my stats and see if I can even get through it (my guess would be NO).  I tried to do some floor wipes this morning and nearly killed myself…50 of them scares the bajeeezus out of me.  Oh well, gotta start somewhere, right?

My ultimate goal is to compete on Ninja Warrior – yes I’m serious – so until I make it on the show I figure if training to look like King Leonidas is a good start.


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Miracle Diets and Workout Machines? Overnight Success Story? Not Likely.

6 Weeks..Really? REALLY!?

6 weeks! Turn a fat guy into a creep robot? WTF

Everybody has seen those ads on the side of a website.  They show a guy with a huge gut, and then the next picture he has washboard abs, cut arms, a tan, and suddenly no chest hair.  Half the time, it’s not even the same person.  They talk about how their particular piece of equipment/exercise plan/routine will whip you into shape in only 20 minutes a day, three times a week.  Other ads talk about a diet pill that allows you to eat whatever you want and still lose 40lbs in a month!  Fantastic, right?

Don’t believe a word of it.

I stumbled across this article in the New York Times where Carl Foster, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, took a bunch of guys aged 18-40 and put them through these “miracle 6-week programs.”  They had a panel of judges and doctors look at pictures (with heads removed, in random order) and rate them on appearance both before and after the six week programs.  When comparing before and after photos, they really couldn’t detect any discernible difference.  What cracked me up is that the panel rated most of the test subjects far lower than they rated themselves, and specifically the women on the panel rated them even lower than that.  Guys, this is not good!  Apparently we think we look far better than we actually do.  Ruh roh.

Back to these routines: they’re all a giant scam, and one that you need to avoid.  Honestly, think about it, if you could look like the jacked guy in the picture by eating whatever you want and taking a pill while working out 3 times a week for 20 minutes…then EVERYBODY would look like that.  However, very few do, and I see a new ad for “the next best thing” every freaking day…which means people are buying into the marketing ploy.  Suck!

Let’s set the record straight: diet and exercise will get you where you need to be.  It won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy.  If you’re looking to get into shape, you need to set realistic goals.  According to Dr. Kraemer from the University of Connecticut, “To make a change in how you look, you are talking about a significant period of training…In our studies it takes six months to a year.” And, he added, that is with regular strength-training workouts, using the appropriate weights and with a carefully designed individualized program. “That is what the reality is,” he said.

If you eat healthily and exercise regularly, you can aim to lose around 1% of your body weight per week on average, and no more.  It’s a long process and a struggle, which explains why so many people are unhealthy…they get started and they don’t see immediate results so they get discouraged and give up.  Some people to go to the gym and get nothing accomplished.  You need to sweat, you need to be increasing your reps or weights each time, and you need to stay motivated.

Stick with your plan, push through the tough days, and have somebody to help you along the way.

To quote that movie with Tim Allen as a television actor playing a spaceship captain who actually ends up in space and has to save people (isn’t that an exact plot ripoff of “The Three Amigos” by the way?) “Never give up. Never surrender!”  When you take it one day at a time, six months will go by much faster than you think.


Updates This Week

Updates this week will be pretty much non-existent unfortunately, because I’m currently traveling for my day job.  And by “traveling” I mean spending a week on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with 41 artists and bands on Cayamo.  The internet on the ship is terrible, so getting things uploaded, while working twelve hour days, is close to impossible, so I’d rather save the good posts until I get back to the United States next week.

In the meantime, feel free to read the blogs that I write on a daily basis while at sea over at!  Thanks for your patience guys; things will be back full force a week from today.

This blog is coming to you from Semana in the Domican Republic.


Level Up Your Life #5 – Activities That Burn Calories

So, if you’ve been following the blog for the past four days: you figured out that you want to get in shape (woot), you’ve learned what your your Body Mass Index is (sweet), how to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (oh hai), and what your Daily Caloric Consumption is (nice!).  If you missed this stuff and want to read about all it, there are links at the end of this blog.  Now, why did we spend four days doing math problems?  Because we had to create a stable base from which we can build.  Now that you know your body type, and how many calories you are burning each day, we can create a custom plan for you that involves decreased calorie intake (less Twinkies), increased physical activity (more running), or a combination of the two.

Here’s the important stuff you need to know:

  • 1lb of body fat equals 3500 calories – Remember this forever!
  • Hate exercising? To lose 1lb per week, cut out 500 calories every day from your diet.
  • Junk food for thought: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and 20 oz Coke = 500 calories
  • Don’t want to diet? Do enough exercises to burn 500 calories per day to lose that lb per week.
  • Best of both worlds? DO BOTH. Little changes to both will dramatically improve your health predicament.

Now, which exercises burn the most calories?  I’d tell you about every freaking activity in the world, but that would take way too much work and this blog would take forever to write.  Instead, how about I link you to a few great resources instead:

  • Health Status’s Activity Calculator, set your length of time, and then type in how long you did it for, and it tells you approximately how many calories you’ve burned.  Sigh, yes there is “sexual activity” listed for activities, so feel free to giggle and put down 5 hours and see how calories you’d burn (it’s a lot).  Get it out of your system?  Do you feel better now?
  • PrimusWeb’s Calorie Counter: put in your weight, and length of time, and it gives you calories burned for 222 activities for that time frame.  My advice – put down 60 minutes and print it out.  You can then base whatever activities you do off of that.  Run for 15 minutes? Divide “running” by 4 and you got your calories burned.  Success.

My advice for when you only have 20 minutes to train and want to burn maximum calories: Interval Training for the win!


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Level Up Your Life #4 – Determining Your Calorie Level

Yesterday you figured out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Do you still have that number?  If not, go to this website, input your info, and write down your BMR.  Got it?  Good.  Today we’re going to take that number and make it more realistic.  This is where the Harris-Benedict Formula comes in!  Who is Harris and Benedict?  Do you really care?  Google it.  We’re going going to use this formula to calculate how many calories your body burns every day when you’re out and about, moving, working, running, jazzersizing, etc.

Take that BMR number you just calculated, and figure out where you fit into this equation:

  • Little or no exercise : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Okay, so we spent the past three days plugging numbers into formulas and multiplying answers by fractions.  Boring stuff I know, but as nerds you gotta at least appreciate the simplicity behind it.  (Note: this number doesn’t take into effect extreme amounts of lean muscle mass or excess fat; if you’re built like Brad Pitt in fight club you’ll need MORE calories than it says to maintain your weight, and if you’re built like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers you’ll need LESS calories to maintain your weight.)

Okay, now we get to the fun stuff, actually losing weight!  If you learn one thing today, let it be this: 1 Pound of Body Fat is made up of 3500 calories.  Do not forget this.  This piece of info will help shape your future as a healthy individual.  If you’re looking to lose 1lb of fat, you’ll have to figure out a way to consume 3500 less calories per week, burn 3500 extra calories per week, or some combination of the two.  Further breaking it down, this equates to 500 less calories per day if you want to lose 1 lb of body fat.

WARNING: If you get a crazy idea to to cut your calorie intake drastically and lose lots of weight quickly, it won’t work. If you cut the calorie intake back (I’m talking way down), your BMR will actually slow down to keep the food inside you longer because your body thinks it’s starving.  So, don’t try to lose more than 1% of your body weight per week (generally a loss of 1-2 pounds per week is okay).  Nice try, sucka!

If you’re looking for a starting point, this is it.  Tomorrow, I want you to keep track of EVERY SINGLE THING you eat, count your calories, and find out where you fit in (gain/lose/maintain).   See if there’s a place for you to cut out 500 calories.  If you can only find 200 or 300, then we’ll have to make up the rest with exercise.  Which exercises burn the most calories?  Check back tomorrow and we’ll break it down…


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Level Up Your Life #3 – Basal Metabolic Rate

Yesterday you figured out your Body Mass Index.  Congratulations, we now have a starting point for you.  The next thing we need to determine is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). In a nutshell, this rate will tell you how many calories your body uses to stay alive…or in other words, how many calories you’ll burn when you spend the entire day on the couch playing Halo (not that any of us have ever done that before, ever).  Sure, it’s not exactly real-world applicable because you get up and move all day, but for those of you who work desk jobs and don’t get any exercise, it’s a pretty good estimation.  To answer your next question, no…playing minesweeper on your laptop doesn’t really count towards burning calories.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find an embeddable BMR calculator (and I looked for a solid 5 minutes), so you’ll have to go here to input your data.

Once you find out what your BMR is (mine is 1923.3), go ahead and mess around with the different numbers.  Increase your weight, and your BMR goes up.  Makes sense, there’s more of you to go around, so your body has to work harder to keep it maintained.  As you get older, your BMR decreases; the older you get the slower things happen.  When it comes to gender, girls use up less calories per day than guys. That’s just how it is.

You might ask how your Basal Metabolic Rate is determined.  Honestly, I’d explain the whole formula and equation but it’s boring as hell and a waste of time to type it out when this site explains it better.  Just know that it works, and it’s accurate.

Now that we have your BMR, make sure you write it down and remember it.  We’ll use this number when determining how many calories you’re burning on a daily basis after factoring physical activity.   Soon, we can look into how many calories you eat and what activities you do; every one of these things will determine your mass.  When you break it down, calories consumed vs. calories used will determine if you gain weight, lose weight, or maintain.

Check back tomorrow to learn how to take your BMR, your level of activity per week, and calculate how many calories you need every day.


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Level Up Your Life #2 – Body Mass Index

Leia's BMI: 19.  Jabba's BMI: 5432

Leia’s BMI: 19. Jabba the Hutt’s BMI: 5,472

Yesterday you made the decision that you want to get in shape. Now, the first thing we need to do is to figure out what your goals are.  If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to get there.

Right now, I want you to write down 3 specific fitness goals: lose 35 pounds, do 40 consecutive push ups, run a mile in under 7 minutes.  Set goals even if they seem unrealistic; at least you’ll bust your ass to get there.  For example, I want to be on Ninja Warrior.  Gotta aim high, right?

Okay so you have your goals.  Now we’re going to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 years.  As long as you’re either a man or a woman (I like your chances), and in that age range (if you’re older than 65 and reading my blog, you’re officially the coolest old person I know), you can quickly figure out your BMI and that gives you a starting point on where you are and where you need to be.

To determine your BMI, click on the stick figure below and drag up and down to set your height and left and right to set your weight. Think of it like the Create-A-Player Mode in Madden, except instead of making a 450 lb. placekicker, you’re making a stick figure representation of yourself.  Once you set the height and weight (make sure you change it to standard, not metric), it will give you your score.

If you’re a uber-nerd and you want to know how your BMI is calculated, here is the formula.

BMI Calculator

Okay, so now you have your number; this is what your number means:

  • A healthy BMI score is between 19 and 25.
  • A score below 19 indicates that you may be underweight
  • A value above 25 indicates that you may be overweight.

First of all, if it’s higher than you expected don’t get discouraged; you have to start somewhere, right?  Every day we’ll work on getting that BMI down to help decrease your risk of disease.  Plus, you’ll look way better naked…so you got that goin for ya…which is nice.  If your BMI is way below 19 (and you’re a dude), read my blog on getting in shape and gaining weight; you’re in the minority, and people will yell at you when you say things like “I can’t gain weight!”  Please note, this BMI number only takes into effect your height and weight.  Your muscular build, if you’re a guy or a girl, and your body fat% can skew this number slightly, but it’s a good start point especially if you haven’t exercised since high school gym class.

Start adjusting the weight on your stick figure until the little number on him drops into the 20-25 BMI range – that’s where you want to be.  From a weight-loss stand point that’s your goal weight.  Don’t worry, we’ll work on turning you into a warrior from “300” soon, but first you need to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.  We now have a starting point (your BMI), and a goal in sight (your target weight).

Let’s fill in the middle steps.


Yesterday’s Blog: Level Up Your Life: Making a Change

Next Blog: Basal Metabolic Rate

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Level Up Your Life #1 – Make a Change

Leonidas wants you to get in shape, I swear.

Leonidas wants you to get in shape, I swear.

Congratulations, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

As of right now, 2/3rds of Americans are considered overweight and 1/3rd of the nation is considered obese. Sure it’s easy to blame genetics, society, 5 dollar foot-longs, World of Warcraft, global warming, the Man, Scientology, your mom, etc…but at the end of the day it’s up to us to make a change.  I don’t care if you’re overweight and haven’t exercised in a day in your life.   Everything that has happened up until now is irrelevant; it’s a brand new day, and you’re going to make a change.

Now, every one of you will have a different reason for getting into shape.  You might be here because you want to get big muscles and beat the crap out of the kid who gave you a swirly yesterday.  You might be here because you know the new girl down in H.R. is a health nut and you want to impress her.  Hell, you might be here just because your doctor said you might be in trouble if you don’t start exercising.  Luckily, whatever reason brought you to this site is a good enough reason for me to help you make a change.  As long as the reason you’re here gets your ass out of that chair and moving, I’m all for it.

For the rest of this blog, I’m going to be optimistic and assume you want to get in shape.  Let’s talk about some benefits of that decision: when you get in shape, not only will you be stronger, more attractive, and live a better life, you’ll also be far less likely to contract all kinds of fatal diseases.  Seriously, just look at this list of stuff that you have a larger probability of getting if you’re overweight:

  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

That’s a long list of some pretty terrible diseases.  This is like going into a gun fight and without a vest.  Sure it might not save you, but when you have an opportunity to increase your chance of survival even a little bit you have to take it.  Getting into shape is your bullet-proof vest; if you could prevent any of those disease up above, you’d be a fool not to take action.  Now, let’s talk about all the other benefits of getting into shape:

  • More Energy – People that exercise are less tired than people who don’t exercise.
  • Sleep Better – Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep, which will give you more energy.
  • Stronger Heart and Lungs – Try living without either one of these things = epic fail.
  • Exercise improves your mood – Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which can make you feel happier than before you worked out…full of win.
  • Look better naked – Pretty self explanatory: who doesn’t want to look better naked?!  You don’t need to see studies to show that you will be more attractive to the opposite sex if you are in shape.  It’s science.
  • Feel better about yourself – Getting in shape will give you a higher self-esteem.  Woot.
  • Live longer – Studies have proven that those who exercise daily can add up to 4 years to their life.   Not only that, but your quality of life can dramatically increase for those later years if you’ve been exercising regularly.  You won’t be as useless!

Now, what kinds of changes are we talking here? Don’t be scared: when I say “make a change,” I’m not telling you to buy spandex, start running marathons, and eating spinach for every meal.  We’re talking baby steps here.  One day, one change at a time.  Some of the changes you’ll make might seem small and insignificant, but they will have a profound effect on your life and overall happiness (I promise).

Join me and work towards getting healthy.  To quote the greatest movie of all time, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really.  Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”  Tomorrow, we’ll take our first steps towards getting in shape.  Until then, take the next two minutes and watch this video, featuring an epic montage of 40 kick-ass movie speeches.  If this doesn’t get you fired up and make you wanna climb a mountain, you’re dead to me.

2 Minutes of Inspirational Speeches from Movies

Let’s get it done.


Next step: Figuring Out Your Body Mass Index

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Find your Yoda

I met with Yoda tonight.

Sure he doesn’t look or act like Yoda, and the Force may not be strong with him, but I couldn’t be more thankful that he’s around.  My Yoda happens to be named Mike, a personal trainer guru from Colorado who taught my certification class.  Although he trains in Colorado, he travels all over the country to train trainers and hits up Atlanta quite frequently.  Whenever he’s in town I make a point to meet up with him for breakfast or after work.  In the short time I’ve gotten to know Mike, he’s quickly become an amazing mentor to me.  Tonight, I spent a good two hours just picking his brain (much better than picking his nose…yes I went there) on the fitness industry, personal training, and the next steps in my career.  I’m always amazed with how happy and willing Mike is to pass along knowledge and advice to me, stuff that people pay hundred and hundreds of dollars to get at seminars.  I’m very lucky.

I’ve realized that having a mentor is absolutely essential to anything do in life if you want to be successful.  If you want to get better at math, you find the smart kid in the class and ask for help (bad example, you all were probably were that smart kid).  If you want to be the best chess player on the planet, who do you play against?  You try to find the best, and learn from them.  If you want to be the best Counterstrike player in the world, you join a clan of the best players around.  Find people that have been there before you, and ask them how they did it.  Ask them what mistakes they made, what worked best for them, and follow their leads.  Go it alone and you might make it, but I guarantee it will take you a lot longer and probably cost you a lot more money.

I spent 6 years in a gym – from my sophomore year of high school until graduating college – doing what I thought was right; I wasted hours and hours of time and probably hundreds of dollars on equipment, supplements, and routines that turned out to be useless.  In just three sessions with a personal trainer my life changed completely.  Had I not been so dumb for so long I would have seen results and success much sooner.  Since then, I’ve learned my lesson, which is why I’m so thankful to know Mike.

Tonight, I asked for his advice on switching up my workout; it had become stale and boring and I was out of ideas.  Beginning next week I’ll be starting a brand new routine that emphasizes full body workouts three times a week and I couldn’t be more excited.  You might think that because I’m a personal trainer I should be able to train myself, but it’s not that easy.  There’s always room to improve, and always somebody who knows more than you, so you have to make an effort to never stop learning.

That path you’re thinking of exploring – find somebody to help you get started.  If you want to start a business, find somebody who started something similar and ask for advice.  If you want to get in shape, reach out to somebody who has the body type and lifestyle that you want for yourself.  Now, if you don’t have anybody that you can reach out to, shoot me an email at with any fitness related questions, and I’ll gladly help you out.  Fitness is tough starting out if you don’t know where to begin (trust me, I know), so let me know what I can do to help you change your life.

Find your Yoda!


The Top 5 Reasons to Do It With A Friend

Relax Mom, I’m talking about exercise.

Think about all the great duos in history.  Do you think Lloyd Christmas could have made it all the way to Aspen without Harry Dunne?  Do you think Derek Zoolander could have stopped Mugatu and created the Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too without Hansel?  Hell no.  How about growing up with your friends playing Contra on old school Nintendo.  Without the code (yeah I know you can recite it from memory right now, good for you), that game was freaking impossible if you’re flying solo.  Tag team it though, and those aliens don’t stand a chance.  Exercising is no different!  It’s better when you do it with a friend.

So you’ve made the decision to get in shape.  Sure you’ll feel all motivated and excited for the first week because things are going great…and then it rains one day, so you don’t work out, then you have a rough day at work and you take the next day off…pretty soon you’re right back where you started.  However, if you have a good friend who is going through the same thing you are, you can get through the rough patches together and make your lives better.  Let’s talk about 5 reasons why you’ll be more successful getting in shape when you do it with your friend:

1) Accountability –  When you decide to slack off and you’re the only person that’s affected by it, you let it slide.  However, if you’re part of a team and you let everybody down, the guilt kicks in.  Damn you guilt!  When you work out and exercise with a friend, you won’t be able to skip workouts so easily.  When you have a crappy day and don’t feel like going to the gym, your buddy can drag you there.  When he’s having a bad day, you can drag him there.  You’ll feel much better after the workout anyways!  One of the most important things about exercising is sticking to a consistent schedule; work out with a friend, and you’re 76.5% more likely to stick to it (yes I just made that up, but it’s probably true).

2) Motivation – Think back to grade school, when you had to run the mile…you made it 3/4ths of the way around the soccer field and gave up.  There was no motivation to go, nobody yelling positive words of encouragement – just Ned the bully making fun of your sweatpants.  When you’re out running to get in shape and you have another mile to go, it’s pretty easy to just give up and call it a day because you’re tired.  Rule #76 – No Excuses. Play like a champion!  When you’re running with a friend or trying to crank out an extra five push ups, his/her words of encouragement will push you farther than you think you could go.

3) Spotting – I’ll never forget my first day in the gym.  Other than looking like a jackass, I loaded up too much weight onto a bar and tried to do some bench presses.  Definitely dropped it right onto my chest, and then one weight slipped off one side, which IMMEDIATELY put the bar way out of balance and the weight on the other side fell off too.  Like a scene out of a movie, everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at me.  Epic fail.

To avoid situations like this, work out with somebody else who can spot you while lifting.  If you’re trying to gain more muscle mass, you make the most gains during those last one or two repetitions which are extremely dangerous when done by yourself.  However, if you have somebody helping you along and motivating you (I see you #2) you’re more likely to get through the workout and get more out of your exercises.  Also, with a friend spotting you, they can tell you when you’re doing an exercise improperly.  Start good habits and good form on each exercise from the beginning, and you’re way less likely to get hurt from lifting improperly.

4) Share Information – Fitness is one of those great things where you’re always learning something new.  Two minds are better than one, so think of how many more things you can learn with two people!  You’ll be sharing information, workout tips, even good recipes (or phone numbers to good take-out places if you’re useless in the kitchen).  Buying workout equipment/apparel?  Might be cheaper to buy two and save on shipping.  Buying a gym membership?  Find out how much the gym will pay you for referring a friend and split the savings.  Want to get a personal trainer?  Ask what the rates are for two people at once instead of just one.  Save money, get smarter, be more efficient.  What’s not to like?

5) More FUN – Working out can get boring!  Running can get dull.  Sticking with your routine every day can get repetitive.  And nobody wants to hear about how much you can bench or how many pull ups you did yesterday, especially if they don’t exercise.  However, if you have a workout buddy, you can g-chat each other all day long about what’s the new plan at the gym and they’ll listen, because they’re on the same page as you.  When you pair up at the gym, you’ll have somebody to talk to, crack jokes with, and somebody to listen to how crappy your day was (just don’t over do it).  Besides, with your friend there you can have healthy debates like, what’s better, “the Shield” or “the Wire,” what the hell is “drinkability,” and if the girl on the treadmill is hot or not.

There you have it. Now, it comes down to what friend you want to pick.  Pick whoever you want, as long as they’ll make you a better person in the gym.  If you can find a friend who has already worked out before, even better…he can show you the ropes.

Whatever you do, don’t pick the smelly kid because you’ll pass out when he’s bent over trying to spot you while you’re doing bench presses.


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