Nerd Fitness Level up your life, every single day. Wed, 25 Nov 2015 02:19:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Winter is Coming: Join the Holiday Watch and Defend the Realm Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:41:13 +0000 Winter is coming.

Today, in households and offices all across Westeros the world, unstoppable forces are planning to wreak havoc on waistlines and stop momentum dead in its track.

We have been fighting hard to level up our lives all year long, dutifully exercising regularly, walking further and getting stronger, making healthier food choices, and building great habits. But the most important 6 weeks of the year are now upon is.

Winter is coming, and it is bringing with it an army that will attack us on many fronts:

A holiday designed around overeating, with a culture to encourage you to keep going until you pass out. A long weekend! Leftovers! Netflix!

A shopping sale made from black magic that will delude you into buying shit you don’t really need: Black Friday and Cyber Monday! That thing you’ll never use! That other thing that will break in two days!  I imagine this plays out like this South Park Episode.

Office parties and home parties where you will drink far too much and eat junk food, or face the wrath of co-workers and friends telling you to “live a little.”

The week of the dead: The days around Thanksgiving when nothing is going on other than football and video games. Lots of time to sit on the couch and eat junk food.

Enabling friends and family: People who let themselves go and beg you to do the same with them (“it’s the holidays!”).

Winter, literally: Snow, rain, drastically lower temperatures that will have you dying to stay inside on your couch watching Netflix rather than braving the elements any more than you have to.

As we stand here, bracing ourselves for the holiday season, we are just like the Night’s Watch as they are stood on the Wall watching giants, mammoths, Wildlings, and freaking White Walkers approach the Wall.

If you’ve seen the most recent season (5) of Game of Thrones, you’ll be familiar with this fan-favorite scene involving a giant. (if you haven’t seen it yet… you’re missing out!).

This is what’s at stake over the week, and why I am laying down a challenge. 

While the rest of the world willingly eats, drinks, buys, and sloths themselves into a momentum-paralyzing funk, you are going to defend The Wall, and hit January 1st with a full head of steam.

Your Holiday Watch begins now.

Why The Next 6 Weeks Are So Damn Important


For anybody on a quest to live a leveled-up life, these next six weeks are the most important six weeks of the year. Are you going to let your healthy habits slowly die, forcing you to once again make a declaration to get back on track, starting January 1?

Or are you going to take control of your fate?

Society encourages us to eat like crap and sit on our asses during this time of year. And if the Wildlings can knock us down during Thanksgiving break, the White Walkers have their opportunity to deliver the final blow (the month of December). So, fight back!

Sure, it might be SOCIALLY WEIRD to not mindlessly overeat. It might be weird to exercise the morning of Thanksgiving. In fact, you might even feel… like a Rebel.

This week, and this Winter, I challenge you to join me in defending the Wall – stand among the brave souls defending a realm against a threat it doesn’t even believe in: White Walkers.  An unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle that leads to an early grave (Ahh, there we go).

Think of the next week (Thanksgiving) like the skirmish with Wildlings before the big attack from the White Walkers. Take the pledge, learn how to defend the Wall, and brace yourself for what’s coming.

Here are the 4 rules to follow (starting today):

  • At least three workouts a week during the break, and one healthy meal per day. For Thanksgiving break specifically, try to fit in two activities that get you moving. I’m not expecting you to be perfect (lord knows the members of the Night’s Watch aren’t), but I do expect you to do some exercise over your break.
  • Never miss two in a row. If you are scheduled to work out on a particular day and you miss it due to travel or whatever reason, you WILL exercise the next day. Every unhealthy meal WILL be followed by a healthy one. No excuses, play like a champion.
  • The day after a major holiday is flawless. If you do opt to kick back and eat a little more than usual, the day after must be flawless execution in the eating department.
  • Weather cannot be used as an excuse. It’s cold on top of the Wall, and it’s getting cold this time of year. But remember – you made this pledge. You can’t say, “it’s too cold” or “there’s snow on the ground” or “I’m hungover.”

Now, I want you to repeat the following after me. Seriously, stand up and say it out loud (weirwood tree not required):

Holidays gather, and now my watch begins.

It shall not end until my goal is met. I shall take no weeks off, miss no workouts, justify no overeating. I shall wear no stretchy pants and win no glory. I shall live and die by my commitment to myself. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the Watcher of my body. I am the fire that burns against the cold days, the light that brings my momentum, the horn that wakes my emotions, the shield that guards the realms of my health.

I pledge my life and honor to the Holiday Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

You can sign up for the Holiday Watch by making a “pledge” in the comments below: “I pledge my life and honor to the Holiday Watch.”

Remember, this short break is the skirmish before the war, so to get you moving into the holiday season with momentum, I’m going to give away free stuff.

We’ll pick two random Rebels who leave a comment pledging their loyalty by Sunday, November 29th, and send them a copy of my upcoming hardcover book, Level Up Your LifeI’m so freakin’ excited about this book and can’t wait for hit to hit bookshelves in January.

And if we pick you as a winner, I’m going make sure you’ve upheld your end of the bargain. I’ll be watching…

Winter is coming. Good luck.


P.S. – In case you haven’t seen it: Jon Snow!?


photo: Brian Rinker: Game of Thrones

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How Fat Acceptance Doesn’t Have to Glorify Obesity and Shame Fitness Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:09:47 +0000 This is an article from NF Chief Wordsmith Taylor Share.

Before we jump into this hugely controversial subject, I wanted to lay out some facts. And also put on my Kevlar armor:

There aren’t many things that matter on this scale. That’s why it is especially crappy when nearly every article, debate, YouTube video, or reddit thread on this subject is the same: people talking past one another instead of working with each other.

I believe there is a perspective most people on both sides can embrace, without betraying the values that originally had them at each other’s throats.

Bear with me while I dig in to this. We’re going to put the nerd in Nerd Fitness.

We should all EMBRACE fat acceptance, with one huge caveat


“Acceptance” is a loaded word. Today I’m going to suggest an incredibly specific, nuanced definition of body acceptance. To get there though, I first need to talk about traffic:

Imagine you are leaving work to go to a friend’s birthday dinner. You swing by and pick up your friend, hop in your car, and head to the party. It starts in twenty minutes, but you hit some traffic. You check Google Maps and it shows an updated travel time: FORTY MINUTES!

We all know what happens from here. You begin to stress. You look at other lanes, trying to calculate the best Frogger-like strategy to get you there sooner. You start looking for alternate routes. Maybe you start texting to apologize, or just get angry and tensions rise in the car.

This is where many eastern philosophies would say suffering begins. The cause? Your attachment to a twenty-minute arrival time. The more you cling on to your twenty-minute arrival time (as you madly check your maps app), the more you get stressed. You’re attached to twenty minutes, but it ain’t happenin’. Life just dealt you forty minutes.

So what’s the alternative?

Non-judgmental acceptance. Truly accept your situation before you decide how to act.

As mindfulness would teach, the sooner we accept the reality (that we’ll be in the car for 40 minutes), the better we can deal with the situation:

Imagine the same scenario (a 40-minute car ride), but you got in you car knowing it would take that long. You let your friend having the dinner know when you would arrive, you picked out a killer playlist, and you thought up some fun conversation topics to catch up with your buddy along the way (you can’t WAIT to ask him about that big fight he had with Becky. Dammit Becky!)

In both cases, what’s REALLY changed? You’re still in the car with your friend, a smart phone, and TIME to connect with your friend who is sitting right next to you. In one case you are miserable and stressing together. In the other case you are catching up and consider the extra time a blessing. Even if there is no “glass half-full” perspective, it doesn’t do you any good to be stressed AND be late. In fact, it could make things worse!

Now, let’s put this into body image terms:

I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me; I’m just ugly. I’m a lazy piece of crap. I hate my [body part]. Gross. I wish my [body part] looked like that. Eh, I’m okay I guess. I need to work out more. I have no self-control. What’s the point? I’m just made this way; it’s not my fault. I’m doing the best I can – I can’t do anything else. It’s THEIR fault. Stop blaming me. You don’t know what it’s like. It’s easy for you. 

Before we even have a chance to take a non-judgmental assessment of our situation, we jump to judgment. It’s the way our brains work. We look at ourselves, and anyone else, and judgment shows up, uninvited. The problem is, when we couple emotional judgment with our assessment of our body, we lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re ugly, or that we’re perfect, when neither is true. We tell ourselves we don’t need to lose weight, when our doctor tells us we are headed for an early grave. Or conversely, we become obsessed with body image and fail to recognize that we actually ARE healthy. This isn’t just for people with body image problems. These automatic thoughts affect us ALL.

Worse, even if our emotional assessment of our bodies is close to reality, the emotions themselves get in the way of actually moving in the direction we want! If you feel like crap every time you look in the mirror, you aren’t exactly going to have the motivation to follow through for 6 weeks to establish that new healthy eating or exercise habit. After all, life sucks – you suck, remember?

Stress and judgment ultimately prevent us from fixing the things that caused those negative emotions in the first place.

When our brains define a situation as negative in a snap judgment (late, ugly, gross), it can be hard to break free from that framing. We hear “late” and “fat,” and it can be hard not to immediately flood our brain with all of the wrong thoughts.

That’s where “fat acceptance 2.0″ comes in.

Fat Acceptance 2.0

tape measure

When we talk about fat acceptance, let’s be honest: it’s a LOADED phrase. We discussed this topic previously and it had over 350 comments.

But it doesn’t have to be loaded or controversial unless you let it.

When you’re stuck in traffic you need to first “accept” the reality of the situation you’re in. The reality is that it will take 40 minutes to get there. Most of us hear this and start framing the situation immediately in negative terms. We hear the word late and it’s as if we had an injection of stress into our blood:

We’re going to be late. We’re going to miss ____. We’re going to waste all this time sitting around here.

But it doesn’t have to be that way:

  • Negative Judgment: We are going to be 40 minutes late.
  • Positive judgment: We have 40 minutes of extra time together.
  • Neutral, non-judgment: We will arrive in 40 minutes.

Let’s look at this in terms of our own bodies:

  • I’m ____ over/underweight. I’m ugly.
  • I’m ____ over/underweight. I’m beautiful.
  • I weigh ___. My body fat percentage is ____. My other health indicators are ____.

Just by picking one or the other, we have ALREADY secretly decided how we’re going to feel and what we’re going to do about it. But we didn’t really make the choice; our unconscious framing of the situation made it for us.

Being angry or stressed out about our bodies can be a direct impediment to moving in the most useful direction. When we let our self-judgment interfere, we defend that self-judgment at all costs.

In other words, we make irrational decisions and statements:

  • “Real women have curves! That woman is a twig. I’m big and beautiful.”
  • “Good thing I’m not fat like that person; gross. They should do something about it.”
  • “That dude spends too much time in the gym. What a meathead! I’m glad I’m not full of myself like he is.”

The definition of fat/body acceptance I want to see adopted by both sides of this debate starts here: accepting our bodies for what they are: just facts. No extra negativity or overly loud positivity, no knee-jerk reaction to declare how our body shape is superior to other body shapes.

Just quiet, realistic, objective acceptance.

We need to learn to accept our bodies because there is nothing else to do. Once we do this, we can decide, just like in traffic, what the most useful way to respond is. We need to separate these two processes: the labeling and the decision-making. We must separate them because if we don’t, we risk being dragged down by the power of words.

This allows us to make a smart choice, without relying on a reactive one to negative emotions (crash dieting), or a defense mechanism (doing nothing or defending your body type by bringing down others).

This is the incredibly simple concept of accepting reality without judgment, without caveats, without footnotes, without ifs, ands, or buts.

If you weigh 300 lbs, you weigh 300 lbs. Can you think about this fact without becoming instantly stressed, upset, or down on yourself? It’s simple in concept, but far from easy.

If you roll for stats before you begin a RPG, you don’t spend much time stressing about your awful roll or gloating about your 1337 roll (okay, maybe a little time). Rather, you likely accept your roll, and start strategizing. This is what I have to work with. These are my strengths. These are my weaknesses. How can I win given the hand I’m holding RIGHT NOW? In other words, you quickly accept your situation and apply non-judgmental acceptance.

THIS is what makes the game enjoyable – not pouting all game because you only rolled a 4 in Intelligence and you’re a wizard, but rather quietly accepting your hand and playing to the best of your ability.

Do any of these sound familiar? 

  • This doesn’t apply to me because I have kids, and have no time to work out.
  • I’m overweight, but it’s not my fault. I have ____  in my life right now.
  • I’m super skinny, but I just can’t gain weight. I’ve tried, and my body doesn’t work that way.
  • I have two jobs and go to school (or other busy life) – I’m in a unique situation.
  • I have a special _____ injury/medical issue, so this isn’t really relevant for me.

It’s easy to come up with a justification to buck personal responsibility and avoid facing the truth: Only YOU can change YOU. These justifications are often the biggest hurdles to actually making the change we need to make.

The Empire

candy Empire

If you are overweight, buckling down and accepting your “stats” might seem like a Herculean task. That’s because it is – you’re fighting against the Empire after all. Embedded in society and our words are things just make this process of acceptance far more difficult than it should be.

From sensationalized, sexualized (photoshopped) body images thrown at us in TV shows, commercials, and movies, to a food industry promoting overblown portion sizes and food designed at the perfect “bliss point” to make you overeat, the Empire is not to be underestimated.

All of this has been designed to drag you over to the Dark Side.

We desperately need a logical playbook to help to overcome these mental barriers. Consider this a plea to the body acceptance movements and fitness industry alike: stop shaming, stop getting defensive, accept your starting point, and help each other live happier, healthier lives.

The Empire’s influence is real and pervasive, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll end up working against ourselves. We’ll be infighting about what shape looks the best, instead of uniting forces against the people trying to manipulate us all.

We need a body acceptance movement that helps us find strategies to shed negative connotations without replacing them with a belief that glorifies unhealthy lifestyles. We need a fitness industry that doesn’t shame men and woman for their starting point, and accepts a “look” beyond a single idealized version.

We don’t care what you look like. We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going. In fact, it’s a RULE of the Rebellion!

Stop fat shaming. And stop justifying obesity.

Accept friend

When we’re attached to our bodies and can’t accept the reality of our situation, we become defensive. The natural reaction is to say [the way my body is better than the way your body is].

This comes in two major forms:

  • The way my body is (overweight) is better than the way your body is (skinny, fit, or anything else).  See “real women have curves.”
  • The way my body is (not “fat”) is better than the way your body is (anything else). See “strong is the new skinny.”

In the past year, these conflicts have been at an all time high. From the drama of Fat People Hate on Reddit, to ranting on YouTube, fat shaming needs to stop. It’s not cool, it’s not trendy – it’s just wrong. Unless you can prove the science wrong, which says fat shaming actually leads to weight gain, stop pretending you are enacting tough love. You’re not. You’re just being defensive of social norms and your own body image, using the lie of empathy as a smoke screen for cruelty.

But, just like fat shaming is harmful (psychologically AND by extension, for people’s physical health), the movement of glorifying obesity also helps to send people to an early grave.

Obesity is unhealthy. Yes, it’s true the story isn’t as simple as that for EVERYONE (metabolic health being an interesting point). Yes, non-obese people can have metabolic issues and think they’re healthy because they’re small (they’re wrong!).

But we know that being significantly overweight increases the chance that you will end this journey too soon. It’s easy to close our eyes and shout in a comments section “Here’s a link that says however I am right now is healthy.” But we can’t ignore the science. Hell, 95% of parents think their overweight children look “just right.” We can’t afford to let self-judgment (and defensiveness) stand in our way of being healthy and happy.

Just like it is irresponsible and cruel to shame others for being fat (because it hurts people), it is also irresponsible and cruel to promote a lifestyle which encourages or normalizes unhealthy behavior (because it hurts people). In fact, from this perspective these two mindsets are more similar than they are different: They’re both defensive mindsets which ultimately end up hurting people who really just want to be healthy and happy.

Like glorifying smoking in the 60s, we cannot afford to ignore evidence on EITHER side. This is a public health crisis, and we need to be honest with ourselves or millions will continue to suffer and die at an early age.

It’s possible to walk this middle line. In fact, one of my favorite thinkers on this topic, the incredibly articulate boogie2988, an awesome YouTuber and gamer, is a great example:

(Note: We don’t want Boogie, or any of you, to feel this way about yourselves, EVER. See non-judgmental acceptance above)

Both sides of this debate should be in this together. We need to face the Empire as a united front, as two sides in the SAME rebellion… not at each other’s throats, letting the Empire get away with everything!

I propose we start at non-judgmental acceptance. Before we start giving advice to others, or getting down at ourselves, let us try to consider the facts without the emotions of self-judgment, embarrassment, disgust, annoyance, frustration, and anger.

But this is such an important topic, and I want to hear from you:

What’s your experience with fat shaming and/or fat acceptance?

How do you think we can get out of this mess?

I think most of us, deep down, just want everyone to be happy and healthy. How do we make sure we’re working together?



photo source: Candy: Thomas Hawk, Shame: Rob Chandanais

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Cooking 101: How to Navigate a Grocery Store Mon, 16 Nov 2015 15:32:38 +0000 This is an article from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

For some of us Rebels, a grocery store is a lot like a video game dungeon. It’s dark, wet, oozy, and full of giant spiders…Okay, well maybe not the spiders part. But sometimes it feels that way.

It reminds me of a level from Legend of Zelda! Whenever you, Link, entered a new dungeon, whether it was the Deku Tree or the Water Temple, after wandering around for some short amount of time, inevitably, you found a map and a compass. The map and compass helped you find your other necessities to complete the dungeon: Hidden doors, boss keys, and hook shots. Today, games just have this stuff built right in from the start.

You walk into the store, and you’re overwhelmed. You know not to shop in the middle aisles, but you’re trying to eat healthy and cook for yourself for the first time in your life. You walk around the perimeter a few times and find things like butter, eggs, meat, and vegetables, but there are some things on your list that are missing (coconut oil? bag of almonds?).

Not only that, but every time you find something and move on to seeking out the next item on your list, it seems like you have to walk back across the freaking store to find it, or up and down 2-3 aisles until you by some miracle stumble across whatever you’re looking for. (Or if you’re like me, you walk around until you’ve completely forgotten what you were looking for in the first place!) I know, guys, it’s freaking hard!

If you’re one of those people who gets a mild panic attack when the bright florescent lights of your local supermarket hit you, if you get attacked by a horde of skulltula immediately upon entering, or if you just need a little help figuring out how to wheel your cart around the place without walking the length of The Shire to Mordor, this article is for you.

Once you’ve got the sections of your store down, it’s a breeze. So don’t feel intimidated just yet. We’re going to help you dominate the supermarket sweep and shop like a boss.

A quick note: Nerd Fitness Yoga is available at a reduced rate until tomorrow night (Tuesday)! See the PS in this article for details.

You found a map!


First, we’re going to talk about the general layout of the store. In this article, you read about how the store is set up with healthy things around the perimeter, while unhealthy junk food awaits in the middle aisles.

Let’s take a walk through an average store just to survey our surroundings. Every store is different, but generally, your fruits and veggies will usually be on one side of the store. Keep walking around the perimeter and you’ll come to either meat or dairy. Keep walking and you’ll likely stumble across things like lunch meats, cheeses, or a frozen section. Stores that carry alcohol often keep these items on the perimeter as well. As you walk through your store, you might notice that these things are out of order, but don’t fret. The important part is that these things are around the perimeter.

Check out this amazingly well drawn map to get an idea of my local grocery store’s perimeter layout, likely similar to yours:

Noel Map Scan 1

Now, let’s talk about those middle aisles: the lower levels of the dungeon if you will. You might be more familiar with these aisles if this is the kind of food you’ve shopped for before.

Entering the Dungeon

You know where the frozen pizzas and pudding cups are, and you might be pretty comfortable with the layout of the candy aisle. You might know where to look for Goldfish crackers and Mountain Dew. Hey, no judgement – even “health food” stores like Whole Foods stock their shelves with cookies and gummy bears. It’s good to know where the dangers lie.

How do you deal with these mobs? First of all, if your willpower points are running low, just stay away from these places. Just like you wouldn’t charge into a boss battle on low HP, if you don’t know whether you can get out of the aisle without stocking up on garbage, don’t even set foot in there. This is doubly true if you are shopping on an empty stomach. Stick with the basics (veggies and protein), and get out alive. Come back when your willpower points are full and live to fight another day! Remember, 60% to 70% of purchases in grocery stores are UNPLANNED! So, do NOT underestimate these mobs!

However, for some of the items on your list, you’re very likely going to have to walk through some of the middle aisles. Especially if you’re stocking your paleo pantry.

Again, every store is different, but the middle aisles are often organized by type of food or product: canned meats/vegetables, cereals and other “breakfast foods,” baking items, food storage (Ziploc bags and Tupperware), medicine… you get the idea.

If you are venturing down the aisles, here are the ones you’ll likely need to stock up your paleo pantry:

  • Baking goods – nuts are often kept in these aisles.
  • Canned meat – for canned tuna.
  • Canned vegetables – if you’re into eating canned veggies or need tomatoes or tomato paste for Paleo Spaghetti, this is where you’ll find them.
  • Frozen vegetables – if you prefer this over fresh or you want to keep these on hand for emergencies.
  • A bulk section – if your grocery store has it, nuts are often kept here and, because you can buy items in this section in the quantity you desire, they can be cheaper  than buying a brand-name bag of almonds from the baking aisle.
  • Jams/jellies – this is where the almond butter is kept – stay focused!
  • The spice aisle – spices and sauces for cooking are often in this aisle, as are cooking oils and vinegar.

If you’re looking for items like coconut milk or soy sauce, check to see if your grocery store has an “ethnic foods” or “Asian foods” section. These items are often located here.

Watch this video to get an idea of what your grocery store run is going to look like. Consider it a shopping speed run.

Now get ready, here’s the full strategy guide: We’re going to walk you through the entire dungeon, from meal plan to recipe, to grocery list, to grocery store.

Acquire these Items, Beat the Dungeon

nintnedo_link between worlds

Now that you know the layout of the store, it’s time to do the at-home prep work, starting with the question we all ask ourselves…”WTH am I going to eat tonight?!” Next we’ll check out the recipe, make the grocery list, and wheel your cart through the aisles.

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to eat tonight, you’re going to look up the recipe. I’ve chosen Paleo Shepherd’s Pie. Now we’re going to make a shopping list out of that sucker. Grab 2 pieces of paper and a #2 pencil. (Okay, not exactly a #2 pencil. Any writing implement will do. But bonus points for #2).

First write down the ingredients from the recipe in the same order as the recipe. If your recipe has two sections like the Shepherd’s Pie does, you can eliminate any re-occurring ingredients (you only need to buy these once) or any stuff you already have (you don’t need to re-stock this item until you’re out.) Here’s what mine looks like:

Noel Grocery List BeforeNote* (My list has foods color coded by section to make it easy for you to visualize the section each food belongs in. You don’t have to do this when you make your list.)

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. In order to have the most efficient shopping experience of your life, you’re going to re-organize that shopping list. You have a general idea of where things are in different sections of the store now. Take your list and reorganize it into different sections so you can just walk through that aisle/section, grab what you need off the shelf and move on to the next section. Here’s my reorganized list:

Noel Grocery List After

You can see how I re-organized the list by section. Veggies are together, spices are together, canned goods are together, and meat and dairy are on their own. (Also, after cooking this just once, you’ll have spices and leftovers. Your list will be cut in half for next time!)

Now with grocery list in hand, you can buzz through the aisles and get in and out as quickly as possible!

Help! i can’t find ___!

Clement127_angry hulk

You’ve been in the grocery store for 30 minutes. You’ve dominated most of your list, but there’s that ONE ITEM that you cannot freaking find. You’re frustrated and you just want to get out of there. What do you do?

  • You can just leave without it. (womp womp)
  • Or you can talk to an NPC.

Grocery store employees are often super helpful, and I’ve found that when I ask them for something, they’re more than happy to take a break from whatever they’re doing to help you look (if it’s not in the section they work in, they might end up joining your search party too).

Gather up your 20 seconds of courage, find an NPC, and politely ask them for help. You might be afraid they’ll be rude. You might think they’ll think you’re stupid for getting lost. Or there’s always the possibility they just don’t carry what you’re looking for in the store at all. If any of that happens, remember, THAT’S OKAY. The quickest way to be sure is to JUST ASK. If you need some pointers, check out this article on confidence and this article on approaching people before you hit the store.

And what happens if the grocery store just doesn’t have what you’re looking for? You can either focus on the big wins and leave without that ingredient if it’s optional (coconut milk in the Shepherd’s Pie recipe) or conjure a spell and substitute a different one (for example use ground pork, turkey or chicken if they don’t have ground beef).

Don’t let these TINY bumps in the road distract you from the big wins – figure out a way to make the meal!

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!

its dangerous cat

Now it’s time to hit the store! If your hands are still feeling cold and clammy at the thought of walking into the market alone, take a friend with you. You can shop together or split the list in two. Each person takes half and you dominate the store in half the time.

If shopping sounds too much like a chore to you, try gamifying it!

Ways to gamify grocery shopping:

  • Supermarket sweep – get through the store in the least amount of time possible. Use the rules from this post.
  • Race a friend – split your list in half with a spouse or roommate and each of you tries to complete your list and get through the checkout line before the other person. Be careful! Don’t run over any old ladies or wild children! You’ve been warned!
  • Spend the least amount of money possible – buy whatever’s on sale or cheap. If your recipe calls for chicken breast, but the store is having a great sale on thighs (and you feel confident enough in your cooking), buy the thighs and alter the recipe a little for the sake of saving some dough.

Now that you have your map, your compass, and a plan, it’s time to get out there and use them in the real world. Let us know how it went!

  • Did you get your shopping done in record time?
  • Was the virtual grocery store tour helpful?
  • How do you get your grocery shopping done in the most efficient way?

Let us know in the comments!


PS from Steve – Nerd Fitness Yoga is available for a reduced price until tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 11:59pm EST! Join thousands of Rebels who are getting more flexible, building a healthy habit, and leveling up their lives! See you inside the course!


Photos: zelda wikia: windwaker map, clement127: angry hulk, Nintendo news: a link between worlds screenshot

Video music: Eric Skiff: 8-bit Music – Chibi Ninja

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Nerd Fitness Yoga Is Now Available! Wed, 11 Nov 2015 14:29:30 +0000 It’s back, baby!

Earlier this summer, we launched Nerd Fitness Yoga here on Nerd Fitness, and 2,000+ rebels took the plunge. Over the past few months, it’s been an absolute blast interacting with them on the NF Yoga Facebook Group and watching them become more flexible every day.

Well, after closing the doors for a few months, I’m excited to announce that we’ve reopened enrollment today, this time for good! In case you didn’t join us back in August, I wanted to tell you a bit about Nerd Fitness Yoga today and encourage you to check it out!

This is, by far, the most polished product we have ever put together, and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

Why is yoga so important?

Mobility and stretching are huge components of living a leveled-up life. After all, what good is a strong body if you can’t move properly to take advantage of it, right?

Over the years, I have attended my fair share of yoga classes and found them to be incredibly beneficial to improving my day-to-day life, not to mention helping me recover from intense strength training sessions.

Yoga + Strength Training = the perfect c-c-c-c-COMBO!

However, yoga classes can be incredibly intimidating. I remember sitting in a car, forcing myself to work up the courage to attend my first yoga class. I worried about things like:

  • What if I don’t know how to do a move?
  • How do I know I picked the right type of yoga class?
  • What if I look like an idiot and I’m surrounded by really flexible people?
  • What if I rip a fart by accident and earn the nickname Fartman?

I worried about all of these things, and I RUN A FITNESS WEBSITE! So, I set out to create a course that would help Rebels of all ages, shapes, and sizes get started with yoga without having to deal with the problems of trying to find a great studio and work up the courage to join a group class.

That’s where NF Yoga comes in!

What’s In Nerd Fitness Yoga?

Yoga Set

I’ll tell you about what’s in the course quickly:

  • With Nerd Fitness Yoga, we’ve leveled up our quality big time. We have hours of high quality footage, filmed in a studio that looks like a Super Mario Brothers level, and we’ve optimized the experience for viewing on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop). Seriously, it looks fantastic on any device you’re using.
  • All the videos can be streamed to any device, or downloaded to any device when you don’t have access to the internet!
  • Moving through the course and knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing is a BREEZE.

Now, I’m not going to go through alllll of the benefits, features, and bonuses that come with Nerd Fitness Yoga, as all of that stuff is listed out in detail right here!

Yes, it will help you get more flexible.

Yes, it’s the perfect complement to any strength training routine.

Yes, it features plenty of corny jokes by yours truly.

Yes, it will make practically every other aspect of your life easier.

Yes, it is all done in a way that makes yoga approachable and fun.

Yes, I want you to check it out! 

I will tell you that it was really fun filming this course alongside professional yoga instructor Kate Marolt and NF Rebel Staci Ardison. I’m so happy that it’s been received so freaking well by members of The Rebellion who have tried it out.

What NF Yoga students are saying

Now, it’s easy for me to say, “NF Yoga is awesome!” but I’m slightly biased… like a parent who thinks their kid is the best at everything.

So I want to share some success stories and testimonials from your fellow community members who have been using NF Yoga for the past few months:









And to be honest, these are just a handful of the hundreds of Facebook comments and emails we’ve seen come in over the last few months.

We’ve captured more feedback right here from people from all over the world, young and old, and even families and young kids who are doing yoga with their parents throughout the week. This gets us so fired up!

Discounted Price – This Week Only

We don’t sell a lot of things at Nerd Fitness – in fact, this is only the second course we’ve put up for sale in the past four years!

That means when we do release something, it’s something I have put everything into to make sure it exceeds your expectations. It comes with a 100% money back guarantee, in case you’re still on the fence, as I want to make sure it gets you results like the people above!

So, check it out.

Starting right this second, Nerd Fitness Yoga is available for purchase at a discounted rate. This special pricing will run one week until Tuesday (the 17th) at 9 p.m. EST. Then we will be increasing the price to its normal rate and leaving it there.

You can get the basic level (with full access) and save $12 this week. And if you’re interested in a custom yoga mat (comes with our plus level), you’ll save $22 this week. We even have a payment plan for our basic level if you’d rather spread out the payments over 3 months.

We know the more people who get excited and get started together, the more accountability and momentum we’ll find in the private Facebook group to rally together throughout the holiday season.

If you’re one of the 2,000 Rebels who have already joined us, thanks for taking the chance back in August, and get ready to welcome all of the new students that join us starting today! :)

If this sounds like a community you want to be a part of, but missed your chance in August, this is your window. Get started right away (and save a decent chunk of money) by joining THIS week.

See you on the inside!


P.S. We’ll be back to our normal, free weekly articles helping you get stronger, stay fit, and level up your life starting next week! Let’s all finish 2015 strong!



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Stuck at the starting line? Find your “gateway” change. Thu, 05 Nov 2015 15:07:43 +0000 “Greatness from small beginnings.” -Sir Francis Drake

Frodo, before he became the savior of Middle-Earth. Katniss Everdeen, before she became the Mockingjay and toppled Panem. In every great story – especially those of heroes – there’s always a call to action in which the future of a character is changed with a single plot point. More often than not, it’s not something monumental, but rather a personal decision that ultimately results in amazing changes on a grand scale:

  • Katniss didn’t set out to start a rebellion; she simply wanted to protect the life of her sister.
  • Frodo had no plans of saving Middle-Earth, he just wanted everybody at the Council of Elrond to stop fighting!
  • Harry Potter had no clue what he was getting into, he just wanted to get out of that darn house!

This is a crucial point in any Hero’s Journey. It’s fun looking back now at each of those moments and wondering “how would the story be different if they hadn’t done [a seemingly insignificant task or decision]?”

As I’ve looked back over the hundreds and hundreds of success stories in the Nerd Fitness community (a few dozen are here), I realized that almost all health and fitness journeys have that moment too. Maybe we don’t have a dramatic, life-changing visit from an owl or Hagrid, but very often we discover something – an exercise, an activity, a mindset that becomes our “gateway” into finally becoming someone who values health and fitness. Permanently.

You’re reading Nerd Fitness, which means you’re intrigued about the idea of getting fit. Maybe you’ve started and stopped dozens of times, tried every diet, chewed weight loss pills, and signed up for the gym and canceled your membership 20 times.

It sucks.

Yet, hope remains. And hope is a damn good thing. Just ask The Shawshank Redemption.

And I have 100% faith and certainty that you will start to build the superhero body you’ve always wanted, but I need you to you keep an open mind about where life can take you. If you are reading this at 400+ pounds and feel like healthy and happy is impossible, remember that many of us started with one change. Heroes all started out normal until they made a single deliberate decision that ended up altering their future.

Frodo didn’t know how his decision to pick up the ring would impact Middle Earth. Katniss didn’t expect to become the Mockingjay and lead a rebellion. They both made one small decision after the next.

One decision, a mountain of change as a result. It can happen.

why Starting with ONE thing Works.

go button

We are all creatures of habit, even when they’re the bad ones. 

The beers we drink to forget the long day at work. The candy we eat every time we go talk to Lois in accounting (I swear she keeps it on her desk for that reason!) The cigarettes we smoke during our break from a double shift at the restaurant. All of these habits started with a deliberate decision, too: the first time you smoked at 16, the beer you stole from Dad at 14, the candy you got from a parent when you stopped screaming in the grocery store…. Over time, they become normal, and that normalcy, if unhealthy, sets us up to fail.

The same is true with the foods and beverages we consume, or the lack of an active lifestyle. Single decisions made repeatedly over time, until the new normal is established. So, we need to start taking deliberate action to get our life back in order, and it starts with making deliberate decisions.

Unfortunately, 99% of conventional methods are garbage.

Let’s start with diets. As a recent study shows, those who diet are doomed to stay fat; essentially diets only treat the symptom, rather than making an adjustment to the source of the problem. Magazines and fitness marketers don’t want you to know that, but they do want you chasing the latest and greatest rather than getting healthy permanently (they don’t make any money there!).

Which is where we come in. No more diets. No short term solutions. No drastic declarations or all-in mentalities. Instead, deliberate, but deliberately small and simple action.

We don’t want temporary change, no matter how great it is. We want permanent improvement, even if it’s tiny.

That’s why you need to find your “gateway change.”

What does a gateway change look like? For that, I want to share two stories from members of our own team at Nerd Fitness!

Staci  Did you know that our very own Staci used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and could eat an entire family size box of Kraft Mac and Cheese in one sitting? Yep, the same Staci who just deadlifted 408 pounds at Nationals.

When Staci found Nerd Fitness (thank you Legend of Zelda article!), she was encouraged by members of the NF message boards to try strength training. She worked up 20 seconds of courage to pick up a barbell, and it was like King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone, she and the barbell clicked. It was only after a few months of training that she realized, “if I stop smoking, I will get healthier and stronger faster.” Yup, for many months after Staci started lifting, she still smoked! After quitting smoking, she really dug into her diet (again, to get stronger) and discovered she has Hashimoto’s Disease – she’s now healthier, stronger, and more determined than ever!

It all started because she picked up a barbell.

Alek – Alek, our developer at Nerd Fitness, found his gateway to a healthier life through ultimate frisbee, though it took a while. In fact, while playing ultimate he continued to put on more and more weight, eating 1000-1500 calories a day of candy. It wasn’t until he tested a hypothesis: “if more candy makes me slower and worse at ultimate frisbee, would less candy make me faster and better?” When he discovered that this was in fact true (seriously, sugar, you suck), he adjusted his diet and is now in the best shape of his life!

Meet Jadah and Jen

Jada and Jen

I also wanted to share a story from my friends Jadah and Jen of the uber-popular SimpleGreenSmoothies, who just put out a really great book this week.

Both women were moms who were overworked, over-caffeinated, undernourished, stressed, and who struggled to maintain a healthy weight despite trying every diet out there. This rollercoaster of healthy/not healthy went on and on for years and years until Jadah decided to make one single change at the behest of her mom: “I’m going to swap out my unhealthy breakfast for a simple smoothie with green veggies, fruit, and almond milk.” She didn’t change anything else other than her breakfast! She didn’t change the food she ate, she didn’t count calories, and she didn’t make an effort to exercise more.

She made one deliberate decision: healthy smoothie for breakfast. After a few weeks she noticed an increased amount of energy, and thanks to consuming fewer calories (and more veggies!) from swapping out her old breakfast for a smoothie. And, as a result she eventually saw a distinct change in her life and her waistline.

She soon got her friend Jen hooked, and after a few months they noticed their lives had leveled up together! This one small, simple, but deliberate change had altered their paths. Soon enough, they started analyzing other parts of their lives and sought to make improvements there too. Jen has since run a marathon and Jadah has lost 30+ pounds. They’ve also improved the overall wellness of their respective families, and even built a massive community around their movement! Like, hundreds of thousands of people massive.

I loved hearing their story, as I know how powerful one change can be. Jen and Jadah attacked the problem with a philosophy many of us can relate to: “I know I have a lot of things wrong with my life at the moment, but I can certainly fix one of them. And that’s the only one I’m going to worry about right now!”

It’s amazing what one simple change can do.

Find Your Gateway


Before you can run, you need to learn to walk. And those first few steps are gonna be pretty comical. Like a baby giraffe. But that’s okay. I heard Jadah give a talk last year at The World Domination Summit, and she said something that I won’t forget: “Take imperfect action.”

Who cares if you don’t have the perfect diet plan figured out, or the perfect workout plan. (Spoiler alert: the perfect [anything] doesn’t exist!)

Once you start to see SOME progress and change, you can then increase the level of difficulty in your decision making process after you’ve built some momentum.

It doesn’t need to be smoothies, either. What’s important is that it’s a deliberate, healthy, small decision that you can repeat daily to reinforce the new habit.

  • Start walking to Mordor. If Frodo can do it, so can you! Do a mile every morning.
  • Try yoga. In fact, next week Nerd Fitness Yoga re-launches to the world! (Shameless plug ftw!)
  • Swap out soda for black coffee or unsweetened tea.
  • Commit to five minutes each morning of working on push ups and squats.

A single change can be the fire that lights the fuse that gets us going. I’ve seen it happen with thousands of nerds here on Nerd Fitness, and Jen and Jadah have a community of rawkstars who have done it as well.

Your turn. What’s been your gateway change – Did you take a simple deliberate action and have it affect other aspects of your life?

Or are you still struggling to find your gateway change? If so, what’s one new deliberate step you can take today that you can repeat…well, repeatedly!?


PS: A huge thanks to Jen and Jadah for sharing their story, and congrats to them on the launch of Simple Green Smoothies its a book full of simple recipes like the one above, and their story is really fantastic. I’m quite partial to their Green Hulk recipe :)

  • 2 cups Swiss chard, stems removed
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 bananas, 1 cup sliced peaches
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


photo source: Michael Chen: Indecision

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Can You Complete The Green Arrow Workout? Save Star City! Mon, 02 Nov 2015 16:26:42 +0000 Star City is in trouble.

With masked supervillians like Deathstroke, Merlyn, Deadshot, and the League of Assassins terrorizing the population, it’s up to the our friend, Oliver Queen, also known as The Green arrow, to set things right.

Thanks to the popularity of the surprisingly fantastic (and only kinda hokey) show Arrow, Oliver’s battle with the enemies of Star City have been brought to the limelight. If he was a member of the NF Rebellion, Arrow would most definitely be an Assassin.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the Green Arrow comic series until I started watching the show; Stephen Amell’s portrayal of the Green Arrow and his training regiment (filmed here at the Parkour gym I’ve visited in California) got me hooked instantly:

Arrow Off Screen Training

And it was his on-screen training with the Ninja Warrior obstacle (the salmon ladder!) that turned me into huge fan:

Arrow On Screen Training

Today, I’m going to take you through a workout that would do the Arrow proud, and make his enemies think twice about once again kidnapping his sister, who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

We’ve taught you to sprint like The Flash, and train like Batman, now it’s time to dominate life like the Arrow.

The Green Arrow Training Philosophy

If we want to fight crime like The Green Arrow or his heroic female partner The Canary, we need to prepare our bodies with four key aspects of training:

1) BODYWEIGHT TRAINING: The Arrow didn’t hone his skills and build a powerful body by doing machine-assisted bicep curls, smith machine power-curtsies, and ab-coaster crunches. It was done with real world movements that pushed his body to the limit. Thus, we’re only interested in exercises that can be completed anywhere…even a deserted island!

2) PARKOUR AND SPRINTS: Oliver is a master traceur; he’s constructed a body designed to carry minimal body fat but maximum power – allowing him to vault over obstacles or scale buildings at a moment’s notice. He’s pretty damn good at appearing up in the rafters, or on top of buildings, and disappearing just as quickly.

This is all possible because he has focused on clearing obstacles and really building a strong back to allow him to haul himself up into hard-to reach locations. Parkour for the win!

Note: Michael Scott Parkour doesn’t count:

3) MARTIAL ARTS ACUMEN: It’s said that The Green Arrow is proficient in several forms of martial arts including judowing chun, taekwondo, as well as eskrima.  The reason he was able to learn these skills so rapidly while trapped on the island is two-fold:

  • He has a body built for it! It’s tough to be a master martial artist when you’re carrying around excess body fat and no muscle. When you prepare yourself for everything, you can accomplish anything.
  • He HAS to do it. Oliver Queen was presumed dead after a shipwreck, and spent five years trapped on an island with minimal access to equipment of any kind. During those five years, he learned to hunt, survive, and thrive in some nature’s most brutal environments. His options were to either die, or adapt, evolve, and survive. It’s amazing what we’re capable of when there’s no other option. Now, with the fate of his family, friends, and Star City hanging in the balance, training with conviction is the only option.

4) A DISAPPOINTED GRAVELY VOICE AND HOKEY JOKES. I mean, everything sounds more epic when you do it in a disappointed, gravely voice, even reading famous sports lines. This is probably the most important part of this workout, so it’s probably best to start practicing now. You should probably have a detective with corny commentary joining you too.

Now, before we get into the actual workout, there are two more things I want to tell you: ALWAYS start with a warm-up when you can, and end your workout with a cool-down. The goal below is to pick the level of each exercise that is challenging but that you can attempt safely.

How often should you do the Green Arrow workout? This is a workout that can be completed in any park or location with a bar to hang from, and thus can be done whenever you need a break from fighting crime (or when you want to mix things up from your regular routine)!

Feel free to put on a green hoodie for this, and listen to some epic music.

The Green Arrow Workout

GreenArrow Workout

Alright, you masked vigilante, you…let’s get angsty.

Complete up to four circuits of the following exercises, picking the level of difficulty for each exercise that suits you.  So, complete the recommended number of repetitions for exercise 1, then immediately move onto exercise 2, then exercise 3, etc. After completing all five exercises, rest briefly and repeat the circuit 3 more times if you can!

They are split into four levels:

  • Intro (Beginner)
  • Oliver (Intermediate)
  • Green Arrow (Advanced)
  • Justice League (Expert)

Remember, we want to build a stronger, antifragile body, and thus we need to consistently increase our strength by progressively challenging ourselves with more difficult movements as we get stronger. As you repeat the workout in the future, see where you can increase your load.

This workout is best completed on a playground or park.  Ultimately, you need two pieces of equipment: a pull up bar or bar to hang from (aka Monkey Bars, the top bar of a swing set, etc.), and a bench on which to jump or do incline push ups. Ready?

Movement 1 [Safety]: The Parkour Roll (5 rolls)

Movement 2 [Explosive Lower Body]: Jumps
Movement 3 [Pulling]: Pull-ups

Movement 4 [Crawling]: Evasive Movement

Movement 5 [Lateral Movement]: Side squats

Movement 6 [Push]: Push Strength

Movement 7 [Self-Defense]: Punches and kicks

  • Intro: 2 punches (left, right) front kick with dominant leg
  • Oliver: 3 punches (left, right, left) roundhouse kick with rear leg
  • Advanced: 2 punches (left, left), front leg kick, 2 punches (right, left) roundhouse kick with rear leg
  • Justice League: Alternate right handed and left handed sets (while surrounded by 4 or more ninjas!)

So, here’s what an entire workout for the intro level looks like:

  1. 3 Beginner Parkour Rolls
  2. Box squats
  3. 5 second Bar hang, (shoulders pulled down and back!)
  4. 10 seconds Quadrupedal movement
  5. Ducks under an obstacle 
  6. 5 Push-up negative/knee get up
  7. 2 punches (left, right) front kick with dominant leg

Rest. REPEAT 3x!

Save Star City

Green Arrow Lego

See if you can complete the workout above for a full 4 circuits. If you can only do one set or two circuits, that’s okay. But start training, for the League of Assassins is coming for you.

And they are NOT happy.

Deadshot has you in his sights and Deathstroke won’t hesitate to hack your head clean off.

I’ll leave you with this quote, from Arrow to Superman:

“You remember what we did yesterday? We saved the world – again.

You don’t think that has any value, well think again, pal. The Justice League goes on, with or without you. Look, nobody can question your service or commitment to making things better. If you’re quitting because you think you’ve already done your fair share, fine, we’ll throw you a parade.

But if you’re quitting because it’s easier than continuing the fight, then you’re not the heroes we all thought you were. The world needs the Justice League… and the Justice League needs you.”

If this workout is too advanced, check out the beginner bodyweight routine, and work your way up to the Green Arrow Workout. The Justice League wants to keep you happy and healthy first!

Here are some other fun workout plans if you want to mix things up!

The world needs heroes. Good luck, Arrow!


PS: If you are looking for more workout plans, along with high def demonstrations of each exercise, check out the Nerd Fitness Academy, which now allows you to actually complete quests, gain experience points, and level up your life!


photo source: 1upLego: Flash and Arrow , 1upLego: Arrow Lego  Arrow Screenshot

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Want to live longer? Try building a guild. Thu, 29 Oct 2015 15:02:36 +0000 As the saying goes, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”

Wait. Not that saying. This one: “Happiness is only real when shared.”

We all know that having friends and solid relationships is brutally important to our mental wellbeing, but just how important is it? How about decreasing your odds of mortality by as much as 50%?!

As researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discovered, those with poor social connections had on average 50 percent higher odds of death in their study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.

So what the hell does that mean? As we are working hard to improve our lives with diet and exercise habits, it’s also damn important to focus on something that can so easily slip away from us thanks to the rise of the internet: social interactions!  Obviously the study isn’t saying that finding a friend will turn you immortal, but it is saying that there is a strong correlation between improving your social connections and improving your chances for a longer, healthier, happier life.

To do that, we’re going to explore a very specific strategy: building a guild. Because it can be tough making friends once we get out of high school and college (or even IN those locations), we’re going to intentionally build a social network.

So, where do we start? We need to create a Round Table like King Arthur.

Why build a guild?

round table

According to legend, King Arthur famously brought in some of the best and brightest warriors from all the land to serve in his court. Because the table is round, no one person has a bigger section of it than another person – in other words, everybody sits at the table with equal influence.

Well, I imagine Brave Sir Robin’s influence was slightly less than the others:

It was this round table that allowed Arthur to learn from the best and become a famous leader in ancient Britain. Or, if you’re more familiar with the awesomely terrible 1993 cartoon (that I freaking loved), Arthur was a football player who got sent back in time by Merlin to save Britain:

This is similar to the concept of a “guild.” Back in the middle ages, guilds were created to collectively help the group succeed financially and professionally. It could have been the mason’s guild, or the thatcher’s guild, the cobber’s guild, painter’s guild, or any other occupation.

In games like World of Warcraft and Everquest, guilds are composed of people who have similar playing styles or interests, giving them chance to hang out with one another and take on bigger bad guys than they could have challenged alone.

Now, just as Arthur understood that social connections and surrounding himself with the right people furthered his cause, ancient economies often revolved around guilds, many of the most successful people I know in the real world rely on their “guilds” too.

They just happen to call it something different: A mastermind group, as explained here in Lewis Howes‘s recently released School of Greatness:

A mastermind is a group of influential individuals who support you to take your business or life to the next level. With the collective mind of the group, you find support, information, and resources to serve you on your path. And you will get there much faster than trying to do it on your own.  The power of the mastermind lies with the people in it and the opportunities you can create from that network.

It’s essential to be a part of at least one mastermind (if not more), and I highly recommend being the creator and leader of one yourself at some point, too. Napoleon Hill, the legendary author of Think and Grow Rich, has a great way to think about masterminds: “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” This isn’t actually his description of mastermind groups—it’s really one of his main principles for how to become successful.

The fact that those two concepts overlap so fully—masterminds and being successful—is not a coincidence in my mind. Just like strong social connections are correlated with improved odds of living a long life, masterminds are strongly correlated with improved odds for success.

Now you might say, “But Steve, I don’t have or need a mastermind group. I don’t run my own business and I have a regular job!”

I hear you (I have really good hearing), and that’s why I’m going to tell you why a guild is awesome, even in your situation, and why you should build your own “guild” (or join an existing one!). At its core, a guild can be:

  • Teams of influencers in your community connected for a purpose (fitness, business, family, hobbies, a love of comics, etc)
  • A group of people supporting each other to create the life/business they want
  • A catalyst for business and personal growth
  • A space for goals and holding each other accountable
  • A peer advisory board
  • An education, support, and brainstorming group

Think about it this way: you are reading Nerd Fitness because you are focused on improving your body. Why not take advantages of the opportunities around you to level up your life with a guild, aka a structured social group too? We have accountability partners in fitness; we should have accountability partners in life, too. I cannot speak highly enough of their help:

  • Somebody who asks us how we’re doing with our iPhone app project
  • Somebody to keep us on target with writing our new resume
  • A group of people who can use their networks to connect us with a new company/opportunity

Guilds help you focus on what’s important to you in leveling up your life by using the education, experience, and influence of other people who are mutually invested in your success. When run properly, they allow you to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time than you could ever accomplish alone.

There are two essential components to every successful guild: the right attitude and the right members. The guild’s attitude looks like this:

  • Friendly and cooperative
  • Noncompetitive
  • Willing to be creative and brainstorm ideas/solutions for others’ goals
  • Supportive of each other with total honesty, respect, and compassion
  • Not ever, at any point, indifferent

Now, you might already have some ideas of people who would make a great group of people to build a guild with: People who are successful in the way you want to be successful, fun to hang out with, encouraging, and inspiring you to want to be a better person.

But how do you find those people, and how do you bring them together? I knew you’d ask that (I am also clairvoyant).

Here’s how you can build your own guild, step-by-step (day by day…).

How to build a guild

mario and luigi legos

Think of it like a “Build-A-Bear” workshop, but for a peer group of people who help you be more awesome at existing.

There are a few key things you need to decide first. Is your guild an in-person guild or is it an online guild? Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but both require the same thing: people who are interested in being a part of it!

The right candidate to form/join a guild with has:

  • A strong commitment to the group
  • Similar success and experience
  • An agreement about the guild attitude
  • An agreement on written guidelines created by and for the group
  • The ability to give and take equally when it comes to advice, support, and resources

To build your guild, start with 3 to 6 people and a simple guild agreement that includes:

  • The group name – Get super nerdy! The Musketeers? The Purple People Eaters?
  • How you’re going to connect (in person or via Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, phone?)
  • How long your meetings will be (1 to 2 hours minimum is recommended)
  • How often you will meet (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • When and where you will meet: Fridays for lunch? Saturdays at the Library?
  • The agenda for your meetings: It can be informal, but everybody should bring something they’re struggling with or working on to discuss whenever possible.

Just like anything else, the more concrete you can get with your decisions, the more likely you’ll be to actually do the damn thing! Now, this isn’t simply a strategy for entrepreneurs creating businesses, but for anyone looking to level up their hobbies, relationships, and more. It comes down to setting proper expectations for your guilds:

  • A literary guild: No, I don’t mean “read a few pages of 50 Shades of Grey and then drink wine and complain about our relationships.” I mean “this month, we will read this book on personal development, and then meet and truly discuss it.”
  • A running guild: Maybe you’re part of a group of runners at work that runs every day at 5pm and pushes each other to be better at the next 5k or 10k.
  • LARPing: What’s that? You love LARPing? Amazing. I bet there are some others in your city or town that love to LARP too. Can you get together to discuss tactics, plan trips to the next town, and investigate combining fores with other groups?
  • Learning a new skill: Are you learning a new skill, habit, or hobby? If you are learning code, for instance, you could create a guild to discuss your progress, help each other learn,  and work on projects together. Learning a musical instrument? Writing your first fiction book? Want to learn how to sew? Same thing!

Sure, it might take 20 seconds of courage to ask people you know to join you in your guild, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask right? If you don’t have people in real life to pull from, I bet there are a few folks in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion Message Boards that would love to be a part of something too. It starts by putting yourself out there and asking others who share your interests to make it a more formal affair.

Once you start to build your guild with the details above, it’s time to have that first meeting, set accountability measures (what happens if you don’t do your homework each week? I like making people pay money to a cause they hate!), and then evaluate regularly with how things are going.

My guilds


I’m personally part of two guilds: one for business, and one for personal development.

My business mastermind is a collection of individuals who also happen to run internet businesses similar Nerd Fitness. We get together a few times a year, in person, and spend the rest of the year exchanging emails on a listserv, connecting with members via Skype, and helping each other out.

My other round table took on a different type of support: we challenged each other to do fun/adventurous stuff!

For example, each month we task each other with a mission that has to be completed by the end of the month. Our group convened via email, shared Google Docs to stay on top of our mission, and kept in touch constantly. We even built in a serious level of accountability so that people actually followed through on their techniques (everybody has to contribute $50 if they don’t finish their mission by the end of the month… and we shame you. Like Cercei Lannister).

The mission changed monthly: One month we had to write and record a song (here’s mine, “Monaco“), the next month we had to create a signature cocktail with a fun name and backstory, and another month we had to build something  (my friend Cash constructed a new end table by hand to put in his apartment).

Are you in a guild?

stormtrooper friends

I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating or being part of a guild. If you’re already part of one, really think about how you are improving the environment of the people you’re hanging out with.

Here’s your step-by-step way to create your own small guild:

  1. Identify 2-3 other people who are interested in the same things you are, and want to level up in a similar way you do. Ask them via email or in person if they want to join your guild
  2. Create a fun guild name, and rules for engagement and membership
  3. Determine how you’ll meet (internet? coffee shop?) and how often.
  4. Schedule your meetings and add a level of accountability
  5. Consistently evaluate the health of the group and how you can improve or adapt it!
  6. Create things you want to accomplish and make sure members of the guild are working to improve themselves daily.

Let’s hear it: Have you ever been part of a guild/mastermind? How did it work out for you? How have you made sure you to surround yourself with more positive influences?

Lastly, would you be interested in being part of a more formal “guild” as explained above, here on Nerd Fitness? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can collectively level up our lives, together!


PS: A huge thanks to Lewis Howes for letting me pull from his book that launched the other day, School of Greatness. I got a chance to meet Lewis a few months ago and I was immediately struck by how freaking nice he was, and how much he just wanted to hear stories and connect people with others doing big things.


photo source: Kristina Alexanderson: Stormtroopers, Jonas K: Round Table, Brick 101: Mario and Luigi, Kenny Louie: Indiana Jones

]]> 21
7 Tips For Parents Dealing with Fussy Eaters Mon, 26 Oct 2015 14:26:43 +0000 Steve here! I wanted to introduce Dan Schmidt, our newest contributor and wizard. Dan is a long-time Rebel and fatherhood specialist, and will be sharing his expertise in raising healthy and happy Rebels! Take it away Dan!

What have we always said is the most important thing? Breakfast. Family.

As parents who want the very best for our kids, we try to fuel their growing bodies with the best food possible. But as any parent of a toddler, pre-schooler, or even adolescent knows, our kids aren’t always on the same page.

The toddler years especially can be a challenging time for feeding. All of a sudden, a previously easy-going infant who ate anything, begins to reject the same foods being offered.

Don’t panic. This is a completely normal, albeit difficult, stage in your child’s development and we’re here to help you through it.

Let’s jump into looking at why children become fussy eaters, and examine some strategies you can implement today to lighten your load.

Why does this happen?

As a parenthood specialist, almost every parent I’ve met has asked me about issues in their child’s eating habits. The simple reason issues occur is that our toddlers are pulling a “power play.”

They’ve gained control!

todder control

Most things in their life are still controlled by their parents (what they wear, when they sleep, where they sit).

The one thing they have figured out, is that they can choose what to eat or spit out. (This change in behavior usually occurs between the ages of 12-18 months of development.)

Remember when you first discovered the Konami Code? You figured out a new way to beat the system, and likely tried it out whenever you could at first. That’s what our toddlers are doing – they’ve figured out something new, and by spitting out their vegetables, they’re telling their parents that they’ll do what they want.

If parents don’t manage this stage carefully (such as not always giving in to their child’s demands), these toddlers can grow up to become fussy eaters as older children.

So, what can I do about it?

Let’s put the master controller back in your hands with some simple strategies.

1) Eat together.

One of the simplest things you can do to encourage great eating habits in your child’s early years is to sit down together for family meals.

Studies and reports by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University show that kids who eat at with their family regularly are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems and even drug addiction compared to children who eat alone more often. When your kids regularly have a positive role model who is eating healthy thrust upon them, along with getting the benefits of feelings like belonging, stability and well-being, they are more likely to follow your lead and enjoy healthy mealtimes.

Sitting down to dinner together isn’t just about nutrition; it’s about connecting and teaching children about becoming members of society and acting in a civilized way.

2) Get rid of any distractions!

gameboy eating

“Dad placed a great deal of importance on mealtime. He had a very strict rule. When the family starts to eat, the television is definitely turned down.”

(Super bonus points to anybody who knows where that quote is from without using Google or the Konami Code).

Seriously though, turn OFF the idiot box and put the handheld technology away (that means you too, mom and dad). Children get very easily distracted and overstimulated.

Practice “Mindful Eating.” By eliminating distractions, your child will be able to put more focus towards what’s on their plate. Studies have shown that practicing mindful eating helps keep people focused on their meal and listen to their body’s cues. However, feel free to play some light background music or light a candle at mealtime to promote a different, yet calm, environment.

3) Maintain consistent rules

It’s very important that parents of fussy eaters maintain clear and consistent food rules in the house at all times. Just like if Pac-Man touches a ghost without eating a power pellet, a life will be lost. Simple. And consistent (no exceptions!).

At mealtime, be sure to:

  • Be clear and simple
  • Encourage good behavior
  • Know when to call it quits
  • Be consistent
  • ‘The Art of Manliness’ has an excellent post on “Why You Should Parent Like A Video Game,” which has many points that can be adapted for your family.

So if your child refuses a particular food that they have previously enjoyed, don’t be fooled; IT’S A TRAP! They’re hoping you’ll offer up something sweet as an alternative. If you do fall for this, your child will quickly learn that refusing vegetables results in something else being offered. So consistency is the key.

However, if your child continues to reject the meal, it is probably because they are simply not hungry. Toddlers have small stomachs and grow at a slower rate than babies, so it is completely normal for them to eat a lot one day, and very little the next. That leads me to…

DON’T use the force, Luke parents!

Whatever you do, don’t force them to eat, bribe them, or insist they finish everything on their plate. By doing this you’re risking creating a major issue around food, as well as generating a power struggle (spending willpower points) over something that’s really not worth it.

Remember, their stomachs are super small, so forcing overeating can cause detrimental physical and psychological effects regarding diet in their futures.

4) Presentation is everything.

pacman food

Toddlers and children are very observant. Before they even start eating, their eyes are observing what has just been put in front of them. If it looks gross, they’re going to think it tastes gross.

So keep it colorful, neat and interesting. It literally takes an extra minute to re-arrange their food into a smiley face, or make the Triforce out of veggie sticks.

Just a little variation can sometimes make a world of difference. If your child dislikes fruit for example, try a range of cut fruits on a skewer.

Also, try preparing foods a different way. If your child hates steamed cauliflower, try mashed or roasted cauliflower. Steve has covered how to prepare vegetables differently in his ‘How to Start Eating Vegetables’ post, so give it a read and see what works for your family.

5) Make them your kick-ass kitchen sidekick.

dad and kid

Batman has Robin, Sonic has Tails, Radioactive Man has Fallout Boy, and most importantly, Super-Parent has Wonder-Kid!

Getting your child to help with meal preparation, no matter how little, will lead to them being more likely to eat the food as they now have an ‘ownership’ of the meal and feel proud about helping out.

At the store or market, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. When you get back home, encourage your child to help you put the food away, arrange the fruit, or rinse the vegetables.

Be careful in what duty you assign your sidekicks though, once I put my daughter in charge of dispensing the soy sauce when I was making the Easiest Chicken Ever. As a result, it turned out to be the saltiest thing I had ever tasted (“and I once ate a big heaping bowl of salt!”).

Try to get everyone to help in some way before and after the meal. If the kids are not actually cooking, then there are other jobs the little tuckers can handle such as setting the table or getting everyone a drink.

6) Keep it fun and try a theme night!

green night

Everyone loves a themed party, so why not put a bit of festivity into a regular night?

Try silly hat night, superhero night (my favorite), princess night (my daughter’s favorite), or talk like a pirate night (my wife’s least favorite). These are some simple, fun, and often hilarious ways of injecting some magic into family meal time, me hearties!

You don’t have to go all out like it’s Festivus every night, but some variation and a little excitement can make dinners a pleasure. Plus, you’re making amazing memories that your children will look back on so fondly.

If you do want to go that extra mile in creativity, try a color theme night to carry through everything (from place settings, the food, and even your clothes). For example, Green Night (not to be confused with its ante meridiem punk rock counterpart) is an excellent way to make those healthy vegetables seem fun, and a brilliant excuse to dress up as the Green Lantern.

Bringing your child’s interests to the dinner table is a good way of getting ideas for themes. My four-year-old loves learning about the different cultures, so selecting a cuisine from a particular country is an easy way to bring about discussion and try new foods.

But remember to keep it child-friendly. India night is a great idea in theory, but Beef Vindaloo is certainly not fit for a toddler, and we could have done without my culturally insensitive Apu Nahasapeemapetilon impersonation.

7) Change your scene.

Nobody likes playing the same level, or racing the same track all the time (particularly if it’s Rainbow Road, boy do I hate Rainbow Road). So moving away from the dinner table is an excellent way to add some excitement and adventure into mealtime.

Venturing into the great outdoors is a nice move if you have a nearby park, beach, or even backyard. I once worked with a father of two older children who would take their lunch geocaching with them. I can’t wait to do this when my kids get older with Pokémon Go (seriously, how awesome does that look?).

But if you can’t get outside for whatever reason (weather, time constraints, zombies, Australian wildlife), having a ‘picnic’ on a blanket in the living room is great fun too. Plus eating picnic-style means you can serve several small choices, like frittata fingers or vegetables and dips to create interest and let your little ones make their own decisions.

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

Do it for her

I know that setting a theme, getting the kids outside, preparing a healthy meal with new foods all the time is simply not viable for everyone in today’s world.

My wife and I both work full time (and then some), so I’ll be the first to admit that some nights after a rough day, my kids have been served baked beans straight out of a can in front ‘The Wiggles’ on the TV.

But if we act when we can, we create positive memories of family mealtime and encourage good eating habits.

By putting the effort in up front, you’re actually making your lives easier for those hard days – laying a solid foundation and setting yourself up for success.

Don’t sweat it if you go through stages where it seems like absolutely nothing is working. Each child is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

Your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight, but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

So go ahead and have some fun with your very next family meal. Try taking turns telling a story at tonight’s dinner table, or put a little effort into presenting your child’s breakfast tomorrow morning.

In fact, why don’t we just make it the Nerd Fitness Family Feast Challenge?

For the next month, we want you to try a few approaches:

  • Set a goal on how many times you will all sit down together and stick to it. No excuses!
  • Each week all family members (that’s right mom and dad, you’re not getting away that easily) must try a food that they have never eaten before.
  • Each family member gets to suggest a theme night and all others must comply.

I’m in, my wife is in, my kids don’t know it yet, but they’re in too. Are you?

We’d love to hear from you:

What has worked for your fussy eaters in the past? Or, what has totally backfired?
What other questions do you have about your children’s eating habits?
What’s your little sidekick’s kitchen duty?

Leave a comment and let us know!


About Dan: I’m Dan, a father of two amazing kids from Adelaide, South Australia. I am also a fatherhood specialist in a non profit organization, where I help other dads become the best they can be. I was introduced to Nerd Fitness five years ago by my brother-in-law when my wife was pregnant with our first child and I was really struggling with my weight. I knew I needed to get in shape so I could see my children grow up, and Nerd Fitness was exactly what I needed! Through diet and exercise, by the time my daughter had her first birthday I had lost 20 pounds.

I hope my articles can guide all Rebels, not just the parents, on your fitness quest. I’ll try to keep the dad jokes to a minimum (“Dead-lifts?” More like, “Dad-lifts!” Amirite?!)… I’ll show myself out.

Feel free to get in touch, either just to say G’day, or ask a question at any time.


]]> 28
2 Big Reasons Why Cheat Meals Are Worse Than Darth Vader Tue, 20 Oct 2015 14:32:39 +0000
“I’ll take two giant pretzels, oooh and that macaroni and cheese too. Aaand I’ll take two slices of the deep dish pizza, a dozen pigs in a blanket, a chicken parm sub, and a tall Sam Adams. Don’t worry, it’s my cheat day!”

I get asked all the time about my eating habits… ESPECIALLY when I’m out with friends or at a Nerd Fitness meetup. They wonder if I’m going to pick the chicken and broccoli with iced water, and are often curious when I stray outside of the expected norm. In their minds, it’s probably like watching a Jedi stray from the Light and cannonball into the Dark Side.

Speaking of Star Wars…how about that Force Awakens trailer? Holy crap.

But I digest (get it?!).

Anyways, some would look at me, the leader of Nerd Fitness, and ask what my reasoning is behind my meal choices. What’s that? I’ve strayed from the Paleo Diet and decided to eat a bacon cheeseburger with fries? I can see their minds trying to compute: “How can you eat that garbage and then turn around and tell people how to be healthy? Isn’t that hypocritical?”

Others who know I run a fitness site might say something like, “Oh, is this your cheat day?” or “Are you having a cheat meal?” What they’re really asking is “Let me guess, you’ve eaten really well all week and then reward yourself with an unhealthy day of eating whatever you want…aka a cheat day.”

So I tell them: It wasn’t a cheat meal. In fact, I never use the term “cheat meal” or “cheat day.” I think we should all stop using this term!

Just like the Dark Side can appear to solve all of your problems (Cast lightning from fingers? Do a force choke? I look better in black any way), cheat meals can seem like a harmless way to “stay on target.” However, the Dark Side has its own powerful agenda, subtly working its evil behind the scenes to take over your brain, and “cheating” can sabotage your efforts to stay healthy too if you let it take over.

Cheating is Bad!


We’ve being taught since we were little kids that cheating is bad.

Don’t cheat on your tests, don’t cheat on your boyfriend, don’t cheat on your wife, don’t join the Dark Side. People who cheat are losers. Cheating is a character flaw, and so you are a bad person if you cheat. I’ve actually found the same to be true when I think about the idea of cheat meals – aka, “if I am going to eat cheat meals, then I am a bad person.”

Okay fine, I don’t actually have a crisis of consciousness if I eat a pizza roll, but I know plenty of people who worry a tremendous amount when they’re eating something unhealthy during their cheat days. After all, it’s ‘cheating’ on their diet: they eat one thing and it feels like they’ve ruined their entire day. Clearly, the word “cheat” can have an impact on the decision making process.

Think of the following things that we’ve probably done or said or heard:

  • If you eat your broccoli, then you can have dessert.
  • If you go to this aerobics class, then you can celebrate with cake.
  • If you starve yourself today, then you can eat a flash-fried buffalo tomorrow.
  • If it’s your cheat day, then you can eat WHATEVER YOU WANT!

In each of these instances, we have this mentality that what we’re doing is BAD (but ohhhh so good), that we’re cheating on our diet when we eat a cheat meal, and that it comes as a reward for making it to the end of a long string of tough, healthy decisions that we don’t like in the first place.

“If I can just get through this shitty week of depriving myself of awesome food, then on the weekend I can cheat and eat bad food.” Aka “I’m going to cheat on my diet, which I’m not a big fan of any way.” Not only does this set us up to overindulge, but it undermines our healthy eating decisions, which we’re trying to set up as an everyday status quo that is effortless!

It’s like saying, “I’m only going to occasionally cheat on my husband, but I’m not a big fan of him anyway. And if I’m gonna cheat, I might as well go alllll in.”

If you’re going to have long-term success and remain healthy for the rest of your life – and we already know dieting doesn’t work – then I want you to start by removing the term “cheat” from your vocabulary. You are not depriving yourself all week while being on a diet until you can cheat on the weekend.

Instead, you are making a conscious decision to treat yoself:


But you do so guilt-free, just like Tom and Donna do in the above video. Words are incredibly powerful, as we pointed out in our article, Dragonborn: The Dangerous Power of Words:

research study divided people into two groups: one group was told that each time they were faced with a temptation, they would tell themselves “I CAN’T do X.” For example, when tempted with ice cream, they would say, “I can’t eat ice cream.”  The second group was told to say “I DON’T do X.” For example, when tempted with ice cream, they would say, “I don’t eat ice cream.”

As each student walked out of the room and handed in their answer sheet, they were offered a complimentary treat. The student could choose between a chocolate candy bar or a health bar. As the student walked away, the researcher would mark their snack choice on the answer sheet.

The students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bar 61% of the time. Meanwhile, the students who told themselves “I don’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bars only 36% of the time.

I CHOOSE to eat healthy foods almost all of the time because I like them and they help me reach my goals. It’s not done with an end date in mind. I’m not dieting until a vacation. I’m not dieting until swimsuit weather. I’m eating how I eat. And occasionally I CHOOSE to eat unhealthy foods, and I do so with a smile on my face. There’s no dieting or cheating, no starving and bingeing, no being faithful and then cheating. I love my normal routine, composed of mostly healthy foods, that also happen to taste delicious. I also like occasionally eating something not so healthy.

And that’s normal. No Dark Side necessary.

Don’t Reward the good With the bad


In addition to the mentality above, I don’t like that cheat meals encourage you to reward healthy behavior with unhealthy behavior.

This would be the equivalent of completing your Jedi training, only to discover the lightsaber you’ve earned is 20% less powerful than your previous one. Crap! It’s taking a few steps forward only to end up taking a few steps backward as a result.

The invisible power of rewards as incentives is incredible. Just ask Pavlov. Stop putting an invisible barrier in between you and eating healthy.

Starting today, I want you to stop treating your good, boring behavior (“dieting”) with bad, exciting rewards (“bingeing”).  Instead, we want to make a fundamental change to our relationship with food. You can get fit without EVER going on a diet, but it starts by STOPPING the boom/bust cycle of diet/binge, healthy/cheat mentality.

It means reconsidering the term diet and how you view your relationship with food:

  • DON’T go all-in on a diet for 30 days and then return to your old ways of eating once you lose X lbs.
  • DO start making permanent, small changes that you can live with consistently.
  • DON’T reward yourself with bad food for good behavior.
  • DO occasionally eat bad food guilt-free, but make it a treat, not connected to good behavior.
  • DON’T say “I’m just gonna join the Dark Side until I get what I want”
  • DO seek to bring balance to the Force in all aspects of your life.

Instead of dieting (damn I hate that word), make a conscious decision to make healthier choices throughout the week. It can be simple like one less soda, an extra vegetable. But it’s a deliberate decision on your part to adjust your brain to what “normal” actually looks like. As the Adaptation Principle teaches us, we can drastically alter what our bodies view as normal, given consistent change over enough time.

If Luke can learn to live with a robotic hand, you can learn to live with more healthy decisions. I promise.

Your new normal is just how you eat during the week. OCCASIONALLY, you might choose to treat yo’self on the weekend or for a random meal in the middle of the week and eat something that you wouldn’t normally eat. It’s not bad. It’s not cheating. It’s not Dark Side behavior. But it’s certainly not reacting to your good behavior (sticking to a diet all week) with a bad reward.

As Master Yoda said, “Eat or eat not. There is no diet.” Meh…close enough.

If anything, reward your good behavior with more things that make you want to continue being better:

  • A great new Jedi robe, one inch too tight that you can fit in after another month of training.
  • A class/course that you’ve always wanted to take that encourages you to develop yourself further.
  • A trip to a powerlifting meet that inspires you to want to get in even better shape.

So, no more rewarding bad with good. You can still choose to mostly eat well, with occasional meals that stray from your normal routine of leveling up…but it’s not a reward for anything – it’s just what it is. And if you are going to reward yourself for being healthy, make it a healthy reward.

Momentum is powerful – use it to your advantage!

Stay on target

stay on target

Yeah yeah, I hear you, “But Steve, rewarding myself with bad food allows me to behave myself during the week, knowing that I can go all out during the weekend!” or “But I read one study that showed [insert reason that allows me to do what I want to do].”

I hear what you’re saying. I still disagree.

Remember, we’re after long-term changes. Changes you can live with permanently and that don’t make you feel like you are restricting yourself. Changes that don’t make you feel the lure of the Dark Side weekly. Changes that give you a healthy relationship with the way you fuel your body. We’re after changes that get you EXCITED about your new lifestyle. And it starts with our brain; we need a sound mind to bring balance to our body.

Food doesn’t need to be something we endure until we can gorge ourselves on unhealthy crap. Food is something we can have a positive relationship with, that helps us reach our goals, that also allows us the freedom to make the occasional decision that lines up with a party or social function.

If you’re worried about losing your cheat day, do this instead:

Never miss two meals in a row.

If you eat a meal outside of your norm for lunch, make dinner healthy. If you have an unhealthy Saturday evening, make Sunday healthy. Never make two decisions in a row that don’t line up with your goals, and don’t overthink it. After a few weeks, if you are not progressing in the right direction, it’s time to replace one additional bad decision with one additional good one, and then reevaluate again.

I’d love to hear from you on this:

Do you employ cheat meals? Do you have a cheat day? Do you think I’m totally wrong? Are you a Sith Lord?

Let’s hear it!


PS: If you’re on the NF email list, keep an eye out for a super special email from me this Thursday. I’m announcing a project I’ve been working on for three years. I can’t wait to share it with you :)

PPS: Seriously. That Star Wars trailer. I’ve watched it 10 times already.


photo source: Z S: catch a glimpse

]]> 54
Change CAN happen in an instant. Has it happened to you? Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:37:35 +0000 Have you ever had a moment – maybe a conversation, event, or even reading a book that felt like a “moment of insight” – and it literally changed your life?

As we all know, the problem in adopting healthy eating habits, making a lifestyle or job change, or even starting a vigorous new exercise routine usually isn’t the knowledge that we need to do these things (that’s just collecting underpants), but the ability to set ourselves up to actually follow through.

We often think change only happens over a long period of time. And yes, when it comes to changing physically, that’s often true. However, leveling up mentally or making life changes can in fact, happen in an instant. But only if action is taken that solidifies this new life you want to live!

How can we make sure that these moments of “holy crap, things are gonna be different” actually result in permanent, positive changes in our lives?

After all, epiphanies are only life-changing if you apply what you’ve learned.

Camp Nerd Fitness 2015 Swords

Last week, we held Camp Nerd Fitness, which had over 300 rebels leveling up their lives and was a massive success. We now have a phrase that has caught on now two years in a row: #CNF365, aka “Camp Nerd Fitness, 365 days a year.”

Although Camp NF is a 4-day event each year, it’s only really effective if the principles, lessons, and friendships carry over all year. You can only physically transform so much in four days. Yes, eating healthy meals and exercising for four days is an amazing start, but it doesn’t help much if you return home and go back to a couch-potato lifestyle with Domino’s pizza every night.

As author Jonathan Fields tells it, “We tend to think of profound change as a process that happens over time. Sometimes, that’s true. But other times, deep, lasting change can happen in a moment.”

If you’ve ever attended an event, a seminar, a conference, or even read an article here on Nerd Fitness that made you want to change how you live, you might have experienced one of these moments. It’s like a bolt of lightning, a flash of inspiration that makes you look at life differently. Think of it like Neo seeing 1s and 0s in the Matrix:

neo matrix

Long story short: If you’ve ever had one of these moments, it’s important to make change a priority every day so it becomes habit.

This is why we love small changes here in the Rebellion – a great approach to help you realize that moment of insight. Rather than drastically changing everything for 30 days and returning to your old ways, I would rather you change ONE thing, but make that change permanent:

  • Don’t go on a diet. Ever. A diet implies temporary change. Instead, make a fundamental change to your relationship with food, and make a small healthy change that is permanent (drinking less soda, cooking one meal at home each week, etc.). That’s why we’re huge fans of living a Paleo-ish lifestyle!
  • Sign up for a recurring class or course. If you go to a powerlifting seminar that makes your head explode with excitement, sign up for a powerlifting meet that keeps you focused on that goal. Loved martial arts? Get going with a class in your home town!
  • Take action. Now. Read a great book? Get off your ass and go sign up for something. Or take your first action. Build something. Draw something. Write something. And then repeat the process the next day.

Specific steps and actionable decisions trump brilliant but unexecuted plans. I think I realized why Camp worked out so well in terms of people taking action: we introduced merit badges and quests! We challenged campers to complete a series of quests throughout the week:

camp quests

… in exchange for earning merit badges:camper badge level up

We knew quests would be a hit (which is why they are also a part of the Nerd Fitness Academy), but people went nuts for them! It was so cool to see. Fortunately, you can apply these same game mechanics to your own life as well:

  • Create a list of things you want to accomplish.
  • Make sure your next step on each is small, actionable, and specific.
  • Give yourself a reward for completing those tasks (that rewards you back!)

I’ve built my life around these types of structured goals (My Epic Quest of Awesome), and you can too. The toughest part is often getting started. So make the first step so small that it’s easy to get started with it, and be okay with taking imperfect action.

Internal change can happen in an instant, but long-term change happens over time with consistent action taken.

Follow Through

cyclical hands

We return from events like Camp Nerd Fitness, or from reading a specific book, visiting a country, attending a new class or conference, and things feel… different. Even if we just had a mental breakthrough after reading an article – there’s something new there: an excitement and anticipation of change.

That’s the initial afterglow: the confidence, the happiness, and the changed behavior that comes immediately from this moment. But it can last for as long as you’ll allow it.

You see, the goal for permanent change is to change from afterglow to everglow. An afterglow burns out after a few weeks before life goes back to how it was. An everglow, however, is something that lasts permanently – it’s the fundamental changes you make to your life that become your new “normal.”

No matter if you felt empowered to change after reading a great article, having a candid conversation with your doctor, or attending the biggest event of your life, if you don’t start implementing changes IMMEDIATELY, you can’t level up.

Remember: new quests must be created. A bigger dragon must be slain.

When I started this article, I wanted to make this about you: I want to hear about how YOU made a moment into something more – whether that moment was a doctor’s visit, a candid conversation with friends and family, an insightful moment when reading online, or even if you were one of the legendary 300 who attended Camp Nerd Fitness.

How did you make sure you applied what you learned while at the event, even after returning to real life?

Can you think back to one single moment that fundamentally changed your path? How did you react, and what steps did you take to make sure your life was truly different after that experience?

I’ll share mine:

9 years ago, I was selling construction equipment in San Diego. On a particularly miserable day (I was quite bad at my job, you see), I walked into a bookstore and picked up Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek. I read the book in a two days and bought shortly after that. I didn’t know how things would work, just that my life was suddenly different, and I had a path on which to follow: one that got me here to Nerd Fitness. I’ve cataloged this journey and these strategies I’ve used over the years. A recent epiphany even led me to NYC!

I’d love to hear from you.

What’s a moment in time that you were able to turn an afterglow into an everglow? 

Can you point to a single moment you looked back on and said “Things are going to be different now, I better act accordingly?” And – the important part –  how did you MAKE SURE things remained different?

From afterglow to everglow – let’s hear it!


PS: Keep an eye out from me in the next two weeks for a special personal email from me about a big announcement I made at camp. I’ll tell you about it soon :)

PPS: “From Afterglow to Everglow” sounds like a great album title. And yes, The Everglow is a phenomenal album.


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