A Beginner’s Guide to Getting in Shape

You woke up today and looked in the mirror.

And you said to yourself, “Gosh darnit (or #$^@  $#@$@%), I’m going to get in shape!”

Just one problem – you don’t quite know HOW.

It’s okay; we’ve all been there!

This might be the first, tenth, or the fiftieth time you’ve tried to lose weight and get healthy. Sure, things didn’t work last time, or the time before that, or even the time before that…”but things are going to be different THIS time,” right?

So you hop on the internet, search “how to lose weight,” and see 7.8 billion websites that promise you fast results with minimal effort.  You get overwhelmed, intimidated, and then go back to playing Modern Warfare 3 or Hello Kitty 2: Island Adventure.

If you’re overwhelmed at the idea of how to get in shape, I hear ya. 

From bootcamps to crossfit to weight watchers to paleo to vegan to Klingon, how are you supposed to make sense of all this information to find the right path? The truth is that there is no ONE path that works for everybody. You’re a unique snowflake (your parents were right), which means what works for somebody else might not work for you, and vice versa.

I’ll dig into the general do’s and don’ts of getting in shape with today’s article, but if you’re really overwhelmed to the point that you just can’t get yourself to get started, consider checking out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program. You’ll get to work with a Nerd Fitness Coach who gets to know you better than you know yourself, and handcrafts a workout routine and nutritional plan that is tailor-made to your situation. You can learn more about our coaching program by clicking on the image right here:

Now, outside of our coaching program, we also have a TON of free resources that you can use to follow and help you get off on the right track! You can read our overall philosophy below (which has helped hundreds of thousands of people), and help you get started today!

Get your act together

First and foremost, today is the first day of the rest of your life!

So let’s get started.

Think back to the last time(s) you tried to get in shape and lose weight.  How successful were you?  What made you fall off the wagon?

Congratulations, you already know what “get in shape” method doesn’t work for you.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Unless you’re insane, don’t try to get in shape the same way you did last time…it’ AIN’T gonna work!

If you counted calories, ran on a treadmill, did kickboxing, tried starving yourself, or whatever, and you’re not happy with the results, it’s time to try something new.

May I recommend the Nerd Fitness method of success: the Triforce of Winning!

Well, I just came up with that title, but now that’s what I’ll call it henceforth.  If you want to succeed at changing your life, you need three things:

  • Education: know HOW to get in shape
  • Inspiration: know WHY you’re getting in shape
  • Support: having others help you along the way to get in shape

If you can successfully combine these three crucial pieces, then you’ll defeat Ganon and save Hyrule have a fightin’ chance at getting in the best damn shape of your life.


1) Pick goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). Be incredibly specific with your goals so that you can actively plan what steps are needed to achieve those goals:

  • I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year by going to the gym 3 times per week for the next 6 months and eat one more vegetable per week than I did the week before.

Alternatively, if you somebody that NEVER succeeds at your goals, instead try making a new habit every 30 days…put the focus on the habit and not the goal.

For example, “I’m going to start walking to Mordor by walking a mile every day for a month. If I go for a walk, I win.” Keep it simple

Whichever method you decide, it’s important to be deliberate in your actions:

  • If you are setting goals – be SUPER SPECIFIC, write them down, and plan them out.
  • If you are making new habits – add them to your calendar, set phone alarms or alerts, and do them EVERY DAY.
  • Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Optimus Prime didn’t transform in one move.  This is NOT a diet, or a quick fix, but a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.  Don’t expect overnight results, or abs in two weeks.  Slow, steady progress.

2) Identify your kryptonite.  If you tried to get in shape in the past and failed, it’s important to know WHY.  Did you get sick and give up after a few days?  Did you go on vacation and say “why bother?”  Maybe you just got bored?  If you sucked at getting in shape last time, educate yourself on the hurdles and kryptonite that made you suck, and work on either avoiding those pitfalls or develop methods to deal with them.

3) Clean up your diet.  Believe it or not, 80% of your success when it comes to getting healthy will depend on your diet – unless you are running marathons on a daily basis, you cannot outrun your fork, and you can’t out-train a bad diet.  I honestly cannot stress the importance of this enough.  Whether you want to count calories, cut out certain foods, or attempt a new diet all together, this is the most important step you can take:

Now, most people suck at eating better because they try to make TOO many changes at once, their stomach freaks out and they run back to their comfort foods.

My advice?  Pick one food change every few weeks, and stick with it.  Whether it’s eating less calories per day, drinking one less soda, eating more vegetables or cooking your own meal once a week…small changes can lead to big successes in the long run.

4) Find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time.  Do you like to run?  Awesome, do that (just do it right).  Do you like to lift weights?  Awesome, make sure your workouts don’t suck.

Maybe you like yoga, or dodgeball, or Ultimate Frisbee, or rock climbing, or whatever!  If you tell me that “I don’t like to exercise,” then you just haven’t found the activity that makes you happy yet.

We’re genetically designed to be active.

If you don’t like to move, then it’s time to try new things until you find something that you DO like.  Sign up for a new class, join your company’s running club for a day, try out something in your basement or living room, just keep trying new stuff until you find something that you like.  And then do it as often as you can.

5) Put it all together:  These are the steps you can take today:

  • Determine your goals or habits you want to establish.  Write them down and hang them up.
  • Determine why you sucked in the past and how you can avoid it in the future.
  • Start cleaning up your diet in whatever method works best for you.
  • Pick an activity that makes you happy, and do it.  A lot.

Now, if you want specific direction on weight lifting, weight loss, and muscle building, sign up in the box below and I’ll send you a free workout sheet to follow and our massive Strength Training 101 guide on everything you need to know about getting started!


WHY do you want to get in shape?  What is your reason for wanting to do so? Do you want to get in shape to…

  • Impress a cute coworker?
  • Win a weight loss competition at work?
  • Eventually play with your newborn son?
  • Grow old with your significant other?
  • Prove everybody wrong who said “you can’t do it?”

Have a freaking reason, friend!  Write it down, hang it up in your bedroom, have a calendar alert pop up every day, whatever.  But keep that reason for wanting a better life at the front of your mind at all times.

In the Nerd Fitness Academy, we call this Your Big Why: Keep that Big Why at the front of your mind at all times. I suggest writing it down and putting it on a piece of paper somewhere that you can see regularly.

Many people get inspired by reading success stories of folks like them.  Luckily for you, we have lots of those stories on Nerd Fitness with many more to come:

Maybe success stories aren’t your thing; completely understandable. Maybe you like to get your inspiration from slightly nerdier sources like archaeologists, hobbits, Link, assassins, jedi, or the One.

Or maybe you’re a video fan!  Well then, videos like this and this will make you want to run through walls.

Like to read? Try this one.

Here’s the deal: It will never be easy.  Unless you have motivation to succeed, and can find inspiration to push through the crappy days, you will give up at the first sign of resistance.

I’m a nice guy, so I crammed all of the inspiration you’ll ever need into one place.  You’re welcome.


Last but not least, you need support.

Yes, I understand it’s kind of fun to be an army of one: the lone ranger trying to succeed against insurmountable odds….but it’s not necessary.

Once you decide to get in shape, want to know the best way to guarantee success?  Make it public.  Tell all of your friends, start a blog, and/or inform your co-workers and ask them to keep you accountable!  Unless you like being called a quitter, you’ll probably think twice about skipping out on your workouts.

Maybe your word isn’t your bond, and you need a different kind of motivation and support to succeed.  Try money.  My buddy Saint said he would pay his friends $500 if he didn’t get in absolutely incredible shape for his wedding six months down the road.  Saint didn’t have $500 to lose, so he decided instead to just get in great shape…and it worked.

Build your own Jedi Council – find people who are stronger than you and work out with them, or faster than you and run with them, or more educated than you and ask them questions.  These are people that you can turn to when you need advice or help.  If you don’t know anybody in real life, keep reading…

Find a workout buddy!  There are going to be days when you want to sleep in and skip your workout.  There will be afternoons following a crappy day of work where all you want to do is play Halo.  Find somebody who’s at a similar level of fitness as you, and work out with them!  He/she will push you on days when you’re dragging, and vice versa.  You can inspire and support each other, feed off of each other’s success, and offer up tough love when the complaining gets too much (and yes, there will be complaining).

Now, let’s say you’re the ONE person in your group of friends that wants to get in shape.  Or you’re the only person in your office who doesn’t stuff his face every day.   Maybe you don’t have anybody to turn to for support or advice…

We’ve got you covered. 

The Nerd Fitness community: a persistently amazing, always inspiring, never judgmental group of people who want nothing more than to help you succeed.  I have never been more excited to be part of a community.

This 100% free community has almost 40,000 members, hundreds of successful w00ts, and we’re rapidly approaching our 100,000th post.

Dominate life

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Pick a goals that you hope to accomplish in the next six weeks and then start working towards it.  Keep it simple but specific, and get started today.

Do a few push-ups, go for a walk, or eat a vegetable. Join the Rebellion – start fixing your nutrition with small changes today.

If you just finished reading these 2,000 words and you’re still overwhelmed, you’re not alone! 

This stuff overwhelms the best of us. I’ve been at this “get in shape” stuff for 15 years and I’m STILL learning. If you are looking for a bit more hands-on instruction, or you really want the peace of mind knowing that you’re doing the correct program, I got ya!

We have two options that have both helped thousands upon thousands of people like you get started:

#1) Most involved: Our 1-on-1 coaching program where a NF coach will get to learn your situation, your lifestyle, and your experience, and then build a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits into your busy life. We get to know you better than you know yourself, and we’ve got the results to prove it! Consider checking out our coaching program if you’re looking for that next level of expert guidance and accountability.

#2) Go-At-Your-Own-Pace, Do It Yourself: the Nerd Fitness Academy. This is our online course with 45,000 students. Tons of bodyweight workout plans (no gym required), a 10-level nutritional system, HD video demonstrations of each exercise, boss battles, a full questing system, more than a dozen more workouts, and a full guide on how to eat properly, check out!

Big things come from small beginnings, so pick the tiniest change or action you can take to get started, and then repeat that every day.

As you start to build the habit, you can increase the ‘difficulty’ and try something a bit more challenging, but it all starts with habit building.

Educate yourself, find your inspiration, and create your support group. 

Welcome to the Rebellion.

Any questions?




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  • Angel

    I guess I’m the first person to leave a comment in a while.
    It’s insane how your information is incredibly accurate. Funny enough, I will probably feel really good about this information for a week and then as you said slowly go back to being lazy.
    I think the main reason I stop is because ( like you said ) I get bored with it. Not a lot of people want to get active and the support isn’t really there. I have recently tried to put together a netball team ( even though I have no idea how to play ) to encourage my friends to get in shape. But nothing is working.
    Anyway I just wanted to thank you for the information.

  • Hi,

    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

    basketball training NJ


  • Hi Steve, I agree you need inspiration and you need a plan and then stick to it, no matter what and a good Jedi Council around you will always help! I think achieving a great weight loss goal is the ability to get into the Millennium Falcon, speed into the future, check yourself out and see how good you look, then back to your own galaxy and start exercises – knowing you have something definitely great to look forward to! I too have written a very simple piece on losing weight check it out if you like at http://letsgetandstayhealthy.com/blog/losing-weight-dont-get-caught-up-in-fad-diets

  • Alex Richerd

    I feel happiness to read the content that you are posting.

  • BecomingTheBestMe

    For me, the biggest issue was always finding the time. I dreaded having to devote an entire hour to working out. Most of us are so busy during the week…we cannot fathom finding time to exercise. THERE IS A WAY!!! You may not have an hour…but I’m certain you can find 7 minutes out of your day to follow these simple workouts. TRY THIS EASY 7 MINUTE WORKOUT APP. ITS FREE!!!!! https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fstech.sevenminfit&hl=en

  • I Bought Hot Shapers Pants from http://www.hotshapersonline.in; Is Hot Shapers Pants effective to lose weight?

  • Zombification

    I would like to point out this is just another bs motivation article and nothing concrete. It has bonus of links to other bs motivational articles. It’s not even a guide because it doesn’t cover a single thing in detail.

  • katie bowers

    Hell+O EVERYONE…..my name is Katie, im a single mom with 2boys…4yrs old;&8….i am 34(shhhhh) BuT….i FeeL 24…in fact; in as little as 5months..begining with a text message from an exboyfriend that read, “This is Erin…The Love of Brad’s (exboyfriend)Life…Do Not ever text his phone again..” well…alright..in that moment..i was struggling…it was make or break:30…&I’m here to tell u&my boys&The ? world&this website…this mom: MaDe iT….against all odds…no support system….&by the Grace of God…its funny that i read the Optimus Prime analogy….bc it’s the one i use to reference my transformation…i chose ? dance as my method to the madness…there were days i thought i couldnt possibly keep going&there were days i thought i’d never stop…the more frustrating my life would become; i danced….when i thought i was going to end up on an episode of SNAPPED…again, i danced..mind u..im 34….I’m too old to be “twirking”…it’s not lady like&simply not my style…i couldn’t afford a gym nor did i have The TIME….i lack the mental capacity to remember choreography&never gave it an entertained thought…no home computer& barely a cell phone…but its all i needed to Bluetooth my Google music app to my speaker&it was ON….i am so excited to tell you that i am in AWESOME shape…in fact, im working on chiseling my 6pk rt now…no ab crunch(in the begining 2months…but none recently)…man, what a journey its been…its my own PersoNaliZeD routine…best way to describe it…Theatrical(my face became paralyzed on the right side; so this helps improve muscle atrophy through expression); ballet/elegant…bc i do wear ballet shoes&i am STEADILY on my toes, hip hop…& i am defying gravity…..up, up,&away…i cant believe i haven’t fallen yet….its coming&when it does/ im sure its gonna be BIG…lol…but No PaiN NO GAIN….the kids also like to dance…so its been an all around positive transition in my life…i ran across this website&since i dont have NEBODY to share with that really cares; im sharing my story with all of you awesome ppl NOW….thank you for taking the time to read this&may God Bless your journey to a Happier/Healthier way of LiViNG…bc it’s the absolute best thing that has ever happened in my life…i needed the physical strength& mental stability to raise 2boys by myself….through God&by DaNcinG….I now have it…not without effort, but nobody can give it to u….u have to want it bad enough& TAKE iT..u owe it to urself 100%….GooD+LucK….U CAN…Take The “T” out of Can’T& “T”rash+iT…bc YOU CaN!

  • Mike Dihigo

    I love this article!
    I talk what your gym clothes say about you.
    Check it out on my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/crazymike0_o

  • R.T

    I’ve yet to see to see a comment from the same person consistently. Is this program legit or just bs? I need to know what to eat, when to eat, what type of exercises to do beginning from week one. I’m an older person and don’t want to get hurt.

  • Hey,
    i like what you say about inspiration – thank you!

  • carolsantiago

    It’s really true:”Believe it or not, 80% of your success when it comes to getting healthy will depend on your diet – unless you are running marathons on a daily basis, you cannot outrun your fork, and you can’t out-train a bad diet. I honestly cannot stress the importance of this enough.” http://natureto.eco.br/somatodrol/

  • Alexia James

    All thanks to th best herbalist in the world,i tell you i have been searching for the best way to get
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  • Manuel Ribeiro

    I’m doing gym and taking supplements about 1 year and I do not know why but I can not gain muscle mass. If you want to see how much I’m still thin just view my profile inside my site:http://aformulanegocioonline.org/

  • Billy

    Is sex a exercise and is it healthy

  • Guilherme

    Really is a great job!


  • Mark

    Nice blog! Will try some of it and reblog maybe! http://plumptofit.wordpress.com

  • Jinal Doshi

    For best Fitness supplements, please visit : http://www.nutracart.com
    Nutracart is an online healthcare portal in India which provides best health care supplements at affordable prices.

  • It is so true that it will never be easy however getting and staying in shape is so worth it for a lifetime of independence! Enjoyed and I am off to swing kettlebells! Thanks, Wendy

  • Good info I will definitely try this myself at home for more health tips visit http://fogut.com/

  • kyle holmes

    Hi guys if you’re looking for a wicked explanation of how to get into shape. Check this out.


  • kyle holmes

    Great to hear all about your all inspiring story! really easy to relate to so many points to spoke about here!

    For a few more epic tips check this video out guys! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luQp1ZiuPA0&feature=youtu.be

  • Jed Kobernusz

    Love Love Love This Post! It’s SO dang true! Getting back into shape takes a MASSIVE amount of work, but staying in shape feels SO much better! Thanks for an awesome post NF, Steve!

  • Anthony Conant

    Great stuff. Its hard to stay in shape. I gained daddy weight being a dad. Trying to lose about 15 pounds. The hardest part is getting that commitment back.

  • Tyson Johnson

    Thanks Steve. Really like your fitness suggestion on doing the type of exercise that makes you happy… that way it’s sustainable long term. Great post!

  • raj

    Great Informative blog about fitness. Thanks for the share.

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  • TW

    Hey! This article along with many others has been very helpful and informative for me to make a plan and hopefully i will be able work towards my goal. However I am a one man army and i was about to sign up for nerd fitness community by i got obstructed by an error that says “The administrator is currently not accepting new membership registrations”. So what do i do now?

  • Getting healthy should be a priority for everyone.