How Joe Lost 50 Pounds, Ran a Half-Marathon, Passed the Bar, and Got Engaged!

Talk about a life level up!

Meet Joe, an attorney from Minnesota who has been reading Nerd Fitness for the past 5-6 years. He attempted to get in shape 6-8 times in that span with various levels of temporary success, only to give back all of his progress each time.

However, over the past 10 months, Joe has become a man possessed – in a good way.

He’s gone from not being able to run for 60 seconds and plowing through fast food to losing 50 pounds, running a half-marathon on trails, passing the bar exam, and even getting engaged!

I LOVE Joe’s new mentality, and the insight he shared with me about all of the things that he surprised himself with since he began his this transformative journey.

I’m proud to say that Joe has been in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching program since January, and I’d love for you to check it out to see if it’s the right fit for you (and beat the January rush – we expect a long waiting list by then).

So why is today’s article is so important?

Because it was some brutal realizations and a specific decision that Joe made around this time last year that made him realize something needed to change!

I want you to be honest with yourself: It’s almost November. Are you 80+% of the way towards the goals you set for yourself back in January? Or are you already saying, “Meh, 2018 is a lost cause. I’ll try again next year.”

No! Wrong! Full stop!

There are still 2.5 months left in the year!

If you fell off the wagon or got stuck or never got started, Joe’s story will resonate with you.

Below, I’ll share Joe’s insights and lessons learned along with the way, along with key steps you can take starting today to break out of a rut and level up!

Go Joe!

How Joe the Lawyer Lost 50 Pounds AND Leveled Up His Life

STEVE: Hey Joe! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me – I’d love to hear from you about your past – how many times had you tried to get in shape before this most recent success?

JOE: I had tried to lose weight at least eight times.

Every single time, I tried it on my own because I think I felt like, “If I can’t do this on my own, then what’s the point?”

Here are the most memorable:

Attempt #1: I wasn’t particularly overweight back in college, but I felt like I should try to be more careful about what I ate. I tried calorie counting by itself, but that led to extreme dieting on my part.

Attempt #2: I tried doing the Paleo Diet and lost weight rapidly, only to put all the weight back on immediately after I stopped because I couldn’t maintain eating so little each day.

Attempt #3:  I tried to force myself into running by waking up one morning and going for a two-mile run; obviously I didn’t make it, and I just felt so damn dejected afterwards that I struggled to do anything.

Attempt #4: I re-tried the running approach (starting smaller), and it actually worked…for about two weeks. I was running a bit each day, and I started feeling the positive effects. In the long run (pun intended?), however, I just got tired and had nothing really pushing me to keep going, so I stopped.

Attempt #5: When I tried picking up weightlifting, I planned out three weeks of workouts, and generally did them. But after those three workouts, I didn’t plan out any more workouts and I just stopped again.

Following that, I started a long build-up of weight gain and unhealthy habits. As a law student, I had long hours of class and many hours of homework in the evenings. When I needed to go get food, I would eat at restaurants like Subway, Leeann Chin, or other fast food.

This eventually resulted in me reaching my heaviest weight ever right around December 2017.

STEVE: Okay so fast forward to this past fall. You had been reading Nerd Fitness for 5 years, why did you finally take action?

JOE: Overall, in the past I think I lacked motivation for a few reasons:

  • I didn’t have any real drive to change myself.
  • I thought that if I couldn’t do things on my own, I was a failure as a person.

Three things pushed me over the edge, and specifically towards Nerd Fitness’s one-on-one coaching.

The first thing was my “wake up” moment:

Over Christmas break in my last year of law school (December 2017 – pictured), I was on vacation participating in one of my hobbies–scuba diving.

While underwater, I went through my air tank almost 40% faster than everyone else I was diving with. In other words, I had to surface WAY BEFORE everyone else and I was just sitting on the surface waiting.


I had let myself get to the point where I could no longer do the things I wanted to do.

I couldn’t ignore my weight gain anymore. I knew something had to change or else I wasn’t going to be happy moving forward.

The second thing was an email from you, Steve.

I had been on the Nerd Fitness email list for years because I had been following the website for awhile. I didn’t really do anything serious due to the issues I listed above.

Right around Christmas, you sent out an email talking about how it was likely that many people reading the email had not made a real change — that they had not followed through on their “New Year Resolutions—and may be in an even worse position than they were at the beginning of the prior year.”

I realized that was me. I hadn’t changed.

I hadn’t really even tried to change, even though I knew I should have. And that email re-oriented me to thinking about HOW I could change.

STEVE: I remember writing that email, because I almost didn’t send it! However, we’re a site dedicated to helping people, and oftentimes that requires tough love. I’m glad that message resonated with you.

So what made you decide to try out NF Coaching? What pushed you over the edge to make the investment?

JOE: I figured that my problem might be motivation and accountability (see above).

I also knew I trusted the Nerd Fitness website because I had been receiving emails from you for years.

Never once did you try to sell me a “quick fix” or a “get in shape fast” program.

You never suggested that losing weight would be unrealistically simple or easy; you were always down to earth about the fact that it takes time and focus. I liked that. It felt like a non-BS approach.

So I decided to schedule a free call to learn about the program and ended up signing up!

STEVE: That’s great man. If I remember correctly I was actually the one who spoke with you on the phone! And I know you’ve been working with Staci as your coach for the past 10 months.

What’s a typical day like for you NOW, after the changes?

JOE: I still sit a lot, but now I’m aware of it. As an attorney, you spend a lot of time in an office doing a lot of reading, researching, and writing. So now I get up a lot more, take a quick spin around the office and say hi to coworkers.

Some days, depending on the weather (and even in the cold!) I will go for a run over the lunch hour to get my workout done earlier in the day.

It’s not necessarily that day-to-day activities have necessarily changed that much; it’s more like I’m aware of what those activities really are, and try to mix up them up whenever I can.

STEVE: Tell me about the workout program Staci built for you. 

JOE: I live in an apartment complex with a small gym; that helped a lot – (though given what Coach Staci has set up, I don’t think a gym is even necessary half the time).

Because I had the gym, most of my workouts were bodyweight and free-weight (dumbbell) exercises. Staci also worked in cardio on days between strength training. Also, I can’t stress this enough: she started with manageable workouts and slowly built up. My first “workout” in the program? A five-minute walk.

Now I can run 30x as long.

On the running, Staci was a huge help. Back in March, I told her about a 5K race in July that I had tried and failed to run in the past. In fact, I hurt myself pretty bad because again I was trying to do too much all at once.

I told her that I wanted to slowly build up to it, so she started changing my then-30 minute walks into “run 1 minute, walk three minute” cycles. Over time, she helped me build up muscle and endurance. I crushed the 5k, completing it faster than I had ever run anything in my life.

That helped me understand what I could be capable of.

Two and half weeks later, I ran a 10K.

Just this past Saturday, I ran a half marathon on trails in a giant park near where I live because after all this time I felt like trying to see how far I could run.

I cannot believe that in ten months, I went from being unable to run for a full minute to running for over two hours on hills and trails. I honestly don’t think I would have ever reached where I am now without Staci’s constant encouragement and guidance.

Here’s a picture of me right after that run, look how happy I am!

STEVE: I love this so much. Congratulations on the success so far, man. Talk to us about your nutrition! We know here in NF that nutrition is 80% of the equation.

JOE: This was the hardest part for me, because I was eating like I was a kid: fast food, sweets, etc.

When I did cook, it was simple things that often had loads of fat (i.e. five grilled cheese sandwiches in one sitting, with dessert).

I was also really hesitant to do the Paleo diet, or try something like the Keto diet, or Mediterranean, or calorie counting again because, as I mentioned before, some of these methods hadn’t really worked for me in the past.

Staci helped me by providing basic advice on eating healthy – diagrams of ideal “plates” of food for dinner (with portion sizing).

To avoid calorie counting, she had me send her pictures of everything I was eating through the Nerd Fitness Coaching App, which really enhanced the accountability aspect of eating healthy because I didn’t hyper-focus on my food.

Over time, my habits slowly adjusted to become healthier.

I also have my now-fiancé to thank for being extremely supportive in helping me eat healthy.

I eventually transitioned to using MyFitnessPal to count calories after I started seeing results because I wanted to understand more about my food choices. That helped a lot.

Training has taught me that eating healthier leaves me feeling better overall. It literally made it easier to say no to bad options, and choose healthier options.

For example, I no longer drink coffee with cream or sugar. When stopping at gas stations on the road, I buy a banana and a string cheese stick if I’m hungry. Small changes.

STEVE: What was the most important change you think you made?

JOE: Doing something, and admitting to myself that I needed help on what to do.

I wanted to change so badly, but I just kept failing.

It got to the point where my family sort of anticipated the fact that I probably wouldn’t maintain my attempts at weight loss.

I knew I had to do something, and this program ended up working out beautifully.

STEVE: Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you? A little birdie (your coach) told me you got engaged this past weekend!

JOE: I did get engaged! That has been an extremely welcome change, as has the physical appearance differences.

More than anything, I feel… light.

When people suggest walking from one place to another, I don’t worry about it.

When someone suggests going hiking, I am up for it.

When my family wants to do a project, I know that physically I won’t have any problems.

Overall, my mental attitude about what I can do has changed immensely. Also, as I told you at the beginning Steve, I wanted to look good in a suit. Now I think I look pretty damn good in a suit.

The speakers line at 4:25­—“Accept where you are, and the responsibility that you are gonna take yourself where you want to go”—has become a bit of a mantra for me.

I had to accept where I was in terms of weight gain, and shoulder the responsibility, with Staci’s help, of getting to a different place.

STEVE: What are your goals moving forward? What kind of awesomeness do you want to do in your new body?

JOE: I want to run a marathon: 26.2 miles.

I have always had that as a long term goal, but I’m realizing that it may be within my grasp a bit sooner than expected.

I would also like a six pack, but hey… that takes time haha.

I’ve noticed a few opportunities online to run some races in national parks, so I’ve looked at those too.

One thing you will notice when you run a lot is that you tend to want to change up the scenery a little bit; running through Grand Teton National Park sounds pretty amazing, and there are some companies that organize relatively inexpensive races in those areas for runners interested in mixing it up.

I would like to explore those options.

STEVE: What makes NF Coaching a worthy investment for you each month? I know it’s a big investment, and many would just be “done,” but you’re here 10 months later – and counting! 

JOE: The 1-on-1 coaching program plans out long-term change for me—the workouts, the habit changes, the healthy eating—so that all I have to focus on is doing it.

And yup, the “doing” part certainly isn’t easy…

But when someone is encouraging you, guiding you, texting you regularly, and helping you understand how to integrate healthy changes into your own unique lifestyle and day-to-day activities, actually DOING the program becomes much easier than you would think.

Every single time I do a workout, I get better.

Every time I eat healthy, I can feel a difference (even if its very slight).

Because of that, I don’t sweat the cost because I know that the money I would have been spending on unhealthy habits like fast food, eating out, and sweets is going towards making me a happier, healthier person.

Plus, the whole Nerd Fitness team is amazing:

I have spoken with several individuals on the team (whether through the phone or over the internet) and I can’t stress enough that they want you to make it. They actually care if you succeed.

Yes, NF is a business. Yes, Team Nerd Fitness has to make money to function.

But I’ve never seen a fitness company so oriented around its clients like this one.

On a simpler note, the results speak for themselves: I have almost hit 50lbs of weight loss. Clearly, the Nerd Fitness approach works.

And you know what the best part is? Every time I eat healthier or do a workout, I feel good about it.

There is no regret, no exasperation, and no sense of boredom or repetitiveness.

The coaches are good about teaching you healthy habits and principles to the point where you want to do them simply because they work for you, and you feel better because of them.

Steve: Damn dude, I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel about the team we’ve built. Thank you.

Do you have any words of advice for people reading this who are at where you were last fall? What can you say to those people to help themselves make changes?

Joe: Accept where you are right now, on Day One. You can’t change it, but it’s a starting point. And then take responsibility for where you want to go.

I was overweight, obese, dejected, upset, and worried about my relationship. But every single day I did something (whether eating healthy, working out, or both), the struggle became a little easier.

As that video I reference above says, “Accept where you are and the responsibility that you are gonna take yourself where you want to go.”

As long as I was working on making myself stronger, faster, and healthier, then I could accept where I am now.

I know it’s cliche, but don’t give up. Know that even if I don’t know who you are, or where you are, I am right there with you. We all are right there with you.

Steve: What would you say to somebody who is interested but unsure about trying Nerd Fitness Coaching?

Joe: What do you have to lose?


Don’t just read that and move on. Stop and think about it.

My guess is you said time, money, or some variation of “lost hope” if it doesn’t work.

  • Regarding time, all this program is going to do is add time to your life. And any time you “lose” working out is probably better spent doing the workouts, at least for long term health.
  • With respect to money, if you are anything like I was at the start of the program, my guess is you probably are already spending the money that it would cost for this program on fast food and other unhealthy habits during the month anyway.

Would you rather change your life, or have one more fast food meal?

If you are worried about losing hope or motivation for a change, do the program and TALK TO YOUR COACH. They are there to keep your drive alive, and to help you understand that the time and energy required to see change is manageable.

You can cancel at anytime, although I don’t want to.

At the end of the day, what do you have to lose?

On the flip side, just imagine how good you will feel if it works? If you can commit and change your life?

Take the time to “accept where you are” and shoulder the responsibility necessary to make that change for the better. Everyone at Nerd Fitness believes you can do it. I believe you can do it. The only person standing in your way is you.

I know my answers to some of these questions may seem long, but if it results in even one person changing their life like I have, I’ll be happy.

Steve: Joe, can I hire you as Nerd Fitness’s hype person? Ha! Seriously though, thank you for sharing these answers with the NF Rebellion

The 5 Keys to Joe’s Weight Loss and Level Up Success!

I’ve been following Joe’s story for the past 10 months, getting regular updates from his coach Staci, and I tried to distill his success down into a few bite-sized words of wisdom you can take with you today:


This is a dude who’s been reading Nerd Fitness emails for 5 years! He tried calorie counting. He tried Paleo. He tried running. He tried weight lifting. Nothing stuck.

Joe finally found a good enough reason to change his life: he was unable to do the activities he wanted to do because of his weight, and something needed to change.

Thank goodness Joe stayed a part of Nerd Fitness for years until the right message hit him at the right time in his life, and he was ready to take action.

You’re here reading this, which means no matter where you’re at and how far off the wagon you’ve fallen, you’re reading this and that’s amazing. Thank you for being here!

Even if you failed 100 times getting in shape in the past, the right message hasn’t hit you at the right time. Keep trying. Keep reading. Maybe today can be the spark that lights the fire for YOUR story – that I can share next year 🙂


I can relate so much to Joe’s previous mentality, and I bet you can too: “I didn’t realize that asking for help was okay.” I too spent a decade training myself because I thought it would make me less of a person if I needed somebody’s help to succeed.

It wasn’t until I realized that the best athletes and top performers on the planet have coaches too – and that’s the same conclusion Joe came to.

Not only is asking for help smart, not only is hiring a coach wise, but for many (myself, Joe, and for most people), having guidance and accountability is the difference between “Holy crap my life is completely different” success, and “oh man, where did the year go? Another year of not succeeding” failure.

Having a coach doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart.


Although Joe had tried running and strength training in the past, neither stuck.

It wasn’t until this recent attempt that he gave running another chance, and with the proper motivation, accountability, guidance, and a plan built for his life that it actually stuck. You have the find the exercise that works for you – or it won’t stick.

I asked Joe what the old Joe would be surprised to learn about the New Joe:

“Apparently, I like running. The old me would have laughed at that idea. If I told the old me that I ran for two and half hours last Saturday, I’m sure the old me would have called bullcrap and got up and left. But it’s true. You never know what you are capable of until you try.”


This was Joe’s 9th attempt (at least) at getting in shape. He had tried strict dieting and going ALL IN multiple times in the past.

He had tried building his own workout programs and creating his own running routines – he did all of this for free, and I’m not surprised that the results didn’t last.

Why? Because he didn’t have any skin in the game! Simply put: we value what we spend our money on, and we don’t value what we get for free.

On this effort, Joe had tried the “Do it Myself” path for YEARS and failed, so this time he knew he would have to try a different approach.

Joe had invested his hard earned money in his health with coaching, so he actually took this attempt seriously.

How are you investing in yourself? Coaching, a gym membership, investing more in higher quality food, or even just investing your time into research if money is tight!

But you are worth the investment!


This is a lifelong journey.

You can’t expect to go on a diet for a few weeks or months to reach a goal weight and then go “back to normal.” Temporary changes equal temporary results.

If you never get to be “done,” you better enjoy the journey, right?

Notice the wording Joe uses above: “

So if you are gonna get in shape, focus on the process. As we say in NF: focus on days and years, not weeks and months. Just do the thing today that needs to get done:

Where Will You Be 10 Months from Now? Don’t Wait Until January!

If you’re still reading this, I want you to know I’m damn proud of you for even trying. I’m thankful you’re in our little community here on the internet, and I’m quite excited for your future.

Not only that, but I’m proud of you for what you’re going to do today.

MOST people have already given up on 2018. They’re going to dig themselves into a deeper, bigger hole over the next 2.5 months, and they’re going to wake up in January 50 yards farther away from the starting line than they are today.



Because you’re gonna be like Joe:

  • Never give up. Keep reading. Keep trying. But try something DIFFERENT this time. Don’t do the same thing you did the last time. Don’t just “try to lose weight” and “go on a diet.” Be deliberate in your attempt!
  • Give yourself permission to seek help. Whether it’s coaching or asking somebody who has lost weight in the way you want to, ask them for guidance! I’ve been working with a coach myself for 4+ years now!
  • Find the exercise that works for you. It might be running. Or hiking. Or strength training. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it!
  • Have some skin in the game. You don’t value things you get for free nearly as much as things that you spent your hard earned money on! Invest in yourself!
  • Enjoy the journey. You don’t get to be done,

And today, you’re gonna do literally ANYTHING:

Go for a 5 minute walk. That was Joe’s first workout in the NF Coaching program. 10 months later he’s down 50 pounds and running trail half-marathons and EXCITED ABOUT IT.

Try our Beginner Bodyweight Workout.

Eat a vegetable. Yes, even if you hate them.

If you’re interested in being coached and having a program built for your exact situation, we’d love to chat with ya. 

Like we did we Joe, we speak with everybody on the phone that is interested in the coaching program – we want to know people’s stories, learn about their struggles, and then decide together if our program can help!

If you want professional guidance, a custom built workout program tailored to your specific goals, and expert accountability and motivation from Team NF, schedule a call with our team by clicking in the box below:

To wrap it all up:



Don’t wait until January. Don’t “go on hold” during the Holidays – this is when everybody messes up and loses all their gains from the previous 10 months.

Get the habits and start small now, and then you’ll have routine and momentum down pat come January! I want to hear from you:

What’s the ONE thing you’re going to do today?

Me: I’m gonna hit the gym and work on my deadlifts!



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