How The Heck Do I Get Started!?

You woke up today and said to yourself: “Today is going to be different.”

First and foremost, congratulations!

That’s a big step.  

Now, you start trying to figure out how to actually get started:

Because you’re reading Nerd Fitness, I’m going to guess you’re probably very intelligent, analytical, and thorough, (and ridiculously good looking, and modest, etc.).  However, oftentimes as a result of your intelligence, you end up spending far more time reading and collecting info…collecting underpants and overwhelming yourself.

They call this “paralysis by analysis.”  You are afraid of making a mistake, so instead of trying, you do nothing.

We’re going to avoid that paralysis and get the ball rolling. 

Last week we asked the Nerd Fitness Rebellion for their input: “When you got started on the path to become a hero, what did you tackle first? How did you get started?”

I’m going to share with you my thoughts on your first step, and then share with you my favorite answers from the NF Community.

As the great Super Mario once said, “Let’s a go!”

How to get started

fork in the road

You made the decision that today is going to be the first day of the rest of your life.

Let’s start there: What does the rest of your life look like? Who is the new YOU?  Are you somebody who:

  • Exercises five days a week?
  • Goes rock climbing on the weekends?
  • Cooks healthy meals every night?
  • Is confident and enjoys talking to people?

Take four minutes and think about your new identity; the more specific you can be with what you want to accomplish, the easier it’ll be for us to take the next step.

Once you’ve determined your new identity, it’s time to start proving to yourself with teeny tiny wins that “hey, I AM that new person!”  Prove to yourself that you can change; show yourself that you are capable of making better decisions.

How do you do that?

By picking ONE part of that new version of you, and focusing all of your efforts and willpower, on showing yourself that you’re capable of making that new part of your identity a reality.

Notice I said “ONE PART.”

Don’t make drastic giant sweeping changes and declarations.  Don’t tell yourself you’re going to exercise 7 days a week for 90 minutes a day.  Or that you’re only going to eat chicken and broccoli for the rest of your life.

Instead, pick a tiny part of that new version of you, and focus on building a new habit that lines up with your new identity.

Your willpower is like your HP in a video game (limited).  Fight too many bad guys at once, or fight too tough of a bad guy, and that HP depletes at a rapid pace and you need to restart.  Instead, fight ONE bad guy who’s weaker than you, and you survive the fight, get stronger, and build momentum.

And NEVER underestimate the power of momentum.

So, pick ONE thing. Make it small. Make it manageable.

For example:

Want to be somebody that exercises five days a week? Start by going for a walk for FIVE MINUTES each morning. No more than five minutes.

Want to be somebody that doesn’t drink soda?  This week, drink 11 sodas instead of a whole 12 pack.  Next week? drink 10.

Want to be somebody that cooks all of their meals?  Start with ONE meal (like this or this).

Pick one thing, and fix it.  Make it something that you can measure. Something you can cross something off a list and say: “I did this today.” Put an X on a calendar and say “I’ve done this four days in a row.”

Now, the health benefits of this one activity might not make itself apparent after a day or so.  After all, we’re asking you to pick the smallest change possible so that you have no choice but to complete it.

But that’s the point!

The benefits pale in comparison to the bigger reason to do this: you are proving to yourself that you can make a lifelong change by building a new habit, a new normal.

The Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie of all time, and this is one of my favorite quotes:

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”

However, hope is nothing without action.

So take action. Do ONE thing.   After you get started, you can make adjustments as you learn how your body reacts, but all the education in the world isn’t gonna help you lose that weight and get stronger. It’s taking action.

Stories from the Rebellion

get started jump

Last week, I reached out to our INCREDIBLY supportive community (there’s about 85,000 of on the email list and nearly 19,000 of us on the message boards) and asked some people who have had success how they got started.

Here are some of my favorite answers:

Jessica writes:

I started by cutting out soda…when I did that, I lost about 8 or 9 pounds that week. And that was the only change I made. After that, I started watching what I ate. And I started realizing how much better I felt. And more focused. And then I started running. And now I am starting to do strength training. I still have 150 pounds to lose, but I know it is a work in progress. I’ve lost almost 20 since January and I am getting my figure back.. its so exciting and inspiring to have people ask if you’ve lost weight or notice changes in you that you haven’t noticed. I love this new life! I feel so much better.

Jessica didn’t get overwhelmed with the long journey ahead. All she focused on was one change.

Another Rebel, Jeff, shares his catalyst: 

I got mad.  Angry with myself for eating too much.  Angry with myself that I couldn’t stick to a diet more than 2 months.  I decided to take this anger out on food.  Zero grains.  Zero sugar.  All I’m going to eat is meat, veggies (none of the borderline or bad), some dairy and nuts.

I started a blog just so that I could vent at myself.  I made a lot of small gain goals.  I congratulated myself for each one.  After a few weeks, I wasn’t angry anymore, but the anger had gotten me through the 3 days of intense sugar cravings and the first weeks of grain cravings (80% of my diet had been grain based!).

Notice: He got “mad,” not “depressed.”  Having motivation for getting started is important, and he wanted to prove to himself that his new identity was possible.  So he got angry at the things he wanted to change, and then changed them.  He even started a blog for accountability.  

Shaun explains his first steps:

When I was in University I drank every weekend twice a weekend to the point of black out drunk. This was a time I think most of us go through, cause its the “party years of college.” But what you don’t realize, and what I finally did, is that by simply eliminating alcohol from your diet (occasional drink is fine), your body just drops the pounds. It really was the simplest way for me to begin losing weight and I eventually dropped from 210 at my heaviest, to 165 that I am now. I now work out daily (kettlebells!) and eat a balanced diet with a heavy emphasis on proteins and fats.I’ve never felt better, and I owe it all to beginning my journey by eliminating blackout drunk nights.

Shaun picked one change.  It was a big one, but it allowed him to see results and encouraged him to continue down his new path.  Here are our thoughts on alcohol, by the way!  

One Rebel, Adam, started with breakfast:

For me, it started with having breakfast every day.  Then a general vague attempt at eating less.  But then I started using MyFitnessPal to count calories and exercise and do a thorough audit of my then diet and exercise routines.

Adam made one change: eat breakfast.  Now, although I’m personally on team No Breakfast, I love this change. Why? Because he could point to this and show himself “look at this new habit I built. I’m healthier now. What else can I fix?”

Hannah chilled out:

I started by not stressing out so much. I used to feel like I had to record every single calorie that entered my mouth, but I got nowhere. In fact, I gained weight and ended up at my heaviest. I also stressed about what food I should eat when I was hungry. Instead of listening to what my body wanted, I ate what I “should” eat and then still wanted what I originally wanted and ended up eating that too, meaning more calories. Plus I would hide food and binge on a regular basis. I stopped counting calories and eventually deleted my livestrong account. Now I just eat whenever I’m hungry and eat what I want. I’ve lost 15 pounds so far. I’ve plateaued, and I’m not exactly eating healthy (our house is carb central), but I’m doing research and making plans to ease myself into Paleo, which I tried once but failed at miserably. Starting small 🙂

Hannah started by calming down, realizing there were going to be ups and downs, and  started from there. She’s still got a ways to go, but she now knows success is possible.

Isabell focued on diet:

What I did to get started was cleaning up my diet. I cut out grains and sugar, and had success and lost a few pounds and suddenly some pairs of trousers weren’t that tight anymore. I think that kind of built momentum for me, because I didn’t feel so bad about my body anymore. I finally dared to go to a dojo and to start practising Taekwondo – and didn’t let me frustrate by the difficulties all white-belts have. What I am trying to say: Most people who want to improve might feel awful about themselves and their bodies, and these bad emotions must be overwhelming (I sometimes cried my eyes out while looking into the mirror …). Improving my diet helped me a lot.

Isabell did some reading on sugar and grains, and understood that dietary changes are 80% of the battle.  She built up momentum, focused on the positive aspects of the changes that were made, and added in a new challenge (that helped further that momentum).  

Get started

get started runner

Long story short: pick something small and GET STARTED.

Once you get that ball rolling, Nerd Fitness is here for you.  I’ve written over 500 articles on every topic imaginable, so you can further educate yourself on the things that interest you as you go along.

Along with that, here are some other resources:

  • Read the Rules of the Rebellion.  This is what we stand for here at Nerd Fitness. If this sounds like something you can get behind, we’d love to have you.
  • Sign up for our email list.  I send out two free articles a week full of education, inspiration, and Star Wars references. You also get access to a super secret starter kit.
  • Join our community. It’s 19,000 strong. It’s free. It’s supportive. And you get to read inspiring stuff like this.
  • Check out our free resources.  We also have a few premium resources, but the free stuff is MORE than enough to get you started.

But remember, you can do all the reading you want AFTER you get started.

I’d love to hear from you:

Leave a comment about how YOU plan to get started.

If you’re already headed down the path to a leveled up life, how DID you get started?


Today’s Rebel Hero: Chad H in Australia!

Chad_hastings_Sydney_City2surf_Personal_BestFrom Chad: “I raced in the Sydney City2Surf race today.  I prepared for this one, running incrementally longer distances since January this year (starting out with a measly 4km run during my lunch break at work).  By April I’d moved up to 5km and from there, I took off!  May (just before my first NF Challenge) saw me hit the 11km mark.

I persevered and finished strong.  While I didn’t quite make my Aspirational Target, I did shatter my old record.  New Personal Best: 122:54.

I won’t say the NerdFitness Performance (Enhancing) Shirt helped, but I hope they don’t have it tested.

Bring on next year!”

Want to be the next Rebel Hero? Take a photo of you doing something epic in your Nerd Fitness gear and send it to so we can feature you on the site!


photo source: starting line hurdles, jump, run, fork

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