“Holy crap! Seriously!?”
It was 1 AM, and I was sitting, bleary-eyed at my computer in a hotel room in Barcelona. Like many people, instead of sleeping I had been messing around on Facebook (oops!) and happened across a thread with a Nerd Fitness reader who said the following:
“Nutrition is 90% of the battle, right? Well I’ve seen that in action over the last few months. I was unable to continue workouts due to a health issue and have had to rely COMPLETELY on walking and nutrition to find results. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
I am completely sold on the principles of the Nerd Fitness Academy. Thank you, Steve Kamb for founding NFA!
I am not done, I have only begun, but now that I can (hopefully) begin workouts again after seeing my doctor in a couple weeks, I look forward to even greater results! Already I have lost over 50 pounds since starting NFA, I no longer need blood pressure medication, and I fit into size 34 jeans…a feat I have not done since grad school 20 years ago!”
What followed were the photos you see above… right!?
My jaw hit the floor when I saw Tim’s 7 month before and “during” photos. I seriously yelled out loud “Holy sh**!” when I saw them, and I couldn’t help but smile. I wanted to share Tim’s success story with you today, because I want YOUR success story six months from now!
Tim, a recovering gambling addict and single dad of 4 kids (!), is a proud member of the Nerd Fitness Academy and based his exercise, mindset, and nutritional strategy on the information presented there. However, I want to point out that Tim had NO gym membership, NO fancy trainer, NO magic bullet, and NO wonder supplements.
I’ve been bouncing emails back and forth with Tim and noticed VERY interesting details in his success – tons of things that many would have seen as obstacles (or worse…excuses to justify inaction!). Tim, on the other hand, actually succeeded in part BECAUSE of these setbacks.
Today you’re going to learn how to surprise yourself 7 months from now – WITHOUT “EXERCISING”.
Six months from now, I want you to look at your “before” and “during” photos with a shocked smile. (It would help if you took photos today!)
Why are you doing this?
I asked Tim what prompted his big change, and why did he think he was successful. His answer about Big WHY really jumped out at me, something we talk about at Nerd Fitness a lot too.
I thought [this journey, after failing repeatedly before] would be harder, but after working through the Big Why (several times) I focused on “baby steps” like getting rid of liquid calories, stop putting sugar on things, no ice cream, etc. Little-by-little, I got to where I am today. One day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time!
I looked at what I COULD do rather than what I couldn’t, and that freed me up to find the slimmer, healthier me inside of all the fat and junk that was clinging to me. I am not fat. I am not garbage. I am me, and I am glorious. I am not a special snowflake, I am a lean, healthy badass (sort of) who will not let circumstances get in the way of me being who I was created to be so that I can be a great example to my kids and loved ones of what a healthy, intentional, good man looks like.
As you’re getting started on your journey, DIG DEEP and really think about WHY you’re doing this. You might need to go three levels deep (like Inception) and keep asking why to get to the root of your reasons for changing:
- I want to lose weight. Why?
- Because I want to feel better. Why?
- Because I don’t like where my life is going and I want to be a better example for my kids. OKAY!
If you don’t have a good reason for getting in shape (“because my doctor told me to” isn’t going to cut it long term), you’ll use any reason to give up along the way! “Shoot, it’s cold out. Can’t exercise today.” “I had a bad day at work – I deserve this treat.” “Meh, tomorrow.”
However, if you have a damn good reason for why you are embarking upon this journey (like Tim did), you’re going to be more likely to actually stick with your plan even when life gets busy, your kids get sick, and so on.
Personally, I’m on this journey because I want to find out what I’m capable of. I feel a responsibility to this community to take care of myself and a responsibility to the future me to be healthy. I’m also doing this because I know how great it feels to hit a personal best, nail a new gymnastics move, and look in the mirror with pride at what I’ve built. It makes me happy.
How about you? Spend a few minutes journaling or writing out your thoughts and dig as deep as you can until you get to the root of your desire to get fit.
The Right Mentality at the Start
Now, this is where most people get thrown off.
After determining your big why, you need to have the right mentality for beginning your journey too.
The NF Community asked Tim what he thought about his transformation looking back at himself after 7 months:
“If you’d told me I could lose 50 pounds in 7 months with just changing my diet and walking, I would have told you to take a long walk off a short pier! I can hardly believe it myself.”
I bet you read that sentence above and thought, “I’ve heard THAT before, on every late night infomercial promising me amazing results if I buy their workout equipment or ab coaster or whatever.” The difference here is that you don’t need to buy anything, you need to change your strategy.
Tim is an actual person (a single dad with 4 kids!) from our community, with a family, a real job, and he’s not trying to sell anything in that sentence. In fact, that sentence was shared privately with our community, and only after he posted it did I ask if I could share it.
Tim said the toughest change he had to make was his own mindset. As a recovering gambling addict (6 years and counting – congrats Tim!), he knew he had mental demons to overcome when it came to getting healthy:
“I did a pretty good job of wrecking my life and found myself seven years ago being forced to do something about it. The biggest thing I learned from that experience of entering recovery (I have six years of sobriety) is that the pain had to outweigh the fear of change before I would do anything to recover. Unfortunately at that point it was too late for my marriage, my career, and a few other things I deeply regret destroying as a result of my addiction.
I learned that I do not need to fear change, I just need to recognize it, lean into the pain, and do the next right thing. So as I moved through recovery from a gambling addiction I soon found that there were other areas in my life that needed change as well. Shocker!
The pain needed to outweigh the fear of change before I would do anything to recover.”
Two years ago, he stepped on a scale saw “300 lbs” for the first time in his life. Although he never identified himself as big or fat, stepping on that scale shook him to his core and made him realize he needed to change.
Tim found Nerd Fitness in June of 2016, where we talk about the importance of mindset and the right strategies to get started:
In recovery from addiction I was told many times, “If you want what we have, then do what we do,” and that’s the message I heard from you, Steve, and the rest of the Nerd Fitness team: We aren’t here to tell you what to do, we are simply telling you what worked for us nerds, so if you want what we have, then do what we do.
I also liked that there was a monetary cost to [The Nerd Fitness Academy], because it meant I had skin in the game. The best things in life cost me something, whether it was time, money, blood, sweat, or tears, and I was ready to make a change.
Sounds pretty freaking badass but believe me, I was not, nor am I, a badass. I’m just a guy who ran across your program which showed me three things: First, the problem; Second, the solution; and Third, how to implement that solution.
Although Tim invested in himself, you do not need to spend money to find results. However, having some “skin in the game” might cause you to take this action more seriously – I know it does for me (I hired a friend, Anthony Mychal, to be my virtual trainer to keep me accountable!). And how much is being healthy and happy worth to you? How much can you afford to invest in yourself?
Again, no need to spend money up front to get “skin in the game.” Can you give money to a friend of yours and commit to what you’re going to do, and then he’ll give you the money back? Or tell a friend you’ll donate $X to a cause you hate if you don’t follow through on your goals?
It’s how Saint dropped 60 pounds in time for his wedding – he put his money where he mouth was!
Now, let’s look back at the rest of Tim’s statement above. Tim attacked his problem head-on and had a serious conversation with his brain:
- I need to change. I do not need to fear change. Change is good.
- I’ve tried and failed in the past. How can I try differently this time?
Change is good. This next attempt needs to be different from previous attempts if I’m going to get in shape this time. So, what SHOULD you do?
Do Less. Go Slow. REALLY Slow.
“The less you do, the more you do.”
– Kunu (Paul Rudd’s character in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”)
If you’re like most people, you’ve said to yourself recently, “this is the year I’m going to get in shape.”
And you might have done all sorts of things and maybe even succeeded so far:
- Signed up for a gym
- Gone to the gym every day
- Bought workout DVDs and followed them dutifully
- Drastically changed your entire nutritional strategy
- Started flossing
- Add another 5 things.
Tim’s success, I believe, is due to the fact that he did LESS than ALL of those things above!
When he started his most recent journey, he hurt himself by doing too much during a workout and was told by the doctor he couldn’t strength train for 6+ months!
I bet if you were told you couldn’t exercise for 6 months, then the idea of ‘getting in shape’ would now be gone. But this was, ironically, exactly what Tim needed to succeed. “Oh, I can still walk…” Perfect. That is enough to radically transform your body.
In fact, I’m going to tell you to NOT work out if you’re starting from a sedentary lifestyle.
Yes, this is a fitness website telling you not to work out.
In fact, I think exercise sucks! I don’t do it. Instead, I train in a fun way that I am excited about.
If you just want to lose weight and feel better about yourself (Like Tim did), going for a walk and focusing nearly all of your energy on nutrition will get you 90% of the way there! Once you get to a baseline of health and fitness and have lost significant weight, then you can focus on building the physique you want.
So, disregard what people in infomercials or magazine ads look like – those people train 20+ hours a week, have super genetics, are probably on steroids, and/or don’t use the equipment or workout strategy they are advertising.
Instead, keep it simple and your expectations in check. Tim couldn’t exercise, and that allowed him to focus on just TWO THINGS:
- Going for a walk. Tim doesn’t enjoy running, so he just went for hikes and walks. That’s it. This allowed him to mentally check a box that said “I did something healthy today”
- Finally accepting that nutrition was 90% of the battle, so he should be focusing 90% of his mental energy on adjusting that.
How much time do you think about THE PERFECT workout strategy, and if you should do 10 sets of 10, 5 sets of 5, or something in between? Do you worry about getting your heart rate to the perfect “fat burning zone” or anything like that? What about going from cardio kickboxing to yoga to weights to underwater aerobics?
Scale your thinking WAY back.
How can you make SMALL but permanent changes to your exercise strategy? When you make a change, make such a tiny change that you understand that you are making this change forever. This is what you do now:
- Decide to walk a certain amount of minutes this week. This is what you do now.
- Cut back on one extra soda this week. This is your new normal.
ONLY after that you’ve built a walking habit would we recommend you start to implement something basic like a body weight training routine once a week, or even just challenging yourself to do some push-ups each morning when you wake up.
Nutrition is Everything. EVERYTHING.
Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition.
We talk about nutrition more than any other subject at Nerd Fitness, because it’s everything. And that’s not what most people like to hear.
How you eat will be responsible for 80-90% of the success or failure you will have moving forward. So you need to attack your nutrition with a solid strategy.
This means two things:
- ANY workout strategy will WORK with the right diet: walking, yoga, zumba, dancing, rock climbing, strength training. Literally anything physical if you stick with it.
- ANY workout strategy will FAIL with the wrong diet. If you don’t eat well, no amount of training will fix that.
It’s why one of our Rules of the Rebellion is “you can’t outrun your fork.”
Again, most people do best with SMALL changes over LONG periods of time. It’s is how Tim won. In his own words, he was not a big fan of the Paleo Diet (read our beginner’s guide here) mentality, though his nutritional strategy now closely aligns with it.
We’re not gung-ho Paleo advocates either. (We like that it’s a simple mental model you can follow to learn what to eat and what to avoid, but we agree that you should probably dip your toe in pool and slowly wade in).
This is why the NF Academy Nutritional Blueprint is laid out in 10 levels, and Tim liked the small transitional changes to how he ate:
You said that nutrition was most of the battle, so I chose to accept that, and in doing so I sloughed off the false belief I had been carrying around which told me that nutrition was not the main thing, that working out and burning calories was the main thing. I had to accept what you and your team said: mindset + nutrition + exercise = health.
I started at level 2 (basic calorie counting). I had already been trying to track calories but wasn’t sticking to any good eating habits until I started at Nerd Fitness Academy.
My first official step was eliminating liquid calories. Baby steps work!
I then started eliminating processed foods from my diet one meal at a time. I took a week to eliminate them from breakfast, then the next week I removed them from lunch, the third week it was dinner, and the fourth week was snacks. That last one was HARD. It’s too easy to hit the vending machine rather than bring good snacks for the day!
I would say it took me another couple months to finally get through Level 5 and 6, pasta and bread were staples for me, with every meal.
All-in-all it took me four months to get to Level 7 if my memory is right. I blended it with Dr. Fuhrman’s “Nutritarian” diet mindset, so while I avoid breads, I partake occasionally, and I don’t avoid meats like Dr. Fuhrman would have me do.
READ THAT AGAIN. Tim didn’t go on a diet, and you should NEVER go on a diet ever again either. Tim didn’t say “I’m gonna follow this strategy for 6 months and then I can go back to how I was eating before.” Instead, small permanent changes, and that’s just his new “normal.”
Shift your nutritional mentality and make small changes you can live with. Here’s exactly what Tim changed over FOUR months:
- Minimization of liquid calories. You’ll be surprised how many calories and how much sugar is in ‘healthy’ apple juice!
- Cut back significantly on sugar. Sugar is worse than Jar Jar Binks.
- Cut back on processed carbs (bread, pizza, pasta, etc.).
- Eat more vegetables and fruits (though don’t eat only fruit – that also has lots of sugar!), and some meat.
- Check out intermittent fasting and deciding it worked for him.
When you make these changes gradually over time, it’s much easier to live with and adjust what your body decides is “normal,” building serious momentum.
And NEVER underestimate momentum.
Accountability and Momentum.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about two final pieces of the puzzle that helped Tim succeed, and they will help you succeed too.
Having people to help keep you accountable and building momentum.
Tim loved having that level of accountability (and having invested in himself) and having people on the same journey has him to help stay on target:
I find that being able to “tell on myself” when I step out of line to people I trust is incredibly helpful and helps ensure that the momentum in my life continues to move forward.
If I sit and do nothing, I invariably backslide and find myself worse off.
As a mentor of mine likes to remind me, “There is no ‘gress’, only Pro-gress or Re-gress. If you stop you will only move backwards, never forwards. Keep at it day-by-day, little-by-little, focusing on doing the next right thing and before you know it, you’ve climbed the mountain, reached the moon, or made your kid’s day.” I don’t do that perfectly, I just try to keep at it.
Sometimes the people around you have good intentions but don’t have the right understanding (of nutrition, health, and fitness) to be supportive. That’s why surrounding yourself with people who can be truly supportive (like Tim did online with the NF Rebellion) is so key. When I asked Tim if he had support at home, he said:
“Yes, they were. However, when I started using Intermittent Fasting they looked at me sideways. I am a single father of four kids so they couldn’t do much to object, but my friends at first thought I was nuts. I had some who were on board and encouraged me, but some of my friends thought I was crazy.
Now, however, they are ALL asking me what I did to lose so much weight (they don’t ask about health as much as weight, unfortunately). It’s hard to argue with results!”
Remember, for years and years, broken and god-awful fitness and diet advice has been spread throughout the country and world. Our friends and family often believe things that aren’t fully true, even if they have the best intentions at heart when they question your decisions.
Tim had an online support group that helped keep him in line and to pick up the slack of this real life gap. It’s called Nerd Fitness, and you’re reading about it! Whether it’s the private facebook groups associated with The NF Academy, Rising Heroes, or our FREE message boards with 30,000+ members, there’s a way for you to get support from others on your journey.
You didn’t become who you are today alone, don’t forge into tomorrow alone either.
Focus on the Next Thing.
I don’t know where you can be 6 months from now. That depends on where you are now, your genetics, your lifestyle, and everything in between.
But neither do you. So don’t worry about it! It’ll get here soon enough.
You can’t fix the past (though you can learn from it), and you can’t control the future (though you can influence it)… so you might as well focus on today, right?
- Focus on your next meal, and add one more vegetable.
- Focus on your next beverage choice, and make sure it has minimal sugar.
- Focus on your lunch break, and see if you can go for a walk.
Do not overthink this. Do not worry about where you will be six months from now. Instead do the following:
- Ask yourself WHY you are doing this. Dig deep. Write it down and hang it somewhere to remind yourself every day.
- Don’t exercise unless you enjoy it. Walking is fine. So is dance, rock climbing, zumba, swimming, and anything else.
- Nutrition is 90% of the battle. Put almost all of your focus there.
- Small changes over many months will give you the best chance for success.
- Invest in yourself. Put your money where your mouth is – you’ll take this next attempt more seriously.
- Stop worrying about how soon you’ll “get there.” Remember that you never really “arrive,” so you need to find a way to make sustainable daily life changes. Keep them simple and small. But permanent.
A funny thing happens when you do the above. 6 months from now, you just might wake up, look back at a photo of yourself from today (you DID take photos today, right?), and say out loud to yourself: “Holy sh**.” And then you can email us and we can share your story with the world.
What’s one decision you can make TODAY that will help you move in a direction of a changed life six months from now?
PS: We have over 25,000 students going through their first year of their journey in the Nerd Fitness Academy. If the above spoke your language and you’re looking for more instruction, or looking to make an investment in yourself, consider checking it out. It has a 60-day money back guarantee.
PPS: I was serious about you emailing us (contact at nerdfitness.com) with your success story! I love sharing them with this community to remind people that you’re not alone; that if you’re an older woman, a divorced dad of 4 like Tim, or a young college kid, the Nerd Fitness Community is here for you.