It’s the little things… (Plus NF Shirts and Camp NF On Sale MONDAY!)


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

-Lao Tzu (and millions of fortune cookies)

We recently talked a lot about the importance of enjoying the Journey.  We’re not racing towards an end goal at all costs, but rather finding our rhythm and a pace that works for us. Not asking “ARE WE THERE YET!?”

However, it’s tough to stay motivated when we’re not seeing drastic progress or we’re not quite sure if we are moving in the right direction.  It’s tough to not feel like a one-flippered seal “just swimming around in a circle, freaking out his whole family,” right?

So, how the heck can we stay motivated during the slow months? After all, it can often feel like a grind, and grinds aren’t fun.

The solution: We become Hawkeye, and identify each and every tiny metric that shows us we’re heading in the right direction.

We create the new person that we’re trying to become (our Level 50), and then we prove to ourselves each and every day that we’re getting just ONE experience point closer to leveling up and achieving that reality.

We celebrate each small win.

And we reward those small wins with things that reward us back.

Take Any Small Win You Can Get

mini people

The scale is not the only metric you should use to look for small wins.

In fact, I hate the scale!  It pigeonholes your progress into a 3-digit number.  And you are more than a single number.

So, it’s time to develop hawk-like vision and supersonic hearing for little wins.  

  • Did somebody tell you recently “hey have you lost weight?” They’re not lying, you probably did. Screw that scale! Whether or not you lost weight is irrelevant; you LOOK better, and others are noticing.
  • Did your pants fall down today? Congrats, perv!  Just kidding. It means you lost inches around your waist and you need to buy new ones.  Or maybe invest in a belt.
  • Did you get to the top of the stairs without breathing heavy? Congrats, +2 STA to your lungs!
  • Were you offered a piece of cake and you turned it down?  Congrats, +1 to Willpower, which is a VALUABLE resource.
  • Did you finally do your first push up? First pull up?  Congrats. You earned +3 STR.  The Warriors and Assassins of Nerd Fitness are proud.
  • Did you get over your fear and hold a handstand for 0.5 seconds?  Congrats.  Yoda is incredibly proud of you!
  • Did you go talk to that cute guy/gal in the coffee shop?  Congrats, you just added +2 Charisma and gained confidence.
  • Did you wander into the free weights section of the gym?  Congrats, you used 20 seconds of beastmode and conquered your fear.

Each and every one of these things is a step in the right direction.

Each one of these things is the equivalent of a quest completed or grinded-experience toward the next level.

If you had an experience bar in real life, you’d see it filling up.

That’s why this mentality is so important. That’s why these wins are important. These wins are the milemarkers that show you “hey, I am leveling up. I am moving towards my leveled-up life.”

So write them down!

And then frakking celebrate them, because you worked hard for them!

small wins from the rebellion


I love the Nerd Fitness Community – it’s the part of Nerd Fitness that I’m most proud of.

And my favorite part of that community?

The Woot Room.

This is a place where we can all humble-brag or just brag about the small (or big) victories we’ve had.  We probably have friends and family members in real life who are sick of hearing how great things are going for us (because they’re not ready to start their journey quite yet), and a lot of us don’t want to brag about our successes either.

Luckily, that’s what we have a Woot Room for!  Check your shyness at the door and type as loudly as you want about the things going right for you.  You earned them.

I wanted to kick things off by sharing with you half a dozen of my favorite “little victories” from the Nerd Fitness WOOT room recently:

JoeAwesome: One of my goals for this challenge is to decrease my mile time to 8 min, but more over, increase my running speed to 7.5 mph, a respectable running speed.

I am well on my way.  Today I hit my all time low mile time with 8:32.00, Feel good and pumped to break the 8:00 mark!!!

Vella: “A little while back, I made myself a goal of getting down to 70kg.  I have been stuck at 71-72 for a good many weeks

But as of yesterday, 69.5!  Now, onto the next thing.  Super pumped for some chin up and exercise goals!”

Twilight: After years of not feeling good about my (lack of) athletic ability, and of feeling like shit because I couldn’t do full push ups in gym class, I have just done 3 reps of 10 full push ups during BBWW for the first time. They’re a little shallow, but goddamnit they’re the real deal. I was so happy when I did it that I burst into tears and am still crying. Finishing my workout while crying happy tears is really cathartic.

Ferguson911: Hit 273 this week,  close to 144pounds lost :)

Souathra:  Been training at an MMA gym for about a month; main focus for now being boxing. I always thought I’d leaving a sparring attempt for a challenge goal down the road because it seemed so darned scary.

Then this morning near the end of a session officially called ‘diet kick’, the instructor told me to pad up. Then he said, ‘Come at me with anything. Anything you want’. I triple-checked this is what he said, what with it all being in Japanese and me being a total wimp. The closest thing to this I’d ever done before was Punch Out on the wii.  No predictability here. Can’t just wait to counter either.

So it ended up a good mess of me alternating between freezing like a deer at an interrogation table and flailing like a kitten on a cactus, and him mostly humoring me. But, it was that much-needed first step into the journey of becoming a real fighter. With time and further practice, I’m sure the instinct and sense of flow will develop.

Flac McFae: Heh, was messin around at work and was able to do 1 full pull up and almost a second(like 2 inches short dammit).  I haven’t been able to do a pullup for 15 years, so pretty stoked.

And pretty much everything about this thread from LadyWildRoss, who I adore 🙂

reward yourself

treasure chest

We’re simple creatures at heart.  

We love doing something challenging and getting rewarded for it.  Our brains are hardwired to follow this progress loop (which is why video games are so damn addicting).

So, use that progress loop in your favor and reward yourself as you’re working hard to build your new habits.

There’s just one rule: We’re not going to reward ourselves with crap that cause us to take steps backward:

  • “I lost a pound so I get to eat this entire pint of ice cream” is not a good reward.
  • “I conquered my fear today so that means I don’t have to step outside of my comfort zone for a whole month!” doesn’t help you live better!
  • “I set a new personal best so I can slack off at the gym” is a backwards step!

Instead, we’re going to take a page out of the greatest videogame series of all time, The Legend of Zelda, and reward ourselves with things that reward us back!

When Link gets the boomerang, it allows him to reach the next dungeon where he gets the next item, which then lets him reach the next dungeon, and then he obtains the bow and arrow and is able to….(etc, etc).

You are now Link, no pointy ears or tights required! Reward yourself with things that reward you back:

  • Set a personal best by a few seconds on a mile run?  Get yourself a new pair of running shorts (subconsciously reminding yourself “I should run more!”)
  • Built a habit for 30 days?  Amazing! Sign up for that yoga class you always wanted to take.
  • Lost a few pounds? Pick up a new pair of pants you can barely fit into, and wear them until THEY are too big!

Every reward should give you a chance to get even closer that leveled up life.  Make it fun, but make them things that make you better or things that make you want to be better.

And that concludes the lesson portion of today’s article.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff!

Camp NF on sale on Monday!


Camp Nerd Fitness goes on sale on Monday at 12:00 PM EST!

Space is definitely limited (about 300 slots), and interest has been sky high, so make sure you get a chance to book right away!

If it happens to sell out right quickly, go ahead and sign up for the waitlist.  If people cancel over the next few months, we’ll be making our way down the waitlist in the order in which people sign up to fill those slots.

I hope to see you there!

new Nf Shirts

Green NF Logo

Next week, I’m headed to Chicago to watch my friends Gaelic Storm (the nicest people ever and one of my favorite bands) perform at the House of Blues on Thursday March 13th, with a NF Meetup happening before from 6-8 PM at Moe’s Cantina River North.

Details about the Meetup here. If you want to see me Irish Jig for 90 minutes…not even kidding…I better see you at the show!

Green NF ShirtWith St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, and the fact that people keep yelling at us to have more color options in the store, I figure it’s time we add another NF shirt to the Battle Gear Arsenal.

Yeah, you probably saw this design coming 🙂

Whether in brightest day or in blackest night, this shirt will give you all the power you need to represent the Nerd Fitness Rebellion right!

Grab your green NF shirt today. Green shirts for the win!

Speaking of wins…let me get back on track here.

whats your small win?


So I’m going to bribe you.

I want to hear your latest small win…and I don’t care how small it is.

Leave a comment with your small win before Sunday March 9th at 11:59 PM EST and I’ll pick 3 winners at random to win our new green Nerd Fitness shirt.

What’s one way you’ve leveled up recently?


PS: Speaking of meet ups, I actually just landed in Austin, TX, to hang out for SXSW!  There’s a Nerd Fitness meet up this Saturday. I Hope to see you there too – the whole NF team will be there!

photo source: Rohan Talip: Treasure Chest, hebedesign: Mini, gwen: mini people, Nina Mathews Photography: Happy Finger

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266 thoughts on “It’s the little things… (Plus NF Shirts and Camp NF On Sale MONDAY!)

  1. Awesome! Looking forward to seeing your posts…I’ve just joined, and am psyched to have a community of other motivated people around!

  2. Agreed! I just showed Staci’s story to my sister yesterday because I love it so much. I wish there were more before/after success stories on here. I find lots on YouTube to stay motivated.

  3. I just spoke with my boss about my future and my interest in a position that’s opening up soon. This is WAY out of my comfort zone and the effortlessness of it once it started was a really big “small win.” Her response was very positive, so now my reward is going to be two-fold. I’m going to buy some new professional clothes. My next goal is to finally update my portfolio / resume so I’m all set when the time comes to officially apply!

  4. I’m only a few weeks in, but I have to say that my small victory, is actually a big victory for me…gaining my confidence back! I was in a low place before starting this journey and it’s amazing the turn around in such a short period of time already! Seriously, I feel good, confident, more energy, look forward to working out, clothes fit better or are too big.
    Everyone asks me about what I’m doing and about Paleo…I tell everyone about your website! (I should be making some money off this…or at least a t-shirt…size small…lol).
    Thank you for this site!!

  5. The other day at the gym, I was doing 30 minutes of post-lifting yoga to stretch out and cool down (as usual, thanks to that article on NF talking about how important static stretching is after exercising, and never before!). A trainer that I’ve befriended, who’s gotten to know me pretty well, was all like, ‘hey, I’ve noticed you’re pretty flexible; you’ve been working out for a while now! You know what, I bet you can do a split!’
    Pretty sure I couldn’t get even close to doing a split, I decided to have a go at it anyway, with her certified-yoga-trainer guidance; and friends, for the first time in FIFTEEN WHOLE YEARS, I did a full forward split! Albeit with a lot of moaning and groaning, but the moment I felt my ‘sit’ bones touch the floor, I literally shouted at the top of my lungs, ‘OH MY GOD!!!!’ and probably offended half the people in the gym that evening. Oups. I literally couldn’t contain myself, I was so ecstatic. I joined NF a few months ago, when I decided to start living a healthy lifestyle, after two decades of being completely sedentary. I’m now definitely more fit, happier, and waaay more flexible than I’ve ever been in my life! I CAN DO A FULL SPLIT!!! Oh the joy!!!
    To reward myself, I decided to incorporate a split into my regular stretching routine henceforth, and permanently level up my flexibility! Woot woot!

  6. Not sure if you’ve read Charles Duhigg’s book on Habit but very interesting and what you wrote reminded me of it.

    3 parts to building habit:

    – Cue/Trigger
    – Action/Behavior
    – Reward

    Reward yourself to codify in your mind that the behavior is a good one and should be repeated!

    Great article. Thank you.

    – Steve

  7. Sticking to Paleo, helped me loose all 50 baby weight pounds in 10 months. Woot!

  8. With temperatures rising, today I went outside wearing only a shirt and a pair of jeans for the first time since September last year. Having lost ~45lbs since then, I haven’t felt the need to suck in my belly for the first time since I dont know when..14 years ago when I was 16? Felt like more than just a little win really.

  9. Greatness is a series of small things done well over time, so celebrate those small accomplishments for they add up to the results we all seek. Patience and motivation will get you there if you stick with it! One of the greatest motivators and enjoyment enhancers when it comes to fitness is a workout buddy. Learn more about how a workout buddy can help you stay motivated:

  10. After three months off (I teach in South America and I have been on Summer holidays since December) I finally managed to get back to the running track and do my intervals. It almost killed me, I have lost so much fitness and strength from slacking off for so long – but now I’m back on track. I have even signed up for the Lima Half Marathon in May.

  11. Firstly LadyWildRoss is awesome. My NF journey would be much poorer for not knowing her. That woman does not know how to quit. She is doing the current challenge with a broken foot. Your excuse is invalid, compared to what this woman is doing.

    I have two woots on my woot thread.

    The first is losing 3% body fat since joining NF. That is 1% per month.

    My second is 2 sets of 3 full pushups.

    My time with NF has given me these wins. Sorry Steve, compared to these a T-shirt ranks a poor second. None of which even comes close to calling LWR my friend.

    Looking forward to adding to my list of Woots.

    Lycan Thom

  12. I have been running now for 10 weeks… I started with the Couch to 5K program.. I had hit a plateu of 2.72 – 2.74 miles. No matter how hard I tried I could NOT break through… Then yesterday I went for a run and guess who went for 4.12 miles? Yep – this girl! I am down about 16 pounds too! So I had to buy a belt!! Woot! BRING IT ON!

  13. Don’t know why i’m so exited about this but I’ve finally got the courage to join a Jujitsu class!

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