Meet Mike, or Dilnad as he’s known around the forums. Mike has one of the best transformations I’ve seen. Not only has he completely transformed his life and his body, but more than that he’s transformed his outlook on life. If you are a Nerd Fitness Academy member and community member, you know “Dilnad.” He’s one of the most active and supportive Rebels, and we’re lucky to have him on our team as we battle against the forces of the Empire.
Mike is a Software Quality Assurance Specialist. That mean’s he’s a nerd (and proud of it) who tests software used in tax preparation.
If you feel like you go to work day in and day out, stuck in a cycle of unhealthy behavior, Mike’s story is for you. Here’s how he describes his old self:
“I would go to work, stop at a store on the way home for food and snacks. Watch TV, stuff my face, pass out on sofa, wake up, snack, sleep, shower, work, rinse and repeat. I really didn’t care about much of anything – life was something to be endured.”
I love Mike’s story. He transformed physically, but his mental transformation was nothing short of amazing: he went from not giving a shit about much of anything to loving life more than…well, life itself!
Mike’s story jumped out at me for a few reasons:
- He tried multiple forms of exercise before finding the right thing for him.
- When Mike decided it was time for a change, he realized he didn’t know a lot about how to get healthy. But that didn’t stop him – he started doing SOMETHING immediately, and learned as he went.
- Even though he was losing some weight initially, he realized there was a more complete picture to health. After discovering Nerd Fitness and The Academy, he changed up his diet and incorporated a full exercise picture – things really began to improve.
- Bonus: Mike can rattle off all 50 states in alphabetical order from memory. What a nerd!
Today, Mike’s in the best shape of his life, a positive influence to everybody in our community, and excited to meet the next challenge.
Desk jockeys, this one’s for you!
Mike in 2013: 326 pounds
Here’s mike a few years ago in 2013. At 326 pounds, he decided that he finally had enough and needed to make a change. He realized he felt terrible, and one day decided to make a change. He didn’t know where to start, but he did know he wanted to live past age 50, and things weren’t looking good up to that point.
So what did he do? Because the Empire had its grips in him, he did what most people do, and started eating “low fat, heart healthy” meals. Fortunately, he ALSO started walking, and started TRYING to change his diet for the better. And that, while imperfect, was a hugely important start.
He wasn’t an underpants collector.
He wasn’t “working out;” he just made sure to walk 10,000 steps each day using a pedometer. He lost some weight, but noticed he still felt bad. And, to top it off, his health indicators were not improving.
As he explains:
My blood pressure was no better and my diabetes was only under control with medication. It was exciting to see some pounds drop off but rather unfulfilling and lacking in the pleasure of leveling up. Of course, at the time I didn’t know of this pleasure so I didn’t know what I was missing. it started purely about losing weight and hoping to live a little longer.
And so, he soon hit a wall – the weight loss stopped. As he started to investigate, a friend mentioned strength training. Soon he discovered Nerd fitness, read about the Paleo Diet, and that’s when he decided to level up his approach to getting healthy.
I found Staci’s article on a Google search and stayed up way too late reading the tabs I popped open, and it was GAME ON the very next day!
Mike: August 2014
Mike’s first “battle log” entry was in August of 2014. After making just a couple of entries, the idea of leveling up and becoming your own character hooked him. He quickly joined The Nerd Fitness Academy, and started with the Barbell Batallion. This was a big change, because prior to that he was working with machines (if you’ve been reading NF for a while, you know we are not fans of machines and expect them to rise up and revolt at any moment – okay not really).
One of Mike’s first steps when joining the Academy was running through the “nutrition module” in the Academy. After quickly devouring all of those lessons, he immediately started making changes. In fact, he went all in. He describes this change as primarily paleo, with plenty of Greek yogurt.
Mike also doesn’t do “cheat meals.” He knows he is consistent, so when he wants to eat or drink something that doesn’t fit, he just enjoys it and fits it into his diet plan:
I’m loose but consistent with my diet. If I have to eat something fried or the occasional cookie or diet soda, or even the much needed small glass of bourbon once every week or two, I just do it. No fears, no regrets. I’ve learned to make solid decisions for the lion’s share and it’s served me well.
One thing that struck a chord with me, hearing about Mike’s story, was his commitment. It’s often easy to make up excuses, telling ourselves we don’t have time or the money to get healthy. Mike realized he was telling himself those lies for years in half-assed attempts to get fit. I’m was very impressed to hear how he handled it:
I was gearing up for a vacation the first week of September. I saved up 100 dollars over the course of months to go play Texas Hold’em at the casino during my vacation. I decided that if I was going to gamble, the Nerd Fitness Academy’s payout was much a bigger reward for the money risked so instead of playing poker, I invested in myself, joined the Academy, and actually WORKED OUT on vacation!!
Something special happens when we make a definitive financial commitment in ourselves – it becomes REAL: we tell ourselves “welp, if I spent the money I better follow through with my plan!”
Now, in addition to strength training, Mike tried several other forms of activities for his fun “training” (climbing, lifting, hiking, TRX), and ultimately found his favorite: running. He started to use strength training and Yoga to support his running.
He identified something to keep him motivated, and built his plan around that excitement, and now Mike crushes it in the running department. Go scouts!
Running is my passion and my joy. Right now I’m focused on training for my first 10K race in October with plans on continuing my training for the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon in April. My strength training, diet, and yoga are all support activities to help me build and maintain the healthy runners body I strive for.
After 2+ years, there are a hundreds of different lessons learned and successes to impart on the next generation of rookies. So, let’s dive in and hear directly from Mike.
Steve: Thanks for being an inspiration to the entire Rebellion man. So tell me, what was the hardest change to make?
Adapting my diet while eating out. I go out to eat with people from work a lot and it’s hard for them to always accommodate me. I’ve learned to bring my little oil and vinegar containers and can always find at least a salad with some chicken in it somewhere (Hey, that’s what I eat now!).
Steve: It sounds like you built up some serious dedication. What would you say was the most important change you made that helped you succeed?
I built mental fortitude!! I’m kind of an injury magnet: Hamstring strain, shoulder injury, rib cage injury, knee(s) injury, another rib cage injury, knee surgery (non injury on this one but a setback still), knee injury. I play hard and, well, shit happens. It’s really hard to keep your diet up and keep fighting, but I’ve just learned to do it, unfortunately through practice. NEVER GIVE UP! Plus, making the comeback is awesome. You get to re-celebrate previous triumphs!! After hitting 5 miles again on my runs, all I could think was: WIN!
Steve: I think I need to write an article about that mindset, thanks for the idea my man! What about your diet? How did that change?
I jumped in hardcore and pretty much went strict paleo from day 1. No exceptions for a good couple of months. I decided I wanted to add yogurt into my breakfast due to the tons of protein and the beneficial probiotics. I have no problems with dairy, so it stuck. Plain Greek organic. Now, I’m on autopilot and my diet is no longer a chore…it’s just what I do – it’s part of how I live, and I allow myself some more latitude as needed. If I feel like eating a cheeseburger and fries, I eat a cheeseburger and fries. It doesn’t happen all that often because it’s really just not what I eat anymore. I make the good decision most of the time and it has worked flawlessly for me. It’s possible, although I can’t confirm it, that I’ve sipped a shot or two (literally that little and infrequently) of bourbon on the occasional weekend throughout the entire process.
Steve: Ha! Good for you man. We’re okay with drinking in moderation but know it can lead to many problems too, so good on ya. What about before you found Nerd Fitness?
Pre-Nerd Fitness, I had a sad attempt at a good diet. “Lean” meats like deep fried chicken fingers (heh). Take out Chinese food. Thin crust pizza. I had basically given up cheeseburgers and thick crust pizza, but other than that I didn’t do much different.
Steve: Wow, so tell me about tracking. Did you take measurements often?
Honestly, I don’t track my food (aside from the Academy quest at the start). That’s my favorite thing about my eating strategy. As for my body measurements and weight, I have every single one of them (except the one weekend I was on vacation) detailed in my Academy Battle Log thread as well as every single workout (including every mile I’ve run, to Mordor of course). I’ve now taken to documenting it on my blog.
Steve: What about your support system? Were you an army of one or did you have a jedi council of support?
I have a small cheering squad at work. A great boss (very tolerant of my workout and physical therapy schedules), a couple of weight lifting and running guys, and a woman who’s in my corner, a fantastic listener and my greatest cheerleader!
I have a group of runners from my local run club who are always willing to share knowledge. The Academy forums have been my lifeline and my place for accountability. I’ve also become involved in a WhatsApp group that spawned from the Academy. This is a group of folks I’ve become really attached to. We laugh and joke, and help each other through life!
Some wonderful friendships have been forged there. Finally, I can’t leave out Kent, the owner of my local gym. He has been a coach and a friend for a year now. Helped me with my form on EVERYTHING. I hope he doesn’t read this and find out I’d gladly have paid him double.
Steve: Thanks for sharing that Mike – we’re of the same mind that who you surround yourself with and how you spend your time is a big influence on the results you can expect. Now, what would you tell somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?
I always tell them it only takes a leap of faith for a couple of weeks, go for it, and see what kind of changes result! But give it a FULL-EFFORT chance. Those changes will provide you the fuel to push for more changes and then it becomes a perpetual snowball effect. Good stuff! Just give me 2 lousy weeks!!
Steve: What else, besides your physical appearance has changed?
My confidence!! I actually have some. I walk tall and proud.
Steve: And finally, the important stuff, Nerd Cred: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
Star Wars any day, all day, even Jar-Jar and Ewoks (My cred just dropped)
Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
Do you even have to ask? …. Obviously, Super Mario World!!
Steve: Quote to live by?
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
— Henry Ford
Why was Mike successful?
Millions of Americans are now where Mike was in 2013: unhappy, unhealthy, and stuck. But, it looks like Mike found out how to be the healthy 1% and change his life.
Here’s a quick recap of how Mike did it:
Mike didn’t collect underpants. No, not literal underpants (well, maybe, I have no clue). Mike didn’t collect metaphorical underpants. Instead of waiting around, reading for hours, days, weeks, or months, he got started immediately. His diet wasn’t perfect, his workouts were poor, but he started. And maybe most of all, he started walking. Every day.
Mike didn’t wait for the perfect workout or diet plan to come along, but knew he had to dive in, learn as he went, and make changes when he could. Today, everything looks pretty darn good to me: A workout he loves, and a nutrition style that he finds effortless, rewarding, and flexible.
Mike didn’t give up: Mike has had several injuries and setbacks. And hey, it’s easy to fall off the wagon, when life throws a banana in your path. Instead, Mike has set goals, and uses each setback as a new challenge. He loves coming back from an injury, because it gives him a chance to re-achieve milestones and gain back the level he lost.
We can choose to deal with setbacks in many ways. We can decide to use a challenge as an excuse to quit, or we can find a way to view the positive side of it – to use it as inspiration and a positive momentum builder.
Mike is a huge part of the community: If you’ve spent time around the Men’s Academy, you know Dilnad. Mike is one of the most active members we have, and used that activity to keep him thinking and being healthy. As you heard, Mike used the Academy and other resources at his disposal to create a group of incredible supportive people. They message each other regularly, share victories and setbacks, and use each other to support one another… not unlike a party in an rpg. Who’s on your team?
Mike changed his diet, and leaned on his habits: If you’ve been following along, you know that every success story includes some major dietary changes. Mike knew how important diet was, and made a serious commitment early in his journey. His advice for others? Pointing out the “snowball effect” of habits. And that’s a great way to think about it: In the beginning, the snowball has a hard time building up.
But the larger it gets, the larger the surface area and the faster it grows. That’s also how habits work: in the beginning it’s hard, but if you stick with it, not only does progress get easier, but it becomes nearly effortless to maintain the new changes after they’ve been established as a habit. Make your new dietary changes a habit, and every day of your journey doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle.
Mike started to save his own life. Now he does it for joy: Mike’s motivation was to avoid an early grave. But today, Mike has built intrinsic motivation around exercise. He writes:
“I no longer do fitness to lose weight. I’m a runner who strength trains. I do it for joy! JACKPOT!”
Find an exercise you love, and discover that getting healthy can be fun.
He kept track of his workouts: In order to get excited for the next workout, you need to see yourself making progress. And you can’t make progress if you don’t know where you came from. That’s why tracking your workouts and knowing what you need to improve is so important. Mike tracked nearly every workout, and made sure he had the accountability from his support team to make progress. He made detailed public logs, and even started his own blog to keep his commitment.
If you want to level up your character, you have to be able to visualize progress – visualize an experience bar moving forward. That’s why tracking is so important. Imagine an RPG without an experience bar. Suddenly, at some point, you just level up. Makes grinding for hours a little less fun, right?
Be like Mike
Mike cracked the code, but you can too.
If you’re sitting in an office and looking to change, look at Mike: It CAN be done! Best of all, you don’t need to work harder. You don’t need to starve yourself, or spend hours on a treadmill.
Instead, you need to work smarter. Understand how your body and brain work, and implement changes that you know will stick. No 30 day diets. No cleanses or detoxes. Real changes that will get you healthy.
And most of all, start today. You may not know the exact changes you need to implement, but you need to pair action with learning. Start walking every day, like Mike. Learn and improve as you go. I promise you, in two years, you won’t recognize your old habits.
Mike, thanks for being awesome, and an inspiration to all of us.
Questions or words of encouragement for Mike? Leave it in the comments!
PS: I’m proud to share that Mike is a big success story from the Nerd Fitness Academy – our online course complete with workout plans, diet strategies, recipes, mindset discussions, and a leveling system that allows you to complete quests, earn experience points, and level up.
If you feel like Mike back in 2013, I’d be honored if you’d check out the NF Academy – it comes with a 100% money back guarantee and has helped thousands and thousands of people level up their lives…literally!
PPS: The whole Nerd Fitness team and I (and 300 NF Rebels) are down at Camp Nerd Fitness this week, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you want to follow along with the adventure :). This will be the only article this week!