Lost and Found

lost and found

So, the past three weeks have been a challenge.

Between getting sick, visiting family in Boston, losing (and then getting back) my laptop, attending a wedding in New York, hosting 6 friends in my one-bedroom apartment, and launching the Nerd Fitness Academy, I’ve been a complete disaster.

However, I’ve been drawing inspiration from an Scottsman on Lost, a fish from Finding Nemo (who does exist), and a hip hop group formed in the late 80’s.

I haven’t gone crazy yet thanks to Desmond, Dori, and De La Soul.

(Yes, I realize the irony that the two previous sentences would most likely confirm that I have, in fact, lost my marbles.)

Words of Wisdom from Desmond


My favorite episode from Lost involved Desmond and his lost love Penny: The Constant.

This review on IGN sums up my feelings perfectly.

[Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t watched it yet, shame on you!]


Desmond is in the process of dealing with all of the issues that come with time travel (tell me about it!).  He is starting to go crazy, except for the fact that he has a constant in his life: Penny.  Talking with Penny (years apart!) keeps him grounded while everything else around him is changing:

Desmond and Penny on Lost

When I exercised around the world (literally), I used exercise as my constant to keep me grounded while being in a completely different location every few days.

Although I travel less now, I still use exercise as my constant.  While traveling in Boston and New York for 10 days, I made sure to find time to exercise. I even signed up for a week’s gym membership while visiting my folks to make sure I stayed fit.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been back in Nashville and haven’t slept very much; I’ve continued to use exercise as my constant. Despite the fact that I could have easily told myself “I don’t have time to exercise right now,” I knew that would be a big fat lie.  For the past month, despite flying by the seat of my pants and being a mess, I have missed one workout session.

Why is exercise so important when other things can appear more crucial? I remember this quote from Richard Branson (hat tip to my buddy Scott Dinsmore): When asked “how can I be more productive?”  Branson simply replied “Work out.”

Regardless of what you think you have time for and what you really have time for, exercise makes everything better.

Creativity, alertness, focus, etc all increase as a result of physical exertion.  It’s kind of a catch-22: we are tired and don’t want to work out, but a workout is precisely what we need to feel better and get reenergized.

So, how do we force ourselves to work out when working out is the last thing we feel like doing? 

Just keep swimming: Words of Wisdom from Dori

dori nemo

Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?

Marlin: No, I don’t wanna know.

Dory: [singing] Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.

Marlin: Dory, no singing.

Dory: [continuing] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho. I love to swim. When you want to swim you want to swim.

Marlin: Now I’m stuck with that song… Now it’s in my head.

Dory: Sorry.

Sh** happens. Life gets busy. We travel. We have kids. We have projects at work that occupy all of our time.  We see our workout schedule of 3 sessions of 1 hour each week and don’t think we can cut it.

We see unhealthy food as the best and quick option. We tell ourselves “I’ll get back to exercise and eating right when things slow down.”  We justify a week or two off because life got busy.

I’m here to tell you now that this is the opposite of what you need to do.  

Never underestimate the power of power of momentum, especially when you are trying to build a new habit.  

No matter how tough things get, I need you to channel Dori, and “just keep swimming.”

Dori: Just keep swimming video

Here’s how you can apply Dori’s advice to your life:

  • Don’t have time for an hour of exercise? Do 30 minutes. 15 minutes. 5 minutes.
  • Don’t have time for three healthy meals today? Eat 1 healthy meal.
  • Don’t have time for your run today? Go for a walk at lunch.

I’m not gonna lie, my workouts over the past few weeks have been unimpressive.  On Monday my workout was Front Squats and Pull Ups.  That’s it.  I walked into the gym and out twenty minutes later because I was so damn tired and out of it.

Yesterday I scaled back how much I was lifting on my deadlifts and cut out my last three exercises.  I hadn’t eaten and was four hours behind for my scheduled workout, and it was a struggle to get through the entire thing.

So I did the best that I could.  

I focused on the big wins and I just kept swimming.

Words of Wisdom from De La Soul

de la soul

When times get tough…we need to keep swimming.  

And when we don’t even have the time to swim, we need to tread water.

To borrow a quote from the awesomely 80’s band De La Soul and their appropriately titled jam:

If there’s no one here to help, and no one to get involved
Always look to the positive and never drop your head
For the water will engulf us if we do not dare to tread
So let’s tread water.’

When life is busy, you need to do whatever necessary to tread water.  

  • Go through the motions of putting on your running gear, even if you only run to the mailbox and back.
  • Stuck eating fast food?  Drink water instead of soda.  Make up for it with the next meal.
  • Can’t sleep?  Don’t compound the problem with other bad decisions in the morning.

We need to stop telling ourselves “Eh, the day is already a waste” to justify more bad behavior.

If you had a crappy breakfast and lunch, dinner is not ruined. Make it healthy.

If you didn’t get to work out at all today, the day is not done. Do 50 push ups and squats before bed.

Tread water to conserve energy to stay afloat. Keep the momentum alive. So that when you have enough energy and things slow down…you’re not starting back at square one. You pick up right where you left off.

Make it count

make it count

One bad decision will not send you off the rails.  However, bad decisions made as a result of other bad decisions will.




TO RECAP: When things get bad and busy and your life is in shambles:

  • Make exercise your constant.
  • Swim when you can.
  • Tread water if you must.
  • But keep moving.

Don’t ever stop.


photo source: dharma, lost, watch, dori and nemo


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    29 thoughts on “Lost and Found

    1. This has been my mantra for the past month. One of my closest friends and mentors passed away unexpectedly. Although I did take a two week hiatus from exercising, I crawled back to the gym and have been hashing it out on the elliptical ever since. I don’t love just doing the elliptical, it’s so monotonous and boring and probably isn’t really helping me all that much – except that it’s keeping me in the habit until I can move back to my old workouts. I feel like I’m treading water, to use your words, but I know that, with time, all things heal. SO JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!, If you must!

    2. I had forgotten that this video of you exercising around the world was how I found Nerd Fitness, someone I knew shared this video (and I did too) – I do love it. Thanks for posting it again, and I’m ready to go with the Academy 🙂

    3. Dorie was the only way I could cross the street while I was traveling in Vietnam a few years ago. Picture a current of thousands of scooters, and me wanting desperately to get from one side of the street to the other. I would just close my eyes and repeat “Just Keep Swimming(walking) Just Keep Swimming(walking)” til my foot slammed into the curb.

      Also, just bought into the Academy! Am loving what I’m finding so far!

    4. Senior year of college life- where doing this just may mean doing lunges down the hallways of the fine arts hall while I’m closing the building for the night- and let’s not forget calf raises while brushing your teeth or push ups/curls when the microwave is running!

    5. Thanks so much for the article. I really needed this. I’ve been a bit out of routine recently which has caused my exercise to fall a bit off the wagon. I’ve been training really hard and definitely don’t want to go back to square one again.

    6. Great post! I’m often in the mindset of “ugh, I ate crap, the day is ruined”, when it’s not, it’s only ruined if I continue doing that all day!

    7. This is so, so true. I’ve been working on getting a new job, leaving the old one, and moving to another part of the country which involves selling the house we have now. It’s been bonkers. But, I’ve still been running, still been pushing a little iron around. It is those times that keep me sane. I’m dog tired these days, but those short times of exercise give me the push I need to keep grinding through it.

    8. This advice is great. One bad decision does not need to lead to a downward spiral. Just make the next one better and move on. Don’t allow one ‘bad day’ turn into a week. Momentum can go both ways, good as well as bad. Make one good decision followed by another and before you know it you have a good week and month and so on. Enjoyed this read.

    9. “Don’t have time for an hour of exercise? Do 30 minutes. 15 minutes. 5 minutes.”

      I’ve had to do this a lot lately. I just don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up of working out on schedule. I am a creature of inertia, so I dare not stop.

    10. Steve you always have a way of writing what i need to hear just when I need to hear it. Thank you

    11. Fantastic article! I’m saving the e-mail to look at when I’m having one of THOSE days where I just want to go home and lay on the couch with a big ole bag o’ chips.

    12. That episode of Lost is my absolute favorite. I <3 Desmond.

      Just wanted to say thanks for all the hard work on the academy. I'm one of the 850 guinea pigs and I'm already really happy with the info provided. Today is my first day of eating paleo. I'm very excited!

    13. I’ll echo all the other commenters here – I needed this today. A pattern I’ve noticed is I’ll get about halfway through a challenge (6-weeks, 30 days, whatever) and then just… putter out. There’s always Some Other Thing (admittedly big things, like finishing a thesis, moving house, whatever!) that happens, and derails me. I want to be able to keep swimming and maintain a routine, without being completely flattened by whatever big deadline comes along. Life Is What Happens While You’re Making Other Plans, right? So, I bit the bullet and signed on for the academy….

    14. Love this. I experience this to a lesser extent more regularly where I just plain don’t want to go to the gym after work. Almost 100% of the time, I get myself through the door by telling myself that all I have to do is 10 minutes and then I can go home. Those 10 minutes are usually all it takes to get the buzz going and a proper workout underway. I can only remember ONCE where working out didn’t make me feel better (I really should have been in bed that day – I was in denial instead :-p).

    15. This is so true. Life can create barriers and therefore excuses to healthy decisions, but in the end, healthy decisions make things better in the long run. It is kind of a “pick your battles” mentality and don’t beat yourself up about it. So, you make a mistake, it happens. You just have to pick up …at the next meal… as you said. Don’t let the whole day or weekend or month blow up because of a bad decision. Being too serious will just make you crazy; trust me, I can get a little anal about diet and exercise and fall into tailspin easily. I have to keep focused…and putting in a 40 hour fast ALWAYS helps. Thanks for the article, true thoughts.

    16. You are a fan of Lost. I didn’t think you could be anymore awesome but you have now sealed the deal of having all-around awesomeness.

      And to write about one of my favorite characters and one of my favorite scenes (top 10?) in the entire 6 seasons, is just awesome.

      Never stop being awesome dude!

    17. Love this! Never even thought about signing up for a week membership when I visit my folks in West Virginia! Might even get a pic of Dori for the office so I can remind my patients to just keep swimming. Glad I found your blog. Cheers to wellness/DrJJ

    18. I love the video! Thing happen but we have to move on! Just keep swimming!

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