Stop Doing That. Seriously!

stop sign
Are you tired of doing way too much and not seeing results?

Are you sabotaging your own efforts to get healthy?

Are you sick of reading these questions and want me to stop?

It’s time to knock it off!

Today, we’re going to look at some of the top mistakes made when trying to get healthy; things that hold us back from succeeding.

Although changing habits isn’t an overnight process, simply making yourself AWARE of these behaviors is a step in the right direction towards improving.

So, seriously. If you’re doing anything below and you hate doing it…this is my doctor’s note that tells you it’s okay to stop.


Stop doing that exercise!

stop button

Stop doing crunches and sit ups.   I know you want a flat stomach, but you won’t get there with 1000 crunches and sit ups every day.  It doesn’t work that way.  Believe it or not, sit ups can mess up your lower back, as can crunches.  They’re also an incomplete exercise, as they don’t work out your entire core (stomach AND lower back).  But that’s missing the point: a flat stomach is made in the kitchen, and 90% of your results will come from clean eating.

My favorite “ab exercises?” Squats, deadlifts, pull ups, and eating right.  Yoga, handstands, planks, push ups, and other full body exercises all contribute to a strong core.  In order for you to see those stomach muscles though, you need to lose the fat on top of them!

Stop doing side bends.  Boy, I’m ripping both side bends and situps to shreds? Sir Mix-A-Lot is NOT going to be happy.  Doing side bends might make you think you’re getting rid of your love handles. Nope.  You’re building up the muscle UNDER your love handles. Want to get rid of the love handles? Make better food decisions!

Stop doing “power curtsies” (half-ass squats), especially in the Smith Machine.  If you’re going to squat, do it right! Not in a Smith machine. Do it with a bar across your shoulders, and dropping until the tops of your legs are bellow parallel!  Squat deep, or it’s a “power curtsy,” which is an incomplete exercise.  In my 13 years of training in a commercial gym, I have probably seen less than twenty people do a proper squat.

By simply putting in a bit of effort and learning to squat properly, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the general public.

Stop doing exercise you hate! If you don’t like running, get the hell off the treadmill!  If you don’t like gyms, get the hell out of there!  If you don’t like weight machines or picking up weights, get stronger with just your bodyweight or yoga.  I get my exercise from basketball, yoga, strength training, hiking, and walking.  You might get yours from Yoga, playing with your kids, walking your dog, and rock climbing.

Life is too short to spend time doing stuff you don’t enjoy!

Stop doing the wrong exercises for your goals: Are you trying to look like Daniel Craig by running 30 miles a week? Are you spending your time in the weight room training for a triathlon? Make sure you are doing the right exercises for your goals. If you’re trying to build muscle, then build muscle. If you’re training for a race, then train. If you’re just looking to look and feel better, then get started with the basics that will get you there. Far too many people spend their time and energy on the wrong exercises for the goals, simply out of habit…or they try to fix and improve everything at the same time!

Keep it simple! Boring gets results.

Stop over-complicating your exercise: Despite what the fancy trainer tells you, you don’t need to be doing all your exercises on a bosu ball. Most of the time beginners overcomplicate a simple exercise or workout routine by adding in unnecessary complications.

  • Instead of barbell squatting on the bosu ball, do a normal squat and focus on form, increasing the weight each week.
  • Instead of coming up with a routine that looks more like an interpretive dance, just stick to the basics: whole body, compound movements that build the most strength (and burn the most fat) in the least amount of time.
  • Not sure what I mean? Start with the training routine here.

Stop multi-tasking and wasting time:  Instead of spending 90 minutes in the gym reading a magazine while working out, checking your phone and talking to people, why not get your workout done in 30-45 minutes and get home to your family/friends/Xbox One/PS4?!

If you look like NF Team Member Staci having some fun here while working out…you’re doing it wrong 🙂

Seriously, stop freaking out!

Stop gate

Stop weighing yourself every freaking day.  Definitely don’t do it more than once a day.  The scale can lie, and it’s a SMALL part of your progress.  Depending on how you ate the night before, the day of the month, or how much water you’ve retained, that scale can fluctuate worse than bitcoin’s value (current event reference FTW!).  Saint and Staci both GAINED weight towards the ends of their transformations.  Joe didn’t step on a scale for 6 months.  THAT NUMBER DOES NOT DEFINE YOU.

Stop freaking out over calorie totals! Not all calories are created equal.  Who cares if you eat 2050 calories when the Daily Plate says you should eat 2000?  Your body is a finely tuned piece of machinery that can handle a tremendous amount of fluctuation.  We’re all for educating yourself on macronutrients and figuring out how much food you are eating, but don’t become neurotic about that amount each day.  If you find yourself eating too much one day, eat a little less the next day. Our body doesn’t reset our stats each day after going to sleep!

Don’t feel like counting calories?  Cool, me neither! Just fill yourself up with the right foods, and make adjustments as you go based on your goals. 

Stop calling it a “cheat meal!” The term “cheat meal” assumes you’re cheating and doing something wrong while on a ‘diet.’  You are being a bad person by cheating from the norm and thus are in danger of falling apart or beating yourself up.  Guess what, I eat bad food without guilt.  This past weekend I ate pizza and drank beer with my dad while watching football – my stomach didn’t like me very much, but come Sunday I got RIGHT BACK on track.  It wasn’t a ‘cheat,’ it was a conscious decision to eat something outside of the norm…and then get right back on track.

Stop letting one bad decision ruin everything!  Who cares if you had an unhealthy breakfast?  That doesn’t mean the day is ruined and lunch and dinner are lost causes.  Who cares if you missed yesterday’s workout? That doesn’t mean the week is ruined. One bad decision will not derail your efforts. One bad decision is only a problem when you let it dictate the rest of your day/week/month.   No more “eh, I’ll just start tomorrow/next month.”  Start now.

When you make a “bad” decision (and it’s only bad if you make yourself feel guilty about it), just don’t make it two days in a row.

Stop perpetuating that mindset!


Stop saying “I can’t.”  When you say “I can’t eat that” or “I can’t do that,” you are telling your brain to focus on that one thing you can’t do.  “I can’t eat cake” is making you think about the one thing you’re depriving yourself of eating.  Besides – the cake is a lie.  Instead, say “I don’t.”  When you do this, you’ve got the power!

It’s science.

Stop collecting underpants.  There’s no perfect moment.  More information at this point isn’t going to help.  You read Nerd Fitness, which puts you in the top 1% of potential superheroes on the planet.  Take action.  Try stuff.  Learn as you go.  That’s how we all do it.  There’s no master blueprint for everybody to follow. It’s trial and error, self experimentation, and adaptation based on results!

Stop going on ‘diets.’  Congrats! You never have to go on another diet for the rest of your life.  A diet assumes you’re making non-permanent, drastic changes that you don’t like to quickly achieve a goal before going back to your old ways. Stop that!  You don’t have to be miserable.  What you’re going to do instead is make a series of teeny tiny, lifelong adjustments.  Over time, you’re going to gradually shift your eating habits to line up with the goals you’re interested in.

Stop thinking that it’s all or nothing – Small changes lead to big results. You don’t have to hop on a nutritional program and revamp your diet overnight, eating radically different for the next 30 days. This is a recipe for failure. Instead, try starting by just drinking one less soda tomorrow. Wait until that change feels normal before making another one.

Stop making excuses – It’s amazing what we can justify to ourselves when we don’t feel like exercising.  “Well I only have an hour, and I need 70 minutes for my workout…I’ll just go tomorrow.”  “But it’s cold out!”  “I had a really bad day at work” “But there’s a zombie apocalypse.”  Identify what your priorities are, and MAKE THEM A PRIORITY.

Stop using “I deserve this” to sabotage your efforts!  “I worked out for 30 minutes today!  I deserve these six donuts.”  “I worked out three days in a row! I deserve this pint of ice cream.”  Stop rewarding your good behavior with bad prizes that send you back three steps!  Reward yourself with things that reward you back.

What you should be doing


You should start.  

Not tomorrow. Not after breakfast. NOW.

Find a way to be better each day…just a little bit.

Big simple movements. No overreacting and beating ourselves up over a bad day.  No self-sabotage.

Small changes. Experimentation. Constant improvement.

Every change counts.

You got this.

Be honest: What’s one thing you need to STOP doing?

What’s one step you’re going to take to help you stop doing it?

Me: I need to stop getting distracted online and pushing my workouts back by hours, thus messing up my schedule for the rest of the day.

Solution: Over the past two weeks, I put my workouts IN my calendar and my phone alerts me when it’s time to exercise. That one change alone has forced me to get to the gym sooner than I usually do.

Your turn. No judgment.



photo source: Dave Kracht: “Stop…”, stop button, stop sign, start, eyeore

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73 thoughts on “Stop Doing That. Seriously!

  1. Awesome article! I love that there were so many links to follow up on (especially since I’m new here). My husband and I are really wanting in on this action, seeing as we’d rather look like our superhero’s, instead of just pretending we’re like them. (Has anyone tried the new Deadpool game? – it’s awesome!). I can’t wait to get started, and like most people, have committed to doing just that in the new year! Props to everyone!

  2. I am curious as to how one would reconcile some of the conflicting recommendations above. It’s stated that not squatting to past parallel is an “incomplete” excercise, presumably because partial ROM excercises have been demonstrated to elicit inferior results to full ROM excercises in a broad spectrum of measures. However it is also advocated in this article that to train the “core” one only need rely on isometric excercises and indirect secondary stabilization. So, based on these two conflicting lines of reasoning, either partial squats should be completely sufficient, or to adequately train the “core” a full, resisted ROM must be utilized.
    Additionally, it is proposed that if an excercise is “incomplete” it shouldn’t be done as in the stated case of crunches or sit ups. However, ALL excercises are incomplete in one capacity or another, hence the need to do multiple excercises. By the line of reasoning posited in the article we shouldn’t do anything. So if variances are permitted for some excercises, then they should be permitted for others, incomplete or otherwise.

  3. The exercises Steve recommends here, Squats and especially deadlifts really work the core as much as the legs. He isn’t saying “don’t work abs”; what he is arguing is that working abs don’t give you great abs, dieting does, and that isolation exercises such as ab crunches, machine leg extensions/curls, biceps curls etc, don’t develop strength as well as compound full ROM exercises such as pullups, deep squats, deadlifts, bench and shoulder press.

  4. Hey Steve, great article. I agree with you on everything you said. The major point you made that I liked is to stop doing exercises you hate.

    So many people limit themselves to certain exercises because they think those exercises will give them the best results. Fast forward two months down the road and they decide to quit.

    They quit because they didn’t enjoy what they are doing. Choosing exercises we love helps keep us consistent. If you enjoy hiking, go hiking! That’s exercise! A gym is not limited to a building with four walls, it can be anywhere in the world!

  5. This article is right on! I now have a new term for the “squats” I see done in my gym. “Power curtsies”!! I guess I could “squat” two plates if I only went down 45 degrees or less.

  6. Thank you Kevin for the thoughtful response, if Steve is not suggesting “don’t work abs” then why is the paragraph titled “Stop doing crunches and sit-ups”?
    I understand that dieting makes the abs more visible, that point is fairly clear, but what if the abs underneath aren’t that great? If working the abs doesn’t give you great abs, then what does? Additionally, you contend that “squats and especially deadlifts really work the core as much as the legs”, which puts it even more strongly than Steve does, yet go on to say that to develop strength you must utilize full ROM excercises. This brings us back to my original question: if Steve, and now you, are both contending that a full ROM is a necessary component of developing strength of a given muscle how can you achieve superior results utilizing moves in which no resisted motion of the core occurs? If work is defined as force times distance, then technically the core is performing no work at all in the squat or deadlift.

  7. Hanging leg raises are great, and don’t put weight on the feet (do them if you can, or try knee raises).

  8. …asks the person who goes only by an initial…
    Considering that I’m only an infrequent reader of this blog and my first post herein is critical I can see how I fit that definition. Ad hominem aside, it does not diminish the validity of my line of questioning…

  9. What’s one thing you need to STOP doing?
    Out of control portions.

    What’s one step you’re going to take to help you stop doing it?

    I’ve taken a 1 gallon glass bottle and am keeping it full of water, drinking water whenever I’m hungry instead of snacking. Taking lunches to work that are prepared in advance. One plate for dinner, no seconds.

  10. Although i agree with most of your comments. Recomending that everone should be able to squat past there knees is a pretty bold statement. To many variables to make that assumption. People with bad dorsi flexion could hinder the depth range. A person with tightness within there hips flexors will definately not be able to attain such a depth.

  11. I see a lot of people on here talking about not stopping sit ups for various reasons. I used to be involved in MMA, (going to Uni now, so I had to take a break from it) and there are two exercises that got me harder abs than thousands of sit ups and crunches. Standing up, put your hands behind your head, and have a partner softly but speedily punch you in the abdominal area. It shouldn’t hurt, but it tightens the abs and will start to burn like crazy after a few minutes. The other thing is to do a hollow hold and have a partner drop a medicine ball on your gut, BUT I would not recommend that to beginners 🙂

  12. I do pushups,squats,hip thrusts and planks(all pure bodyweight) 2-3 times a week and that is enough to keep me in shape without burning too many calories. My metabolism needs to slow down.

  13. This article sums up everything I was thinking recently. Thanks, I love it, and it’s perfectly stated.

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