Why You Need to Be Selfish and Put Fitness FIRST

weight lego

Imagine what you could accomplish if your fitness came first?

Like famous actors and actresses that get in INCREDIBLE shape for their movie roles, pretend you only had to focus on eating healthy foods, sleeping plenty of hours, and exercising in order to get in peak physical condition.

Would you look like King Leonidas leading the mighty 300?

Or Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games?

Would people confuse you for Chris Evans in Captain America?

It’s fun to think about “what if” – what would we be capable of if we put our training and nutrition over everything else?

Most people would answer the question above with something like “I would end up in the BEST shape of my life…except that’s not possible. You see, I have…”

  • A wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/OS
  • Kids/dragons/pets
  • A job
  • No money
  • Friends/obligations/etc.

Ask anybody, and they’ll provide you with any and every reason why fitness can’t come first. I get it! Heck, I RUN A FITNESS SITE, and I spent five years not putting fitness first; I would find a way to make some small progress here and there, but ultimately I found myself treading water due to “life getting busy.”

Today marks my 13th straight month of putting fitness first, and I am a changed man. Despite putting fitness before every other aspect of my life, I was able to accomplish more outside of fitness than I’ve ever been able to accomplish.

I feel like my mind has been opened when it comes to what I’m able to accomplish in a day – like Neo cracking the code of The Matrix.

Shall we?

The fitness first philosophy

Yoda and Danbo Fitness Skeptics

Today, I’m going to challenge you to spend the next month putting fitness first.

That’s right, you get to be as selfish as you need to be in order to accomplish three goals:

  • You do NOT miss a workout. No matter what.
  • You consume healthy calories that allow you to reach your goal.
  • You can say no to any obligation that would keep you from getting enough sleep or working out.

When you are trying to build healthy habits, especially if you are going all in, it’s often quite difficult to give yourself permission to “be selfish” when society and your duties tell you “fitness isn’t a priority.”

We all say “I’d love to exercise more,” but the reality is this: it’s not what we say is a priority, but rather what we DO that’s the real priority. This is me giving you permission to give yourself permission to be selfish for a month while you’re getting the ball rolling. Because it’s going to be a challenge to bust through bad habits and societal pressures, this might be what you need to finally build that habit.

Don’t think you can actually put fitness first? Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Work Out

WORKOUTS: You schedule your workout in your calendar each week, and there is NOTHING short of a zombie apocalypse that will keep you from going to that workout (and we even got you covered there). You let your coworkers, friends, and your loved ones know that your workouts come first. At least for this month.

If you are at work and a meeting runs late, or you’re stuck at work because you had an unproductive day, you get up and leave when needed in order to complete your entire workout.

What you think will happen: Your wife will divorce you, you’ll get fired from your job, or your kids will start to ask “where’s Dad?” After all, there’s NO way you’ll find time to do all of the things you do currently AND workout and still be a kickass parent, right?

What actually happens: After a week of leaving work on time without everything completed, you learn to stop sucking at time management. You are FULL of energy from your workouts (much to the delight of your loved one), and you still manage to take care of your family. Your kids are inspired and want to become “strong like mom/dad.” People learn to respect your gym time and don’t bother you during it.

Eat Well

EAT WELL: You need to hit your target calories for the day, and you need to consume plenty of vegetables and protein. If you’re traveling, you have permission to eat at more expensive restaurants that have vegetables on the menu instead settling for fast food. Cooking at home? Take your time and do it right, including your kids in the process and having them help you!

What you think will happen: You’ll go broke in three days, you’ll spend ALL of your time cooking, your friends and family will disown you for your unusual eating patterns, and your favorite fast food employees will forget your name.

What actually happens: You spend a bit more money temporarily on eating out, and you spend more time on cooking, forcing you to learn to use systems to manage your time more efficiently so you’re not always going out to expensive healthy fast food. That money can now no longer be spent on shit you don’t need. After explaining to your friends and family your goals, they start supporting you. Your favorite fast food employees WILL forget your name.


SLEEP: Like Tom Brady, you have a bed time you stick to. You have to tell your friends you can’t play League of Legends ’til 3AM. You shut down your computer and TV long before you need to get to sleep so you don’t struggle falling asleep. You stop falling asleep to your favorite tv show. You get 7+ hours of sleep every night.

What you think will happen: You’ll miss all of your favorite TV shows, your friends will hate you, and you won’t have time to play video games. You won’t be able to sleep without the TV; you’re going to miss out on SO much.

What actually happens: You realize that 95% of the garbage you watch on TV is useless, and after a week you don’t miss it. You stop needing a gallon of coffee to get through every morning. You make incredible gains in the gym, better than you ever have before. The circles under your eyes disappear. You start to throw a football like Tom Brady (I’m a diehard Pats fan, if you couldn’t tell). You still have plenty of time to play the truly awesome video games – the ones that aren’t just time-killers.

But there’s no way!

changed priorities sign

I can already see you reading this with MASSIVE eyes and shaking your head and screaming NO like Michael Scott. “Steve, that is freaking ridiculous – there’s no way I can make those things a priority without losing my job and my friends and pissing off my family.”

I get it, and I’m not asking you to abandon your loved ones and become a terrible person – that’s not an option. What I learned that once I mentally said “I’m not missing a workout” then the rest of the unimportant went away so that I could also still do the other important things. I’m reminded of the following story, heavily paraphrased:

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They chuckled and agreed it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

When you put exercise and your health first before everything else, after a week or two in which you have to scramble to get everything done, I guarantee you will still find the time you need to get everything else done in your life.

  • Yes, it requires a shitload of discipline.
  • Yes, you’ll probably need to give up a few crappy TV shows.
  • Yes, you’ll need to work on the systems that govern your day.
  • Yes, you’ll need to be more productive at work.
  • Yes, you’ll need to build a batcave.
  • Yes, you’ll need to get your friends and family on board.
  • Yes, you’ll need to let your coworkers know that you need to leave at a specific time.

Yes, holy crap it is worth it. I stand (well, sit) before you a changed man.

Finally, remember – the purpose is to be selfish and put fitness first for a month. Be selfish while you build those healthy habits, so later on, like brushing your teeth, you can live a healthy life effortlessly.

Steve tries “Fitness First”

Steve Fitness Skeptic Goggles

In January of 2014, I was tired of treading water.

Although I was “in shape” – and heard from many people that I was “in better shape than most people, be happy!” – I wasn’t content. I challenged myself to put fitness first and see how it would affect my life.

Since then, I have put fitness first: it has been consistently 3-4 workouts a week, every week, for the past 13 months. I do what I can to get in bed early every night except for the occasional weekend night or epic vacation. I’ve also made eating a major priority (often resorting to a potion for my boss battle). I even stretch after my workouts!

And I’m now in the best shape of my life. Not only that, but (good news/bad news) after working with my friend Baron, I’m starting to hulk out of all the clothes I purchased at the beginning of the year! I stepped on the scale the other day at a weight heavier than I’ve ever seen. As a skinny dude who has struggled to build muscle consistently for my entire life, I’m healthier, happier, stronger, and bigger than I have ever been. The transformation isn’t drastic, but I’m beyond happy with the direction I’m headed.

Here are my photos and a few stats relating to before and after:

Steve Before After

Stats on December 31, 2013:

  • Weight: 179 lbs.
  • Bodyfat: 14-15%
  • Deadlift Max: 265 lbs. – and terrified for my spine.
  • Overhead Press Max: 8×95 lbs.
  • Pull ups: 3 sets of 10 reps

Stats on January 19, 2015:

  • Weight:187 lbs.
  • Bodyfat: 12-13%
  • Deadlift Max: 340 lbs.
  • Overhead Press Max: 3x4x140 lbs.
  • Pull ups: 3 sets of 5 reps with 50 extra lbs.
  • Plus, I can do cool stuff like this with rings
  • And these pistol squats 🙂
  • And this!

Sure, none of these stats are mindblowing if you’ve been training for a while or you’re a professional athlete, but there’s one stat I’m more proud of than anything else:

Days off to recover from injury, pulled muscles, or overtraining: ZERO

For my entire career in training, I’ve only managed to get a few weeks or months into a workout before I get overaggressive or do something incorrectly and injure myself, losing all of my momentum and having to start over. I’m currently making sure every workout is tracked (and I’m answering questions about them) over on the NF Academy message boards, but I’m also in the current 6 week challenge where you can see some workouts, too:

Recent lower body day

Recent upper body day

Because Fitness HAD to come first, the only option was to become more productive and efficient with my time. And I did.

Looking back, I was actually able to accomplish more in 2014 than I had ever accomplished in any previous year: I learned a new instrument (though I still suck!), traveled to Europe and all over the US, and volunteered every Thursday. Plus, I’m dangerously close to completing a secret project for NF! In addition to everything else that happens here at NF HQ.

Fitness came first, with very few exceptions.

The Lessons I learned

Steve Front Lever

Fitness should be thought of in terms of months and years, not days and weeks. I learned this from Anthony Mychal, my online ‘coach,’ and I haven’t forgotten it. Most fitness plans exist to get you ripped in 90 days, or slim in 30 days. I stopped thinking about fitness in short time frames and started thinking long term. Now, it’s part of my day, and I know I’ll be in better shape at the end of 2015, 2016, etc…and it’s completely sustainable.

Slow and steady wins. Getting injured is a huge setback. I spent 10 years taking three steps forward and three steps back when it came to fitness. I would always push myself too hard or not stretch enough, and it would result in me needing to take a month off and losing everything I had just gained. When you are looking to improve each week, it’s much more preferable to have 50 straight weeks of tiny incremental improvement than a few weeks of rapid growth followed by failure or injury. GO SLOW. Check your ego at the door. Remember, you’re at the gym to build strength, not display it!

Put your faith in the process. I stopped worrying about where I was going to be in a few months or how my body would change, and instead just put faith in the process… how to place the next brick. I knew if I slept well, ate enough, and was a bit stronger in my workouts each time, then the pieces would fall into place. As I learned from Mark Twight, “appearance is a consequence of fitness” – I stopped worrying about the scale and just put all my effort into the workout and recovery.

Not all progress happens on the outside. My transformation is nothing like Joe’s. Or Anthony’s. Or Staci’s. However, just as they have transformed physically and mentally, so have I.

  • I used to feel fragile, on the verge of breaking. Now I feel like freaking Wolverine.
  • I used to say “I don’t have time.” Now I realize that’s a bullshit excuse.
  • I used to wish I was capable of certain things. Now I just DO those things.
  • I use to think it was either fitness or life. Now I know fitness improves every aspect of my life.

I have never been more excited to get to my next workout than I am now, and I want the same for you.

Starting today, I challenge you to spend a few weeks building your life around your body, not trying to squeeze in your personal well being around your life.

Can you put fitness first for the month and see what happens?

  • Work Out – For me it was heavy strength training and bodyweight work. But I didn’t miss workouts, even when I traveled.
  • Eat right – Fuel your body properly, as it’s 80-90% of the battle. Get enough protein, carbs, and fats for the results YOU are looking for.
  • Sleep – Stop making excuses, turn off the TV, close the laptop, and get to bed on time!

What sort of challenges are you trying to overcome?

Any questions about how my past year?

And what’s one step you’re going to take today to get started?


PS – Congratulations to Lindsay G., Sydney B., and Joshua E., the winners from the t-shirt giveaway earlier this month! Can’t wait to see what superpowers your new gear brings you!


photo source: mendhak: Yoda

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75 thoughts on “Why You Need to Be Selfish and Put Fitness FIRST

  1. Great post. Been doing the same, and the realization that you actually have complete agency about your life and actually can fit things in is liberating. The thing that has me most worried about the blizzard is being unable to get to the gym during the week. I’ll try to be active indoors, but it’s still missing a workout or two.

  2. Wow–this is spot on, and so timely, and exactly what I needed as I’ve been working out/eating right just since 12/1 and started as usual to get discouraged because I haven’t lost 100 lbs yet. (<– just kidding, of course–i didn't REALLY expect to do that!) But thank you for the awesome post. It's a keeper. 🙂

  3. I totally agree with putting fitness first.

    It’s tougher when you have kids. I work in IT and have a 2 hour daily commute in Chicago traffic.

    When I get home, we have to eat, play with the kids, give baths (if we’re lucky), make sure homework is packed, then get ready for bed. By that time it’s 8:30pm. They’re still little, (7 and 4) so we sit next to them while they get ready for bed… often times I fall asleep with them.

    Then we have to do dishes, put away dinner, pack lunches, etc. Needless to say, fitting workouts into my day requires a LOT of planning.

    I have a gym at my job (full squat rack, bench, etc.) which helps immensely. I try to do bodyweight HIIT stuff at home on weekends. It’s a fun way to incorporate fitness with my kids.

    But still, it’s hard and requires a lot of planning and dedication. Since I have a wife and two little kids and a busy IT job, so life definitely gets in the way of my fitness goals sometimes. I just have written goals (with specific action steps) For example:

    “I have the body I want because I workout ___ times per week. I do _____ each day. I do _____ minutes of cardio/HIIT on _____ days.

    I eat _______ for lunch and drink ______g of protein per day and _____ g fat and carbs per day.

    I eat 2 cups of greek yogurt (with 22 chocolate almonds and 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries). I eat 2 sweet potatoes, 1 cup of broccoli, and 8oz of grilled chicken with buffalo sauce.”

    I have this as a to-do list on my phone that reminds me of my goals everyday.

  4. I use to have a strict bedtime but lately I’ve been slacking and staying up late. Need to get back on that schedule again.

  5. Let’s start with the nice bit: I love the Nerd Fitness stuff. I get these posts to my work inbox which help perk me up when I’m having a stressful day. I don’t normally comment to express my appreciation but you’re all great, woop woop! Still… I have to admit that today’s post just grated on my nerves somewhat; I just find it INCREDIBLY hard to identify with you Steve. Sorry, it’s nothing personal, honest!

    I guess I feel like you have the means to sculpt your schedule into pretty much whatever because of the nature of your work. However, as a lone parent to two kids (5 and 2), 5 pets, two jobs, etc etc I just don’t have the flexibility. I can’t just ignore the kids for an hour while I fit in an extra workout, they’d end up burning the house down or something (and I see little enough of them as it is!)

    I try to never miss a workout – I give it 40 minutes or so on a Tuesday and a Thursday – and I fit in early nights 3-4 nights a week. I eat mostly well.

    I AM trying to eat better (thinking about doing whole30 to kickstart this off), I AM trying to fit in an extra workout first thing on a Saturday morning, I AM determined to drag my sleepy arse out of bed half an hour earlier on a Monday morning to do some cardio (static bike) but selfishness… nah, can’t do that. 🙂

    (Just waiting for the responses of “excuses, excuses.. I have 10 kids, 5 jobs and I do 5 workouts a week” now 😉 )

  6. Awesome article! This is really in line with one of my goals for this year which is consistency. I have committed to and have achieved so far a minimum of 3 workouts per week. I also stopped forcing myself to do things at the gym that I really hate doing like treadmill and elliptical work. Sticking to what I love, which is weight lifting/strength training. It keeps me excited to get to the gym. My sleep is what I need the most help with right now. I am pretty sleep deprived so I am thankful for the reminder to commit to adequate sleep as well as proper fuel and commitment to workouts. Thanks for the great article and congrats on the amazing progress, very inspiring!

  7. As always, perfect timing! FINALLY dragged my ass out of bed this morning-even after I went to bed too late last night. Here’s to the beauty of new beginnings and fresh determination!!! One day I’ll share a before and during (getting healthy never ends) 🙂

  8. Awesome article, Steve. I wish more people would put fitness first!
    I have a very badly broken foot right now (broken in 2 different places, splintered and fragmented bones, tore all the tendons in my ankle and across the top of my foot), so obviously my workouts are compromised. But when this happened, I made a promise to myself that I would still get some kind of workout. I had to be pretty creative, and take it slow and easy, but I still get in about 4 workouts each week. I can’t wait till I’m all healed. It will be a year before I can run again, but there are always other things I can do until then.
    Keep up the great work, and thanks for all that you do. Your articles have given me the encouragement to keep going even with a broken body.

  9. Dude, this is exactly what I needed to read right now. Over the past few months, I’ve been able to massively change my habits in most areas, and as a result my work output has gone through the roof. But a consequence of building all these habits is that I’ve been neglecting lifting and deliberate nutrition.

    I added a 7-minute workout habit and a 40 pull-up/day habit to my list, which I’ve been good about, but those are really just maintenance things, and they’re probably not enough. Now I’m gonna figure out how I can start making the time to improve again 🙂

  10. Wonderful post. Truly.

    I wake at 4:30 to walk the dog, then work out (either a bodyweight circuit or cardio while playing video games). Every morning. I actually schedule/plan a secondary workout most every day (at a $10/month gym) — but, as long as that first workout happens in the morning, I can deal with meetings running late or popping up (and keeping me from the gym), or a business trip throwing a monkey wrench into my plans.

    I’m the father of two, but do karate with my son, just to ensure there’s a little less of the “when is daddy getting home?”.

    For cooking, I can make wonders with some fresh meat & vegetables, some broth, and a crock pot. 20 minutes on Saturday means packing things up on Sunday and then breakfasts / lunches through the week.

  11. right there with you Jem. I’m a single mum to two small boys (5 and 3 on Wednesday!) fitting in workouts isn’t necessarily a problem, but 7 hours uninterrupted sleep?!! Are you joking?! My toddler has an awful head cold atm and needs nursing repeatedly in the night. He already shares my bed so I’m maximising my sleep but his needs do come first.

    Steve, you’re great man, but your lack of children screams voles in posts like these. When you’re a parent your kids do just come first at least 75% of the time. Anything less would make me a pretty shit parent tbh. Of course I matter too, I’m no martyr, I do put myself first some of the time (apply own oxygen mask first), but when they can’t sleep you help them. You just do.

  12. I’m hoping to get some clarification on “rest days”. I normally take 2 or 3 days per week to just take it easy, and I’m wondering if that is a bad idea? Should I be working out 7 days a week, every week?

  13. Here’s a thought, your mileage may vary: try not to let your kids be an excuse. Sure, you don’t have time away from them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out.

    Incorporate them into your workout. If you’ve got a toddler that likes to run/walk/crawl away from you, turn it into a game: dash across the room to them, pick ’em up, and start again. Thirty seconds of exercise done several times an hour every hour every day turns into a lot.

    Run in place when one of them starts wandering off. Do squats while feeding them.

    There’s lots of full-time parents that manage to stay healthy while taking care of several kids. Make them part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  14. Here’s a thought: try not to tell me how to raise my kids. Because I’ve been doing a mighty fine job of it so far without your help, I’m not sure I need it now. Thanks all the same.

  15. Haha, I think it’s telling that I completely glossed over the “uninterrupted” part. Nightly wake-ups are so “normal” I don’t even think about them these days.

    Rock on mama. Sounds like we’re both doing the best we can with the circumstances given, eh?

  16. Steve, you forgot that after the sand, the professor poured in two cans of beer. Once he had explained about not filling your life with the small stuff, one smart student asked what the beer stood for, to which he knowingly replied -I’m glad you asked me that, no matter how full your life seems, there is always room for a couple of beers!
    Great post by the way, really good prod into getting your priorities right

  17. Hi Steve.
    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing article! It has made a great impact on the way I see things. Rather than seeing it as workouts and nutrition/food prep times taking me away from my other tasks, it acts like a fuel source to further improve on my other tasks!

  18. You seriously need to read Steve’s other articles that are usually highlighted in an article – that’s why it takes me awhile to get through a post because I am constantly going back and recapping/reminding myself on previous information. Such as only need to exercise every other day because you are gaining your muscle on the day you rest, and start small but just DO IT! It’s the what is a priority in your life thing – watching TV or exercising, but if you exercise during the commercials that’s still 3 to 4 minutes of each commercial break that you have for exercise. Have a beautiful evening.

  19. Steve, you should try ingress If you haven’t already. At least check it out and give it a try?

  20. 6 months ago I began what I call “turtle trotting”. I ran 3-4 times a week at a track, and it didn’t matter how far I went, or how fast, as long as I completed 30 minutes of cardio. By week two I was sore as all heck, but also enamored by the high of running. As a teacher, with the school year looming, I knew that either I committed to myself (and my workouts after teaching all day) or I would be a failure. Just as this article states: I became selfish and MADE fitness rule my schedule. Because of that, I’m still running six months later. I went from running an 18:03 minute mile to 13:34. Not only that, I feel beyond amazing. Sure, I want and NEED to continue losing weight, but for the milestones that I conquer.

    Thank you for this article. It is much needed for ALL to hear. Also, I am a new subscriber, and I would like to say that I enjoy this site more than any other weight-loss/health site out there. Plus, the emails in my inbox make me feel special and keep my eye on the prize.

    Thank you!!

  21. I honestly think he was just trying to give you some suggestions. I don’t see anything in there attacking your parenting or telling you how to raise your kids. They actually all sounded like pretty cool solutions to me! 🙂

  22. Wow, this really inspired me to examine my excuses for not putting fitness first. Everything is in place – joined the Y earlier this month, worked with the trainer to orient myself to the equipment, and… haven’t been back since. Because work. Because family. Because it’s hard – but it’s not going to get easier if I don’t even try! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m packing my gym bag before I go to bed tonight.

  23. What I like to do is change my perspective on how my day starts. It doesn’t begin when I wake up in the morning, it begins when I go to bed at ten thirty the night before. That way, when I wake up at six thirty the next morning (that’s just my sleep schedule, you can pick your own, just make sure you get 7-8 hours in, or maybe even a little more if you’ve been sleep deprived lately, or you have problems staying awake during the day, like I do) I can get up fresh, knowing that I’ve gotten enough rest, and can get a good start with some exercise. If I stay up late, I have that excuse to sleep in in order to get enough rest.

    Whatever floats your boat, I just find that starting my day the night before helps me have a fitness-oriented mindset.

  24. Steve has a lot of good suggestions, but I’ll share what I do. I’ll do twenty minutes of cardio every day (except Sunday, I make that my absolute rest day) which means twenty minutes of accelerated heart rate without breaking into a full sweat. Three days a week MWF, I do the beginner bodyweight workout (cited at the end of this post), making sure to push myself, but stop myself down if I feel any abnormal strain on my joints or muscles. Then the other three days TTS, after cardio, I stretch; particularly the muscle group I worked the day before. As it is not a workout, these are my “rest days”.

    It’s not a “get ripped quick” workout schedule, but I see that it follows Steve’s principle of thinking in months and weeks. Especially pay attention to abnormal pain, you don’t want to injure yourself, just as Steve described. Get exercise every day, but do strength training just about three times a week. It’s a fit and healthy lifestyle, and don’t forget to stretch.

  25. Steve always talks about how everyone’s bodies are different. In the same light, everyone’s schedules are different. You just have to do what works best for you. You may be a nurse having to work 48 hour shifts, and not have time to sleep, let alone work out, but there will always be an exception to the rule. Just find ways that you can be fit using the tools that you have, like MacGyver. 😉

  26. I’m sorry, my reply last night was needlessly defensive. Parents get a shit ton of “helpful” advice and single parents more so – everyone seems to think they they have a right to tell you how to compensate for an absent parent. It makes one a little edgy. No excuse though, I was rude.

    That aside, exercising around my kids (or indeed with them) isn’t the problem – working upwards of 12 hours a day so that I can keep a roof over their heads is. I see them for barely 2 hours a day as it is and that’s mostly getting them ready for daycare/school and then getting them fed and into bed at the end of the day. After that I have to clean out and feed the animals, sort clothes & lunches for the following day, etc etc etc – the list is never ending. If you’ve got a solution to THAT problem, I’m all ears! 🙂

  27. Any tips on how to get my much needed full nights sleep with a wake-every-hour type of toddler?

  28. I’ve always been a workaholic. So my excuse was always: I don’t have time. Early this month I hired a trainer and started working out 3 times a week. I still work from 7:30 am to 9 pm and I hit the gym at 9:20… Nerd Fitness made me realize everything I said was nothing but a bullshit excuse.

  29. Great article here.
    For two years in my early enlistment with the military, I dragged myself to workout, and would often do whatever I could to make an excuse not to PT like I should. What happened? I maintained the bare minimum, skating by and eventually stopped caring all together.
    It wasn’t until I had a near-death episode a few months ago that kicked my ass in to gear. I had a heart to heart discussion with a good friend of mine, and I decided from then on to make a healthy lifestyle my number one priority, and forced myself to the gym every single day. Since then, my life’s gotten considerably better and easier. I look forward to every single work-out in the morning, and actively trying to pursue better ways to improve myself.
    What this article says is true. Once you put fitness and a healthy lifestyle ahead of everything else, you will be amazed by the results – all of which positive.

  30. Maybe it’s a good time to pull out one of the bodyweight workouts to do at home?

    Worst case, you can probably get some conditioning in shoveling all of that snow!

  31. Is there a way to incorporate your “kid time” into your “workout time”? Instead of ignoring them for an hour and have them burn down the house, invite them into your workout… Or maybe not so much a “workout”, but “playtime”. You can play tag with them (cardio), pick them up and piggyback (weight lifting), get on the floor and pretend to be different animals (yoga)… While they may not have the ability to pay attention for a whole hour, lots of little short bursts of play can help with both your physical and mental happiness, for both them and you.

  32. A great way to stay on top of these things is to have a partner or someone who is going to hold you accountable as well.

    There will be the days where you don’t want to go, but you have to because someone else is counting on you! Group fitness is popular for these reasons. Having this discipline will do wonders for you! But if you don’t think of yourself as highly disciplined, try to find a person to hold you accountable to keep with the routine! If you stick to the routine, you will see progress, and maybe not exactly what you want, but no question that you will see progress..

  33. Hey Steve,

    I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but never could muster up the courage to do so, I would like to thank you for your amazing articles. I happened to stumble upon NF by accident and ever since I’ve read your first newsletter I’ve been a fan of you, NF and what it stands for. It has changed my life in a way I never thought could happen ( Started by reading ‘ The Power of Habit ‘ ) and has helped me work on my fitness.

    Each and every article has hit home regarding whatever questions, doubts and problems I’ve faced regarding workout, good habits and how to view life. Weird thing is that I’m from India and I never thought someone from so far away could have such an influence in my life. So for that, I would like to thank you from the bottom of me heart, anything and everything I do now has something to do with one of your articles.

    If I could meet you in person, I would hug you for an uncomfortably long duration. Once again, Thank you very much for everything you’ve done! Please do keep writing your weekly letters as it is one of the very few things I look forward to.


  34. Oh man, I thought I was looking at Hugh Jackman in your January 2015 photo!! This is so interesting that you posted this because I have been thinking a lot about this topic. I have been telling my clients exactly what you are saying here in that they need to put fitness first in order to see the best results.

    Right now, I have put it first in my own life and am seeing amazing results. I exercise every day no matter what and it’s now addicting. If I don’t exercise (and there have been a few days off), I feel like I am missing something.

    Thanks for this!

  35. One pink squishy earplug! 🙂 You will not even remember these crazy, sleepless nights “someday” 🙂

  36. I’ve been training on and off for almost 10 years now. For the last three years now I’ve made it without missing a single workout! This taught me that the more consistent I was with fitness, the more effective I was in the rest of my life.

    Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time available for it. By following Steve’s advice and forcing yourself to be consistent you will also force yourself to be more consistently productive at work, not letting tasks take longer than they need to. Great post!

  37. I’ve got a solution — get rid of the animals! Seriously honey, you really need someone to tell you this? Some people are born to be “professional victims”. Clearly you’re one of them.

  38. My problem (in addition to being a single parent to two kids, having a job, etc.) is that exercise does not give me more energy. Ever. This is true even when I’ve been exercising regularly, even when I’ve varied the types and intensities of my workouts, etc. It leaves me more tired and less patient with my kids, which means that building it into my day also means building in a lot more time for self-care to keep from being absolutely miserable. I think I might be better off flabby! Any suggestions?

  39. +1 here..
    You can’t get rid of your children, right? but in my opinion, if you are seriously trying to squeeze fitness to your life, you might find this helpful..When your kids are already on the stage “not too handful”, maybe you could get back on feeding again some pets.. Peace.. ^_^

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