Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Monday, November 13, 2017
I LOVE spaghetti.
Growing up, I would get made fun of by my family for how much of it I would eat (seriously, two or three massive platefuls in one sitting).
Not enough of a visual?
How about this: as a toddler, I’d run into the dining room struggling to rip my shirt over my oversized head so that I could eat my spaghetti as fast as possible without getting sauce on my clothes. After dinner my parents would have to practically hose me down in the backyard I was so messy – totally worth it.
Now, in my quest for a healthier lifestyle over the past few years, I’ve learned that…gasp…gallons of pasta at each meal isn’t the healthiest thing in the world! So, I’ve cut back drastically on my pasta intake – I probably eat pasta once every few months now, when I’m out at an Italian restaurant with friends and feel like letting go for a meal.
If you are a paleo person but love pasta, I feel ya. This could help.
Maybe you’re not paleo, but you’re looking for an alternative to carb-heavy pasta. This will help you too.
Today, you’re gonna learn how to cook Paleo Pasta. Now, this recipe takes a little longer and is a little bit more complex than the easy Chicken Stirfry I taught you how to cook before.
If that was level 1, this is level 2.
Yeah, eating a small portion of regular spaghetti every now and then ain’t gonna kill ya, but I found preparing paleo spaghetti and meat sauce to be a fun challenge, it took me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen by making me do new things, and actually turned out to be freaking delicious and nutritious.
Let’s level up your cooking.
WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY POST!
- 1lb. of Grass-fed Ground Beef (my grocery store didn’t have grass-fed, so I went with regular)
- 1 Onion
- 2 Tomatoes
- 2 Small Cans of Organic Tomato Paste (check the ingredients – it should only contain organic tomatoes…though look for JARRED tomato paste or make your own.)
- 1 Garlic Clove (it’s the small part that you’re breaking off a garlic bulb. i’ll explain more later).
- Pepper…and salt if you want some.
- Italian Seasoning (it’ll be in the spices aisle – pick the one that’s labeled “ITALIAN SEASONING.” To be sure, open and smell – if it smells like ITALIAN SEASONING, you’re on the right track. If you can’t find it at this point, you should probably just sit down and give up).
- 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash – will make enough for two people.
- Olive Oil – I like extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 Iron Skillet/Pan
- 1 Medium Sized Pot
- 1 Cookie sheet
- 1 Sharp Knife
- 1 Spatula
- 1 Cutting Board
- Tin Foil
- Oven and Stove
If you’re like me (a nerd who generally stays away from the kitchen), half the stuff on the grocery list will be new to you. I can certainly say I’ve never purchased a spaghetti squash before. Honestly though, I found it fun to go exploring in new parts of the grocery store and track down these items. Just keep the ingredient list with you, ask people for help if you need it, and pretend like you’re a contestant on Super Market Sweep (not that I do that…every time I’m in a store….).
Preparing YOUR SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees. This will take a while to get warm so it gives you time to chop up your veggies and so on.
Chop your onion in half, and then peel off the outside layer – we only need half of it. Put the other half in a plastic bag and stick it in your fridge.
After that, start slicing and dicing like a mofo until the onion is all chopped up. Yeah, you might cry – suck it up. If you have a food processor or a Slap Chop (you lucky bastard), this will be way easier. I don’t have either of those, so I did it the old school way.
Next, rip off a clove of garlic – we only need a little bit of it. Hang the rest of the garlic bulb around your neck to ward off vampires.
Take that little section, break it apart, and then carefully chop off the tiny ends of each section. Then, use the side of your knife to smush it by pressing down hard on the side of your knife. Peel off the outer layer, and then chop up the inside of it as small as you can without chopping off any fingers. That would result in a lot of blood, and the vampires won’t care about your garlic necklace, and you’re gonna have a bad time. If you don’t feel like buying/chopping garlic, you can use garlic powder to add to the meat later, though it’s not nearly as fun.
Grab your two tomatoes (not a euphemism). No seriously though, grab those two tomatoes. Use your knife to carefully carve out the top part of it…
Then cut them in half, then chop them up into smaller pieces. Depending on how you like your spaghetti sauce, cut them to your desired size – bigger chunks in your sauce or no? The choice is yours, sucka.
Next, take your spaghetti squash, and use your knife to cut it in half. Because the middle is kind of hollow and full of gooey stuff (like a pumpkin), I found it easiest to cut into the side of the squash, and then work the knife around it the long way. Watch this video for a good demonstration. JUST BE CAREFUL.
Use a spoon and scrape out all of the middle junk in the squash. Yup, it’s kind of gross. Get over it.
Take your hollowed out squash, and drizzle the insides with olive oil, pepper, and tiny bit of salt.
Give them a minute or two to sit and soak in the oil, and then put them face down on the cookie sheet, and stick them in the oven (which is now at 400 degrees) for 40 minutes.
Making the Sauce
While the spaghetti squash is cooking in the oven, put your skillet on the stove, add a little bit of olive oil, and drop in your diced onions. After a few minutes, they’ll start to take on a clear/yellowish color as they sizzle and cook.
Now it’s time to add the garlic, and mix that around for a minute or two…
And then add the beef!
Using your spatula, chop up the beef and mix it up with the onions and garlic.
Now, make it rain with your Italian seasoning and pepper. And by that I mean “sprinkle it liberally.”
Continue stirring and chopping and mixing like a boss until the meat is a nice brown color.
When the meat is done cooking, take the pan off the stove, and place it on one of the other not-hot burners…
OR, you can strain the beef and get rid of the grease. I chose to strain our meal for the evening. Use a strainer, collect the grease in a bowl, and then when the grease cools down, dump it into a coffee canister or other container that you can keep in the freezer and then eventually dispose of properly. Google “how to get rid of grease” if you need help here.
Combining the sauce AND THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Now, while your meat is cooking, take your empty pot, open up your two cans of tomato paste, and use a knife to scoop them out and pour in. Then add your tomatoes.
Put the pot on low heat. Around now, your meat should be cooked.
Then dump in the meat, onions, and garlic into the pot and mix it all up. If your sauce isn’t saucy enough, take your empty tomato paste can and dump in a can-sized amount of water (do one and see how the sauce looks, and then add a second if necessary). At this point, feel free to add some more Italian seasoning and pepper.
You can leave the pot on really low heat and cover it up, while you’re finishing up everything else. Just stir it every so often so the bottom doesn’t burn.
Putting it all together
Pull your squash out of the oven after the 40 minutes is up, and using a pot holder and a knife/fork, flip the two halves over over.
Having two plates ready, use a fork to pull apart the inside of the squash…it’ll come apart very easily and look like spaghetti.
Hollow out one, put it on a plate. Hollow out the other, put it on the other plate.
This is the point where you say “OHHHH SO THAT’S WHY ITS CALLED SPAGHETTI SQUASH!”
Add your sauce on top, and BAM you have your home cooked, paleo spaghetti meal. Finish off with a glass of water, red wine (not technically paleo I guess but hey, live a little), or some Drain-O and you’re good to go.
I’m kidding. please don’t drink Drain-O.
The dinner table is set. Flower in empty wine bottle and Shadow of the Colossus on PS3 are optional.
I honestly had WAY more fun cooking this than was expected. (thanks Jessie for helping me out and making sure I didn’t chop off any appendages).
If you’re struggling to come up with a fun date idea…nothing goes over better than cooking a meal together – and I think the total cost of the ingredients was around $15. This meal made full servings for two people with enough sauce left over for two or three more servings.
If you don’t have anybody else to cook for, no worries! This meal will make plenty of food for you to have for dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow, and beyond. Plus, you can eat your spaghetti WHILE playing Shadow of the Colossus and nobody will yell at you.
I’m thinking of doing some more “how to cook easy meals” post here on NF real soon, coming from the perspective of a newbie in the kitchen. They probably won’t all be paleo/primal, but they’ll be healthy and super easy to cook.
Is that something you’d be interested in every few weeks? If I do, anything else you’d like to see in the posts?
Any thoughts, comments, or questions?
Let’s hear it!
PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!
thanks to Fast Paleo for the recipe inspiration.
Monday, October 9, 2017
We want weight loss to be effortless, exciting, and entertaining:
“One simple trick to lose 50 pounds!”
“The superfood that burns fat!”
“How Hugh Jackman got in shape to play Wolverine in just 12 weeks!”
We want that one workout that scientists hate that finally melts the fat off our midsections and tones our arms and makes us look like Wonder Woman. We gorge on acai bowls and omega-3s and get excited about the latest article that says red wine is a health food as we polish off another bottle.
Like Monty Python searching for the Holy Grail, we go through a series of follies in search of a nice idea that never actually comes to fruition.
Reality paints a much different picture:
Weight loss comes from habits that don’t grab headlines.
Boring, dull, and oh-so-incredibly effective.
I have seen tens of thousands of people lose millions of pounds collectively and get healthy permanently since I started Nerd Fitness almost a decade ago.
At the same time, I have also seen hundreds of thousands of people make dramatic grand declarations about the latest trend or fad, lose a few pounds, and end up right back where they started. If that sounds like you, you’re in good company.
No wonder a 2016 British study declared “we’re doomed to stay fat.”
So what gives?
What’s the difference between the Try-Try-Agains and Perpetually Healthy Nerds (PHNs, for short)?
With over 40,000 students now in our flagship online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy, and 10 years with thousands of emails and success stories, I created this monster resource that dives deep into the 10 most crucial habits of Perpetually Healthy Nerds.
How many of these 10 can you check off? Be honest! Santa is watching.
1. They have a Groot Mindset.
Your mom was right, you are a unique snowflake.
That means there are ton of things that affect why you’ve gained weight over the past decade and why you struggle to lose it:
- Stress level
- Home environment
- Mental health
- Activity level
- Diet quality
- Diet quantity
All of these things play a factor in what you look like and how healthy you are. Despite all of these various factors, I’ve seen a common thread amongst Perpetually Healthy Nerds (PHNs) that crushes all other factors:
A Groot mindset.
You’re reading Nerd Fitness, so I assume you’re familiar with Groot, the tree-like superhero from Guardians of the Galaxy. He can grow and change his shape to suit the situation. He also says, “I am Groot,” but that’s less applicable here.
HOW TO BUILD A GROOT MINDSET:
Unhealthy Nerd: “I have bad genetics. My parents are overweight. I am busy. I have children. I have a slow metabolism. I’m never going to be able to lose weight. This plan and your strategies won’t work for me because [excuse to let myself off the hook]. I’m the fat guy/gal and that’s all there is to it.”
Perpetually Healthy Nerd: “I have bad genetics. My parents are overweight. I am busy. I have children. Soooo….How can I make this work for me in my situation? I know people like me who have lost weight, which is a great sign. I refuse to accept that I am a lost cause. I am Groot.”
It might not be your fault that you are overweight (thank genetics and bad habits from your parents!), or that life sucks right now. But it IS our responsibility (and nobody else’s) to deal with it.
People that get healthy build a new Groot-like identity for themselves. Not the identity of a victim of bad genetics or a “too busy” life, but rather the identity of somebody that CAN change.
We all have emotional, visceral responses to what we see in the mirror or how we feel when we wake up. We need to cut through the emotion and get to the truth: we alone are responsible for our fate, and that means we alone can fix it.
Even if it isn’t your fault where you are, accept that it’s your personal responsibility to deal with it.
Like Groot, you can change and grow. You’ll learn that your excuses are moot – if busier, older, fatter, poorer, and more injured people than you can get in shape, you can too.
Decide today that “I am a perpetually healthy nerd” and then simply do the things that perpetually healthy nerds do. And then repeat.
2. They know their “Big Why”.
The road to perpetual weight loss and healthiness is fraught with peril.
Even the best-laid plans will end up in a ditch on the side of the road unless you have the ability to persevere when life gets busy and it’s Taco Tuesday and a new video game just came out and your kid is sick and you just don’t feel like exercising.
That perseverance comes from a damn good answer to the question: “Why?”
And not just “Because I need to lose weight,” but two levels deeper, Inception-style: WHY you need to lose weight. That’s the motivation and answer you need to be reminded of to persevere over the next few months.
Because cake is delicious.
And winter is coming.
If your answer is: “I’m here because my doctor/wife/husband thinks I should lose weight. I know I should exercise more and do more.” you are more doomed than Sean Bean in literally any show or movie. You will give up at the first sign of adversity.
Compare this to the raw, deep, honest answers we get from Nerd Fitness Academy members when we ask about their “Big WHY”:
- “I’m here because my dad died of a heart attack at age 45, and I don’t want my kids growing up without a father like I did.”
- “I’m here because I want my husband/wife to look at me the way he/she used to, and I want us to grow old together.”
- “I’m here because I just got dumped and I want to get healthy so I can start dating again. I don’t want people swiping left on my photos anymore.”
- “I’m here because I want to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. I want to stop hiding behind others in photographs.”
Why are you here?
Is your reason for being here more important to you than cake? If it isn’t, you’re gonna give up at the first sign of adversity.
Write down your Great Big Why – and go deep, my friend. Way down. And ask yourself “Why?” to the answer of each of your questions until you get to the root of your reason for being here.
Once you write that answer down, hang it up somewhere you can see it every day: fridge, cubicle, bathroom mirror. Accept responsibility for your current situation, be compassionate, and also accept that you CAN change, and your identity can change with small wins that prove it.
3. They don’t go on diets; they adjust their nutrition.
Perpetually UNhealthy people have a love/hate relationship with diets.
They go on diets all the time, and then they go off diets. And then they go on another diet. And then they find another diet that’s supposed to promise even faster, easier weight loss, so they switch to that one.
Unhealthy people get dieting wrong from the start, and this is what dooms them.
Unhealthy people go on a diet for a month or two until bathing suit season is over and they can’t wait to go back to “eating normally,” because dieting sucks!
The problem is that their “eating normally” is often the reason why they’re overweight in the first place.
Temporary changes to one’s eating results in temporary changes to one’s physique. Like an addict chasing the next high, somebody consistently has to chase the next diet because their normal eating is the problem in the first place!
And I’m with you, dieting sucks.
Starving yourself, eliminating all of your favorite foods, and trying to use willpower to avoid candy and sweets is terrible. No wonder people abandon diets as soon as they start them; they think “if this is what it takes to be skinny, I’d rather stay fat and happy.”
Let’s compare this to PHNs.
They don’t go on diets, because they know diets suck and temporary changes won’t work. Instead, they make adjustments to their nutrition and eat for their goals.
PHNs have internalized the following: “The concept of ‘normal eating’ is broken, which means it needs to change permanently. You never get to be ‘done.’”
Think about that for a second.
If you are “never done” with your nutrition, and you can’t go back to how you were eating before, then the ONLY way permanent success happens is if you actually enjoy and can stick with your new “normal.”
Fortunately, because PHNs have a Groot Mindset, this doesn’t scare them!
If giving up soda forever is scary, they slowly cut back from 12 a day down to one a day. If giving up pasta forever scares them, they learn about portion sizes and turn pasta into a special experience (homemade pasta, only when out at restaurants, etc.).
Here’s another difference about PHNs: They usually don’t do “cheat days” or feel guilty when they eat ice cream. That’s a recipe (zing!) for self-loathing and shame.
Instead, PHNs eat well most of the time and occasionally choose to consume foods that might not line up with their goals (pizza while playing D&D once a month, beers and wings on Sunday during football season).
PHNs have the same idea about supplements – they know supplements can’t replace a great nutritional strategy, so they don’t chase the latest and greatest.
These things are fine, because they are playing the LONG game – years, not weeks or months:
Stop going on diets!
Stop chasing silver bullets – those are for werewolves!
No more diet pills, cleanses or crazy 30-day strategies.
Nothing you do can be temporary, or the results will be temporary.
Instead, make deliberate, incremental permanent changes to your daily nutrition, slowly, over a period of many months. Don’t feel guilty, and don’t do “cheat days.” Instead, eat to line up with your goals. If you are afraid of giving up something, don’t. Work to make it more of a treat and less of a daily indulgence.
Know that it took years for you to get to your current physique, and it’s going to take months if not years to correct it.
Once you accept that you never get to be “done,” you learn that you have to enjoy the journey, and pick changes that won’t scare you away from adhering to your plan.
4.They know what’s in the food they eat.
Do you know how many calories and grams of sugar are in a can of Coke? Or how big a serving of peanut butter actually is? Or how many calories and carbs are in a cup of “healthy granola?”
If you do, you’re well on your way to being a PHN!
Whether it’s portion control, calorie counting, tracking macros, or even keeping a food journal, PHNs have a rough idea of the nutritional breakdown of the food they consume regularly.
After all, GI Joe tells us that “Knowing is half the battle!”
The other half is lasers:
PHNs know their nutrition accounts for 90%+ of the battle when it comes to weight loss, and thus that’s where their focus is!
Seriously. 90+ PERCENT.
So they do their homework:
- If they eat the same thing regularly, they spend a few minutes educating themselves about how much they are actually eating every day.
- If they eat out, they do some rough calculations to track how many carbs, fats, and protein is in the meal they’re about to eat.
- If they do bulk cooking for the week, they know how many calories and grams of protein are in each meal.
With each meal tracked, this behavior adds up to a quick mental model every day of roughly how many calories a PHN consumes each day.
This knowledge allows for shame-free and guilt-free meals even if they aren’t part of the big picture:
For example, a PHN will know that they’re going to be eating pizza for dinner, so they opt for eggs and bacon for breakfast and a salad for lunch to even out their daily total.
Because PHNs also know sugar is a big culprit in spiking insulin and making waistlines larger, they seek to limit sugar intake and make their calories count, especially if those calories are in beverage form.
PHNs are inherently skeptical of food marketers, and therefore take the time to look at labels:
- Coca-Cola (20 oz): 240 calories, 65 g of carbs (65 g of sugar)
- Naked Juice Green Machine (15 oz): 270 calories, 63 g of carbs (55 g of sugar)
Look at those two things above: one is a can of cola that you know is bad for you, the other is marketed as a “healthy beverage.” They’re both terrible for you!
PHNs know that fruit juice is pretty much sugar water, most granola bars have as many carbs and sugar as a candy bar, and a “healthy” muffin is a calorie bomb.
PHNs want the most bang for their buck, so they educate themselves on food.
Learn about the food you’re eating. You’re a grown adult, you can take 3 minutes and Google it.
Once you know the composition of your meals, you can start to make subtle adjustments or change quantities over time as you start to approach a healthier weight. Be okay with “good enough” to start, and get more accurate as time goes on.
For each food, learn the following:
- Total calories
- Serving size
Keep a food journal and just write down what you eat every day for a week. If your weight isn’t changing, adjust down total calories and minimize sugar consumption and see how your weight changes. Make small adjustments over time and see how your body responds.
Speaking of goals….
5. They use Blueprints and Blocks to Create Goals.
Perpetually unhealthy people say things like “I’m going to exercise more this year!”
Goals like this are cloudy with no real markers of success. With no beacon guiding them, perpetually unhealthy people don’t know if they’re on track, and there’s no accountability if they don’t succeed. These goals get tossed in the abandoned pile next to goals like “I’m gonna start flossing!”
That is very different from PHNs.
PHNs grow like Groot through proper goal-setting and achievement:
- They pick a blueprint: an outcome-based goal.
- They place the blocks to build that blueprint: a habit-based goal.
An example: “I need to lose X amount of weight by X date or else X will happen.”
This is the goal that my friend (and NF success story) Saint set: to reach a single-digit body fat percentage before his wedding date, or he’d lose $500 to a friend. With a very specific goal and a specific timeline, we can work backwards to calculate how much weight we need to lose each week to build that blueprint: our goal physique.
Once a blueprint is selected, a PHN will focus on just placing the next brick or block according to the plans. They know that if they picked the right blueprint, placing one block after another in the right place will eventually result in a completed building.
In Minecraft terms, once you have the blueprints for a replica of Rivendell, all you have to focus on is placing the next block in the right place. Repeat. Eventually, you’ll have Rivendell:
Here’s a real-life example of this block-placing mentality:
“My goal is to reach 150 pounds by December 1st, so I will eat one vegetable every day, and I will strength train for 30 minutes, four days per week.”
In this instance, a PHN is focused only on the habits themselves, trusting the outcome will take care of itself.
Using block-habits like this results in no wiggle room: You can very easily answer the question “Yes I placed the block” or “no I did not place the block.” You either ate a vegetable today or you didn’t. You either exercised for 30 minutes today or you didn’t.
Pick habits and challenges and goals that are designed for YOUR level. Start with habits SOOOOO easy that you can’t help but achieve them. And focus on the habit.
If you’ve never built a thatched hut, don’t pick a blueprint of a cathedral for your first building. Pick a blueprint that works for you at your level, and complete it! Only then should you pick a bigger, more complex project to follow.
Think of it in video game terms:
- Pick bad guys at your level, and don’t fight too many at once. Only after you level up should you start attacking higher level bad guys.
- And if you manage to actually slay a dragon… go find a bigger one.
6. They don’t HAVE to exercise, they GET to.
Unhealthy people treat exercise as a miserable means to an end: “I’ll exercise until I reach my goal weight and then I can stop this exercise stuff and go back to what I was doing before.”
Temporary changes, miserable strategy, temporary results… sound familiar?
They run on a treadmill because they think they should, but they hate it, and they never want to go back. Or they get dragged to a class with a friend and the class ruins fitness for them.
They do their best to build the habit, but they’re so unhappy and unexcited about the exercise that the habit never sticks.
Look, here’s the truth: “exercise” sucks.
So PHNs don’t do “exercise.”
At the same time, I’ve heard from Nerd Fitness Academy members: “I can’t believe it, but I actually look forward to exercising now. How did THAT happen?”
What’s going on here?
Because nutrition is 90% of the battle, having the habit of exercise and movement is more important than what specific type of exercise you choose.
This means PHNs pick things like gymnastics, swing dancing, ultimate frisbee, martial arts, hiking, or strength training. Whatever gets them off their asses and moving!
If there’s a type of exercise they HATE… they don’t do it.
Exercise goes from something they “have to do” (ughhhh), to something they “get to do” (yes!).
Now, if a PHN has a very specific physique goal (six pack, toned arms, a better butt, broader chest, etc.), they train for their specific goals to build the body they want and get hooked on improvement: “I can’t wait to go to the gym and find out how much stronger I got.”
You don’t have to exercise in a way that you hate. Pick the kind of exercise that makes you come alive. Don’t have that form of exercise yet? Try new things! Especially the stuff that doesn’t feel like exercise.
Have a specific goal or physique in mind? Train for that goal and get hooked on constant improvement to get addicted to exercise. You are a video game character increasing your strength attribute with each training session – there’s that Groot Mindset again!
7. They invest in their health like a 401(k).
When it comes down to our health, we can invest in three ways:
- Our Time
- Our Effort
- Our Money
Perpetually Healthy Nerds know this and prioritize accordingly: they know investing in their health is the best decision they can make. So they decide what’s the correct balance of time, effort, and money to use for that investment.
Let’s do an investment analogy: some people LOVE spending 50 hours a week pouring through company statements to find value and going all-in on picking individual stocks. For others, they might instead choose passively managed index funds and pay a small fee to not have to think about it. Or they hire a financial advisor (a fiduciary! not your dad’s friend who has a hunch!) with a time-tested track record to advise and guide them.
Either way, the best investors (guys like Warren Buffett) advise time-tested, long term thinking with “buy and hold” rather than chasing “get-rich-quick” schemes.
Your health is an investment just like your net worth:
- If you want to devote your effort and time to building your own workouts, crafting your own meal plans, and keeping yourself accountable, that’s awesome. I did this for myself for years.
- You might decide to outsource your programming to a coach, recruit an accountability partner, or buy into a program that creates your workouts and nutrition for you.
- Either way, this is a multi-year process that requires discipline!
We have thousands of people who read all the free content on Nerd Fitness for years not really taking their health seriously, but the second they finally invested in The Nerd Fitness Academy or joined Rising Heroes (our monthly habit building adventure), they took action and lost weight.
Because we VALUE what we pay for and invest in, making us more likely to actually do the damn thing.
Unhealthy people don’t look at all of this stuff rationally – they complain about spending 99 cents on an iPhone app that could save them 30 minutes a day, and then gladly spend $6 on a sugary Starbucks beverage each morning without a second thought.
Your money, your time, and your effort are all limited resources: how you choose to spend each of them tells me a lot about your priorities.
I am a Proud PHN (a PPHN, if you will), and it’s why I gladly pay hundreds of dollars every month for my own online fitness coach.
Many probably think I’m crazy and that this is a waste of money (“just do your own workouts!”), but I feel that it’s the best money I spend every month, and it’s why I’ve prioritized it over other expenses.
I’m not just paying for a workout plan in an excel document.
I am paying for accountability from somebody who is checking in on me, expertise from a trained professional who can spot my weaknesses, and the knowledge that I’ll actually do the workout because I’m spending my hard-earned money on it.
I’m also saving myself hundreds of hours and years of expertise because I’m buying those things from a pro.
It just happens to ALSO come with a workout and nutrition plan to follow.
PHNs invest in themselves in some way with the right things prioritized. It’s usually by adjusting their finances to prioritize their health:
- They might have a free gym in their apartment complex or basement, but they pay money to join a gym near work with fitness classes, because they hate working out alone and if they know people are counting on them to show up, they’ll actually GO.
- They might pre-pay for 20 trainer sessions because they know if they’ve already paid for it and scheduled the workouts, they’ll actually GO.
- They might pay $20-30 to just go to a gym for one hour on vacation. Expensive? Not when you compare it to the weeks spent after the vacation trying to get back on track.
- They’ll skip movies out or cancel their cable to instead prioritize a meal service or buy more cookbooks so they never get bored with cooking new healthy meals.
In each instance, PHNs have done the math: they’re not just paying for access to a gym or an overpriced omelet. They’re not “wasting their time” when they invest their time and energy into the right things. They have their priorities in order and spend their limited resources on the most important, most efficient things.
It’s not what you say is a priority, it’s what you spend your time or money on that’s a priority. So PHNs prioritize their money and time on the best stuff, even at the expense of other creature comforts.
How much money do you spend on your health?
How much time and effort do you devote to creating your workouts or fine-tuning your nutrition?
Have you ever hired a coach or paid for an online course? D
o you buy apps or software that make your life easier, or do you try to get by with free stuff that you know you won’t actually use?
Whether it’s time, effort, or money, if you want to be a PHN you need to invest in yourself with your priorities in order. This might mean spending more for a gym and canceling your cable bill, or preparing your own healthy meals instead of simply ordering out every night.
You’re not buying a course or a workout or an overpriced salad. You’re buying expertise, accountability and momentum.
And NEVER underestimate momentum.
8. They Go All In On Momentum.
PHNs are big fans of Isaac Newton:
An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted on by another force.
Nothing could be more accurate when it comes to your health.
Unhealthy Nerds just starting out have a LOT of inertia to overcome.
Their body is used to sitting on a couch and eating junk food, which means building the habit of exercise is agonizing. They have to convince themselves to get off the couch and go out into the wilderness. Eating vegetables and healthy food sucks compared to their normal comfort food.
But they use max effort to do these things a few times, and momentum starts to shift away from unhealthy and towards healthy.
And that’s when things fall apart.
Their kid gets sick or they work late and they miss a workout. Not the end of the world, right? But then it snows the next day, and one missed workout day becomes two, which becomes 30 in the blink of an eye.
And shit, they’re back to square one.
PHNs know this all too well, so they dump all of their energy into cultivating and protecting their momentum. They invest their time and money in momentum-building or momentum-protecting products or services.
PHNs know that shit happens. Travel. Vacation. Kids. Work. So they focus on doing whatever they can to build momentum quickly and maintain it.
Perpetual health doesn’t happen in days, or with a few decisions. It takes months (or more likely, years) of consistent effort, so they go all in on momentum until their default behavior is healthy eating and exercise:
- They exercise 4 days per week without fail. Yes, even on vacation.
- They go for a morning walk every single day, even when it’s snowing.
- They schedule workouts for early Saturday morning with a trainer so they know they can’t drink like a fish on Friday night.
PHNs are all in on these habits, because they know it’s more than just “missing a workout.” It’s killing their momentum, and momentum is crucial to long term Perpetual Healthy Nerdiness!
This is why PHNs subscribe to the “Never Two in a Row” rule.
We know life happens, and sometimes getting to a workout or eating healthy food lined up with your goals isn’t an option. But it’s always the exception, never the rule.
Which is why if they miss a workout, they get to the gym THE NEXT DAY, without fail. The next meal after an unhealthy meal is the MOST important meal they have ever eaten. They never make two mistakes in a row because they know momentum can be ruined in a heartbeat.
Momentum is crucial to being perpetually healthy, so protect it with your life.
Never miss two workouts in a row, because it quickly becomes 30 in the blink of an eye. Never eat two bad meals in a row, because two quickly becomes a week of pizza and Chinese food.
Live by the “never two in a row,” and build momentum with daily goals.
9. They know their Kryptonite.
PHNs are big fans of the late great physicist Richard Feynman too, even if they don’t know it:
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Unhealthy nerds might be aware of their Kryptonite, but they just hope and pray they have enough willpower to overcome it every day.
They eat a single Oreo, and then spend an hour thinking about cookies until they go eat a whole sleeve of Oreo cookies and then berate themselves for not having more willpower.
PHNs know that we ALL have Kryptonite.
Unhealthy nerds try to fix their flaws through sheer willpower and then shame or guilt themselves when they can’t stop their behavior.
PHNs recognize their Kryptonite, and have a plan that doesn’t require willpower to overcome it.
If a PHN knows they have a sweet tooth, they don’t keep cookies and candy at home – they add more steps between them and the bad habits they are trying to break.
If they know grains make them unhappy and bloated, they follow a Paleo diet and remove those foods completely so there’s no attempt to only eat half a serving of something.
If they know they struggle with portion control, then maybe they try skipping a meal with Intermittent Fasting.
They also always ask the questions that get to the heart of their Kryptonite with regards to weight gain:
- Maybe they eat when they’re bored.
- Maybe they eat when they’re upset.
- Maybe they eat when they’re nervous.
- Maybe they eat when they’re watching TV.
They KNOW these things about themselves, and they know unhealthy food has been designed to be addictive.
So they plan for it!
PHNs introduce accountability, punishments, and rewards into their life to keep them on track and avoid their own personal Kryptonite:
- They check in with someone every day to make sure they ate their vegetables.
- Their friend has been instructed to donate $50 to a terrible cause they hate if they miss a workout check-in.
- They reward themselves with new running shoes (a reward that rewards them back with more momentum) if they complete 20 runs in a single month.
- They don’t go to certain bars or make sure they eat before going to a party, because they KNOW they’ll make a bad decision once they get there.
- They build their environment to not have tempting foods at home – it’s tough to eat poorly when your cabinets are stocked with good food.
Unhealthy people do motivation wrong, and they let their Kryptonite defeat them. PHNs know their Kryptonite and build systems to deal with it.
Know thyself, my dear friend, and know what your triggers are.
We’re all flawed; PHNs just plan for their flaws better. These triggers can be environmental or situational or emotional. Know it will happen, and build a Kryptonite-proof plan so you don’t have to worry about avoiding it.
Stop relying on motivation and willpower to tackle your Kryptonite.
Don’t put yourself in bad situations. Build your batcave (your environment) so it’s tougher to make unhealthy decisions and easier to make healthy ones. Don’t go out to dinner at unhealthy restaurants, and schedule early workouts on Saturdays so you won’t drink yourself silly on Friday.
Yes, I realize Kryptonite is Superman and Batcave is Batman, but they’re from the same universe. Deal with it.
10. They are surrounded by Lakitus, not Banana Peels.
You are the average of the 5 people you associate most with.
Are those people Lakitus in your life?
Or are they banana peels?
Banana peels need no introduction: drive over one in Mario Kart and they’ll ruin a perfectly good race by crushing all of your momentum.
Unhealthy people get spun out all the time by banana peels in their lives:
- “What do you mean you don’t want to eat my lasagna anymore? You love my cooking.”
- “Everybody is coming over to play D&D and eat pizza, you can’t miss this.”
- “You don’t need to lose weight. You look fine. Live a little. Come on.”
Questions and comments like these subtly influence our behavior every day.
So think about the people in your life: the things they say, the activities they choose to spend their time on, the foods they eat, the restaurants they frequent, etc. These are the reasons why they look like they do.
And that stuff rubs off on you whether you realize it or not! Which is how you end up looking like them.
Compare that to surrounding yourself with Lakitus. If you’re not familiar, Lakitu from Mario and Mario Kart is the little guy on the cloud that picks you up out of the water and puts you back on course.
Like Lakitu, look for the people in your life who pick you up and put you back on track, hold you accountable, and use healthy, positive peer pressure to keep your momentum.
- Banana Peel: You want to exercise, but your friends are mad at you for skipping a Destiny 2 or World of Warcraft raid… you’re going to skip the workout.
- Lakitu: You want to exercise, and your friends are at the gym counting on you for a team workout… you’re gonna get your ass to the gym!
- Banana Peel: You are out to dinner with friends and they order lasagna, chicken fingers and fries, a large pizza, and enchiladas. You’ll likely order junk food to fit in, rather than order a salad and endure their scorn.
- Lakitu: You are at a healthy restaurant and all 4 people order salads before you order – I’d bet $1000 you’re going to order something healthy too.
- Banana Peel: You have 5 friends who never talk about anything serious: how are you supposed to tell them about your depression medication or that you’re thinking about going to see a therapist?
- Lakitu: You have 5 friends who are not only accepting of your flaws, but share theirs too and have advice for you.
In multiplayer terms: do you want to be part of a group with 5 newbies that suck at Warcraft and get everybody killed on a raid? Or do you want to be part of a group of 5 rockstars that are 4 levels ahead of you – that can show you new zones, keep you alive, and make you a better player?
You want the second group! And you want that second group equivalent in life!!
So you need to be surrounded by people that pick you up, not slow you down.
PHNs know this, and they make the hard decisions about who is worthy of their time and attention.
They often fire their unhealthy friends and family – even if only temporarily – because they can’t be around negative influence as they’re trying to build momentum. I’ve heard of tons of stories where unhealthy relationships have ended because a PHN was dating an unhealthy person who didn’t want them to be healthy!
In their quest to become a PHN, we know sacrifices must be made.
Along with minimizing time around banana peels, they MAXIMIZE their time with Lakitus. Instead of spending time around people who say “you don’t need to lose weight, you’re too skinny as it is” they surround themselves with people who say, “That’s awesome, how can I help you reach your goals?”
PHNs use 20 seconds of courage to strike up a conversation with someone at the gym on how to do a certain exercise, and make plans to train together the next day.
PHNs join a running club at work, or start a running club if one doesn’t exist yet.
If PHNs don’t have people in real life cheering them on, they find an online group that pushes them to be better.
I recently asked our private men’s community from the Nerd Fitness Academy what the group meant to them.
This response jumped out at me:
You are influenced dramatically by the people around you whether you realize it or not.
You alone get to choose where your time is spent and who you prioritize.
For the time being, at least until you become a PHN, you might need to sacrifice or fire your friends and family members that are pulling you down. You might need to have a serious conversation with your significant other that “likes you more full-figured” if your goal is to be healthier and happier.
Or diving deep into deflection strategies if you have to constantly deal with unhealthy family members you can’t fire.
If they are worth your time, they will change their tune to be more supportive and helpful and less of an anchor.
And then start spending time around people who are stronger, healthier, happier, and more successful than you. And do what they do.
Are you a PHN?
Phew! Okay, let’s see how many of these you can actually check off:
- I have a Groot Mindset
- I know my Big Why
- I don’t go on diets. I adjust my nutrition.
- I know what my food is made of.
- I have blueprints and blocks.
- I don’t have to exercise; I GET to.
- I invest in my health like a 401(k).
- I go all in on momentum.
- I know my Kryptonite.
- I seek out Lakitus, not banana peels.
Give yourself a score, and let me know which ones are the toughest for you to follow through on.
If you checked 6 or fewer boxes, pick ONE of the PHN habits and work on it for the next month. Internalize it. Make it part of your new identity. And then move onto the next one.
You’re overcoming inertia and building momentum!
And NEVER underestimate momentum.
Agree with the list? Disagree?
Did I leave one off?
Leave that in the comments too!
Also, congratulations, you just finished the longest article in the history of Nerd Fitness – give yourself a high five.
PS: If you are somebody that is interested in investing in their health right now, these are the three paths available to this community:
- Join the Nerd Fitness Academy – a one time fee for lifetime access. Follow the workout plans, adjust your mental attitude, follow our 10 level diet system and have a private community to support you.
- Check out Rising Heroes – our monthly team-based story driven adventure. Get new real-world missions each week that make you healthier and help us take down a sinister shadow organization.
If you are looking to invest in yourself, I hope to see you in one of these programs!
photo credit:Reiterlied Rex across the fields, Meeting Star Lord and Baby Groot, benjaminreay Big question mark, Mark Bonica Paleo Diet – Day 14, clement127 Chicken factory, post-apocalyptic research institute 3mm model, sualk61 Hamster wheel, evoo73 balance, hjl Kryptonite on Blue, Reiterlied Biking on the Lake
- You can read the article about the study here: source
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