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My Experience with NerdFitness Academy

Oh God the tags on this one are gonna attract SO MANY SPAMBOTS.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for NerdFitness’s Academy, their paid course on weight loss and fitness. It was a one time fee of $99 USD, and I purchased their yoga course as well ($37 I think, half off when purchased with NF Academy). The Academy is essentially a large interactive book, coupled with a goal tracking quest system and tied to a large community, both on Facebook and in their forums.

So far, I’ve made a lot of progress and enjoyed the fuck out of it.

The course starts you off with mindset work, as the idea is less to have you lose weight fast, the idea is to change your relationship with weight and fitness, framed in nerdy and RPG elements. It definitely speaks to me very well, and it’s been successful. They hand you “quests” to complete, which include goal setting, logging your food, taking your measurements and taking before pictures, and as you complete them you get XP and level up.

You also choose a class, which generally symbolizes the kind of things you want to do. Druids, for example, do lots of meditation and yoga. Monks do lots of martial arts, warriors do strength training, etc. In his book, the founder of NerdFitness, Steve Kamb, even suggests creating your own class, though the website doesn’t support this currently. The class mostly comes into play in their forums, where you can join a guild for these classes and do challenges. A lot of people guild hop, however.

The goal setting section is a big part of it, and that’s been helpful. I set a few big goals, including a “Big Why.” Mine was, in short, that I need to give my wife a good, long life, and there’s a lot of things I’d like to do that I can’t currently, stuff like play golf with my in-laws, fit into suits that aren’t custom made, and keep myself well read, both on current events and in terms of fiction and non-fiction. NF focuses on physical fitness, but also has elements of just generally levelling up yourself and improving yourself overall.

So far I’ve been logging my foods and generally making better choices. I’m doing less emotional eating, less moments of “I’ve had a bad day so I’m getting M&Ms,” and it was that loss of control that really got me. Doing something that was legitimately bad for me, that I knew was, both from a financial and physical perspective, because I craved that momentary high of chocolate, of sugar, etc. I’m not saying I’m never eating M&Ms or junk food ever again, but trying to make better choices about when I do. I’d do things like graze on candy if we got some in the office, or if there were appetizers out I’d pretty much graze constantly. Last night we had chips out, and I ate some, yes, but not nearly as many as I wanted to, not nearly what I thought made sense. 

And this is my problem really. It’s not about never having those things, it’s about those emotional moments where I go to eat something and regret it afterwards, because I overeat, my stomach hurts, cause it is never as satisfying as I think it will be. 

So I’m hoping this will stick, and we’ll certainly see. I’m trying to take the victories where I can get them, make better, small choices, as opposed to big ones where I feel like I’m cheating myself or depriving myself. I do feel like my mindset has shifted a bit though. I know this will be hard, but thinking about “this is what’s healthy for me, and this is what I need to do” has been helping.

And there does seem to be a good community out there to support me! NF’s one is top notch, and there are daily Facebook posts of people sharing their victories (and defeats, occasionally) and I’m excited to dive into their forum, the guilds, and challenges therein. The ever-inspiring Jenn has also offered to help me dive into the Instagram fitness community, which looks like a good one as well. Debating if I want to set up a separate fitness Instagram account, as I’ve seen a few others do. Leaning towards it.

It feels good, and it feels like progress, which I haven’t felt in a long time. I haven’t taken any measurements or weighed myself yet, but this is more about lifelong change that will get me there, not about a quick fix. My mind feels better, and I’m excited about the future, and eager to accomplish the things I want to do. I have an idea for a walking challenge that has me really excited, specifically trying to walk the distance from Hobbiton to Mordor. Not barefoot, though.

I’ll do my best to update when I can, folks!


Focus and Discipline

The running theme of my life could largely be described as one of desires. That’s a bit broad, and maybe unfair, but, the opening line is supposed to be a little overdramatic, I’ve always thought.

Throughout my life I’ve always had trouble resisting things. When I’m in the kitchen, and I know there are cookies or cake, it will feel like something is PULLING me to them. The same will be true, often, of purchases. If I’m in the mall, and I know there’s a fancy new Apple device, or some new gadget that will definitely help me accomplish all my life goals, or a lululemon thing I’ve had my eye on that I’m sure I’ll fit into in a few weeks when I lose weight, it feels like an honest to God PULL. Walking by, walking away is painful. Denying myself feels so WRONG. But we’ll get back to denial later.

I do feel that a lot of my life has been shaped by these impulses. I suppose that’s probably not as novel as I might think, but it feels so to me. People will give me tips on how to lose weight, or save money (and really the basic problems for me are one and the same) and I always kind of end up saying “I know, I know.” Because I do. I know I could reduce my weight by simply counting calories and making healthier choices. I know what the healthy choices are. I just choose not to make them. But it feels like less of a choice. It feels like there’s a pull, a kind of powerful force drawing me to them. Denying myself the fast food, or the cookie or what have you feels so very wrong.

I’ve been practicing that denial lately, both in finances and in food. I have been trying to eat less in general, not just make different choices, and it does feel very difficult. It’s wrong in a whole other way, to me. It feels like denial. Like I’m starving myself or doing something unnatural. Yes, unnatural is really the word. Making the healthy choice of x food instead of y food isn’t really an issue. It’s driving by the fast food place when I’ve had a rough day. It’s sitting there, having finished dinner at 8pm and saying “I am finished eating for the night.” It makes me irritable. 

Yet, I know it’s something I have to work on, saying no to myself, not being bound by those choices. Sitting with that denial and being okay with it. Making frugal choices instead of easy ones. I’ve just been really struck by how hard that denial can be. But also how getting past it doesn’t seem to have any long term negative implications. I don’t explode if I don’t eat after dinner. I can surprisingly make a lot with the food I have around the house. I’ve even been trying to be more disciplined about my internet browsing, not just mindlessly clicking through reddit links. I’ve even been trying to get to bed earlier and, when in bed, get all my devices off by 10:30, not just when I’m feeling tired (which is often not until midnight or 1am).

I feel good about it, about these choices, about this discipline. Let’s hope it pays off.


That’s a spicy meatball-et-ground beef!

I didn't cook much when I lived with my parents. It didn't really make sense for me to; we had one kitchen, I arrived home at the same time as everyone else, and it wasn't much extra for Mom to make more dinner. Even for lunch, she still makes my Dad's lunch every day, a little extra for me was something she was happy to do.

So since I've moved out I've been doing a lot of cooking and food prep for myself. I lived alone for many years and cooked for myself, of course, but they were often simple, unhealthy meals, and there was a lot of take out during those years, too. So this is, in a lot of ways, new to me. And I've been having a blast with it.

I've started off making simple meals, simpler than would have satisfied my parents, and a lot of repeats, but things I enjoy. This recipe has been my starting point. A relatively low cal, chicken based dish, with lots of veg. I started off making it just as suggested, until I realized I knew the recipe, such as it was, by heart, and could play with it a bit. I used different spices, cooked some things for longer, used different veggies, threw a bit of olive oil into the mix, cooking some quinoa to make things last longer (though they sadly didn't help overly much, I can eat a ton of this stuff). But I started to want different things, so I moved onto roasting. Simple veggies chopped up, tossed in some olive oil and spices and threw them in the oven for a while. Put a chicken breast in and has a nice, full meal.

For lunches, I've had a lot of simple ones. Yogurt, a small jello, some carrots (pre-bagged on Sunday for grab and go!) and often some sort of main. Maybe leftovers from last night's dinner, though lately I've been working at getting more veggies into the mix. A cucumber, cut up, tossed with feta cheese and some light salad dressing, makes for a great lunch. I want to add a bit of heft to that one, though. Maybe some more cheese, or even some pre-cooked meat chopped up and mixed in. I find it doesn't always fill me up, and that is a concern.

For breakfasts, my go-to has often been these egg muffins. I tend to play with the recipe a lot, often using peppers in place of broccoli, turkey bacon in place of sausage. They're great for grab and go, of course, but it means I have to plan ahead and make time over the weekend, which is where I often fail. Otherwise I've been trying to make myself a small sandwich with some peanut butter and whole grain bread, an apple and some yogurt. A good breakfast is important, and I don't just mean that as an after school special. If I don't eat something decent and substantial during that time, I'm starving and tend to overeat at lunch, ducking out for something extra outside of what I bring.

A lot of the big thing for me is making it all as easy as possible, so I have fewer and fewer excuses to buy lunch and breakfast. I won't pretend there haven't been days I have, cause sometimes it definitely doesn't come together, but I work at it. It's a learning experience, like anything.

One tip, though? Be careful with cayenne pepper! I used it like regular pepper and had a batch of chicken and veg that made me cry every time I ate it.


Home and Confidence

I actually was intending to journal this morning, but my finger wandered over to the MarsEdit button, and here we are!

Hi. It's been a while, I know. I've been busy!

So, the move went well. And slowly. I took my time over Christmas moving things, culminating in getting the bed setup on New Year's Eve and spending that in my house. It was lonely and scary, to be frank, and I think the first time I realized what really living alone meant. But I slept in the strange bed, and the next day it wasn't quite so strange. It wasn't quite so lonely. I filled the house with music, with TV, with WoW. I set up fragrances, I baked, I cooked, I cleaned. 

Slowly, this strange place is becoming home. 

Besides that I'm changing other things, too. I'm cooking healthier meals. Bringing healthy lunches to work. I'm reaching out to people, seeing people. I'm going to the gym (though I skipped it this morning, shhhh). I'm getting to work earlier (partly because of my new train schedule) and getting more done, I find. I have more energy, and feel more confident about myself, and who I am.

My therapist spoke recently about confidence, about radiating that out, and a bit of how that confidence draws things to you. She said she could already see a change in me, and I could feel it too. I feel like good things are coming. Like I finally have my life on track, but I felt like a lot of it just happened to me. Like life just happened to me.

But she pointed out that isn't really the case. While there are obvious cases of dumb luck, for the most part the changes in my life are my decision, or because I've made a good impression on someone else, or something else I've done has put that into motion. She encouraged me not to pick that apart, but just to embrace the idea that my life is, in actuality, in my hands. In ways this is scary, since it means I am responsible. But it also means I have a say in it. I control what happens. 

And that's a good feeling.