Fit… nerd? Do they really exist? Why yes. Yes they do.
The nerdy/geeky lifestyle supposedly doesn’t bode well for fitness. For years there’s been the stigma that nerds have horrible hygiene, various medical conditions, and poor eyesight.
Frak off stereotypes- nerds are hot, intelligent, and ready to take over the world- glasses or not. Personally, I’ve been trying to take over the world since I was a teenager, but that’s another story.
As a proficient nerd myself, my life is spent primarily on the computer surfing tumblr, catching up on my favorite TV shows, and writing. What do these all have in common? My soft and ample backside. As for my husband, he spends 90% of his free time with PC games. Together we are an adorable couple of hermits who live mostly online; and we love it.
We are both passionate about what we do. I geek out and obsess over storytelling, while my husband has extensive knowledge of gaming history, having played since he was about five years old. These things make us happy and spark our creativity, but they also encourage a very sedentary lifestyle. We’ve spent entire weekends marathoning for hours on our computers without a second thought. Since we don’t enjoy the outdoors and we’re both introverted, it eventually dawned on us that making time for fitness was not only important, but necessary to achieve the maximum lifespan in order to enjoy our binge worthy entertainment as long as possible.
I’m certainly not an expert, nor do I have any fancy degrees, but my fitness adventure might shed some light on how to begin a life as a fit nerd.
My own journey started with a move to LA where I became very self-conscious over my extra weight, so I started seeing a personal trainer. I lost a fair amount of weight, but found it was hard to maintain without my trainer breathing down my neck. Eventually I stopped and fell back into my usual routine. Later I started taking yoga classes. The mental and physical benefits were incredible, so I made a choice to make yoga a part of my life. Now, as a certified yoga instructor, I regularly move my body and get out of the house, two things that are important for my health.
(Yes, that is actually me acting like a huge dork, but look! I’m outdoors!)
Happily, it’s not hard to get started! Basic body weight workouts are a perfect way to start at home without feeling anxious about the gym or changing your schedule too drastically. If you’re looking for some online sources I highly recommend NerdFitness.com for overall body work and eating assistance. If you’re interested in yoga feel free to email questions to me at Trenna@nerd-hero.com.
Basic body workouts will often include pushups, squats, lunges, and planks. Here’s an example of how you could incorporate these into your routine: do each mentioned exercise in order with breaks as necessary, and then repeat two more times through for three total repetitions of each set.
10 pushups. Tip: elbows bend out at 90 degrees, this does not mean the upper arm is parallel with the ground. Check out some visuals and how to do incline or knee pushups here. Remember, starting with a modification allows you to focus on form!
15 squats. Tip: don’t be afraid to experiment with the width of your knees and feet while squatting. Many professionals have a certain way they think is “right” for the body; however, the construction of the hip bone and socket can change drastically from person to person. Personally, a wide knee “sumo” style squat is more comfortable for my knees. Try using a short stool to squat low enough just to tap your cheeks on the seat before pressing back up. Keep the back straight and the stomach tight! Check it out here.
20 alternating lunges. Tip: there are lots of options and modifications for lunges. Try stepping back into the lunge rather than forward if they bother your knees. Bend the back knee low, and if you can, brush the ground with your kneecap. Feel free to steady yourself with a hand on a chair. Remember to listen to your body and modify as necessary.
0:15 – 1 min plank. Plant the hands directly under the shoulders. Keep the glutes low, belly sucked in, press back through your heels to keep the legs engaged, look slightly ahead of your fingertips to keep the neck long, and breathe! Start at 15 seconds and slowly build up to a minute.
Repeat those four exercises a few times and you’ll feel it! The most difficult part will be learning how to make these a habitual part of your life. Habits take weeks to form, so set reminders, post sticky notes, wear your workout clothes and do it obsessively three times a week for a month. After that see how you feel and start to knock it up a notch!
(OK, maybe not that far.)
Cardio is another healthy addition to your routine. This includes anything that gets your heart pumping. Try walking, biking, swimming, or anything that encourages you to breath deep. If you can talk easily while working try pushing to the point where you’re huffing between every few words. If you can’t talk at all try dialing it back a pinch. Try to get as much cardio as you can stand, but twice a week for 20-30 minutes is a good place to start. My favorite way to do this is on a stationary bike in front of the TV with an episode of Futurama to keep me distracted.
A good way to help the transition is to warm up the body before you begin. March in place for a couple minutes, go through the sets, and then take a short walk to cool down (even if it’s just around your home). Of course, feel free to go through a few yoga stretches if you’re familiar with them. Most importantly, listen to your body- I cannot stress this enough. We are all built a little different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Really though…yoga…
As important as it is to move the body, you’ll adjust your health immensely by what you eat. I know, it sucks, I want to eat cookies and chocolate and cinnamon rolls all day long, but I’ve done that diet, and it didn’t work too well. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the basics: lots of veggies, good sources of protein, and everything else in moderation.
The problem is that there is no master formula for how to eat perfectly. Each suggestion can offer great tips, but no matter what worked for Celebrity A or Friend B, it may not work for you. We are built as individuals and, although we may have the same general parts, we don’t fit together exactly the same way. My metabolism is extremely inefficient and happily maintains my weight at very low calories, I can put on a pound by even glancing at a doughnut. My husband can eat everything in sight and remains almost too thin.
Calories, as we know them, are the units of energy we receive from food. One gram of protein (meat, tofu) gives us 4 calories, carbs (bread, starchy foods) also give us 4 per gram, and fat (butter, mayo) supplies 9 per gram. The final category for calories comes from alcohol, which reigns in at 7 calories per gram. Does this mean you should cut out any group entirely? Certainly not. I mean, OK, none of us actually needs alcohol…
If you’re human, that is. The other three components are essential to keeping us humans strong and healthy. Without a master formula we are left to stumble in the dark, but fear not, I’ve fallen enough that I can at least show you the general idea.
If you’re interested in changing how you eat I have one suggestion: start slow. I’m the all or nothing kind of gal, which can be seen with my binge watching and obsessive knowledge on choice topics. Start to stock your kitchen with whole grains, fruit, veggies, and even good quality meats and transition slowly. Switch to the healthier options once your pantry has run out of the unhealthy one. Get comfortable reading nutrition labels and pay close attention to added sugars: fructose, dextrose, cane sugar, and most syrups. Honestly, my favorite resource is from NerdFitness.com and while I do eat a paleo diet as suggested by NerdFitness, it’s important to recognize that it isn’t an option for everyone.
Not a fan of veggies? Try roasting them! Toss broccoli/cauliflower/carrots/green beans (really anything) with a bit of olive oil, toss on some salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven at 425 degree for about 15-20 minutes. When a fork slides though the veggies they’re ready! Aim to eat less carbs (bread, cereal, sugary anything) at breakfast, instead choose scrambled eggs or fruit and Greek yogurt (which has more protein and less sugar than traditional yogurt). Start packing your lunch the night before (if you don’t already) and fill it with alternatives like salads, leftovers from dinner, or soups. And your best course of action for dinner? Make it yourself. Eating out can be a health nightmare to navigate, and eating in not only saves you calories, but also that elusive substance called money.
Whether you are trying to gain weight or lose weight make sure you’re focusing on what they typically call “real” food. Now, first off, I’ve never really understood how you can have not-real food, I mean it’s there, it exists, and when I eat it I consume real calories, so it’s real! However, this usually means veggies, fruit, whole grains, meats, dairy, and food with as little ingredients as possible. I like to think of it as eating food as close to its original form as I can, which usually cuts out those long names on the ingredient lists that I can’t pronounce.
If you’re interested in a more in depth workout plan, instructions, and nutrition there’s another step you can take. NerdFitness.com offers a lot of free information and guidelines. They also have free resources all spun with relatable nerdy topics. I’ve been obsessively reading magazines, fitness sites, and health blogs as long as I can remember (growing up with a very thin and critical mother can do that to you) but I have to say that the paid aspect of NerdFitness (called the Academy) is my absolute favorite resource.
The Academy offers D&D style quests, classes, and leveling up your fitness through experience points! Each class (Ranger, Warrior, Scout, Assassin, Monk, Druid) comes with a list of fitness achievements. As you mark off each mini-goal you earn experience points and level up. They have successfully turned fitness into a game and I’m all in. In addition you have access to community forums for assistance and support, as well as predesigned workout plans, recipes, and nutrition lessons. If you’re interested in more check it out here.
In the end it’s not important what kind of diet plan you follow or how hard you work your body, what matters is that you stay aware of what you are doing. Being well informed will make you a more conscientious eater and being mindful of your body gives you the opportunity to feel better in your own skin. So move! Eat! Live! Try a dumb trendy class with a friend and laugh about it later, go for the treadmill desk at work if you want, take that leap and stick with it. A couple months from now you might surprise yourself.
Oh, and don’t be alarmed if you fall a few times. The Japanese have a proverb: “fall down seven times, stand up eight times.” So keep trying, no matter what.
Oh, shut up Yoda.
Once again I would like to thank Google for supplying all images.