20 ways to be better at life today

Written by Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness. Guides to staying healthy, without giving up your geek lifestyle.

“Level up your life, every single day”

That has been the Nerd Fitness tagline from day one.

When I initially came up with the idea for Nerd Fitness, thinking about how to break down the seemingly complex and overwhelming concept of health and wellness, I kept coming back to one thought above all others: if we looked at our lives as one giant video game, we could work on making small changes that lead to eventual big results – in weight loss, strength gains, and life improvements.

To put this in normal people terms: “Be better today than you were yesterday.”

In early June, I spent a weekend in Portland at the World Domination Summit, interacting and learning from some of the world’s best and brightest creative minds. I left with another concept.  Chris Guillebeau, a hero of mine and founder of the conference, tweeted something so simple that it was easy to jump out at me:“Why not now?”

You’re going to learn 20 different ways to work on being a better person TODAY than you were yesterday – in health, in wellness, in wealth, in life.  The concept of leveling up means that you’re always progressing in a positive direction, no matter how small that progression may be.  Do something, make Optimus Prime proud, and level up in the game of life.

Here’s how you can get one step closer to awesome.

Fitness and health

1. Get stronger: Start with a simple workout, and keep track of your stats, such as how many sets and repetitions you do for each exercise.  As long as you can do ONE more push up in today’s workout compared to your last workout, you are officially stronger.

2. Run faster: When you go for a run today, track the distance and time on your iPhone or simply use Google Maps and a stopwatch to determine your distance and time. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 45 minutes to walk a mile today. As long as you can walk it in 44 minutes and 59 seconds next time, you are officially faster.

3. Do a pull-up: Old or young, man or woman, big or small – everybody has the ability within them to do a freaking pull-up. You might be quite a way off depending on where you are now, but you can start putting a plan in place TODAY to eventually do one.  This is one of the greatest exercises of all time, and a true test of strength and fitness.

4. Improve your flexibility: The majority of us spend the day sitting behind a desk, hunched over a computer, for 8+ hours…which is absolutely terrible for our bodies. Spend 15 minutes a day doing stretches (click on the Stretches channel), read MobilityWOD, and start taking care of your body and joints.


Reminder: don’t stretch BEFORE you exercise…stretch AFTER you exercise.

5. Eat Better: Stop eating crap and start eating real foods – meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Cut the bad carbs, eat more protein and fat.Research Paleo. Make one tiny change today, then make one tiny change tomorrow and one tiny change the next day. Make changes that you can live with on a permanent basis and all of a sudden your diet will look nothing like the garbage you used to eat.

6. Take better care of yourself: I love video games as much as the next guy (I CAN’T WAIT to play this), but I know that spending too much time gaming tonight instead of sleeping would make tomorrow suck just a little bit more. Turn off the TV half-an-hour earlier tonight and read a book – it’s good for you.

7. Be a better cook: If you’re on a budget and want to eat healthy food, your best option is going to be learning how to cook better. If a guy like me who is useless in the kitchen can learn to cook a healthy meal like chicken stirfry, you can too. Check out Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals for a great recipe book full of fast healthy meals that are easy enough for us nerds to create. Cook yourself dinner TONIGHT.

8. Be a better localvore: Start visiting farmers markets and buying locally grown goods. I’m currently reading The Vegetarian Myth, which has absolutely blown my mind on what mass-market agriculture and commercial farming have done to our planet.  For another great angle, check out Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Do the research to find a farmer’s market in your area TODAY and make plans to check it out this upcoming weekend.

9. Move more: Whether it’s through urban playgrounds or out in the woods, get out there and DO something. Summer is here, and the sun is shining…sometimes. Step out of your house, get out of the gym, and start exploring your environment. I was a gym rat for 10 years and LOVE to lift weights; after spending the past four months exercising anywhere and everywhere, I might never get a gym membership again!

10. [???]

Live better

1. Pay off your debt: Debt sucks, as my buddy Baker at ManVsDebt will tell you. Put a plan in place TODAY to pay it off faster. Add one dollar to your student loan payments or add one dollar to next month’s credit card payments, and you’re officially LESS in debt. Woot! If you’re completely clueless about finance, spend ten bucks on Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which absolutely revolutionized how I manage my money.

2. Be more adventurous: Start planning a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. If I can do this for $418, you can find a way to get anywhere for relatively cheap. You don’t need to visit every country in the world, but a trip to a foreign land – or even a new location in your own country – for some epic adventure is within your reach. Research flights TODAY. Start travel hacking TODAY.

3. Challenge yourself: You’re reading Nerd Fitness, so I’m going to assume you’re a relatively intelligent human/cyborg. Instead of staying comfortable in your own little tiny niche, it’s time to challenge yourself. Start learning a second language, take a dancing class, take a martial arts class, WHATEVER. Do the research today, sign up for the class, call the school. Stop waiting, start doing.

4. Be more in control of your time and life: Starting my own company was the greatest things I’ve ever done, even though I had to quit a dream job to make it happen. Start putting steps in place TODAY to build the future you want. I realize that sounds really corny and cheesy, but it’s true. I spent eighteen months writing every day and every night for Nerd Fitness while also working a full time gig. I barely slept and had little time for anything else, but I knew I was building a future that I could be proud of and have a positive impact on people’s lives.  If you have NO desire to start your own company, put systems in place so that you’re spending less time at work doing things you hate and more time on things that you love.

5. Declutter your life: I’ve been living out of a backpack for the past four months, and I’ve come to realize that we really don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. In fact, we all too often have way too much crap that takes time to maintain, clean, repair, whatever.  Follow Baker’s Sell Your Crap plan and start getting rid of the crap in your life you don’t need. Take the time TODAY to throw away one thing that you never use, donate ONE piece of clothing you haven’t worn in 6 months, and/or sign up for an eBay account and post ONE thing that you can get rid of. Do that today, and your living space will be just that little bit less hectic.

6. Get more educated: I LOVE reading. My Amazon Kindle doesn’t go a day without being used because I’m always trying to further my health and wellness education along with fun fiction books to help me fall asleep. I recently finished reading Why We Got Fat,Be Your Own Gym, and The Alchemist. I’m currently finishing up the aforementioned Vegetarian Myth and The China Study. Pick a new book TODAY and start learning more!

7. Do less: I had a chance to learn from Leo from Zen Habits recently at a conference in Portland. I don’t think I’ve ever met a happier or more content individual. He doesn’t worry about tomorrow, he doesn’t dwell on yesterday. He simply takes each day as a blessing with a big grin on his face, and here’s why. He’s stopped devoting his time, energy, and resources to things that detracted from his happiness. Today, make a commitment to taking on one less unexciting commitment or eliminating one unnecessary meeting. Want more? Take time today to check out Leo’s The Power of Less.

8. Do one thing that scares you: Tim Ferriss has this quote on his desk as a daily reminder to challenge himself. In fitness, we have to challenge our muscles to move outside of their comfort zone or they never get bigger, stronger, faster. In life, we have to challenge ourselves to move outside of our comfort zone or we’ll never grow. I’m crossing things off my list that scare me, and I encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t even need to be something crazy like flying a stunt planeor swimming with sharks; it can be something as easy as asking somebody for his/her phone number, speaking in front of a crowd, or exercising in public.  Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable – it’s good for you!  It’s time to becomemore confident, conquer your fear, and get better.  ONE THING TODAY.

9. Have more fun: I understand that I told you to do LESS above in point #7.  I encourage you to do less of the crap you hate, so that you can focus on doing more of the stuff you love. As stated in the Rules of the Rebellion: “Your exercise and diet can become part of what you are, but not at the expense of who you are.” If you enjoy spending time playing video games, watching Arrested Development reruns, and hanging out with your family, find a way to do MORE of that. You can be in great shape, enjoy what you do on a daily basis, and still have a lot of fun. More fun stuff = more happiness = less stress = better life = win.

10. [???]

What’s missing?

I know what you’re thinking: “Steve you goon, #10 in both sections is just question marks!”

Yup, I honestly struggled coming up with that last piece of advice for both, which is where you come in. What else belongs on this list, and what SPECIFIC steps can people take TODAY to get there?

How can we be better today than we were yesterday?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo credits: Image 1 | Image 2 | Image 3 | Image 4



Bonus: A reminder for East Coast gamers this weekend