5 Things I Learned at Camp Nerd Fitness 2015

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Last year, I traveled a path that looked very different than the one I’m on now. I knew that I needed to go somewhere, but I wasn’t quite sure where. This was not a bad thing. Not long before I felt myself sliding down a side of some proverbial mountain with no way to catch myself from dropping to the bottom.

When I first found Nerd Fitness, it seemed as if someone had finally made me aware that I was on this mountain. Suddenly, I knew that life was going to be this terribly difficult climb to the top. This knowledge didn’t keep me from sliding down, but it did make me aware of where I was in life.

Last year, I went to the inaugural year of Camp Nerd . I wrote about it here in detail, but the tl;dr is, I faced fears of mine and did things I never thought possible. I not only made new friends but gained a new family. I had formed my super hero squad to help me climb that mountain. I found a path up and started trudging up.

The following year, I made a lot of huge changes in my life. I decided to start running and signed up for a marathon (probably not the best choice in hindsight but it worked out in the end). I decided to finally and permanently start losing weight. I decided to become a writer by trade more than just by hobby and by dreaming of one day becoming one. I learned that dreaming something doesn’t make it come true and thanks to my new Nerd Fitness family, I started taking steps toward making those dreams a reality.

But I wasn’t finished yet. I was on the path up the mountain finally, but I found that the path wasn’t as straightforward as I would have liked. There were lots of twists and bends. Sometimes the path went down. Sometimes I fell off the path. Sometimes it came to a dead end and I had to turn around and go back.

This year, as I boarded the airplane to Atlanta to attend the second year of Camp Nerd Fitness, I had one major goal in mind: Focus.

Except I wasn’t sure what to focus on, so I chose a few areas to learn about that I could take back with me into my life this year.

I did so much, I can’t even begin to describe just how much I did and how much of an impact it had on me.

I did loads of fun things that I can’t normally do at home. I woke up early on the first morning and went on a 3 mile run in the hills before the sun rose. It was scary and dark, not at all what I was used to in the suburbs of Houston. Thankfully, I had my friend Robert with me to scare away any bears or fight wild boars. I assume he knows how to do those things.

I took intermediate yoga with Kate Morolt and that kicked my butt. I took Jim Bathurst’s class on inversions again and got even further with my handstands than ever before. I took a wonderful class on cooking from Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo fame (a major fangirl moment for me) and learned all sort of neat tips and tricks about cooking.

I learned so much that I could probably write a few good-sized novels on what I found out. And maybe I will, but for now, I’ll go into the five things that I took away from this year’s camp that I can focus on in the next year:

  1. You can only do One Big Thing at a time: I learned this from a programming class taught by Anthony Mychal, Staci Ardison and Jason Fitzgerald. I know that people have said this before but it took coming to this class to really hear it. You can’t be the fastest runner and the strongest weight lifter and the most flexible yogi. You can work on running and strength and flexibility at the same time, but you can’t focus on being the best at them all at once.This applies to other areas of life. I can’t be a best-selling novelist and a critically acclaimed short story writer and win mother of the year, blogger of the year and fastest marathon runner ever. It just won’t happen.I need to pick One Big Thing and all the other things are just accessories. I can have off seasons where I take time away from the One Big Thing to focus on Another Big Thing, but I would do that with the knowledge that the One Big Thing will have suffered a bit when I go back to it. All of this is okay. I don’t have to be the best at everything. I just need to find out what’s important to me and focus.
  2. Variety Prevents Injury – Another concept I knew but didn’t sink in until I took Jason Fitzgerald’s course on injury prevention in running. The concept was to vary terrain, surfaces and running shoes when you run in order to prevent injury. I had a habit of running the same course in the same shoes pretty much the same way every time. This repetitive routine was making me weaker, not stronger.Again, this can be related to other areas of life. It incorporates the concept of Antifragility. If we do the same thing over and over again without pushing ourselves in a different direction, without going a little bit further often in an unexpected way, we open ourselves up for injury and weakness. Playing, getting out of the expected routine, or simply changing a tiny thing in my routine could make a huge difference in making me stronger.It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent. What makes one stronger is getting out of complacency and learning how to adapt to new situations.
  3. You can make caramelized onions in the slow cooker – there’s no deep meaning to this one. I just think it’s really cool and now I’ll have onions with everything
  4. Habits need to start small – I’ve read this one over and over and over again and I still couldn’t get it through my thick skull. You need to start a habit with the tiniest possible step. Leo Babauta says to start with flossing one tooth. I know this, but it’s ridiculous. Just one tooth? It would take me a year and a half to learn how to floss all my teeth at that rate! I need to do ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW! I’m not getting any younger. If it takes me 2 years to brush my teeth, how long would it take me to lose weight? To keep my house clean? To write a novel?When I took Rog Law’s class on habits, I didn’t expect to learn much. But little did I know that Rog is a magical being. He knows how to put the right words in the right order to make you really think about your situation. I thought about my situation and I thought about a good habit that I had developed.Running. Running is second nature to me. When the alarm goes off at 4:30am I roll out of bed, into my clothes and before I’m even fully awake, I’m out the door. But how did I get there? I didn’t start running a marathon right away. I started with running for 30 seconds. That’s it. That’s all I could do! I started with that and running became a habit when I kept going out for those 30 seconds. It didn’t take me long to get well past 30 seconds. With the help of a goal and friends to run with, the habit became so ingrained that now I can train for marathons without giving it a second thought.Why can’t I do this for other areas of my life? Why can’t I start with one push up? Why can’t I start with writing 100 words? Or even 50 words? The important part is starting the habit and when you build a strong base, you can increase it – and that will happen fast – from there.
  5. Who am I to call myself a writer? A writer, that’s who. – We’re back to Rog Law and his magical ways again. I mosied on over in the pouring rain to his class on confidence. Because I lack confidence in a lot of ways and one of the biggest ways is in calling myself a writer.Amid all these people who have published novels, agents and fan bases, here I come with my little blog and say “hey, everyone, I’m a writer.”  Often, someone will ask me what I have written and from there, I fold back into myself ashamed that I dared call myself a writer when I have nothing to show for it. Who am I to call myself a writer? I haven’t published anything, so why do I call myself a writer? Well, it took Rog’s magic words to show me something I should have seen all along. I’m a published writer. I published on the biggest book ever known to mankind called the internet. I am writing these words right now that are IN YOUR FACE. You know these words that are passing into your eyeballs, passing through the ocular nerve to your brain, firing synapses and creating new neural pathways? Those are my words. And you are reading them.  It doesn’t matter when or if I get published at all. I write and have written and I enjoy writing. You’re reading those words and whether you like them or not, they are written. I am a writer. And I’m proud of it.

 

I learned more during this camp than from hours of reading blogs on the internet. That’s not saying blogs can’t make a difference. They very much can and they have for me. But sometimes it takes a little extra push, maybe I big community or just a few friends, to get something to sink into your brain and to put your life into focus.

Rain or shine, you can bet I’m going back to Camp Nerd Fitness next year

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