Level Up Your Life

Rodale Books

Every year, usually the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, there is a proliferation of articles about making New Year’s resolutions. Then, about a week later, there is a host of stories about how most of us will give up on those resolutions by February. It is a seemingly endless and unbreakable cycle, one that I am certainly guilty of participating in. But not this year!

True, I didn’t have that much of a choice about foregoing my 2017 resolutions, but being laid out with a nasty upper respiratory infection helped me internalize the idea put forth by the ladies behind PowerSheets (which I am also trying out) that there is nothing special about January 1. Every day is a chance for a fresh start; you just have to embrace it as one.

Another place I’m drawing inspiration from this year – the NerdFitness Academy – has a similar philosophy. Rule #1 of the Rebellion, as we call ourselves, is:

We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going. . . . The past is just that: the past. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life if you truly believe that.


If you’ve never heard of the Academy before, it is a self-paced online lifestyle regimen that was created by Steve Kamb, the founder of NerdFitness.com. An avid lover of video games, he founded the website in 2008 because:

I didn’t see anybody helping out people like me: people with desk jobs that love nerd culture, games, books, and movies, but also know they need to make healthier choices in their day to day lives.


The solution he came up with is a relatively simple one: Use your favorite fictional characters as inspiration and become the superhero of your own story. Gamify your life, assign points to the various quests you want to undertake, and level up your “character” as you complete those challenges.

I first stumbled across NerdFitness last summer when Kamb and the community he’s built were featured in the Washington Post. I was looking to make a number of changes in my life and the idea of turning my to-do list into my own “Epic Quest of Awesome” was extremely appealing. So, I joined the Academy, purchased Kamb’s book – Level Up Your Life – and promptly did nothing with it. Oh sure, I created a rough profile, debated about what class seemed to fit me best, and began checking off some simple quests, but that was about it.

This year, I decided that I wanted to get involved beyond commenting on various NerdFitness-related Facebook posts and started with finally reading Kamb’s book. Now that I have, I can’t believe I waited so long to dive in!

Level Up Your Life is an extremely easy read and lays out NerdFitness’s entire philosophy. Kamb illustrates his points with personal experiences and pop culture references, as well as stories from fellow Rebels who have gone on their own amazing adventures. He even challenges various excuses we’ve likely all told ourselves at some point or another, like “I just don’t have enough time.” Everything in the book spoke to me and reflected my struggles to always “make this year different.” In fact, I highlighted something on just about every page!

Though I still have to flesh out my “Epic Quest” and assign points to my various mini-quests, such as becoming an Avenger, Katniss Everdeen, or Rita Vrataski, I am really excited to use the NerdFitness structure as motivation to finally get off of my duff and do all of the things I’ve been thinking about doing for years. After all, I need to make sure I can survive the first 100 days when the zombies come!

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