What do video game characters, superheroes, and nerds have to do with health? You might not think a lot, but you’d be wrong! They’ll help you stop procrastinating, quit crash dieting, get in shape, and live a healthier life permanently. Since 2009, my program, Nerd Fitness, has helped hundreds of thousands of people lose weight, get stronger, and live better.

Actually reaching your goals starts by changing your mentality: You don’t go “work out” or suffer through a miserable diet and starve yourself. Instead, with our program, you’re tasked with quests and missions to build a stronger, healthier body. The aim is to help you stay motivated because you’re working towards something— the superhero version of you. Rather than cleanses or extreme workouts, we believe in creating small, permanent habits over a long period of time, building momentum with tiny victories that continually reinforce a healthier lifestyle.

Nerd Fitness applies game mechanics and environment hacks to your life, so that your default behavior becomes healthier choices.

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Start by setting a goal of going for a 10-minute walk each morning. To make it happen:

-       Sleep in your exercise clothes

-       Put your alarm clock across the room and set it to play your “theme song”

-       Put your walking shoes next to the clock!

If you can build a habit of walking for two weeks straight, reward yourself with something that rewards you back such as a new shirt you’ve wanted and a new pair of running shoes. Stop the habit of rewarding your good behavior with something negative (no more “I exercised this week, I earned this chocolate cake!”). Instead reward yourself with things that help you build even more momentum.

But what happens if you skip your walk? Just like dying in a video game has consequences— and thus makes a game more challenging and interesting— you need to introduce accountability to the habits you’re looking to build, too! Give a friend of yours some of your hard-earned cash; if you skip a workout and don’t check in with them every morning, they will donate $50 to the political campaign of a candidate you despise! Might as well just exercise, right?

These hacks and more are covered in Steve Kamb’s book: Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story.

Steve Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness, a worldwide community of nerds and average Joes and Jills helping each other level up their lives. He is the author of “Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story.”