Review: “Level Up Your Life”

I have been following Steve Kamb via his very unique lifestyle website, NerdFitness.com, for the past 3-4 years.  Kamb has created a worldwide online community of “nerds” through his inspirational posts, nutrition guides and fitness resources. By way of hobbits, superheroes, stormtroopers and Harry Potter, Kamb makes everything from yoga to weightlifting to the Paleo diet more easily accessible to average Joes, especially those who often get caught up in the fantasy and escape of comic books, video games and movies and too often ignore what’s happening in real life.

redeem-LUYL-bookAs a devoted reader of the website, I was excited for the release of his first book, “Level Up Your Life”.  It is both a memoir and self-help book as Kamb explains how he used his own love for video games as a way to structure the change he needed to bring about it in his own life so that he could live better.

Kamb knows change isn’t easy and that it doesn’t come in big leaps and bounds. Rather, the key to successful long-term sustainable change in life is incremental. Think of the original Super Mario Brothers for NES – there were 8 worlds and each world had 4 levels that you had to complete before you ultimately could save Princess Toadstool from the clutches of the evil Bowser. As you progressed, the enemies and obstacles became tougher. However, you were better prepared because of what you learned along the way, like how to time your jumps and how to swim around fish.

“Just like in games, if we can find a way to make small improvements and recognize those small improvements in our day-to-day lives, it’s likely to increase our overall happiness.”

Whether you are trying to lose weight, learn a new language, travel the world or develop a new skill, Kamb advocates this idea of “leveling-up”. Take one step at a time but set clear goals of what you want to accomplish before you move onto the next level in your adventure. For example, if you are looking to drop your body-fat percentage, the first level might be eliminating processed foods from your diet for 1-2 months. Then after you have successfully completed that challenge, the next level might be reducing the number of alcoholic beverages you have each week. The change will happen but it won’t be overnight. Similarly, if you want to learn how to speak Spanish fluently, the first level might be to learn 5 new words per week and a more advanced level might be having a 10-minute conversation in Spanish each week with the ultimate goal of traveling through Spain and being able to converse with the locals.

The book is very approachable and a fun read. Some appreciation of nerdom is suggested as he references everything from Luke Skywalker to James Bond to Jason Bourne to Katniss Everdeen to illustrate his point. Kamb calls upon the reader to even go as far as to create their own character or alter-ego – think Clark Kent/Superman. He also classifies the different type of quests that we can embark on (i.e. physical, mental/spiritual, business, adventure, etc.). This is all part of the hero’s journey that he wants us to take so that we can grow and develop into our best selves.

“The goal is to present yourself with challenges you are capable of overcoming but which are still challenging enough to engage all your attention.”

Since I was so familiar with his website, the book wasn’t revelatory but rather a good refresher for me on Kamb’s thesis and approach. For the newbie, there is a lot of information to digest. The book is not intended to be read in one sitting but to be a resource that you keep referring to along your journey. I appreciate that throughout the book Kamb included stories of “rebel heroes” from his “rebellion” who were able to “level up”. He is also quick to show his gratitude for all the bloggers and writers that he turns to for inspiration.

The book successfully transmits to the reader the spirit of his website and helps you understand why he has been able to build such a large community of change.

 

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