Gee Willikers Batman! How to Find Your Sidekick (And A New Challenge!)

Batman had Robin.

Bert had Ernie.

Thema had Louise.

Who’s your sidekick?

This quest for a leveled up life is a difficult one – every day, it seems like the deck is stacked against you – unhealthy foods at every corner, a hectic job that pulls you in a million directions, and family and friends who might not be as interested in getting  healthy.

For that reason, it’s easy to think of yourself as a lone ranger with the weight of the world on your shoulders – like Indiana Jones taking on the  Nazis or Link taking on Ganon and his entire horde, it’s easy to see the task of getting healthy as an uphill battle with a less than a 32.3% (repeating of course) chance of success.

When you think about it however, all the greats never went it alone – they always had a partner to help push them to greater heights!  Rocky Balboa trained and befriended Apollo Creed to get the Eye of the Tiger. Frodo had Sam to help him walk all the freaking way to Mordor.

I want to talk today about the importance of having a sidekick, the qualities of this workout partner, and where to find one.

Why a sidekick is crucial

Mario and Luigi Workout Partners Let’s be honest, most people suck at getting in shape.It’s easy to make excuses and reward our bad behavior by allowing us to do unhealthy but enjoyable activities instead of actually making good choices:

  • Skipping a workout in the morning to hit the snooze button.
  • Skipping a workout after school to play videogames.
  • Picking up an unhealthy meal at a drive-through rather than eating the healthy meal at home in the fridge.

We then spend the next day beating ourselves up for not having the self-control to make better decisions We need to put an end to this madness! Once you start looking at yourself as a Super Hero in Training (I’d advise against an acronym here), and identify your epic destiny, it’s time to find that person who will help you elevate your game. When you have a sidekick, you have:

  • A built-in accountabili-buddy.  You can’t sleep in today, because you’re going exercising with Frodo!  You can’t skip a healthy meal tonight, because you’re supposed to be cooking food with Luigi and his family.  It’s great to know you’re not the only one going through this process! You have somebody to turn to, someone who understands what you’re going through, and can offer up words of wisdom on the subject.
  • Somebody to bounce ideas off of.  If you have a sidekick who struggles with the same stuff as you, then you have a second YOU to learn from!  What workouts work?  What diet tips actually work?  How can you make family dinners healthier?  Two nerdy minds are better than one!
  • A chance to grow and teach. When you have a sidekick, you get a chance to watch them learn from you, lean on you, and live better.  Want to know one of the BEST ways to get better at something?  Teach somebody else to do it!
  • A built-in reality check.  We’re pretty good at lying to ourselves.  Whether we convince ourselves that we’ve been eating healthy (while sneaking in unhealthy snacks every few hours), tell ourselves that “hey, we’re good enough!” when we’re really not. Instead of coming up with excuses as to why we’re not actually getting results, a good sidekick can provide that ‘slap in the face’ that wakes us up that we often so desperately need.

The qualities of a good sidekick

Bert and Ernie workout buddies Like finding your future wife/husband/robot, there are certain qualities you should be looking for when qualifying your potential sidekick in order to make sure you have the right person for the job:

  • They are at a simliar level of fitness.  They can be further along or further behind on their goals, but preferably somebody who is around the same fitness point as you.
  • You can relate to them.  If you have two kids, a mortgage, and work out at home, it’d be tough to relate to a single dude with no kids, a bunch of money, that loves to work out in a gym.  Find somebody that has a similar lifestyle too, so you can compare notes on how to work out before the kids wake up, or how to eat healthy despite your significant other not being on board.
  • They are real, preferably available in real life.  I’m sure that your imaginary sidekick General Pants is a real go-getter, but he won’t get the job done.  If possible, try to identify one of your friends in real life that can become your sidekick – somebody to exercise with and meet up with regularly to discuss next steps.  If you can’t find somebody in real life, I can think of a community of folks where you could find somebody perfectly suited to your match
  • You trust them.    Although it’s good to have support and encouragement, you’re not looking for a yes-man cheerleader.  You need somebody that’s gonna call you on your BS, because (as we all know), nobody believes your excuses except for you.  They will push you when you need to be pushed, dragged out of bed when you need to be dragged out of bed, and held accountable when you’re slacking.
  • They are driven.  You don’t want an anchor of a sidekick.  They are supposed to pick you up, not drag you down with THEIR excuses and complaints.  If they are constantly telling you “let’s skip today and go to the bar,” you’ve found a good drinking buddy…not a great sidekick.

How to Use your Sidekick

Sam and Frodo lego workout buddies Ew, no, not like that. Come on!  Once you have your sidekick, lean on them!

Here are some examples:

  • Accountability.  Make a pact with your sidekick that every time you skip a workout, you will paypal him $10 dollars.  Or make a pact that if you skip more than three workouts in a month, you have to pay for his next dinner with his significant other.  Maybe if you don’t lose 3% body fat by the end of the month, you have to take a picture in a tutu on Main Street and send it to him.  The more ridiculous you get, the more likely you’ll be to actually follow through with your habit building.
  • Support.  If your friends don’t exercise, they won’t care that you hit a personal record in deadlifts this morning, but your sidekick will.  If you had a crappy day at work and just want to come home and eat a family size bag of M&Ms (damn you, coworker Judy!), your sidekick can talk you out of it.  If you are considering a new workout or joining a gym, your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend might not have any insight, but your sidekick might!
  • Friendly competition.   Competition is fun.  Even if you and your sidekick aren’t at the same level of fitness, it doesn’t mean you can’t compete for a small prize each week: Most miles walked.  Consecutive days exercised.  Number of healthy meals eaten in a row.  Having somebody that challenges you to be better and push beyond “meh” is awesome.

How to find a sidekick

Fred and Barney Workout Pals You know what you need: a sidekick! You know what kind of side kick: an awesome one! There’s just one problem….you don’t know where to FIND your sidekick. Fear not my friend!  That’s what Nerd Fitness is for.  Well…that, and comedic relief.  Here’s are the best places to find your future sidekick:

  • Your immediate group of friends.  If you are lucky to have a friend that are ALSO interested in fitness, you’re golden.  Ask them for advice on a workout plan or let them know that you’re looking for some accountability, and let the sidekicking begin!  If you DON’T have any friends interested in fitness, ask and see if any of them would be interested in starting.  Even if you’re not an expert, you can help them get started, which in turn will allow YOU to become better and stay on target (after all, you’re now a mentor!).
  • Your office mates.  If you work in an office, I bet there is somebody there who’s interested in getting healthy.  I bet they feel the same way about their situation too: alone and looking for some guidance, help, and accountability.  Can’t find anybody interested?  Send out an email starting a weight loss competition at work; boom – you now have your pool of potential sidekick candidates.  Feel free to put them through a rigorous interview, talent show, and swimsuit competition to decide.
  • The gym or club/team you’re a part of.   In a book club?  Play in a co-ed kickball league?  Hang out at a Crossfit gym all the time or notice the same people in your Yoga class?  Put on your confident face  and strike up a conversation.  You don’t need to date the person, you just want somebody to keep you on track.
  • Join the Nerd Fitness community!  All the cool nerds are doing it!   Post in the “looking for a sidekick” section with your basic stats, and we’ll see if somebody with similar stats who’s ALSO looking for a sidekick will get in contact with you!  We don’t have fancy profile-matching software, but we do have a community of 7,000+ people who are damn supportive.  I like your chances.  Speaking of finding support online…

Join the Six Week Challenge

snoopy and woodstock There’s no better way than to join one of the six week challenges over at the Nerd Fitness Community.

We’ve split up the challenges into groups based on common goals, and have over 500 rebels taking part!  One of the participants in your group is bound to be local.On top of that, these challenges are a ton of fun and a great way to level up your life TODAY.  And if you don’t end up finding your real life sidekick, you’ll have 500+ new friends to support you, encourage you, and help you out with your goals.

Oh, and it’s FREE.

If you’re new to how the challenges work, NF team member Staci created a video going over everything.

For more information or to sign up, head on over to the new six week challenge.

Fun fact: Staci really did find her sidekick on Nerd Fitness two years ago after realizing one of her challenge squad members was local. They now bounce ideas off of each other on a daily basis, attend each other’s competitions, and even train together. 

Win!

Who’s your sidekick?

pooh and piglet
Yup, that’s Pooh dressed as Piglet and Piglet dressed as Pooh.  
Try finding THAT on a site written by somebody older than eight.

Why? Because that’s how we roll around here at Nerd Fitness.  

I’d love to hear about YOUR sidekick!

Who are they, and how do they help you live a better life?

If you DON’T have one, where do you plan on finding one TODAY?

-Steve

###

photo source: mario and luigi workout partners , batman and robin, frodo and sam workout buddies, pooh and piglet, bert and ernie workout buddies, snoopy, fred and barney workout pals

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  • http://pureoutside.com/blog Ross Collicutt

    Great article Steve. I think too many people are trying to go it alone. I know that I try too much and get into a rut sometimes. 

    I’m wondering if anyone’s had success having their girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse as their workout sidekick and if it works well. I don’t think that would work well because of everything else wrapped up in that relationship but maybe I’m wrong. 

  • http://www.runsoncake.com/ Kelly Runs on Cake

    I’m lucky that my manfriend is a pretty great sidekick. He got me on the “getting healthier” bandwagon to begin with, really. We have a similar desire to eat healthy, and after work it’s harder to skip a workout if the other person is already geared up and ready to go. We bounce ideas off of each other, try new things together, and help each other see the progress we’ve made. BUT (and I think this is a big but) there are definitely fitness-related things we cannot do together just because we have different attitudes toward exercise. He pushes himself harder than I do, so sometimes I will resent him for being pushy and unsympathetic when I want to take my time with something, and he will get irritated that I am letting myself “off the hook” and slowing *him* down in the process. If we were strictly workout buddies we might be able to work through that stuff, but for two people who actually have to go home together and live together and like each other after a run, it isn’t worth it to get frustrated with each other every time.
    But honestly, that’s not a huge problem. So we work out separately sometimes to avoid situations like that. So what? He still supports me doing things without him, and still kind of holds me accountable that I do *something*, with or without him, so he’s a pretty great sidekick overall. I think it would be pretty hard to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t support your lifestyle at all.

  • http://www.runsoncake.com/ Kelly Runs on Cake

    I should have said “I *feel* like he is being pushy and unsympathetic in those moments.”

  • April McKee

    Hey Ross,

    My hubby & I are training for a half together. It works well for us. :) On the days I’m like “SCREW YOU, LONG RUN!” he pushes me to keep going.

    With that said I do my crossfit stuff separately from him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/derekdecay Derek Wallace

    I had a side-kick but then she fell off the wagon.. hard.. Like, eating processed fast food junk ALL THE TIME and not even going for walks with me..

    Now when I try to encourage her to get back on said wagon with me she tells me that I should get off my high-horse, that she’s lost so-and-so amount of pounds and that she’s been doing this longer than I have…

    I’m now taking applications for a new, more motivated side-kick, if anyone is looking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594750695 Diana Avelis

    I have two side kicks:

    My Husband is one — he was in the military, so there’s NO way he and I are on the same level physically. However, we keep each other motivated, and we go through our goals each week — yesterday we updated the whiteboard with my 6 Week goals, and his goals are listed too.

    My second side kick is in a different department, but we see each other at lunch and do a quick rundown of how things are going. It keeps me accountable and gives me that little bit of competition that gets me pumped.

  • http://justabitradical.com/ Kaylith

    My partner is an amazing sidekick! We help one another, and hold each other accountable for missing workouts, eating paleo, and bettering ourselves. I don’t know where I’d be without her cheering me on. :D

  • Chad

    My sidekick is literally, my life long friend. We lived on the same street during childhood and we always agree with each other on everything :D

  • Caro

    my sidekick is my brother, who a year ago dared me to try crossfit,.  Since then we´ve been training together everyday at 6am.. he is the best partner ever, that plus the great group of people at our box in Quito, Ecuador

  • http://fitforlifepledge.com/ Tola

    you’re right Ross, it can be difficult getting your significant other to do it as I’ve learned myself. Best way in those situations is to lead by example. Usually when people see the positive impact, it’s hard not to follow.

  • http://adventuresinfatherhood.net/ Ryan H.

    Great Post Steve,

    I totally agree, people need to realise that they don’t have to go it alone. Everything is easier when you have a little support, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Last year my best bud and I started running, we wanted to get to the point where we could run 5km without feeling like we were gonna die! Having him there running beside me was pretty much the only thing that made me stick with it. I’m not a huge fan of distance running, but I had the goal of doing 5km, and with my buddy’s help, we did it!

    Thanks for another great post Steve, nice one!

    Ryan H.

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.habbas Veronica Habbas

    Awesome article. Even more awesome that you mentioned Link (he rules!)  ^_^. 
    My sidekick is my sister. She’s gone Paleo with me and helps me through it and I her. It’s harder for her though with her job. They’re doing a pasta and bread potluck for July 4th. We called it the Anti-Paleo Potluck lol. I told her if they want pasta, why not bring in spaghetti squash haha. 

  • http://scatterbrainadventures.blogspot.com Rae

    I’ll try to make my fiance my fitness sidekick. I just can’t seen anyone else who’s a better fit. We live together, we buy groceries together…

  • Conrad Ramos

    Steve! Hey Man! If you were going for the decimal equivalent 1/3 it is 33.3% (repeating) :)

  • Susie_Derkins

    My husband has been a great fitness/health sidekick, but he *wanted* to join in. I doubt it would’ve worked so well so if he had been prodded or pressured.

  • Jackie

    The Supergirl to my Batgirl is one of my best friends. She pretty much introduced me to paleo eating and Nerd Fitness. We’ve worked out together and cooked together and we have similar fitness goals. We make excellent partners in crime in business, so hopefully that extends to fitness as well.

  • Nicole

    Love this! My sidekick is my BFF of 24 yrs! We have been besties since the 5th grade and have gone thru lots of ups and lots of downs together. She is my Oprah and I am her Gayle ;)

  • Phalakone Mysay

    Hey Steve,

    This is actually the first time I’m writing a comment on your blog so I’d like to introduce myself first.
    I’m Phalakone and a new adept of the Paleo diet, just want to say that your articles are awesome and always creative with pictures you probably make yourself.

    Having a sidekick is probably one of the most important key success factor in your personal goals. He is here to motivate and support you.
    My personal sidekick is an boxer and trust me he is not nice at all. :)

    Good luck.
    Phalakone

     

  • http://www.theoryofhealth.com/ Graham Lutz

    I would LOVE to find a good sidekick.  Since growing up and being and “real adult” with kids and stuff…It’s beed hard to find anyone who’s interested in anything other than watching football and drinking beer.  

    Not that I dislike those things, but they don’t exactly encourage health…

  • Clive

    My sidekick is my amazing friend TRAINER JON! We have worked together for about a year and he has helped me to drag myself from being in danger of becoming a FAT OLD GIT to a guy who loves exercising and enjoys the fruits of looking and feeling fit. I could not have done it without him.

  • Amy Pacheco

    Indeed awesome Article Steve and yes, Link totally rules, lol!  My sister Veronica had actually started getting into shape a few weeks before me. I had initially found this website while I was trying to find an article online for how to teach yourself to do a pull up. My sister and I were emailing back and forth while I was at work and she was at home working out. I sent her the link for one of Steve’s articles after doing a quick google search and thought nothing more of it.

    As Veronica started to read the article, she would click on the links that lead to other articles and quickly became hooked to Steve’s website and his way of thinking and explaining his beliefs on fitness and weight loss. And that is what helped her to decide to try the Paleo Diet.

    To be perfectly honest, at first I thought it was just another bogus fad diet. Though I am overweight, I’ve never experienced adverse reactions like upset stomach after eating gluten or rice. So being told they were bad for you after being told all my life how whole grains are supposed to be good for you was a little hard for me to swallow in the beginning.

    But then I started reading more of the articles on the site as well. And then I got to Joe’s Story. And I thought to myself “WOW! If that man can lose 128lbs in 10 months, I can surely lose 90lbs” So I had decided to join my sister in the Paleo Diet (She had already been doing it about a week).

    Well, its been about a month for me now and I’ve already lost 12lbs! Veronica and I keep eachother on track, we bounce meal ideas back and forth off of eachother and we always cook at home. I never eat out or do fast food anymore and I’m always looking up Paleo friendly Recipes and packing my lunch for work.

    Sorry for such a long post.  But I just wanted to end it by saying that I feel very blessed to have my sister for a sidekick and I know I would never have been able to see this through without her support. Love you chica!

  • http://trucklicense.net/Get-CDL MikeJones

    Love this! My sidekick is my BFF of 24 yrs! We have been besties since
    the 5th grade and have gone thru lots of ups and lots of downs together.
    She is my Oprah and I am her Gayle ;)

  • Alex Searson

    My sidekick is one of my best friends in Beijing. Getting me to this point was a potent combination of discontentment with my body and… well, not really peer pressure but social pressure. I was hanging out with a group of people who were getting more fit, and so eating out with them after they’d just been doing their C25K circuit made me feel worse about my body. Long story short, I’m now spin-class buddies with my BFF, and I send her updates about my Angry Birds progress. We cheer each other on, remind each other not to beat ourselves up about the one milk tea you had that one week, and are signing up for weekend hikes and finding fun ways to be healthy instead of sitting on a bike for an hour. She might be leaving Beijing in the next 6 months but I’m hoping by then my momentum will be good enough that I’ll just be able to keep myself on track. I really wish there were NerdFitness buddies in Beijing.

  • just me

    Confession. .. I’ve always wanted to be a sidekick

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