The Children’s Show that Changed My Life


Growing up, I had a tremendous number of fictional characters that influenced my life. 

I spent a good portion of my childhood dressed up in costume, whether it was as Daniel-san practicing crane kicks in my backyard, as Superman saving the world for five Halloweens in a row, or as Maverick sitting on a couch pretending it was an airplane.

However, before all of these influences molded me into the nerd that you see before you, there was the greatest kid’s show to ever grace the airwaves…Sesame Street.

Every morning I’d crawl out of bed and hurriedly make my way down to the TV, excited to discover what letters and numbers the muppets would talk about that day.

Just last week, out of the blue, my favorite characters suddenly jumped into my head, and I had an epiphany: Sesame Street has so much to teach us about fitness.

Let’s take a trip to where the air is clean, shall we?  

(Oh, and we just added a whole bunch of new stuff to the NF store!  Details are at the end of the article!)

Focus on the things that make you happy

big_bird

Big Bird is the man: He’s an 8’2″ giant yellow bird…but that doesn’t stop him from attempting and learning to do whatever the heck he pleases, including ice skating, roller skating, and even riding a unicycle.

Yeah, he is prone to misunderstanding certain situations and expressions (he struggles with the Alphabet) from time to time, but that doesn’t stop him.

Remember my “What is your profession?” article?  Who cares if you’re super tall and clumsy, but want to get into martial arts. Or maybe you’re really overweight, but you’d like to become a parkour assassin?  Genetics be damned, there’s no reason you can’t pick a skill that you enjoy working on, even if you think you suck at it.

Big Bird is big and awkward, but does that keep him from doing the things he enjoys? Heck no.

Don’t let your size stop you either.

Exercise is meant to be fun – if you’re not having fun, then you’re doing it wrong!  I’m fairly confident I’m genetically predisposed to be a good distance runner and a poor weight lifter, but I don’t enjoy running and I love strength training…so that’s where my time and energy goes!

Big bird is 8 feet tall and covered in feathers, yet he gets his ass out there and learns things that interest him, even if he makes a mistake in the process.  Why? Becuase Big Bird realizes that failing is actually an important part of success!

Oh, and his best friend is an 8 foot long woolly mammoth named Snuffleupagus.  It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Count everything!

the_count

“1, 2, 3, AH! AH! AH!”

By far my favorite number-obsessed vampire muppet from a children’s television show, Count von Count loved to count anything and everything.

Seriously, if there was an opportunity for the Count to count, he counted, whether it was floors in a building, rings on a telephone, or even sheep with Ernie!

Here’s why you need to count like the Count:

If you don’t count when you’re training, you’ll never know if you’re getting any stronger!

If you did “a bunch of push ups today,” or “ran for a while,” you’ll have nothing to compare yourself against when you train next time to find out if you’re getting stronger or faster.

For that reason, I always make sure I keep an accurate record of my workouts:

  • If I did 4 sets of 10 push ups on Monday, then I know on Wednesday I need to do 4 sets of 11 push ups to have gotten stronger.  
  • If I did 3 sets of 5 deadlifts with 200 pounds last week, then this week I’m going to aim for 3 sets of 5 deadlifts with 205 pounds.
  • If I ran a mile in 7:30, then the next time I go running I’m going to aim for 7:29!

If we have a very specific goal to aim for (one more rep, one second faster), it’s a lot easier for us to accomplish that goal. It’s not just nerd-think, it’s science. But when there’s nothing to truly aim for, we end up saying, “meh, good enough,” when we are actually capable of ONE MORE.

When you are training, the more specific you can be and the more accurately you can count (AH! AH! AH!), the better chance you’ll have at moving in the right direction.

So start counting sucka!

BONUS: If you want to laugh your ass off, watch the Count censored.

Find people that will challenge you

 ernie

I love anything and everything relating to Bert and Ernie (especially the pigeon dance). 

These two roommates could not be more opposite.  Bert is kind of boring. Like, really boring (not that boring is bad). He collects paper clips and bottle caps.  He goes out of his way to avoid doing exciting and fun things.

Ernie, on the other hand, is a wildcardWhile Bert collects random trinkets and loves to read quietly, Ernie loves watching parades, circuses, and going to birthday parties.

However, Ernie also had a knack for getting Bert to try new activities that Bert ends up loving despite his initial reservations, like the Rhyming Game.

What type of person are you, Ernie or Bert?  I’d guess most NF readers are probably in the “overthink things too much” camp:

  • Do you jump head-first into things without thinking them through?  Yeah, you don’t want to be an underpants gnome, but a little bit of research before blindly running into battle can help you dominate and get maximum results for your efforts.  Don’t just work harder, work smarter!
  • Do you tend to say no to new things and always see the bad possibilities rather than the potential awesomeness?  You need an Ernie who can help drag you out of your shell and help you TAKE ACTION. Do one thing every day that scares you, even if it requires you to use up all of your 20 seconds of courage.  Don’t be afraid of new things – who knows, you might even like it!

Don’t surround yourself with carbon copies of yourself.  Have friends that push back, present different opinions, and make you think about your actions in new ways.

Don’t sabotage yourself

cookie monster

“Me want cookie!”

“Me eat cookie!”

“Om nom nom nom!”

Poor Cookie Monster is deeply emotionally, physically and spiritually attached to cookies.  Oftentimes he has a one-track mind and has absolutely NO restraint when it comes to how much he can eat.  Let’s be honest, Cookie Monster never eats just ONE of something, whether it’s danishes,donuts, lettuce, apples, or even inedible objects.

Let’s be real here for a second: cookie monster has issues with food.

Sound like anybody you know?

Are you sabotaging your own weight loss efforts by saying “I’ll just eat less” or “okay maybe I’ll just have one.”

These are my “cookies”:

  • Goldfish crackers: I could eat an entire family-sized carton of these without thinking twice.
  • Animal Crackers: Damn the 5lb tubs from Costco!
  • Sour Patch Kids: I will eat them until I no longer have tastebuds.

So, I don’t keep those things in my apartment, because I know I’ll om nom nom the **** out of them if I’m within a 50 foot radius.

This is why something like the Paleo Diet works so well for so many people.  It removes the willpower (which is limited) needed to say “I’m only going to have one” and instead allows you to eat until you are full…provided you’re eating foods that are on the list.  You get to be a robot! After spending a few weeks getting the carb and sugar cravings out of your system, you’ll be far less likely to eat like Cookie Monster and instead put the effort into properly fueling your body.

So identify your kryptonite cookies and don’t leave it up to your willpower to set limits.

Be selective in how you spend your time.

oscar

Oscar the Grouch lives in a trash can. He freaking loves trash

His goal in life is to be miserable and grouchy at all times, passing along these negative attributes to those people who interact with him. Do you surround yourself with Grouches?

Whenever people come to knock on his trash can, Oscar gets all pissed off and complains that he wants to be left alone. But Oscar actually hates being left alone, because there’s nobody to complain to!

We all have these people in our lives: the coworker who LOUDLY complains that he or she can’t lose weight but never seems to do anything about it…or your friend who loves to share their misery, but knocks you down a few pegs whenever you’re feeling strong and happy.  It might even be a loved one who uses their time to lament about poor genetics, their busy life, and bad days at work, passing blame on to anything and everything other than themselves.

Ultimately, grouches avoid any and all personal responsibility so they don’t have to feel guilty for their laziness and lack of progress.

As they say, misery loves company.

So do grouches.

If you have grouches in your life, you have two options:

  • Dump out the trash.  You are the average of the five people you associate most with, and life is too damn short to be surrounded by negative people who don’t make you a better person.
  • Recognize them as grouches.  Elmo and Telly Monster consider Oscar a good friend, even though he’s an ass.  If you have depressing, negative friends/family members/co workers, identify who this is and the miserable life they want to lead. Take their suggestions, opinions, and insults with a grain of salt; they’re just grouches.  Hang out with awesome supportive rebels in our community and just keep being awesome.

Sunny Days…

elmo

Growing up, I learned all sorts of stuff from Sesame Street.

However, looking back, it’s clear that these lovable muppets were also trying to teach me about taking risks, personal development, the importance of moderation, and so much more.

That Jim Henson was one smart fella. 

Were you a Sesame Street fan?  

What sort of lessons did you learn?  

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go count my workout, AH AH AH!

-Steve

PS – This article was brought to you by the letters N and F, and the number 4…because we have FOUR new pieces of apparel in the Nerd Fitness store: racerback tanks, fitted navy hats, adjustable grey hats, and Nerd Fitness sweatpants.  I’m not gonna lie, the grey hat is freaking awesome..which is why I ended up making this face when wearing it:

steve excited

We heard your requests, and we took care of business.  

We have limited quantities of each item for this first run, so if you’re interested in getting something, grab it quick!  We’ll restock items as they sell out, but it can take up to a week or so.  We’ll be adding even more types of apparel as the year goes on, so feel free to let us know what else you’d like to see (yes Loren, we’ll make men’s tank tops).

As always, we’d love to share your photo with the community, so email us at [email protected] doing something epic while rocking your Nerd Fitness gear, so we can make you the next Rebel Hero!

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photo sources: street sign, the count, elmo, oscar, bert and ernie, cookie monster, big bird

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  • Andrew

    when I read the “1, 2, 3, ah ah ah” I instantly thought of Dave Chappelle and when I saw a blue link for wild card I thought you’d make an Always Sunny reference.

  • Erin Hightower

    best blog post evah

  • http://twitter.com/MikeStrongLife Mike Owens

    Whew, glad I’m not the only one with a Sour Patch Kids problem! Fantastic post, Steve.

  • cojones

    Awesome article! All of it. I loved Sesame Street and focusing them into a way to become a better person was very goods. Thanks for the entertainment and advice! Good stuff.

  • Nick

    I can almost see my office in that picture at the bottom, but the angle is just wrong. You know my office, the place where people bring various baked goods in every few days to try and test the willpower of those of us who are Paleo.

  • shameonpretzel

    That Elmo photo against a black backdrop is very creepy, Steve…

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.j.smith.37 Alex J. Smith

    when you make the men’s tanks, you should do like the gold’s gym string tanks but with the NF logo… i could dig that

  • Ronnie

    You say count everything but when my kettlebell instructor says do 20 reps I cheat all the time to keep up with the rest of the class but when he says work for 20 seconds I give it my all for the whole time and feel like I achieve more. Anyone else feel this? Is it just self deception?

  • jzm9vs

    Seriously – Best. Post. Ever.

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed

    LOVE this post!

  • Jami MacNeil

    I’m totally going to get warm fuzzy feelings during my next few workouts!

  • Merri-Lyn

    Awesome, I will never look at Sesame Street in the same way again. I am only new to Paleo and Couch to 5K but have managed to jog 5k for the past three weeks but couldn’t seem to get that bit faster. Sooooo only this morning I decided to start the program again from week one but instead of jogging I ran the 60sec as hard as I could then walked the 90sec. I did this for the first 2.5K and then jogged home. Knocked 5 minutes off my time. I intend to be the fittest 60yo in town. Keep up the great articles ….Regards

  • Suze

    Mmmm… Goldfish….

  • Dominic

    Hmm the mens tank is overdue, i was hoping it would show up this time….

  • Chuck

    Great post man! I’m actually writing a similar post based off a recent Disney movie… I guess great minds think alike!

  • EquallyYolked

    Haha, this is great. Who would have though Sesame Street could relate to health. I was a definitely a fan as a kid. I think I need to work on finding my Ernie.

  • Benny

    I love this article, along with all the others. You really resonate with me and my life growing up. Thanks for being so awesome Steve!

  • Owen

    I very much enjoyed the article. I play basketball for six hours a week and at 58, I actually feel quite well. I have a vertical jump of at least 2 inches so i don’t really put myself in harm’s way while playing. I thought your Sesame Street references were brilliant.

    Thanks.

  • Janice Aerith

    WOW! I miss my childhood.. :-) I remember when I was 6 years old, sesame street is included on my daily TV schedule.. http://www.maxicarehomehealth.com/care-services.html

  • Marcus4848

    Hilarious! I never realized Sesame Street was so deep :). Well I am still looking for workouts I enjoy. I really cannot stand any of them, I only workout because I know I have to.

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  • Dainj_ah

    “Were you a Sesame Street fan”- I’m still a Sesame Street fan! I have no shame in getting excited when I see it’s on TV :D