Civil War Week: Stick To Your Guns Like Captain America

cropped_Civil War Poster

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

This is a monumental week for Nerds and Rebels worldwide, as Captain America: Civil War hits theaters this Friday. Reviews are glowing, but this movie puts us nerds in a seriously awkward position. Why?

Well, in this story, Captain America and his friend Tony Stark find themselves on opposite sides of a brutal argument. And a civil war of epic proportions ensues.

Instead of taking sides, we’re going to highlight why both characters are partly right, and partly wrong. Up first, Team Captain America.

Have a Creed You Stick To


I like to consider myself an old school guy like Steve Rogers, which is probably why I have his art above my desk and his shield on my wall. And why the back of my book says I’m trying to become Captain America.

Look people in the eye. Have a firm handshake. Remember people’s names. Inspire through action. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and stand alongside your brothers in arms.

And stick to your guns, even when you are not on the side of the majority.

When Captain America is on the “wrong side” of the majority (as we saw in Captain America: Winter Soldier and again in this movie), he refuses to conform, is branded an outlaw, and thus gets hunted down by the government. Despite the overwhelming consequences of his decision, Steve Rogers sticks to his guns and stands by his creed.

He stands up for what he believes in. As somebody who grew up in a different era and THEN joined the modern world, he believes he has a clearer sense of how we have slid down the slippery slope.

He’s removed emotion from the decision: there’s right, and there’s wrong. “If this, then I will do that. No matter what.”

Yes, this is a VERY simplistic and idealistic way of looking at life; but whether we’re talking about making decisions about getting healthy, or moral problems that superheores wrangle with, sometimes standing your ground is the best way to do the most good. Even if those consequences mean coming down on the other side of a conflict from a great friend of yours.

If you’re on a quest to become a superhero, you’re going to have to make tough decisions too. At every step in your journey you will have choices that aren’t black and white. You could have just one cookie or piece of candy. You could skip this workout just today. You could sleep in and not practice that skill you’re learning. You can not stand up for something you believe strongly in at work due to office politics or not wanting to offend your boss.

Captain America would say enough is enough. Draw a line and take a stand. Otherwise you might as well quit now. In more practical terms for getting healthy, it helps to have a series of rules that you’ve established for yourself that remove emotion, guilt, and second-guessing from the equation.

Nutrition: “I eat this. I don’t eat that.” Almost robotic in nature. No emotion involved. You either eat it or you don’t.

Exercise: “I work out at 10AM on these days. I don’t skip them for ANY reason, no matter the consequences.” You put fitness first.

Family: “I spend my evenings with my kids. I don’t bring work home with me after 5pm, no matter how ‘important’.”

Commitments: “I don’t flake. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I don’t say yes and then back out.” “It’s either a HELL YEAH, or a NO, regardless of whether it offends people.

In each of the examples above, we all have thousands of things vying for our attention and focus. We need to have things we believe in, rules that we stick to, and live by. It might mean pissed off co-workers, an angry boss, or missed gatherings. It also means you get to do the things you need to do and spend time with the people you need to spend time with.

These decisions do not come without consequences, but you have to stay strong.

Expect the World to Push Back. Stand Firm.

It’s perfectly summed up in this photo from the comic series “Civil War”:

“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the world…

No. You move.”

When you have a creed, code, or motto that you live by, you are going to have TONS of people pushing back on you. This is why we have the Rules of The Rebellion that we abide by.

You might make a decision that will offend your friends, family, which is both scary and difficult.

Can you stay strong? Or will you cave to societal pressure so you don’t ruffle any feathers?

  • “Come on, don’t be a prude. Come out drinking with us. It’s Tequila Tuesday!”
  • “Just eat this cake. It’s only a piece and it’s Milton’s Birthday”
  • “Blow off your workout, we need you for a WoW Raid.”
  • “Why can’t you come to this bridal shower? You have to be there.”
  • “Don’t quit this job. Be thankful you have it. And I need somebody to be miserable with!”

Everybody wants you to be like them. They want you to do what they’re doing, even if it’s unhealthy. Misery loves company, and oftentimes people will tell you to join them on something simply because they don’t have the fortitude to change themselves. They’d rather drag you back down.

Can you stay strong? Will you stick to your guns? Or do you let the desire to please everyone and avoid confrontation rule your life?

You gotta be more like Cap.

Are you familiar with the Asch Experiment?

In 1951, an experiment was conducted in which a person was presented with a simple question that had a very obvious answer. However, every other “participant” in the experiment was a planted actor, instructed to give the same wrong answer and give their choice out loud before the subject was asked!

In 75% of the examples, the subject conformed and picked the wrong answer at least once, simply because they wanted to be like everybody else (they assumed they were missing something). Or they worried about others thinking they were stupid, so they choose to pick the wrong answer and go along with them.

In short: they were fine with being wrong as long as they were wrong with everybody else, instead of facing potential ridicule even though they knew they were right.

I know I’m not alone: When I look around our world and see so many unhealthy, unhappy people uninterested in improving their lives, I feel like the world is one giant Asch Experiment oftentimes! If you’re reading this, thanks for being here and being part of the Rebellion.

Thanks for taking the time to learn and grow, and making the unpopular decisions that you need to make in order to be healthier.

At Nerd Fitness, it often feels like we have “stuck to our guns” when the conventional wisdom and popular opinion disagrees. If a friend or family member discourages you from your quest to improve your life, telling you things are “good enough” – can you be the candle in the darkness?

Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean they’re right. Just because everybody else is drinking the Kool-aid doesn’t mean you need to. Besides, that’s a lot of sugar.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s one way you’ve ‘conformed’ in the past and one way you’ve stuck to your guns?

I’ll go first:

In the past, I used to say yes to nearly every obligation that came my way – I had a serious case of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO), and I would say yes to coffee meetings, interviews, dinners, and late nights out during the week. After most of these instances, I would come home drained and defeated and ask “why do I keep saying yes?”

Lately, I’ve been saying “HELL YEAH” or “NO” (h/t Derek Sivers) to everything. I piss off some friends, people get mad when I won’t give them my time, or poke fun at me for going to bed early instead of going out drinking.

Unsurprisingly, getting my sleep, training with rigid consistency, and saying NO to most obligations, I have time to do the things I want to do, I’m in the best shape of my life, and I am happy. Thanks Cap.

Stay tuned for Thursday, where we’ll tell you why you need to be more like Iron Man. 



photo: Marvel Wiki: Steve Rogers, Wiki: Civil War Poster

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26 thoughts on “Civil War Week: Stick To Your Guns Like Captain America

  1. “this is a VERY simplistic and idealistic way of looking at life”

    In our culture, especially in fiction, it’s popular to say that black/white thinking is for the young and naive, but as you get older and more experienced you see that everything is shades of gray. Well as I’ve gotten older still, I’m beginning to see that things are more black/white than we’d like. I think a lot of the gray isn’t really gray; it’s hard. People don’t want to take a stand, be the unpopular guy who says, “No, YOU move,” so they say “this is gray” and tell their conscience to shut up.

  2. Cap is the reason I started running. I don’t find it easy to always push myself out of bed every morning at the same time, and make myself get out on the road, pushing for the the next goal, but I keep reminding myself of Cap and thinking “On your left”…it works.

  3. Even though I’m Team Cap for life, I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Iron Man’s position.
    One way I conformed in the past is sticking to the writing industry. I received my degree in business writing and told myself that I “needed” to stay in that industry because of all my time and money invested into it even though my heart said the health industry is where I should be. After 5+ years of conforming, I’ve decided to stick to my guns this year and start pursuing the things I really, truly want. This article could not have come at a better time. Thanks, NF!

  4. What do you think about my nodyweight workout? (i am a beginner xD)
    3 sets of:
    -20 squats
    -10 push ups
    -20 walking luges
    -10 dumbell rows
    -10 biceps curls
    -15 sit ups

    Thank you! 🙂

  5. People seem very disappointed when I refuse to eat the cake, cookies, or other highly processed stuff they try to shove on me. I think they are mad because I can say no and they won’t.

  6. This article is outstanding – thank you Steve and everyone who made this happen!

  7. What an inspiring article! You asked for things that I put my foot down, and for me it was my perceptions. I always felt like everyone had to come first. Job, kids husband, even external family. I was always taking on projects. I never put myself in the top 1 , top 5, heck, I was lucky to myself anywhere near the word top. My needs could wait, because everyone had needs.

    Then I realized that I needed to believe that no one else was going to do it for me. So, that is when I realized that prioritizing me was required. I needed to be in the top. That is when I drew my line in the sand. Make sure I took lunch hours to work out. Made sure I made proper meals to meet my goals. Made sure I made time to play with family and encourage healthy lifestyle. Made sure to take time for me.

    I had to stand up for this new belief, and big surprise?! Everyone supported me. The biggest battle was myself, and all this time I thought I would let everyone else down. For me, the enemy inside needed to take the time to recognize the line in sand.

  8. I was at a retirement party at work and very publicly was ridiculed for denying the cake. It was quite incredible. Most of my co-workers are aware of be turning the corner and exercising and eating healthy. Most of these people tell me how great it is, giving me tons of support. yet this time, it was madness.

    In the end, I accepted the cake and let it sit on my lap uneaten until the party was over. Afterward, someone said, “what’s the point in exercising if you can’t have cake once in a while?” I answered with, “I’d rather save that for a beer.”

    I cave all the time. One instance is going out with friends and instead of my normal, go-to: Plain burger, no bun, chef veggies, I got the burger with bun and fries. Basically everyone else was ordering the same thing and I got embarrassed.

    On a side-note. Being a chubby guy, I find it way easier to order fat foods at restaurants rather than order healthy and appear to be “trying to be healthy.” I guess it is a twisted world view, but one I battle with all the time, especially when the waiter is cute. HAHAHAHAH

  9. I find with each birthday, I see the world as more shades of gray. We each see our way of seeing the world as absolutely correct. Instead of making progress where there is agreement, people get locked into fights that they are never going to win. Perhaps a better way of living is thinking there are things will never change but what can we agree upon and work towards. Just thinking….
    Also with each passing birthday, I realize I have fewer of them left. Why waste time on foolish fights that cannot be won? Instead conquer what can be? Of course, I have always been more pragmatic than idealistic.

  10. I can’t wait for your take on IronMan’s side.
    My heart and soul says stand with Cap and the clear cut rules of life.
    My brain, which usually wins, says do what you have to achieve your end.
    I guess that is why I see value in both sides. I have clear rules I won’t bend or only bend in very rare occasions. I have clears to achieves. How to get there, I can find differing paths and sometimes things take me down different roads than what I expect.
    Can’t wait for Thursday.

  11. So true, and since I am part of the rebellion, I am feeling a bit like Cap myself;)

  12. Great post Steve!

    I’ve been racing in Triathlons for the past four years, but have always stuck to the shorter Sprint distance races because I didn’t have to train that hard, or stick to my plans. There were many times over those training seasons where I just said Yes to any activity, regardless of if it impacted my training or not.

    This year, I’ve upped by game and will be racing in my first Half-Ironman distance race (4x longer than any previous race I’ve completed) on July 24. I’ve got serious about sticking to my plan, and am saying a lot more No’s. And it is paying off, I’ve had three straight weeks now of not missing a planned workout, and I’m definitely seeing my Endurance improve!

    As always, thanks for the inspiring work, keep it up!

  13. At some point before Thanksgiving last year, I stopped drinking. I did that thing a lot of people do in their twenties where they spend a few years drinking too much and feeling the weight of their genetic predispositions, but I stopped enjoying it and gave it up in my late twenties. Last year, because of social pressure from some people I had just moved in with, I decided I was being too rigid and started to drink a little. I know myself better than that and allowing other people to persuade me was self-betrayal, but I also don’t do any drugs or smoke and sometimes it’s difficult to convince people I’m any fun. I am now aware that people worth being friends with won’t even ask why someone isn’t drinking alcohol. They just offer coffee, tea, or water and invite them to play Balderdash with the rest of the group. Alcohol makes me feel like crap, even in moderation, and I’m just not going to let people give me the “just a little” pitch. Thanks for the article, Steve. =)

  14. This was a timely article for me to read today. I had been in the process of applying for a commissioned government program after waiting a few yrs. for a position to open up, since the pay and benefits are great. What originally seemed to be a requirement for a regular health physical ballooned into multiple hard-core requirements once I prescreened & was granted access to the application materials, including some invasive procedures that i have moral objections to, with no exceptions given by them. I’ve asked a lot of health professionals and family over the past few weeks who have said these procedures are unnecessary for me.

    I originally was going to cave and do the procedures anyway, but a few things happened:

    1. I came across Edward Snowden’s original interview when he first fled to Hong Kong. That guy is the badass of badassery. “You have to make a determination about what it is that’s important to you, if living unfreely but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept, you can get up every day, go to work and collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows, but you realize [that would] extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression.”

    2. I realized they could also possibly make me do anything they want health or otherwise in the future that I do not consent to.

    3. I opened my Bible to Psalm 141. “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties…mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.” I knew today I had to pull my app…doesn’t mean I’m not still sad about it, but I know eventually I won’t regret it.

  15. I’m currently fighting to stick to my guns. I signed up for the J.P.Morgan run and am training to run as best as I can. I’m new to running and races that’s pretty challenging for me. My friends don’t really get it. I haven’t even told them the entire plan and they already started the “misery loves company” remarks. Even my dad said something like all women in our family are a little on the plus side. Why would I try to change that?
    That’s when I stopped talking about my plans. Only two people in my life know the whole story but for anyone else I just do it.
    Sometimes that situation makes me really sad. They are my friends – shouldn’t they be happy for me? Then I remind myself I do this for me, for a great summer, for loving my body again. So I say “NO, you move” and keep going.

    Btw, I loved this movie! It has great fight scenes, a deep story, everything I like in a movie. Really epic ?

  16. Pingback: The | Nerd Fitness
  17. There are no fights that can’t be won, just roadblocks that you have to get past. If no one stands firm and pushes against those roadblocks, then of course they will never budge.

  18. Great stuff here! Having some basic rules in life that you simply will not bend on really helps reach goals, like the fitness and nutrition examples you mentioned in the article. Love the Nerd Fitness life!

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