“Will it be used for the greater good? Or will it be used for personal or for destructive ends? Now this is a question we must all ask ourselves. Why? Because we are mutants.” -Professor X, X-Men: The Last Stand
I’m a massive X-Men fan.
I’ve always identified with the fact that they were born different.
I’m guessing a lot of us on Nerd Fitness don’t fit the average mold either:
- Growing up, I was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle girl, not the Barbie girl.
- My favorite movie when I was little? The Last Action Hero.
- My first word was “Meat.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
Chances are, you may have felt this way at some point too: awkward, different, weird.
That’s okay. I’m here to teach you how to mutate into a confident, self-assured superhero.
Let’s learn how to transform, and how you too can rise like Phoenix from the ashes (er… lake).
The misfit mutant
All X-Men went through a rough patch when they first discovered their mutations. In elementary school, I was deemed a loner. I would contently sit on the sidelines of the playground by myself listening to my pink walkman (the “Back to the Future” soundtrack if you must know…).
Every mutant discovers they’re different and doesn’t really know how to handle it at first, right?
- Do you go to work or school and feel like you’re just not meant to be there?
- Are you struggling with anxiety or another diagnosis that’s holding your life back?
- Do you have trouble fitting in, trying to downplay yourself so you won’t stick out?
How do you react? Me? I started believing what they were saying about me: I must be weird because I didn’t make the effort to be like everyone else.
I started prioritizing “fitting in.” I just wanted to be normal so that everyone would like me, or at least so I would feel less singled-out…less different. A few years later, it became clear why I took everything harder than most kids: I was diagnosed with clinical depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
In high school I finally found my voice, and I wanted everyone to hear it. But like so many X-Men at this age, it wasn’t necessarily the right voice: I became Dark Phoenix [cue dramatic music], lashing out at anyone and everyone because I didn’t want to be the only one hurting.
No one was off limits: teachers, students, friends, family, no one.
I started associating myself with the evil mutants and lost control; my Dark Phoenix usurped my whole life. I went down fast in a fiery ball of mutant fury. The worst part was that I thought I had no choice but to let these aspects control me.
I hit rock bottom, almost taking my own life.
But things changed…I realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life without mutating.
I had to rise from the ashes. I had to fight.
Let’s learn how I broke the cycle and improved my life, and how you can too.
Mutate yourself and change your life
Are you stuck in the same old cycle, whether it’s a dead-end job, struggling to get healthy, or issues with anxiety/depression/whatever?
You are faced with a choice: You can give in and give up, or you can rise and become more powerful than ever.
Change is a difficult process.
Fortunately for you, every change I made came from the steps below.
Here’s the secret formula to positive transformation:
Train like (a) Beast
Harnessing your super powers can be tough when you’ve just discovered how powerful you truly are. It’s scary when you don’t know exactly what to do with all that energy.
You need a means to control your ability. That’s where training comes in.
BEAST MODE: ON!
While working toward a goal, physical or otherwise, physical training hones your focus like nothing else. Working out enables success in every other aspect of your life.
When everything else is going wrong, exercise. It will begin your transformation:
- It reduces stress: a hard workout will get all that angsty, villainy energy out of your system so that you can use your powers for good.
- It makes you feel awesome: increasing confidence and making the tough process of mutation elsewhere easier.
- It will help you enforce new habits: they become second nature; studies show that exercise helps build brain cells!
I re-discovered fitness and I started feeling stronger, physically and emotionally. I was amazed when I started feeling more powerful so quickly.
Flip that Beast switch again and get moving!
Remember, every mutant is different, just as every BODY is different. Yours may prefer a different kind of workout than your fellow mutants.
I recommend playing around with different forms of exercise:
- Lift some weights.
- Go on a run.
- Try a 10-minute bodyweight circuit.
- Do some yoga.
- Parkour it up.
- Dance in your cubicle. Try Tai Chi. Do a handstand.
Whatever you want to do, just get moving to hone your focus and become more powerful than you ever imagined possible. As Steve says, “Catch The Disease.”
Lighten up your inner Phoenix
One of the most crucial steps to my own mutation was the choice I made to embrace the positive and sucker-punch the negative out of my life.
When you’re focusing on becoming a more positive mutant, you can’t let the villainous thoughts take over your mind. Instead, we have to reframe your brain a little.
Do you sometimes:
- Think you’re not good enough?
- Tell yourself how ugly/fat/stupid/etc you are?
- Stop yourself from trying before you even start?
Become aware of those thoughts as you have them. Replace these thoughts with helpful ones instead, thoughts that encourage you to keep mutating toward good, not evil.
Here are some ways to lighten up common villainous phrases:
“I’m not good enough to _____.”
“If they can do it, I can, too.”
“I am so fat.”
“I am taking action to mutate myself into a healthy person, and I am freaking proud!”
“Why bother? I’ll just fail anyway.”
“I’d rather try and fail, then risk never trying anything at all.”
At the beginning, you might feel silly replacing negative thoughts with positive ones like this, but I swear it works. I was the epitome of Dark Phoenix, to the point where I thought I was no different than her.
When I realized I had the choice to harness my real Phoenix, my whole life changed. I became a good guy.
Find your Professor X
You know how Steve talks about finding your Yoda? Well this was one of the most pivotal actions I took to rise from the ashes.
Finding someone who gets what you’re going through, and can support and encourage you is invaluable.
Mutation is hard. Having Professor X on your side can be the difference between failure and success.
So how do you determine who will be your Professor X? Your Professor X should be someone you trust, who has been through or understands what you’re going through right now.
- A doctor, therapist, teacher, trainer, or other expert who has coached people to overcome the issues you’re facing. These people usually have experience, knowledge, and expertise in the field you’re dealing with.
- A close friend or family member who has always had your back, with whom you feel you could talk to about anything and everything. This person should be positive and offer advice to take steps forward rather than back.
My Professor X is Dr. Pam – she’s my unbiased, professional resource I go to to just talk things out. She has helped me put everything in perspective when I’ve felt confused or lost. I always know I can count on her, and that’s how you should feel about whomever you choose to be your Professor X.
Beware of villains
One of my first steps in recovery was deciding to cut the people out of my life who didn’t add to my happiness or left me feeling drained.
It’s not worth it to spend time with people who “Rogue” the life force out of you. You want a team of people who will stand by and support you, have your back when you need it, and encourage you to be your strongest, happiest self. These are your X-Men, your A-Team.
Be sure to watch out for these types of villains you need to cut :
Magneto: The most common of villains, Magneto is one big energy magnet. Constant complainers and Negative Nancies, these villains don’t necessarily mean to drain you, and aren’t even the worst of the villains out there. You have the power to let them affect you or let them bounce right off of you. Create a forcefield if you can’t take them out of your life completely.
Mystique: Watch out: this shape-shifter can seem like a friend, but he or she does not intend to support or encourage you; they want to take you down. If you are constantly getting flaked on, put on the backburner, or treated badly, it doesn’t matter if this “friend” says they truly value your friendship. Actions speak louder than words, fellow mutants. Save yourself from falling victim to this tricky villain: trust your instincts.
Blob: You almost start to feel like you can’t mutate past where you are right now because Blob is so stuck in negative space. Blob is known for being immovable. You don’t want someone who holds you back in their negative state just to have the extra company. Don’t hold yourself back for Blob! Encourage them to evolve along with you, and if they insist on staying behind, you may need to move on without them.
Are going through your list and finding that it’s full of mostly villains? Don’t fret! Check out the NF message boards: They’re full of insanely supportive people and many of them will be trying to mutate in the same way you are! Here’s how you can set up your own support team.
If you take away one thing from this post today, let it be this:
You can evolve!
- If you want to lose weight, make the choice.
- If you want to get happy, make the choice.
- If you want to get out of your dead-end job, make the choice.
We all have quirks we struggle with, but by positive taking action, you can create an epic life.
That fear that you feel? That resistance? That’s your brain resisting evolution. It’s freaking scary going into unknown territory, I know.
Fight for it. I did, and I evolved way past anything I thought was possible.
Reading Nerd Fitness, you’ve already made the first choice to fill your life with empowering messages. Now you just have to take action to do them. In the comments below, share how you want to mutate, and one action you can take this week to start the evolution!
Then go do it!
You have all the power in the world to be the mutant you’ve always wanted to be, no matter what your situation is. All you have to do is choose.
Questions or concerns? Leave me a comment here. I’ll get back to as many comments as I can personally!
To celebrate the 30th birthday I almost didn’t have, I’ll be touring across the US and Canada doing 30 donation-based bootcamps in 30 different cities for the non-profit called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). They help people who struggle with depression, self-injury, substance abuse, and suicide.
As we speak, I am running a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to raise money for my 30×30 Tour…
By raising money to go on this tour, I want to inspire thousands of people who might give up the fight, to mutate and start winning the battle for their lives. We can help show them that they can create an epic life, and that they deserve it!
If you have a sec, I would be so grateful if you could head over to the IndieGoGo page to check out my video, and help out however you can with either a donation or simply by sharing it with your friends and family. Thank you for helping create this movement with me!
Amy Clover is the resident nerd at Strong Inside Out, a blog empowering you through fitness and positive action to overcome life’s obstacles.