Struggling to Get Fit? Add Potions Before Your Boss Fight.

Health Potion

Self improvement can suck.

Getting ourselves to do the things we know we need to do can feel impossible. We know a better life awaits if we can just get ourselves to “stay motivated” and “get focused,” and yet time after time we struggle to stick with anything long term, continually restarting from square one.

We ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?” And “Why do I suck? I know what I need to do and I just can’t get myself to do it.”

  • “I know I need to eat better, but after a few days of cooking delicious meals I get busy and somehow end up in the drive-through line at Arby’s.”
  • “I know I should exercise more, and after a kick-ass week at the gym, I find myself half-assing my workouts, not seeing results, and I get demoralized. Wait, how did I end up in the Arby’s line again!?”
  • “I’m in pretty good shape, but trying to level up to an elite level of fitness really just seems like an exercise in frustration. Where’s the closest Arby’s?”

If any of the above sounds like you, then today is for you.

Trying to change in situations like the above can be futile if you’re not adequately prepared. It’s like going into a boss battle with 50% health, crappy armor, and no healing potions.  

Yes, you CAN still win, but the margin for error is miniscule. Why not give yourself the best chance to survive?

Today, we’re going to talk about how to actually conquer the above situations by thinking of these challenges in terms of bosses, battle gear, and buffs. Let’s see how they can help you survive the first encounter with a difficult challenge, instead of a frustrating defeat.

It’s time to start using buffs and upgraded armor in real life too.

Stack Your Inventory.

Health Potions

I am currently in the process of packing on some size and muscle (like a superhero). 

This requires a eating tremendous amount of healthy calories, along with a diligent adherence to a demanding workout plan. Initially I had grand visions of preparing myself tons of healthy meals, hitting all of my workout goals, running Nerd Fitness, and continuing my other nerdy pursuits (gaming, violin, reading, etc.)…ultimately resulting in me looking like Captain America.

Unfortunately, I’ve been fighting this battle off and on for the past decade. Despite this effort, I still don’t look like Steve Rogers.  I always do well for a few weeks, but generally slide slowly back to “pretty good” territory…and I always chalked it up to lack of dedication.

After a heart to heart with myself (it happens a lot when you live alone), I decided to add a critical item to my inventory to help me get through a few key months to get me on track while I sorted out the rest of the chaos in my life.

I gave myself permission to eat out for lunch, every day.

Feel free to let out an audible gasp right now. “BUT STEVE, you write about healthy eating and preparing your own meals and you provide tons of recipes, what gives?!”

Hear me out! What I’ve come to learn is that there’s a perfect plan, and then there’s a realistic plan.

We’d love to all follow the perfect plan and flawlessly defeat the boss (like this guy who perfectly won Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!), but the reality is…life is tough! An imperfect plan we ACTUALLY execute is better than a perfect plan we fail to execute.Tyson

So I added some buffs to my inventory.

At the beginning of the year, I really struggled with preparing all of my own meals; 3200-4000 daily calories of chicken, steak, vegetables, and some sort of carbohydrate source was time consuming. I also practice intermittent fasting, so all of those calories are consumed in an 8 hour window, from noon to 8 pm.  I felt like I was spending a lot of time on food and I wasn’t successfully juggling all the items in my life.

So, I made some key upgrades:

  • Lunch HP potion: After going to the gym, I eat out for lunch, nearly every day. I have three restaurants that I frequent that provide me with a MASSIVE meal full of rice, protein, and vegetables. It’s prepared quickly, relatively inexpensive, and I can get tons of calories into my system without prep or cleanup.
  • Upgraded weapons: After burning out the motor on a few crappy blenders (and taking 10 minutes to blend my powerbomb protein shakes), I finally bought a good blender. It saves me 3-5 minutes a day and makes me far more likely to take the step to make a shake.
  • Improved armor: Although I loved the idea of cooking a delicious stirfry every night, the fact of the matter was that I DIDN’T DO IT. So, I bought a cheap rice cooker. I minimized the steps between Hungry Steve and Well-Fed Steve.


I chose instead to re-prioritize my inventory, and use some of my rupees on these items so that I didn’t have to be AS perfect in my boss battle (my caloric nutrition goals).

Do I plan on eating out for lunch every day for the rest of my life? Negatory! I look forward to the days when I can prepare all of my healthy meals and still get everything else done in my life – I know it’s possible as I’ve done it before. Right now however, this “imperfect plan” is one that I can execute and actually get results with!

And guess what? The past two months have resulted in tremendous strength and size gains.

In any video game, when you are going into a new boss battle, that buff or healing potion can be the difference between life or death. When you attack a new problem (or an advanced tactic) in real life, adjusting priorities can also be the difference between finally building that habit….or yet another crash and burn attempt at getting healthy.

Mercenaries and strategy guides

Strategy guide

In many video games you’re able to hire a character to join you on a boss battle, unlocking certain strategies that can help turn the tide.

Or, you may have used a strategy guide or video walk-through to get past a difficult boss. Some might argue that it’s “cheating” to watch somebody else beat the game before trying it yourself, but it’s still up to you to follow the instructions and execute it properly to win.

In life as in games, we can hire a mercenary or use strategy guides too! Yes, it would be great to just KNOW how to exercise, how to squat properly, or how to create a workout plan, but oftentimes it’s our lack of knowledge (or lack of confidence) that can keep us on the sidelines or struggling to win the battle.

If you’re new to fitness, or you’re stuck in a middle ground and trying to get further ahead, have you considered enlisting the help of a mercenary or finding a strategy guide?

Although it would be GREAT to have a mercenary in our party at all times yelling, prodding, educating, and helping us get results, just having somebody to help for a single session or a single week can be the difference between long term success and long term frustration!

Have you met my friend Adam Baker? For the six years that we’ve known each other Baker has struggled with getting healthy (and he’ll tell you the same thing). He knows what he’s supposed to do, but it’s been very easy for him to slip back into old patterns and habits after a week or two of success.

He continued to attack his problem in the same way every time, the equivalent of going into a boss battle with the same tactic and not catching on to the boss’s patterns.

Baker needed a new strategy, so I recommended that he hire a mercenary and use a strategy guide. For the past month, Baker has been working virtually with somebody that provides him with a specific workout plan to follow and feedback on his progress. Instead of wandering through the gym or not going at all, he feels like he has a strategy guide to follow.

Unsurprisingly, Baker has made consistent progress over the past two months, actually completes his workouts now, and has the confidence to stay on track. 

Will Baker work with a coach forever? I doubt it! Instead, he’s using this opportunity for a few months to learn from a mercenary, to follow the patterns laid out in a strategy guide, so he then has the confidence to attack his current boss battle unassisted.

A win is a win


When you are trying to win a boss battle, all that matters is that you still have one hit point when the boss has none. It might be an ugly fight, you might look back and say “I can’t believe I had to use ten potions to survive that guy.” But it still counts!

This is the whole reason you buy potions! And upgrade your armor! Because it makes the fight easier for you…and can be the difference between victory and throwing your controller against the wall.

Life is no different. Yes, it would be AMAZING if you decided to get in shape, created your own workout plan, cooked three healthy meals every day, went to bed at 9 pm, didn’t drink alcohol, played less video games, and your children were all well-behaved.

But life is life. And it comes down to organizing priorities for success.

  • Baker had a conversation with his wife about finances before committing to hiring a coach for a few months
  • I spent months saving up before buying a great blender, and adjusted my life in other places so that I could afford to eat out for lunch every day.

We’re prioritizing our fitness goals over many other aspects of our lives right now, as that’s the only way we’ve been able to find the momentum to survive the boss fight.

Like diverting power from one conduit to double up the power in another, we’ve shifted our focus, energy, and effort temporarily to put everything into this boss battle.

This works with eating healthy, exercise, and many other aspects of life too. What are some boss battles that you’re currently fighting with 50% health?

Struggling to meditate every day? Use and follow a 2 minuted guided mediation (strategy guide!).

Want to start doing yoga? Sign up for a month of yoga classes to learn the movements so you’re more confident when you do them at home (mercenary!).

Struggling to eat better? Check Craigslist and see if you can find a chef to prepare meals for you at a reasonable cost for a month (inventory upgrade!).

Want to walk more? Grab a fitbit and train your body to get used to walking 10,000 steps every day until you can do it tech-free (armor upgrade!).

Want to learn how to squat and deadlift? Hire a coach for ONE session and have them perfect your squat and deadlift form (mercenary!). Check back with them in a month.

Want to learn to speak a new language? Go to and speak with a native speaker in exchange for teaching them english (improve your group).

Yes, it’s possible, through trial and error and perfect practice to accomplish all of the things above…but it can also be a big struggle!

Don’t be afraid to temporarily use a buff or divert resources to the important stuff for a few months until you have the boss’s patterns memorized so well you can win blindfolded!

Survive and thrive

Health Pot

Nerd Fitness has been a free resource for the past six years and will continue to provide free resources until the eventual robot uprising or zombie apocalypse.

Although we’ve provided you with dozens of free workout plans, recipes, and a free community…we also know how valuable and how things can change when you make a commitment to invest and prioritize your health.

It’s why we have so many great success stories that come out of the Nerd Fitness Academy.  Making a decision to prioritize your health and wellness, and adjusting parts of your life to make success in a boss battle can be the difference between “holy crap I did it” and “how did I backslide so much?”

We have a limited amount of money and time to spend on things in our life. Once we get beyond the basic necessities of existence, every other dollar spent, and every minute spent, is a vote for what’s really important in our lives. When you have an opportunity to win a battle, don’t be afraid to use temporary buffs to make it happen.

Eventually, I plan on eating out at restaurants way less than I do. Baker hopes to get to a point where he doesn’t need a coach to help keep him on track.

However, in the meantime, these ‘investments’ are acting as temporary buffs that allow us to succeed instead of failing. I’d rather win ugly than fail perfectly!

Let’s hear it:

What’s a “boss battle” in your life that you’re struggling with, and what’s one buff or health potion you can use to allow you to build that habit?

Let me know in the comments below!


PS: We’ve opened up a limited number of early bird spots for Camp Nerd Fitness 2015! We started with 150 and we’re down to just 29 spots left – check out the new site for all the details and watch our video recap from last year’s camp.

Make your fully refundable deposit to secure your spot today – and see you at Camp!


photo source: Nina HelmerZelda Strategy Guide, fisherkiller: potion, Seth Reineke: Cover potion, Sarah: Health Potions, ario_: Tyson, Zelda Wiki: Ganon, phobus: bowser

Get The Rebel Starter Kit

Enter your email and we’ll send it right over.

  • The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
  • The most effective diet and why it works.
  • Complete your first workout today, no gym required.
  • These are the tools you need to start your quest.