Who Ya Gonna Call?


I’m an 80’s kid.

I was raised on Karate Kid, Top Gun, Star Wars, and the Goonies.  Along with those flicks, there’s one other movie that my brother Jack and I watched regularly and heavily influenced my upbringing.


Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore were four of my childhood heroes.  They weren’t afraid of no ghosts (cue the theme song!), had killer jump suits, cracked jokes in the face of danger (“aim for the flat top!”)….oh and they saved the world from certain doom on multiple occasions.

My brother and I would spend countless hours wearing plastic proton packs, checking the PKE meter for paranormal activity, and sliding out our ghost trap to capture imaginary ghosts; it was the least we could to help save the world.

Here’s what I learned from watching these guys take down ghosts, and how you can apply it to your every day life to live better and healthier.

Haters gonna hate

ghostbusters logo

When the Ghostbusters started their business, they were the laughing stock of New York City.

People who didn’t believe in ghosts called the Ghostbusters crazy, senile, and delusional.  These four bozos were doing things that nobody else thought was possible, so they were constantly insulted and chided for being silly…until the paranormal activity went off the charts and the proverbial sh** hit the fan.

Throughout all of this madness, ridicule, and lack of support, the Ghostbusters knew what they were doing was right and they pushed through.

They just shut their mouths and quietly went to work.

[Well, except for Venkman, but he could never shut up anyway.]

If you have tried to get healthy in the past before and failed, you might be surrounded by detractors too.  Friends that hold you back (mostly because they’re unhealthy and don’t want to change themselves), co-workers that will sabotage your efforts with comments or offerings of donuts, or even family members who mean well but actually say things that discourage you.

There will always be people who think you’re crazy for doing what you’re doing (or think that you can’t do it).  Depending on who they are, they might even go out of their way to tell you so.

Screw ’em.

As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Put on your jump suit, strap on your proton pack, and get to work. Start exercising, make small changes to your diet, build small habits, and take care of business.  Haters are gonna hate (and slaters gonna slate). Use these haters motivation to prove them wrong.

Don’t cross the streams

proton packs

Egon: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you. Don’t cross the streams.

Peter: Why?

Egon: It would be bad.

Peter: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?

Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

Ray: Total protonic reversal.

Peter: Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Crossing the streams = bad.

I can see you say something like this: “OK Steve, what can a total protonic reversal teach me about fitness?”

Quite a bit actually!

Does this sound familiar?

“I’m trying to lose weight and build some muscle and get more endurance and become a better cook and sleep earlier and run more and go to yoga 5x a week!”

Trying to do 20 things all at once is life’s equivalent of crossing the streams.  Each proton pack only has so much juice, and you only have so much willpower.  Not only that, but you’ll get diminished returns in your training rather than dominating the one or two things you’re focused on.

Rather than shooting at anything and everything, AIM FOR THE FLAT TOP!

Concentrate your willpower on ONE goal at a time. Pick ONE habit to fix.  When you minimize the number of things you are working on, you can actually focus on completing the few things that you ARE working on. 

Think back to your list of New Year’s Resolutions:

  • How many did you set?
  • Have you completed any of them?
  • Do you even REMEMBER them? 

Most people suck at resolutions and don’t make any progress.  But not Nerd Fitness Rebels! They understand the importance of having precision targeting on their goals.

So stop being all over the place. Pick something and get good at it – make it a habit. Then move on and dominate the next thing.

Now, while training more than one type of exercise simultaneously or doing more than one habit isn’t recommended, like the Ghostbusters’ use of crossing the streams at the end of the movie, there is a time and a place for everything.

However, when you’re starting out…keep it simple. Trust me.

Replace the bad with the good

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

If I told you to not think of the “StayPuft Marshmallow Man,” what’s the first thing that pops into your head?

The Staypuft Marshmallow Man! 

He “couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.” Ray was spending all of his time trying not to think of something…which inevitably lead him to think of something.

This works in your world too.  If you are trying to break a bad habit, the easiest way to fail is to try and get yourself to not think of that habit:

  • If you are trying to cut back on soda and tell yourself “no soda”…all you can think of is soda.
  • If you are trying to quit smoking and see a NO SMOKING sign, guess what you want to do?
  • If you are eating less of a particular food, and that food is in your house…what are you thinking about?

As explained by HowStuffWorks, “habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat a behavior often enough, those synaptic pathways are going to get worn in.  Breaking a habit is a lot more complicated, because while parts of those worn-in pathways can weaken without use, they never go away.”

So, rather than breaking an old habit, replace it with a new one and you’ll be far more likely to succeed.

  • If you eat or smoke when you are stressed, try a small bit of exercising instead.
  • Cutting back on soda? Whenever you feel a craving, drink a boatload of water or have some black coffee/green tea to get your caffeine fix.
  • Cutting back on sugar? Eat some fruit or try a piece of dark chocolate.  

As you are building these new habits, these pathways in your brain get worn in, and these new behaviors become automatic. Each day you complete that habit, it becomes more and more automatic, requires less willpower, less brainpower, and can eventually become part of your routine.

Compare this to the alternative: you sitting on your couch, bug-eyed, tapping your foot, driving yourself crazy thinking about the one thing you wish you weren’t thinking about.

Replace the old with the new.

We Got the Tools…

Proton Pack

Ray: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven’t had a successful test of this equipment.

Egon: I blame myself.

Venkman: So do I.

Ray: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.

Peter: Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

Sure, they had equipment that hadn’t been successfully tested.  They certainly could have spent another three years perfecting every tiny element of their proton packs, cautiously proceeding through beta tests, government checks, and more.

Unfortunately, had they waited that long, they would have missed the party, which would have resulted in real Wrath of God type stuff:

OK, so maybe in the case of unlicensed nuclear accelerators you might want to take some more time. Though fortunately for the city of New York and for Nerd Fitness readers, the Ghostbusters taught us how to be awesome instead. 

They did the best they could to gear up, and then they got started. Sure, they took some licks (and slime) along the way, but they charted uncharted territory.

When it comes to fitness, diet, and many aspects of life, action with partial knowledge is far better than action (WAY) later on.

Don’t have all of the perfect information?

Don’t have the perfect diet calculated?

Don’t know your exactly BMR or how many calories EXACTLY you should eat each day?

Welp, no sense in worrying about it now.  There’s a world to be saved.

We Got the Talent!


Now, the Ghostbusters didn’t build their proton packs and then immediately take on Gozer the Gozerian.  

That would have been suicide, not to mention a really short movie.

Instead, they slowly but surely built up their skills with each successful adventure.  Their first trapping of Slimer was anything but textbook, but after the 100th ghost capture, they were pretty damn good.  It took each additional attempt to learn a bit more and struggle a bit less.

Thankfully, by the time that jerkface Walter Peck came and shut down the Ghost Containment Grid, unleashing all of New York’s ghosts back into society, they were ready, willing, and able to take on the challenge.

And then they exploded a 50 foot marshmallow man.  

Confidence and skill can be developed, but nothing gets developed through text books, articles, and research.

They get developed through action.

Strap on your proton pack, grab your ghost trap, and get out there. Sometimes you need to get into the game.

Get started.



photo: lego ghostbusters, storm troopers streamsproton pack, stay puft marshmallow man, ECTO-1 car

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64 thoughts on “Who Ya Gonna Call?

  1. Just an fyi none of the images or the video will show up on my Android. The article was still good without them but missing the lego pic would not make for a good Monday.

  2. Replacing soda with tea is great, but does anyone have a suggestion for curbing unnecessary spending? (Curse you, Amazon!) What could I replace that urge with?

  3. Thanks for perfect timing. I woke up this morning feeling like I have been all over the place when it comes to working out and eating right. I keep wondering do i do this or this or this so this helped tremendously.

  4. Definitely don’t link your highest-limit credit card to your Amazon account. I learned that lesson already!

  5. Sell something you already own and never use. You can only buy things using the money you earn from selling old stuff. I recently got my hours cut at my job (hopefully temporary), so I put this into place. I haven’t gotten around to selling anything yet, but I also haven’t don’t any unnecessary spending either. The lower amount of money is an even biggest incentive, but I’m hoping this will become a habit and stay in place once I get my hours back.

  6. So, this kind of ‘just popped in there’: During the 6-Week Challenges, we are advised to choose 3-4 goals to accomplish over that time period. How would you sync the 6-Week program with a program above that states you should focus on changing only one habit at a time?

  7. “Aim for the flattop!” Yup, it wasn’t until I decided to just doing regular weight lifting, and not doing anything more for months, until today, I can’t imagine not doing my lifts. It’s M/W/F so I lift. A couple months ago I started easing into paleo. Still working on it but its my only real challenge right now as weights will happen. Have started planning on cardio in another 2 months (bike riding). Figure by then my diet should be locked in place and just my regular thing to do so I can focus on conquering cardio.

  8. Good question! I feel like I’ve been having issues with actually accomplishing things in the 6-week challenges, and perhaps this is why – in fact, I had already decided to take on less in the next one. Time to reconsider the format for the 6WC perhaps?

  9. “Instead, they slowly but surely built up their skills with each successful adventure. Their first trapping of Slimer was anything but textbook, but after the 100th ghost capture, they were pretty damn good. It took each additional attempt to learn a bit more and struggle a bit less.”


    Just like “Baby steps” from What about Bob or learning to count. To count to 10, first you have to learn to count to 9 and so on.

  10. Im so enjoying your articles and your awesome themes compared with healthyness and fitness 🙂
    TY and stay tuned!

  11. That was an awesome article. What are the chances that ghostbusters is on netflixs?

  12. Funny, I was just thinking about the lack of support I have, and put it down as the thing I am struggling with in that first e-mail (yes, I’m a new guy). I read the article -afterwards-, I swear! Steve, keep being creepy good at reading my mind and actually keeping me motivated.

  13. Loved this movie! Hey Steve. Have you done an article on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? That might make a great article too. I probably watched that movie 10 times as a kid.

  14. This is a great post, very entertaining and at the same time great advice! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Creating a budget will go a long way towards curbing unneccessary spending.

    You can replace the urge to shop with the new habit of saving money. Give yourself a goal of how much you want to save total (even give yourself a reward when you hit your goal like using the money to go on vacation).

    Another habit you can replace unneccessary spending with is creating a goal of paying off all of your credit card debt. Imagine how much more money you would have every month if you didn’t have to make credit card payments?!?

  16. I think the important thing to remember about the 6WC is that we are advised to not only choose 4 goals maximum, but also to set SMART goals. In that acronym, I think ATTAINABLE is the key for a short duration like 6 weeks. If I’d started this challenge at the beginning of the year, I probably would have chosen 2 goals: go to the gym 3x / week and drink 60 oz of water a day. Since I was already doing those things when this challenge started, I was able to (1) set goals that were challenging but fit into my workout schedule and (2) try to form ONE new habit. If all of your goals are to form new habits, think about restructuring your goals next challenge, or, as you said Fonzico, set fewer goals. I know I certainly learned from this challenge what I need to do differently next challenge! GOOD LUCK!

  17. Love “Don’t cross the streams” and your take on it. Totally using the snowball effect conquering one thing at item just builds success momentum. Keep on, keepin on.

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