I’m an 80’s kid.
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
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.
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
Egon: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you. Don’t cross the streams.
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
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…
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.