Most of the time, boring is bad.
A boring date sucks. A boring movie can put you to sleep.
But sometimes, boring is exactly what you need.
You wouldn’t call Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy boring would you? Yes, I’m referring to the talking Flora Colossus (tree, essentially) from Planet X in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, everybody loves the fast-talking, wisecracking Rocket Raccoon, but there’s something more to Groot than just a simple, stoic character. In fact, it’s Groot’s strength and versatility that turns the tide against the forces of evil.
How the hell does this relate to you getting healthy?
I am groot. (Sorry, I had to.)
I am groot.
Groot is an ent-like creature who is big and strong, and just wants to be who he is.
President Teddy Roosevelt once said: “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Groot took that advice to mean “speak softly and be a giant stick.” He doesn’t say much, and his quiet confidence just exudes through everything he says and does. He puts his head down, does his job, and doesn’t make a big fuss of it. He’s stable, he’s reliable, and he might even be considered boring if you didn’t know him. But, Groot is the character that steals the show.
Why? Because he keeps things simple. “I am Groot?” “I am Groot!” ” I AM GROOOT!” – in three words he can convey and do all of the things he needs to say and do. He’s strong at his core, and consistently.
For the past month, I’ve felt like Groot. I’ve been going to every gym I can find in New York City in an effort to find my new workout home. Before I go into a location, I mentally prepare myself to hear the same spiel over and over by the eager salesman or woman trying to get me to join their gym.
“On this floor is all of our cardio equipment, including our new [fancy term for a useless piece of equipment]. Over here we have our newest high tech machines. This is where we have our [insert some ridiculous name] classes that are designed to target your [obscure body part]. This is where you can check your email and use our lounge area.” I nod my head politely and smile, let them go through all of these things, and then they ask if I have any questions.
My response is always: “Can you just point me in the direction of the squat rack?” I can see the look of confusion on the face of the marketer trying to sell me on the dozens of amenities that everybody thinks they want but I would never use.
Four days a week for 45 minutes, I go through a ‘boring’ workout routine with Groot-like dedication and simplicity.
In fact, my workouts are stupidly simple: they require a barbell, occasionally some dumbbells, and a pull up bar or high anchor point to hang my rings from. I’ve been following roughly the same routine for the past two years. A simple combination of squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, dips, pull ups, and some gymnastic holds. The workout, other than weight on the bar or number of reps, has remained relatively consistent.
It might not make fitness marketers excited. But it achieves Groot-like results, because every day I grow stronger.
There’s no “muscle confusion,” a bullshit marketing term to sell DVDs. There’s no gimmick to target my abs or obliques or glutes. Instead, I get stronger every day, every week, every month. The workout strategy is simple but solid, like a tree growing from sapling to giant badass who can only say three words.
I stay injury-free due to building a sturdy core (or “trunk,” in tree terms), and I get excited to be like Groot and be satisfied with teeny tiny consistent growth. I’m still a long way off from where I want to be, but I am way closer now than I have ever been in the past – I shifted my focus from the exciting and short term to the boring and long term.
And it’s working. Slowly. Here’s the last 18 months for me – though I need to get new photos, progress has continued consistently!
Weight (Date): 180 (Jan 1, 2014), 172 (Oct 1, 2014), 194 (May 1, 2015)
In fact, many people will look at the photos above and say “That’s not drastic. You lost some weight and then gained some weight and maybe some muscle. And it took you 18 months?!”
In today’s entitled world, we’re told we can get results with minimal effort. 15 minutes a day, just 3 times a week is enough to get results. Get shredded in 90 days! ONE TRICK that will banish belly fat.
My results might not be drastic, but they are realistic, consistent, dependable, and sustainable. You don’t see stories like this in supplement ads or hanging on walls in gyms because it’s not exciting. I add 1 rep to a deadlift, or 5 pounds or less to an exercise, or hold a gymnastic pose for half a second longer. And slowly, consistently grow stronger.
Now that I’m following the Groot method, every day is a small, humble improvement.
Or, as Groot would say, “I am Groot.”
We are Groot.
Groot doesn’t quickly grow from tiny sapling to walking tree-badass-hero in a few hours. Your body won’t transform overnight either.
In fact, when it comes to trees and tree-like creatures, it’s the slow growth that creates the deepest roots and thickest trunk. I actually have no idea if that’s scientifically true, but it fits the metaphor we’re using, and I’m on a roll, so let’s go with it.
Groot is okay with slow consistent growth – and you should be too. James Clear wrote a fantastic article about the idea of 1% improvement:
“In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.”
So, YES, you MIGHT see fantastic results in 90 days. However, we all know from studies like this one, and from numerous past attempts of losing weight and gaining it all back, rollercoaster weight change is a losing strategy.
We need to be more like Groot. We need to develop a quiet confidence that knows that despite the chaos around us, what we are doing is working. We eek out tiny, slow, small, steady, PERMANENT progress.
I want you to grow stronger and healthier consistently. I don’t want you to grow quickly and then fall over from doing so in an unsustainable way. That would make Groot unhappy.
It’s why the first and most important part of the Nerd Fitness Academy is fixing your mindset. It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. But it sets you up to win permanently, every day.
So be more like Groot. The next time you are bombarded with the latest and greatest, or the newest fad, simply respond with “I AM GROOT!!!!” and get back to work growing stronger. Slowly.
Questions? Comments? Please keep your comments to three words only.
-I am Groot.