Want Results? Be like Groot. I AM GROOT!

Groot Grow

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 Cosplay

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)

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 9.46.49 AM

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.

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.


photo source: Mike Mozart: We are groot, tausend und elns: baby groot, Gage Skidmore: groot cosplay

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50 thoughts on “Want Results? Be like Groot. I AM GROOT!

  1. Master Gardener here.

    (Footnote to three-word comment: I’m letting you know you’re correct about trees. Too much growth, too quickly, prioritizes the crown at the expense of the roots and trunk. This usually happens through over-application of nitrogen fertilizer. It ends up creating a top-heavy, unstable plant that will snap or uproot in a strong wind.)

  2. Im a tiny hard gainer, female, with a fast metabolism and adaptive body. People told me I had to eat till my gut was exploding and skip cardio and just lift heavy things to see results. 1, it didn’t sit well with my intuition, 2, it wasn’t going to be sustainable, and 3, I realized i wanted to create a lifestyle not a quick fix. So what I do is- pick up heavy things, keep the foods simply in terms of types- tons of veggies, good protein, a great amount of lipids, some starches and fruits, and probiotic foods FR my gut health. Oh yeah and water. And, I mix things up to be creative and enjoy my workouts. Yeah, it’s taking a loooonnngghhg turn to get more muscle, but it’s coming slowly but surely. I’m NOT burning out or falling off the wagon. I’m opening myself up to learning and trying new things. Every accomishment is celebrated, and every mistake is humble accepted as an opportunity to become smarter.
    I AM SAM!

  3. Right off the bat! I actually decided to start doing 1 set of push up and 1 set of squat a day about a week ago. Working out is not really my priority cause it sucks big time but I have to do it anyway. I’m following your will power something guide and hoping that those simple routine will be part of my habit. Thanks for enlightening us. My guts is telling me that your guide is the real deal among the rest.

  4. I think this is a fantastic metaphor. I have a question, though; if you are dedicated to slow, steady progress, instead of drastic results, then how do you know if you’re doing the right things to attain that slow, steady progress? For example, if I’m dedicated to slow, steady progress, I might not realize for months (or even years!) if I’m not cutting enough calories or doing the right exercises.

    Is there a certain point (month, 2 months, 6 months) that you set up as a limit that if you haven’t seen X kind of results from a change in Y behavior (eating, lifting), you should change it?

  5. Every 6 weeks. 😉

    Seriously though, following the NF Challenge format has been such a boon to my physical health. The other thing you can draw on in the forums is TONS of experience from those who have been there, done that. There’s bound to be someone in the community who has similar goals and can help you tailor your plans to achieve similar results–then it becomes a relatively simple matter of working your plan and reprogramming as your fitness improves and goals change.

  6. I am groot! Consistent steady progress, one workout builds up to the next. Consistent permanent change. A really good one. Good luck finding your workout home.

  7. Great article. It sounds like you are doing linear progression like starting strength or 5×5. I am doing that too. I wouldn’t berate the Beachbody DVDs though. I got into fantastic shape with P90X and it set me on my fitness journey ever since.

  8. Why go to these gyms and endure all that over and over? It doesn’t sound like you require anything from a gym at all.

  9. I am Fit.

    (Translation = Glad to have read this post as I was beginning to freak out over the one pound a month I’m losing. I thought (wished / hoped) that making the dietary changes, increasing my exercise would promote this quick loss of inches and pounds, but instead, like you mention, it’s been this slow, month by month one pound here, and inch there. I admit, I’ve yet to level up (as in add that dumbbell / body weight routine) in terms of building muscle, but with just the few CONSISTENT changes I’ve made so far, I’m slowly making my way to a healthier, stronger me.)


  10. Welcome to NYC! Global Strongman might be spare enough for you? Although, they’ll have specific strongman equipment, too, they won’t try to sell you on the cardio floor at least.

  11. I really enjoyed reading that post. I felt like you were talking directly to me, because that is how I’ve been feeling a bit lately. I recently joined the Newbie’s 6 week challenge. One of my goals is to be able to see some difference in photos after 6 weeks. In fact, I posted photos of my ‘before’ photos to help motivate me to follow-thru with providing an ‘after’ photo. BTW… I’m hoping my ‘after’ photo will look like your ‘before’ photo. 🙂

  12. I would love to hear about your gym adventures and which one you chose and why. I just think it would be interesting to learn about how all the gyms handle free weights, since they are kind of becoming a big deal again and gyms have been focusing on them more.

  13. Totally right! Slow and steady is the way. I’m the same, An extra rep here, 1 or 2 kg extra weight there as needed, every now and then is how I do my strength training. Same on the track, I look for any consistent improvement. In the short term, it doesn’t look like much, but over time, it definitely adds up.

  14. Baby steps. When my son asked me how he could gain weight and grow larger muscles, I said, son you’re young yet and you’re small and slim. You’ll grow into a more fleshed out physique when you’re a little older. Just keep exercising and eat well. Then he said, but mom, you’re HUGE. Then he explained he meant I was very toned and muscular. I was surprized at his comment. But it’s taken me since October of 2014 to get where I am: to lose weight, strengthen, add muscle and tone. At 20, he wants to do this all NOW. I advised that he stop smoking cigarettes and get back to the gym. Baby steps. Dunno where he is on this. But it all starts with bit by bit.

  15. Interesting quote at “Boot camp” training – “There is no one Giant Step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps!” I never liked exercise but for the past 4 weeks after I started I am getting stronger every day – I am not as thin, fast and strong as the others but I am taking my small steps and one day I know I will see great results! Anika RSA

  16. I had a similar experience the other day – went to the membership office of a gym being built near my home. They had a mock-up of what it’s going to look like, and were touting dry saunas, a cardio room with a giant movie screen, and so on. The husband and I are looking at the weight room. “Where’s the squat rack? No, Smith machines don’t count.”
    The salesgirl said the mock-up wasn’t completely accurate – but they offer a 30-day money back guarantee (from the day the gym opens), so we went ahead and signed up, fully ready to cancel if they don’t have a squat rack.
    It’s the little things….

  17. I, honestly, was just thinking the same, of my own routine — I’ve lost & re-found the same weight, over & over again through the years.

    For the past three years, though, I’ve been remarkably consistent with diet (mainly, logging everything before I eat it to do a final “do I really want this?” before I put something in my mouth) and workout (pull-ups, push-ups, dips, lunges, kettlebell swings, goblet squats, overhead press — with minimal variation on what I’m doing, or how many of each). I feel things are QUITE sustainable. It sucks where you don’t see the dramatic changes like you do at the beginning of a new diet/program — but I’m sturdier than I’ve ever been in my life . . . and, unlike my life when I was at the peak of a “losing weight” phase, where EVERYTHING in my life had to revolve around my getting to the gym, I fit my workouts in whenever I can . . . 15-20 minutes here/there & that’s it.

  18. I am trying for slow, consistent growth instead of quick fixes. The last several years have been a constant rollercoaster for me. I think when I start getting down on myself for it, I will add I AM GROOT to my battle cries.

  19. This is a very inspiring article. At 53 years old I have taken up philipino martial arts and have a spartan warier like home workout routine. I don’t expect too gain mind blowing speed or bone shattering strength over night. My training alone will take a few years to be proficient in.

  20. Can hella relate to this post! I follow a simple, slow-but-steady routine that is both effective and easy to stick to. That 1% really builds up!

  21. Set a goal and try to achieve it. This can be a slow and steady continuation (add 5 pounds to my weights in 2 weeks) or a long term goal (I want to run a 5k next spring). If you fall short of your goal, assess why.

  22. What a great, fun to read article. Being someone who has done the fad workouts I cant help but love your “Groot” approach.

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