I freaking love the Avengers. If you’re reading this site, chances are you do too, and you’re probably freaking out with excitement for the release of Age of Ultron.
There’s something just inherently badass about taking a posse of amazing characters who have lead their own films and comics, and bringing them all together to take on an even greater challenge no one Avenger could defeat alone. Whether they’re facing an invading alien race, or artificial intelligence gone rogue, these heroes need to find a way to work together and become greater than the sum of their parts.
In the Game of Life, turning yourself into a healthy ass-kicking superhero can seem like a monumental task worthy of joining the Avengers. Having the right attitude, unwavering mental fortitude, and laser-sharp focus might feel impossible with our day-to-day responsibilities.
However, if you can take the best parts of each Avenger and apply each of their abilities to your own journey, I guarantee you’ll emerge a real life superhero yourself. Seriously!
And then you’re going to contribute your own super power and help The Nerd Fitness Rebellion take over the world.
The Incredible Hulk’s Alter ego
Bruce Banner is a quiet, thoughtful, bumbling scientist.
And then he gets angry.
And sure, the Incredible Hulk often gets out of control (hence the need for Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster), but the Hulk can also do some incredible things nobody else can. In fact, many Avengers would have lost their lives and the world might have ended if it weren’t for Bruce’s power to become incredible:
Do you spend your whole life like Bruce Banner? Or do you take advantage of opportunities to become somebody else?
For most of my day, I’m a quiet shy nerd who sits at a computer and writes articles about Minecraft, The Matrix, and Deadlifts. But when I’m in the gym, my headphones are blasting music, I hang from gymnastic rings like a monkey, and I grunt during heavy deadlift sets.
Socially, I’m usually a pretty risk-averse and shy person as well, but I know sometimes it’s important for me to come out of that shell. So I channel the alter ego of somebody who’s much more outgoing, talkative, and friendly when I’m in situations where I know it would improve my evening. Yup, it often takes 20 seconds of courage for me to go up to talk to somebody.
Be more like the Hulk: What’s your alter ego? You might be a scientist, or a janitor, or a doctor who struggles with social anxiety. At the gym, you can be somebody strong, fast, and powerful. You can train like somebody who’s drastically different than the person you spend most of your time living as. You can actually be a superhero!
Next time you’re on a vacation or headed out for a night on the town, adopt the alter-ego of somebody incredibly confident and make decisions based on what they would do. Who cares if it’s not really you? Confidence, social skills, and strength are all skills that can be learned with enough practice.
Tony Stark’s Tinkering
Be honest, you would give anything for a fully functioning Iron Man suit.
Every time we see Tony Stark, he’s in a newly upgraded Mark suit, all the way up to Mark XLV in Age of Ultron. With each iteration his suit gets a bit stronger, more durable, smarter, faster, sleeker, or more efficient. And thank goodness: his movies and his role in Iron man wouldn’t have worked if he stuck with the hunk of junk that was his first attempt of his suit in the original Iron Man movie:
From the first suit to the most recent, Tony is constantly shaving off millimeters to become more aerodynamic, or tinkering with the suit to get a single percentage point of efficiency.
Tony is a perfectionist, always in search of improvement. However, he doesn’t let that get in the way of progress, because he knows the rule: you can’t edit a blank page, and you can’t improve a machine that hasn’t been built yet.
Be like Tony: Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. Instead of drastic sweeping changes each time, Tony makes teeny tiny adjustments that result in breakthroughs and improvements.
If you are looking to get in shape, look for small tweaks that you can repeatedly improve. If you want to learn how to squat, start with just the bar and work on your form. If you want to lose weight, make a single adjustment to your diet this week and then make another adjustment next week.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with the perfect diet or the perfect workout plan: they don’t exist.
Start. Build. Learn. Change. Adapt. Repeat.
Captain America’s bright lines
It’s no surprise Captain America is often referred to as “The First Avenger.”
And if you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know he’s my favorite Avenger. Heck, we even have shirts in the NF Store that pay homage to this superhero.
That’s because Cap doesn’t have to waste precious mental bandwidth on deciding what to do in conflicting situations. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and it’s these rules that allow him to quickly decide what action to take… even if it goes against popular opinion.
Be like Cap: If you struggle with saying no, or can’t get yourself to start working out, stop saying “I can’t” and instead make it part of your identity:
- “I do [this].” “I don’t do [this.]”
“I probably shouldn’t eat that cake” suddenly becomes this idea you can’t get out of your head until you eat cake. “I can’t eat cake” is you restricting yourself and depriving you of something you want.
Compare that to a Captain America rule: “I don’t eat cake.” This one change takes the guess work out of what you need to do, and removes the need to have “just one” or “only a little.” My friend James Clear refers to these rules as “Bright Line” rules.
Black Widow’s mental flexibility
Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is often praised for her deadly skills as an assassin, along with her flexibility to beat the crap out of bad guys, even when restrained or under attack.
(I’m more interested in her mental flexibility! I promise.)
Whenever the situation changes, she adapts quickly and then crushes her opposition:
Have you ever been in the gym and found that the equipment you needed to use was already taken? Or gotten ready to go for a run and realized it was pouring rain? Did you leave the gym, or give up on your run? Did you plan on eating healthy but on a business trip decided “well, if I can’t eat healthy for every meal, might as well eat whatever I want!”
Suckers look for the slightest excuse to say “Damn, can’t do my workout today!” or “Looks like I’ll have to eat fast food!” Avengers prepare for any situation and have plans B and C and D in case Plan A falls through.
Be like Black Widow: Don’t look for excuses to skip your workout and nutrition – instead look for solutions. Have a plan in place for every scenario when things don’t go according to Plan A. It works for MacGuyver, and it works for Black Widow: If you can’t get to the gym, can you do a bodyweight workout at home? If there isn’t access to any healthy breakfast options while traveling, can you do some intermittent fasting? Stay agile, like Black Widow.
Thor’s Confident humility
“Confident humility? That’s an oxymoron Kamb!” you might be saying right now.
I love Thor, as I feel like he’s gone through one hell of a transformation on his journey to becoming an integral part of the Avengers. In Thor’s first film, his arrogance and naivete get him banished from Asgard and stripped of his power:
Which is a bummer, as Asgard is freaking gorgeous, and I want to live there.
Anyways, Thor has to question everything he deemed important, and radically adjust his view of the world, from cocky arrogant demi-god, to redemption song. Sure, he remained strong and confident, but it was his humility and questioning of his deeply held beliefs that gave him a chance to regain his power and become worthy again. Although he’s surrounded by “mere mortals,” he’s learned to exist among them, including a love of coffee:
Like Thor, we all have beliefs we hold deep within us; when somebody questions those beliefs it can shake us to our core and cause us to put up our defense mechanisms. Read the comments in any article on the internet, and you’ll find people who lash out at the opposition when their own views are called into question.
Be like Thor: When it comes to getting healthy, we are all fighting decades worth of conventional wisdom that has cemented itself in your brain. If we are trying to do something different with our life, social pressure might make it hard to make a big change.
It’s time to look at our own deeply held beliefs and question everything (a Rule of the Rebellion).
- Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Maybe not.
- Do I need to avoid eggs because of cholesterol? Maybe not.
- Is eating a diet full of fat going to make me fat? Highly doubtful.
- As a female, will lifting weights make me bulky? Nope.
Hawkeye’s phoenix-like redemption
Hawkeye is a deadly marksman with a bow and arrow: one hell of a shot and a valuable member of the Avengers. Unfortunately, in the first Avengers flick, Hawkeye’s brain is hijacked by the trickster Loki, and is forced to do the bidding of the enemy.
During that time, he kills tons of “good guy” S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and struggles internally with the damage he’s done. He feels deeply remorseful for those actions, even though he was a puppet with somebody else pulling the strings. This wrecks him:
Fortunately for Hawkeye and for the rest of the Avengers (and us fans), Hawkeye is set free and gets a chance to redeem himself, bailing out his friends and helping save the world:
He can’t fix what happened in the past, even though it eats away at him. He can only learn from it and do his best to redeem himself moving forward. I want the same for you.
Be like Hawkeye: Be your own redemption story. Regardless of who you were yesterday, today is an opportunity to change, to atone, to redeem. If you’ve been a bad friend, or a bad husband, or a bad daughter, a bad team member, you can’t fix yesterday. You can however, fix what you’re doing right now, and change your actions moving forward.
It’s time for you to show the world what you are capable of and make your contribution. As they say: “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
If yesterday you were a 400-pound, unemployed, unhappy person, today you have an opportunity to start day 1 of a new life. Sure, you might be 400 pounds and unemployed today, but the difference is that today is a step towards superhero status… And tomorrow? Anything is possible!
If you couldn’t tell, I’m quite excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But I want to hear from you: what superpower are you bringing to The Nerd Fitness Rebellion?
Get creative. Give us your backstory. Tell us about your superpower and why it’s going to help us
take over save the world!
My superpower is the ability to combine abilities and skills from others, whether it’s combining the philosophy of Nassim Taleb with video games, or combining the complexities of a paloelithic diet with Legos, or intense bodyweight training and heavy barbell training. I like taking complex or seemingly unrelated things, and bringing them together to form a super idea, or super training plan, or super power. This skill has translated to team building! I like to think I helped assemble a unique group of misfits and underdogs here at Nerd Fitness, and the same with Team Nerd Fitness.
What about you? We’ll pick two commenters at random and give away free Nerd Fitness shirts!
Rebel Hero: My friend Jason Lengstorf in Costa Rica, striking quite the superhero pose himself here in his Nerd Fitness shirt.