Who You Were, Who You Are

Today, you’re going to learn valuable life lessons from Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, Pixar’s Brave, and Nintendo’s Donkey Kong.

Who you were doesn’t need to be who you are.

These three characters spent most of their lives living life in a certain way:

  • Wreck-It Ralph is a video game character whose job it is to be the bad guy. Ralph wrecks things just so that the hero, Fix-It Felix, can drop in to save the day.
  • In Bravea princess named Merida spends her whole life learning everything there is to know about being a queen, so that her arranged marriage goes off without a hitch and an ancient tradition continues.
  • Our pal Donkey Kong has to constantly kidnap the princess, so that Mario can come rescue her.

Life gets interesting when this guy, gal, and ape decide that they’re tired of how things are going and want to make changes.  Not surprisingly, they all hit a number of snags along the way attempting to change their fate – however they each found solace in taking greater control of their own destinies.

I want you to do the same.

Who you were

For thirty years, Wreck-It Ralph was the bad guy.

Day after day, he would do his darndest to rip countless buildings apart, Rampage-style.  And he was really good at it!

Ralph was a nice enough fellow and just wanted to hang out the good guys after work ended.  Unfortunately, because he was only ever known for being a bad guy, Ralph faced a tremendous amount of resistance and ridicule when he tried to change the status quo.  He was good at being a bad guy, and thus struggled to shed his image of the “bad guy that’s also a BAD guy.”

After thirty years, Ralph finally decided that enough is enough. Throwing caution into the wind, Ralph sets out on a journey of self-discovery, attempting to remake his image from who he was into who wants to be, and earn the respect of his friends and co-workers.

Up until yesterday, you were somebody too.

Every decision you made up until that point made you who you were:

What you ate
If you exercised
What made you happy
Where you worked
Who you hung out with

Like Ralph, you were somebody yesterday.  You’re known to your friends, family, and coworkers as that person.  

Like, Ralph, you can decide to be somebody else today, even if it means getting funny looks or “that doesn’t sound like you” and “why bother changing” comments from people who don’t believe that you can change.  Prove them wrong!

Decide who you want to be

For more than a decade, Donkey Kong was just a bad guy too.

It was his job to kidnap the princess, climb atop a platform, and sit there like a chump to wait until Mario climbed up and kicked his ass! Like Wreck-It Ralph, Donkey Kong did his job to the best of his ability, because he didn’t know any better.  He was great at being a bad guy!

Then one day, he decided he was tired of waiting around for his ass to get kicked.

So he expanded his horizons, went on his own adventures, and learned new skills.  Donkey Kong pushed through the adversity and went on to have a wildly successful career, from adventuring and go-kart racing, to golfing and tennis…heck, he even went on to become a popular bongo player.  Sure, he had more success in some areas than others, but he continually reinvented himself despite his troubled past.

Who you were yesterday doesn’t control who you want to be today. Like we’ve learned from the Rules of the Rebellion, “We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going.”

Starting RIGHT NOW, you get to decide what you want to be when you grow up.  I don’t care if you’re 65 years old and 400 pounds, you can decide you want to be whatever the heck you want, right now.

  • Want to try parkour? Go for it.
  • Want to become a great cook?  Start by cooking your first meal.
  • Want to become a kick-ass yoga fan?  Go do a downward dog!
If Donkey Kong can play golf, drive a go-kart, and play the bongos, you can become whatever you want.

Be true to yourself

brave poster

In Pixar’s Brave, Merida is absolutely terrified at the thought of going through an arranged marriage and becoming a boring queen stuck in a chair all day making decisions.

She would much rather saddle up her beloved horse, grab her trusty bow and arrow, and go on awesome adventures around the picturesque Scottish countryside.  In order to “change her fate” (must be read in a Scottish accent), Merida sets out to change her mother’s mind.

Merida realizes that the way it’s always been done simply isn’t right for her. Merida didn’t know it, but she was simply following rule nine of the Rebellion, question everything.

Conventional wisdom be damned, Merida knew that society’s notions of who she should be just wasn’t right for her.

  • Two thirds of Americans these days are overweight – do you really want to be like everybody else?
  • Most people chase quick fixes, fad diets, crappy “health meals”, and then abandon their goals just as soon as they start them.  You care what those people think about you?  Let them think you’re weird and boring with your “diet and exercise.”
  • If a dad is obese, the likelihood that his children will be obese by age 9 increases by over 1000% than if the kid had healthy parents.  Yup, that’s Three zeroes.  If you want a better life for your children, start by breaking tradition and taking care of yourself.

Just because you’re predispositioned or “destined” to head down a certain path does NOT mean you have to.  Sure, it’s going to be challenging as hell to change your routine and WHO you are, especially when you go against the grain, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

  • Ignore the naysayers and make your own destiny –  You might have friends and family who tell you they don’t want you to change. They’d rather you stay unhealthy and unsuccessful so they feel better about not improving their own lives! So screw em! Nod politely, smile, and then go about your business of living a better life.
  • Retrain yourself –  Going against the grain means you’ll struggle to build those old habits and build new ones.  It’s a challenge, but it’s doable.  
  • Patience is crucial –  Do not expect overnight success.  Don’t forget, it took you years and years (or decades and decades) to get you to where you are currently.  It could take years and years before you reach your new “fate,” so don’t chase quick fixes and “too good to be true” products and services.
“If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”  You do, so do it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As I learned from Brave: “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command, that our destiny, but I know better.  Our fate lives within us.”

Change your fate, friend!

  • Change your mindset today, right this instant.  Determine your level 50 (who you want to be) and then start working every day towards that goal.  The more specific you can be about the new YOU, the easier it will be to identify the steps and processes that need to happen to get you there!  And then take it one day, one step at a time.
  • If you’ve been the skinny weak guy/girl your entire life, there’s no reason you can’t change your mindset today and start training like a superhero.
  • If you’re in a job or career that you dislike, there is NO reason you can’t pick a new field that actually interests you. And then take the initiative to get a job you’re actually excited about each morning!
  • If you’re in an unfulfilling relationship, you have the ability to find somebody that makes you happy and treats you with respect.

If you don’t like your situation, shut up and change it! 

Yep, it might require you hitting the reset button and starting all over.  It might require you to find a few new friends who aren’t only interested in hanging out with you when you eat too much and don’t exercise. You have only one quarter, one play-through of life (sorry, no Konami code)  – it’s up to you to play it to the best of your ability.

So, I don’t want to know who you were.

I want to know who you are and what you want to be.

I’m Steve, and I want to put a dent in the universe by helping Nerd Fitness become the go-to name in helping people get healthy worldwide.

Your turn.


PS – Thanks to all that participated in the November Morning Mile Challenge! We’re gonna keep the good times going in a new tab in the same document.  Simply click on the December tab at the bottom, add your name, and commit to walking a mile each morning!


Photo: Ralph big armsWreck-It Ralph, New Donkey Kong, Old Donkey Kong, Brave

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