Why You Should Stop Dramatizing Your Fitness and Health Goals: A Plea for Easy Boss Battles

This is an article from NF Team Member Staci.

I recently decided to re-play the Legend of Zelda – the game that got me hooked on video games – and  I made one big observation:

The boss battles are really weak.

Seriously, you go through the dungeon, through countless rooms full of ridiculously hard bad guys, just to get to a boss that takes three or four hits. Yep –  a few hits and you’re done.

But then I got thinking – maybe this is how it is SUPPOSED to be. Maybe boss battles shouldn’t be built up to be ridiculously hard. And maybe boss battles shouldn’t be so hard in real life, either.

The first time I played the Legend of Zelda I immediately got my sword and wandered around for a few screens until I found the first dungeon. And so I entered, promptly died over and over again, and yelled and cried at the screen until I convinced my cousin to help me out (hey, I was 5).

“You can’t just go into the dungeon right off the bat and expect to beat it, dummy,” he said.

Uhf, okay. So I tried it again, this time starting with the process of beating countless enemies and learning the basics of the game before I went back to the dungeon. And 5-year-old me learned an important lesson… because this time I beat it easily on my first try.

This second time around as an adult, I headed into the game with the experience of my childhood – I knew going straight to the dungeon was a death wish. So I spent an hour wandering around, having fun! I collected heart containers, upgraded my gear, and collected enough money (rupees) to get the blue ring (for you non Zelda nerds, it reduces damage taken).

“Man, I love this game!” … “Oh yeah, there’s bosses I need to go kill”

Once I was ready, I beat the first four dungeons without dying, before heading to bed.

Why was it so much easier for me this time? Well, first, I’m not five anymore, but I spent the time and put in the work to get ready to beat the boss. When I got to the boss, it was just like another room in the dungeon, another piece of the process… not some epic battle that I was expected to die repeatedly on.

I had all of the experience, equipment, and knowledge I needed to get through it easily. Not only that, but I let myself have fun – you know, actually enjoy the game instead of rushing off to get to the next zone. This time around the boss battle wasn’t so dramatic – it just was the next thing.

Your journey in fitness can, and maybe even should, be the same way.

Let me give you an example: If you haven’t exercised once in the last five years, and I said “drop and give me 20,” would you be able to?

No!

If you just started your fitness journey, this would be insanely difficult. But if you put the months and months of training, slowly making progress and enjoying every moment – by the time the challenge came along it would be no big deal: “oh, I do close to that for my regular workout – no problem!”

The same would be true with running a 5k: untrained, it might seem like a daunting task. But if you’ve been going for a 3 mile fun run every week with your running group, suddenly that 5k just seems normal.

That’s the way boss battles SHOULD be.

We have a tendency to glorify the boss battles – those big achievements that show the world how fit and different we really are. A certain squat, deadlift or bench press. A certain mileage or time. Our first real pullup or pushup. A favorite parkour or tricking move. And we envision these while we’re working out – they help us stay motivated and can keep us moving forward.

But if we’re not careful, we get too eager and we end up forgetting to enjoy the game itself. Then we find ourselves pushing ahead to the boss and we’re not ready – we might even die and have to respawn.

So, take it easy on the dramatic boss battles:

  • Collect your experience and rupees. And have fun with it! Think of this as your time training or early quests. Every repetition or every meter you run is like an enemy you are killing, and collecting rupees. Rupees, of course, are traded in for strength, stamina, endurance, etc. Enjoy this part!
  • Start now, and learn as you go: Get out there and start killing those easy enemies! Meanwhile, you can read up and tweak your strategy as you progress. If you are reading a strategy guide and haven’t started playing the game, you’re doing something wrong! Likewise, if you spend more time reading about fitness and health then practicing it, it’s time to get out there in the real world and get in the game!
  • Upgrade your equipment:  And I don’t mean gym equipment. A weak shield won’t protect you from a River Zora, just like a bad diet won’t help you lose the weight or get stronger. Make sure you’re equipping your body with what it needs to succeed. This isn’t optional; sometimes you literally can’t progress until you equip yourself properly.
  • Go into battle with full health: Overtraining, not getting enough sleep or recovery will all make it harder for you to succeed.
  • It works outside of fitness too: See somebody you’re interested in talking to at a party? Don’t make it a boss battle: talk to EVERYBODY ELSE at the party you’re not interested in, so by the time you get to a conversation with that person, you’re already warmed up and the conversation is no longer a monumental jump from “I’m a mute” to “I have to be witty and engaging.” Simply jumping from one conversation to the next, no big deal!

Have you ever let your excitement outpace your character, winding up at a boss you couldn’t handle?

Which boss battles dominating your routine need to be set aside for now, so you enjoy the grind?

-Staci

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  • http://www.homestyle.education David Bilbey

    Should the title read “Boss” Battles instead of “Bottle” Battles?

  • Ky

    I totally agree with this. It’s so easy to psyche yourself out by setting up some lofty goal that seems far away and unobtainable. When I first started working out, I had my best success by just getting on a program and going for it – I didn’t set any numbers to hit by a certain time, I just enjoyed pulling a little more weight each workout.

    Also, yes, the title says ‘Bottle Battles’ instead of ‘Boss Battles’ 🙂

  • Taylor

    Ha! Thanks for pointing out. We changed it, although, I have to admit it made me chuckle 🙂

  • Zabet Petra

    I’m getting this, too when I try to share it.

  • Kris Woodson

    Well, it IS a Zelda reference. There’s rupees in those bottles!

  • Jamey MacIsaac

    This is so topical for me. I started working out regularly almost exactly seven months ago (for a 6-week challenge, actually). And my major goal when I started, my Main Boss, my Final Battle, my own personal Gannondorf, was a single unassisted, full range of motion pull-up. And just this past Friday, after seven months of three and four times a week bodyweight training, I felt like I was ready to try, and I reached up and banged out two like it was nothing. It was so, so, so easy that I didn’t even get excited about it until later. After I did it, I was like… “Well… that’s it? Okay. Next stop, the muscle-up I guess.” I had put in the work, done the progressions, increased slowly and consistently, done seven months of grinding, so when boss time came, I just killed it like it was nothing.

  • Dave Koester

    Thanks for the great read, Staci! Fantastic advice. I tend to want to get to the boss (the results) right away and get that shiny loot (those size 34 jeans and and smaller shirts; looking good in the mirror, etc)! You are spot on about equipping yourself first (eating right, putting in the training and hard work, first). Thanks for the reminder!

  • Airin Harris

    Great article, and I totally agree. Except I still freak out a little bit at Zelda boss battles, even as an adult.

  • Terah

    I love this article! It is so true. Stuff I struggled with a year ago seems easy now, and I know stuff I struggle with now will be easy a year from now 🙂

  • Jennifer Nelson

    OMG. I needed this today (and tomorrow, which is strength training day). My Big Boss Battle right now is the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit. 4 months post-surgery, I’ve gotten to the point where I can do 2 sets of it, 15 reps each set. Each strength day, I add one more rep. As I get stronger, I’ll add another set. When I finish that, I can try things like benching, squatting, and deadlifting the bar! woo! (For comparison, I used to be able to deadlift 145 lbs. That’s my bodyweight.)

    What really caught my eye was the “Upgrade your equipment” thing, though. Maybe the reason I hit plateaus when I’m lifting is because I’m not eating like an athlete. I eat healthy-ish–fast food once every couple months, 2-3 sweet treats per week, and one alcoholic drink per night.

    I think I’ll equip my body (and my locker at work) with nuts and fruit rather than eating the free candy and cookies that come through here. 🙂

  • Muryan Passamani

    What an amazing piece!

    This is a must to every rebel in the community! Certainly should be the strating point to anyone new to nerdfitnessing!

    It’s so fantastic that I felt i had to create an account to leave this comment (ok, doing so was incredibly easy, anyways).

    Thanks, Staci!

  • starmartyr

    Still says ‘Bottle Battles’ for some reason…

  • starmartyr

    Definitely a good idea! I’ve lost almost 20lbs simply from discipline in what I eat, that was my first big step so far. Different things for different people of course, but I’ve found the best thing is to just cut out junk food altogether; before long you don’t miss it and actually find it kind of gross; it tastes of too much sugar, grease etc. You could have a cheat day with take-out of course but I try to keep that in the realm of healthy too or else I feel like I’m undermining my progress.

    Now I only just very dark chocolate as a ‘treat’ (which is actually very good for you – bonus!) – I worked up slowly from ~70% to 85-90% cacao since it’s hard to just jump into the really dark stuff, being used to milk chocolate, etc. Now everything else tastes too sugary and fake. Alcohol is too hard to give up entirely for me too, but moderation truly is key whenever possible! It is still empty calories, after all.

    For me, I find the working out is the hardest thing, I really don’t enjoy it so it’s a real journey trying to find things that will keep me motivated to keep doing them. I find the workouts out there are all too hard & exhausting to really keep me coming back. So far walking & some running are about all I’ve been able to commit to. It’s all a quest though, for sure!

  • Tony Langdon

    I can relate to this post. Several times, I have exceeded my PB times at training, before I get to race. I always work on the principle of incremental progress, and find myself ready for battle (well, competition) when the time comes.

    Unfortunately, one the biggest boss battles that I trained most of the last year for, which happened last month didn’t come off, due to reasons unrelated to my training or performance (and effectively out of my control), but sometimes stuff happens! 🙂 Gives me another year to be even more prepared for that event! 🙂

    My next battle is this weekend though, and I’m ready!

  • Scott Elder

    Really hits home having just hit restart on my journey. It’s so true that by the time you reach a massive ordeal, it’s not actually that big because you’ve been conquring so many small ordeals along the way. The real challenge is continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

  • Xingyu Zhang

    Point taken. But maybe you should try one of the Souls games next? lol

  • simon

    Great article. I like the last point especially.

  • HollieG

    Great Article. I tend to spend a lot of time exploring and building my character. I suddenly see how I do that in training as well. I will eventually explore that dungeon…

  • Misty Thompson

    I’ve never thought about taking what i’ve learned from gaming into my fitness goals. Well I have some, but not broken down like this. Thank you!

  • Zach Halzel

    This line made my day: “If you are reading a strategy guide and haven’t started playing the game, you’re doing something wrong! ”

    I’ve definitely been guilty of this!!

  • Boukensha Atheart

    One more very important point to add: Boss battles are WAY WAY less overwhelming when you’re in a party and not going at it solo! sometimes you need a healer or a buffer to support you (or a more experienced player to spot you and adjust your form)

  • Juan Pablo Sáenz Corredor

    I know its a few days late but I Loved this article! 🙂

  • ToGusDS

    lol, it was a really nice article, I really enjoyed the analogies you wrote.
    And everybody should know about the blue ring :p

  • Bianka Panova Academy

    This post is pretty interesting, I’ve never thought that the process of achieving physical fitness can be compared to a game. Haha! But it perfectly sums it all up.

    By the way guys, I also write articles about fitness, if you guys have the time you could check my blog out: http://biankapanovaacademy.com.sg

    Cheers!

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  • Clara

    Today, I was in an Assassin’s Grave, the hardest one yet for me. I’m playing ac 2 and it’s the one with only one room and the timer. So then, when I fell off once on yet another try, I said to myself: “No big deal, just relax and try to plan your way for the next time” and I swam to the isle again and went on with quite some time passed and I made it on the last second. I did it when I enjoyed it and relaxed, a lesson taught to me.

  • alexm

    Something I just noticed 3 miles is ~5k, so when you say 5k do you actually mean 5k or 5 miles? Or did I miss that completely.

  • Andy1118

    I’m coming up on a boss battle today-day 3, week 5 of C25K. A twenty minute straight run, something I haven’t been able to do in five years (basically, since before I got pregnant with my son). Instead of dreading it, I’m making a new playlist and looking forward to making it my bitch 🙂