Be a Game Character reader Xkutja started a great thread on the forum yesterday entitled “What inspired you all to work out?” I love questions like this because frequently in wanting to get in shape, we don’t really explore the idea of “why” as much as we should. Now, some common motivations are, “I want to look great in a swimsuit,” or, “I want to be able to perform X skill,” or even just a simple, “I want to be healthier.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all fantastic starting points, and are just some of the most common reasons out there. But they really are just that; “starting points.” They don’t really fully delve into the why? Why do you want to look good in a bathing suit? Why do you want to be able to perform X skill? Why do you want to be healthier? Exploring these reasons can give us deeper insight into ourselves, and more of a reason to persevere when we may feel like giving up.
When I first started working out, it was for two reasons: I was really socially awkward, and I loved Dragonball Z. I was around 12 years old, I had always been a pretty active kid, having done martial arts, gymnastics, etc. for most of my life, but I had never really exercised for exercise’s sake. Now, from popular media, magazines, books, and the like, I knew that the guys that everyone liked in stories were usually pretty in-shape, capable individuals. Additionally, I knew that because Goku worked out like a madman, he was able to fly and shoot fireballs from his hands.
Which thought motivated me more, I’m not sure, but I know that at that point, I resolved to get in shape.
I then proceeded to effectively flail around for a bit with no idea what I was doing in regards to fitness and most likely looked very silly in the process. Seriously, my idea of a solid workout was do ten pushups, curl my mom’s 3 pound hand weights 200 times, and then do crunches to exhaustion.
While one could certainly argue that these things were better than sitting around doing nothing, they also definitely weren’t an ideal fitness regimen. So, after a few months of zero results, I hit the books (because at that point I actually spent more time at the library than on the internet), dug out my dad’s old weight bench, and started putting in work.
Now, here’s the funny thing. I didn’t become less socially awkward, nor did I gain the ability to shoot kamehameha waves. Working out didn’t make me friends, and it didn’t grant me super powers. I got to learn a lot about myself, though. First off, I learned that unless I’m in the mood for it, long form cardio bored the crap out of me. If you follow my workout log on the forums, you’d know I go running like once a month, if that. I also learned that I liked being strong.
I’m going to be honest, I was kind of your textbook moody teenager. I was mad at the world, I felt like no one understood me, and at the root of all that turmoil, I was really kind of unhappy with myself. But working out, and getting strong, gave me something to enjoy about myself. I could throw myself at a pull up bar or a set of free weights and let out my anger and frustration. I felt more capable in life because I could help people move furniture, fight harder in karate class, and start to attempt more impressive things like parkour and climbing.
Did I look like an adonis, and have all the ladies fawning over me? Did people line up to be friends with the resident strong man? Nope. But, having that small part of myself that I liked (being strong), I was able to start building confidence on my own strength and self-reliance. No matter what someone said about me, or what I said about myself, no words or thoughts could take away my ability to bench press my weight in iron, or climb trees and rocks fearlessly while hiking.
Gradually, this little bit of “self-like” gradually grew into a larger island of self confidence, where I could go and feel pretty okay about myself whenever it felt like no one else felt that way about me. Let me tell you, that first step is the hardest, but once you start to be okay with yourself, it’s a whole lot easier to believe that other people think you’re an okay person, too.
So if you’re working out to look like a guy or gal on a magazine cover, that is freaking awesome. Keep it up, and keep going. Chances are, somewhere along the way you will find out that the magazine is just the beginning of your motivations. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Find the root of your desires. While I initially thought I was working out to make people like me, the real discovery was the ability to like myself.
So now here I am, happily married, owning a house, getting a dog, having a child. Heck, all I’m missing is the picket fence. This may be what you’re looking to get to, or maybe you’re looking for something else entirely. But I can definitely say that whatever reasons you have, adding a good fitness and diet regimen into the mix can only improve your life.
I would heartily recommend you hop on over to the forums and share your reasons for working out. Also, I’ve found that starting a fitness or nutrition log in a public place can really help you stay on point and keep you honest with yourself, so we’ve got a forum for that, too.
Wherever your travels in this world of fitness take you, remember I’m always here if you want some advice or words of encouragement. Email me any time. Beyond that, remember, as always, to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome. Because in a lot of ways, just by being here, you already are.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace