T Nation

Trying to Get Back, Can't Stay Motivated


Hey all,

This is going to be long-winded, but it's been building inside me for a long time now. I feel like I need to tell my story.

Here's the long version... TL;DR at the bottom.

Back about 10 years ago, when I was staring my 30th year in the face, I got sick of being a weak, fat fuck. I started "working out", which eventually led to lifting. Got turned on to T-Nation, among other sources of information. Soon I was serious about lifting: big compound movements, squats, deads, etc. I started eating for fuel instead of for flavor. My bodyweight (225lbs) didn't change a whole lot, but over the course of a year or so, my composition sure did. I went from being embarrassed about my appearance in clothes to looking forward to walking around in a swimsuit. It ruled. After a couple years I was pulling 435, benching 285 without a spotter, and squatting somewhere in the 300's (I forget exactly, but I've never felt like my squat was all that strong). I used to sneak into a back room at work to bang out some push ups, dips, pull ups, etc. People routinely asked me for fitness and diet advice, I was the guy who got called on to move heavy shit, etc. All the stuff that we pretend to get annoyed by but secretly love.

That lasted for 5 or 6 years. Then, repeated injuries, a cheating spouse, separation and later divorce, loss of a job (important mostly because I used to be able to get to the gym and lift on my lunch break)... all these things happened at once.

Over the course of the next year, I still tried to get to a gym when I could, still tried to eat well, but as I got a new job in the city and was newly single, I ended up going out a lot with friends or on the prowl (my physique helped a lot in that department), so I was eating out at restaurants and bars all the time, and without a ball and chain keeping things in check, I was drinking a lot pretty much every night of the week. I kept telling myself, "I'll get back on the horse", and had multiple false starts.

I finally met a great girl and started to settle down... we've been living together for a few years now and are getting married in June. I don't go out nearly as much as I used to, and my drinking has slowed down a lot, and I still try to eat as well as I can... amazingly, I'm not a total disaster, but I'm really unhappy with how I look in the mirror. Yeah, even with clothes on. I still have some strength left over, and I'm sure there's an OK body hiding under the layers of beer and carbs trapped between my muscles and skin, but I want to get back to where I used to be physically and, maybe more importantly, mentally. I really don't want to look like shit on my honeymoon, but I am realistic enough to know that 5 months isn't enough time to create huge change without dedicating my life to the challenge.

Used to be in pretty good shape. Not so much now. Want to get back to it, but struggling with staying on the horse.

Here are my stats:
Age: 39
Sex: Male
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 229lbs (down from a recent peak of 240lbs)

I can add measurements later, but I'm "comfortable" in pants in a 38" waist and a XXL shirt (XLs are too short)

Material challenges:
* Sedentary job
* Herniated discs (L4/L5, L5/S1)
* Don't currently belong to a gym, too cold to lift in the garage right now, so I only have access to dumbbells up to 75lbs and bodyweight stuff for now

Here's the biggest hurdle I'm struggling with right now... I'm stuck in this mental rut. Every time I think about doing something, be it lifting or going for a run or whatever, I just tune out that voice in my head and go back to the TV or whatever. I used to mock people with this mindset, but I can't seem to shake it... I don't even like TV.

So, I know how I should be eating, and I know how I should be lifting (although any programming advice for making real progress over the next 5 months will be greatly appreciated)... I guess what I could really make do with is some encouragement and motivation.

Can you guys give me a little boot in the ass? Scratch that, give me a BIG boot in the ass...

Thanks in advance.


First off, your avi is blowing my mind.

As for your lack of motivation: Any chance you're dealing with some residual depression stemming from the unpleasantries of a few years ago? I say this because, prior to the unpleasantries, you apparently had the mental wherewithal to bootstrap yourself from 'weak fat f*ck' status to buff pimpin' stud, but now (post-unpleasantries) you don't. Depression could do that. Something to consider.

As an aside, you say your training 10 years ago subjected you to "repeated injuries." In that regard, I would point out that following the same program now that you're older will likely produce similar (if not worse) injuries. So I suggest you plan to NOT do the same things you did before. At the very least, see if you can determine what it was about your programming that led to the injuries, and modify your programming accordingly.


Put down the Doritos, Natty Light, and turn the TV off. Quit being a pussy and go lift you ass. There's no better day to start than today.


Start by making an easy goal.

You might want to tackle a simple thing first that will build up to greater success. For example, start going on 30 minute walks 3 to 4 days a week. The idea is to set a goal but make it easy. You will get some exercise and feel better after accomplishing it.

The next week or two start adding in additional exercises. Do some basic compound lifts or what have you. Iâ??m not qualified to recommend specific exercises based on your herniated discs, but Iâ??m sure someone can recommend something.

Iâ??ve noticed that if Iâ??m not motivated to make a change but realize there is a problem (e.g. my weight) then itâ??s a matter of time before my mind switches from self-defeat to single-mindedness in fixing the problem.

In the last three weeks Iâ??ve lost over 12lbs going from 248 to 236 (actually week 3 ends this Saturday). Iâ??m 6â??2â?? and my size 38 pants do not stay up anymore without a belt. Even my size 36 pants are not a little loose fitting.

Iâ??ve been following Dr. Hyghtâ??s plan in his e-book Set Your Metabolism on Fire. You can find it here http://drclay.com/. He also has several articles on this site. Following something specific and structured might free you from having to think about and allow you to just do it.

One last thought, howâ??s your vitamin D intake? I know youâ??ve been through plenty but a healthy dose of vitamin D might get you out of the doldrums. http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_nutrition/d_is_for_doping

I wish you the best in trying to get motivated


It's funny you should post this, or well not really funny, and maybe not a coincidence either. I recently got back into going to the gym and even though it is not even probably the top 10 of the hardest things in the gym to do, actually getting there and getting back in the routine IS hard. I literally had to fight every step to the gym this afternoon.

You may have to start out in baby steps, like maybe say you'll only do 5 minutes, the next day (or even next week) add another minute, etc if you are doing it from home. That may seem like a waste but really it is about setting up the habit. I recently went back to studying and I had to do that. Also make it really stupidly simple to go do something, anything, if you have to think about it you'll tune it out.

You may also be protecting yourself, residuals from a hard time in your life and also your injuries. If you beat yourself up about how you are not what you used to be, or used to behave, that will only make it harder for you to get started and stick with it. I'm only guessing at this though. Maybe being hard on yourself used to work, I know it does for some (but not for me) but maybe you've changed in the respect without even knowing it. Maybe you don't need a big boot but just quite A LOT of insisting & incessant soft pushing. Actually to build up my study habits I had to train myself the way I would train a dog, lots of encouragement and treats, no hitting or punishing :wink:


I'd like to add something in between what AliveAgain and everyone else has suggested.


Does your fiancé have any interest in joining you on this quest?


^^ what he said

But seriously I went through similar situation... things will get better .


Hey all, thanks for the replies. They're all appreciated.

I don't think it's depression... actually, I'm in a much better place in life on every level. Better girl, better job, better house... if anything, I think I might have become complacent in my contentment?

My fiancee is definitely interested in getting back to a workout routine, but she works a TON (she's a nurse practitioner in the ER)... we're talking 14 hour days most days. She comes home spent. Her days off are usually spent catching up on the other stuff she can't do while she's at work or just resting up. Once I get back into a routine, though, I can see her getting motivated.

Funny, seeing my whiny diatribe in writing, I'm kind of embarrassed. Ultimately, the motivation needs to come from within. I guess I just needed to vent. Please feel free to keep chiming in with encouragement or tips, but the ball is in my court. I should start a log.

Thanks again, guys.


I was going to suggest logging as well. I'm only starting back up, mainly because the weight I'm moving is pretty weak, along with the extra weight on me.


Im a NP and one of the reason I left the ER is I got tired of those 14 hour days and my life around it sucked.

Good luck.


Have you had your thyroid function and test/estrogen levels checked?
I finally did after thinking about it for a long time. Not a big fan of needles...
My cortisol was through the roof and my test level was about average... for an 85 year old man. My bio-available test was about 58% of my total levels due to the cortisol and shbg. This is the end of my 2nd week on trt and I feel 10-15 years younger...well, except for my knee. Lol

If you haven't done it already, I highly recommend getting some blood work done to see how everything is functioning.
After that, hop on 5/3/1. :slight_smile:


OK, so I posted my little crybaby rant, and did what so many others do... kept making excuses and not doing the work. I really have had minimal "free" time over the last couple of months between work, house renovations, and planning a wedding. 9 feet of snow and freezing temps prevented me from lifting in my garage. Excuses, excuses.

Last night I finally took my first step back into an "iron" life. Decided to sign my boys up for boxing at the local Boys' Club where I used to lift several years ago, and lifted while they trained. They seemed to really dig boxing and they have some friends in the program, so I think they'll be looking to go at least once a week (on the days that I have them)... so that should eliminate a lot of excuses. One of my buddies who is a boxing instructor there also lifts there and was glad to see me come back and hopes that I can also help coach the younger guys lifting, which I'm looking forward to.

Haven't set any hard goals yet or put together a real plan... but I will (failing to plan is planning to fail). In the meantime, I need to keep my ego in check so I don't injure myself. After a couple of warmup sets, I worked my way up to deadlifting 275 for reps (3 sets of 5). Not impressive weight yet, but I'll get it back up. My all-time PR was 435. Not sure I'll ever get there again with my back, I need to be smart, but damn it felt good to pick up heavy shit again. Looking into the mirror at the top of my deadlift, I could almost see the old me looking back.

In three months and one week, I'll be on the beaches of Hawaii for my honeymoon. Not a lot of time to undo four years of damage, so I can't afford to keep saying "tomorrow." I need to keep fanning the flames for myself, because nobody else will.

Sorry for another rant... just stream of consciousness stuff here. Thanks for reading.


Good to see you logging! Hey you started, that's all that counts. And a good rant is good for the soul, as long as it is ranting & doing.


Went back on Friday... got a little sidetracked helping coach some kids on squats and talking to one of my old workout partners for a bit, but still hit it hard. My bench was PATHETIC, but that will come back in time. I'm still sore all over, but I love it.

Tonight, legs and shoulders. I'm looking forward to it!!


Didn't get to the gym Monday like I'd wanted to, but managed to get there yesterday. Unfortunately, the rack was in use (boxing coach teaching a bunch of kids how to deadlift, so it was OK by me) so I had to improvise a little. Heavy goblet squats... who knew so little weight could kick so much ass?

Also did some shoulder complexes, and ended up helping one of my son's friends who happened to be there learning to deadlift with his form after the others left. I actually enjoy coaching the kids; I generally won't get too involved unless it's the squat, dead, or bench... stuff that has a real potential for injury.

Don't have my numbers in front of me, but it went something like this:

Goblet squats
45x10, 55x10, 65x10, 75x10, 100x8, 100x6, 100x7

Seated Scott press, one arm at a time
45x10, 45x8, 45x7, 45x8

Shoulder circles (arms outstretched, small circles forward then back)
5x10/10, 10x10/10, 10x10/10, 10x10/9
SS w/ Lateral raises
(didn't do), 10x8, 10x6, 10x7

DB shrugs (one side at a time, only holding the one DB to help activate core)
75x10/10, 75x10/10, 75x10/10

Ran out of time before I could do any more core work (I know, I know)...


Good to see things are improving


Thanks man... appreciate the kind words. Headed back tonight for probably my last "a-la carte" workout before I start on Dan John's Mass Made Simple program. Can't say I'm looking forward to all those squats, but I guess that's why I need to do 'em!!

Anybody here that had luck with that program? Can I expect some visible upper-body growth, too?


Just an update to say, "I haven't disappeared." I'll be doing workout #2 of Dan John's Mass Made Simple program tonight. Having a hard time trusting that training so infrequently will produce results, but people swear by it!

I won't bother with any numbers right now, but I'll post more as things get interesting.


I had the same problem when I started MMS.. I kept thinking when do I get to go to the gym? But if you follow it and do as Dan says its an all out effort for the hour; you will get results. I was forced to take time off from lifting last summer for surgery. It gave me time to review my logs over the past few years and after a while it dawned on me that the two times I made solid progress was on MMS and 5/3/1 when I did it 3 days a week not 4. Anyway, enough of my drool... good luck and enjoy the process!