So this is something I've been pondering for a while. We all know why we enjoy the iron game. Why nutrition is not a four-letter word to us. But have you ever sat back and actually asked why you put yourself through the sacrifice?
Because face it- it is a sacrifice. There are many things we limit ourselves on. Alcohol is a good example. Chinese buffets are another. Limiting exposure to unhealthy foods is common-place for us. Work parties, going out with friends, etc., become a chore.
For some of us, we have very good reasons. Maybe we engage in a sport. Or maybe we compete. Or maybe we're just trying to look good naked to attract the opposite sex. But what about the rest of us?
Give you an example- I'm 30-years-old. Married. Father of two (soon to be three in November). I have a solid career. A home. Rapidly growing 401K. I don't play sports. I don't compete in bodybuilding tournaments or have aspirations to. I look fairly decent naked, more than enough as far as my wife is concerned. I'm not trying to attract the opposite sex.
So what's in it for me? Other than the personal satisfaction of being healthy, fit and strong, what else is keeping me motivated? To date I can't think of anything.
Why do you guys/girls do it? What keeps you motivated?
I have wondered this many times as well... Alot of it for me is that I get board... Im an 25 year old male working to support my training... It gives me something to focus on and I enjoy that about it... I also like to push my self and see what I can do in the weight room.
I am in the same boat as you. I am 30, have twin 3 year old daughters. Great Job, wife stays at home (She has a part time job at our gym running daycare). I am in great shape, outside and inside. I am strong for the length of time I have been lifting.
As far as what drives me...I had always been heavy, getting up to 272lb by my daughters one year birthday (July 2005). I joined a gym that August and haven't looked back.
For me, I enjoy everything I put myself through. I love lifting heavy shit, I like being able to run full speed for over a minute without feeling like my chest was going to explode. I enjoy all of the foods I eat. I like the fact that my ass is now bigger than my waist.
It is very personal for me. I was always the heavy kid (I used to say I was big boned, ha), and now that I have my girls, I don't want that anymore. Granted, I should have done this a long time ago, but it feels good to be doing it now.
I've never really questioned why I exercise and limit my dietary intake. I feel better from doing it. I'm healthier and happier with myself. But I really don't sacrifice all that much in my lifestyle. I drink regularly, but just not to excess (I can't remember the last time I got drunk or was hungover). I eat what I want to and my diet is fairly loose, but I've never been what you would call a big eater.
I've always had good eating habits (I was raised that way). Condition-wise I'm really not in the same league with many T-Nation posters. I don't want to get big. I do have fitness goals, and ultimately I plan on being about 190-200lbs with a low body fat percentage (around about 10%), but this is a goal I'm pursuing at a very leisurely pace.
So far I've managed to put on ~5lbs of LBM per year over the last 3 years. This is a pace I'm happy with and given that rate of progress I should be about where I'd like to be in about 2 or 3 more years. If I tightened up my diet and put more dedication in at the gym I could meet and exceed my goal in a shorter period of time, but I'm happy with my current plan and progress for a couple of reasons:
1) I like to eat (easy diet), relax (enjoy a drink when I feel like it), and otherwise enjoy life. This limits my progress somewhat, but I continue to make progress that I'm happy with and I don't feel like I'm sacrificing the good things in life.
b) At my age (40) the primary goal of exercise is to enhance my quality of life today and in the future. All the other benefits of exercise are great, but my health is my overidding concern. So sports related injuries would be counter to my primary concern of good health. That means my routine in the gym isn't full bore, balls to the wall maximum effort.
I've found that I tend to maintain forward progress best while minimizing injury (strains, etc.) by working with less weight in higher rep schemes. Occasionally I get the itch to go heavy, see where my 1RM is at, but that is an urge I find it much easier to quell these days.
A strained back can easily knock me out of the gym for a week or two and that is even more counterproductive to my goals than not being able to lift heavy and hard. I'm not going easy in the gym, but I don't feel the need to appeal to other people's egos, and my ego is founded upon the quality of my life and that is something I've learned to enjoy on my own.
Bottom line is I'm pretty happy with myself. I have goals but I'm satisfied that I'm working toward those goals and making measurable progress. Living the good life is what keeps me motivated.
I'm a huge nerd, so it's commonplace for me to spend hours on end doing nothing but playing games. After spinning my wheels for years, I finally started to make some progress, discovering how important intensity actually was. I tend to think of the iron game as exactly that: a game. The more progress I make, the closer I am to being the best/among the elite.
For me, I find that the more success in the weightroom, the more success I find in my life in general. The weightroom is a particularly perfect environment for succeeding because there is very little BS. Just you, the iron, and your results(or lack thereof). Because there are so few variables(in general terms) when you succeed you clearly know why, and when you fail you clearly know why. This builds a certain level of understanding with the rest of the world, and I think that over time, sharpens your ability to problem solve and overcome obstacles.
Plus, it's just a damn good feeling to grind heavy weight.
As someone else said fear of death (ward that bastard off as long as possible) and more importantly quality of life. I love the outdoors and what I consider fun, hiking through the hills and mountains chasing game, requires being in good physical conditioning. Eating sweets and wallowing on the couch wouldn't be conducive to that hobby. I also like to be somewhat strong and I don't think I could handle it if I had no muscle and rolls and rolls of fat. I would be pretty depressed.
Because unlike most or dare say everything else in life you cannot win at the iron game through cheating, short cuts or who you know.
Personally, the ability to see progress as a direct consequence of the effort I put in is a reward in it-s own. Furthermore, being able to say that I can push myself harder and further than most people I see on a daily basis is also a good feeling.
Finally, it-s also somewhat therapeutic. Call it stress management, anger management whatever. Lifting heavy shit does channel your so to speak energies.
(Those are just the "other" reasons. Getting laid is also a pretty darn good reason for a 21 y o male )
I think the iron game and the dedication it takes is just a good foundation for the rest of life. I think it's just the feeling that there is no end game, you set a goal, exceed it, and set a new one. A lot of good things come together as you stick to it, but at the heart of it it's just the competition against yourself and what you can do that lands me under the bar.