How Big Is Your Why?

I normally don’t have days like this, but this definitely was one of them. I had gone through my new morning routine. I added something, but will reserve writing about it, until I’m sure it will be of some benefit to the reader. 

I hydrated and went to ride the Peloton bike. It was an uneventful ride. I did not set any personal records or achieved any new milestones. I realized it, while doing my abs workout. Normally, it’s three rounds of six exercises, counted by reps or time.   

I was struggling to complete each exercise. I didn’t want to quit. I did not want to go through the motions. Although, I had changed my abs workout to only three times a week, I contemplated if there was a need to continue working on them any longer. In fact, if I had achieved a flatter midsection, why was I pushing myself at all? 

Hopefully, the reader can glean my mindset, as I trudged upstairs to take a shower, disgusted that my workout was nothing to rave about, and the subsequent thoughts that followed. 

As I disrobed and stood before the mirror, the reason why I kept pushing myself became abundantly clear. I began to think of why others had not achieved a scintilla of results. There was a flood of thoughts but I extrapolated it to these five. I’m quite sure that others will disagree, and accused me of omitting something they deemed far more important. 

5) Bad Diet: There is an old adage. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet.  
Individuals who fall in this category fail to realize that eating is an essential part of any exercise regimen. They can’t be bothered with counting macronutrients. Tallying how much calories they are ingesting on a daily basis is simply too tedious. Restricting themselves from eating the foods they like, or limiting the amount is futile, since they falsely believe it can be worked off in the gym. 

4) Too Much Cardio:  

Go to any gym and you will find an inordinate amount of cardio equipment. They are strategically placed right in the front, and facing a row of televisions. Why would organizations supposedly dedicated to you achieving your fitness goals, have so many machines, which they know will not significantly contribute to your transformation efforts? 

The answer is as simple as in the use of those machines . . . Money. Anyone passing by one of their windows can relate to walking or jogging on a treadmill. It is an easy thing to do. Watch television, while you leisurely walk for thirty minutes. It is a great marketing tool.  

3) Strength Training: No Intensity 

This one can be very deceptive because it happens in a myriad of ways. An individual following an exercise program, where it states bench press for four sets of twelve reps. The person wants to hit the goal of 12, so they limit the weights and hold back the effort, just to ensure they hit the goal.  

It would have been far better to push themselves, and fall short of the goal. Let me elucidate my point. 

135 lbs. x 12 reps 

145 lbs. x 10 reps 

155 lbs. x 8 reps 

165 lbs. x 6 reps 

In this scenario, the individual’s muscles are being taxed, which is where growth begins.  

The other way strength training lacks intensity is marathon sessions. Individuals who spend in excess of three hours in the gym. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been guilty of spending more than two hours exercising in the gym, but when I do, aside from rest periods, each moment is spent giving maximum effort. 

What I’m talking about is the novice trying to work all muscles in one session. Three to four exercises for each body part, which leaves little energy for anything else. So, the rest of the body is worked, but without the intensity needed to cause growth.  

2) Socializing:  

This particular one does not need much explaining, but its importance in causing abject failure of one’s fitness objectives, means it should not be taken lightly. 

We’ve all seen them. The person who frequents the gym to pick up girls. The self-proclaimed know it all, who keeps others from exercising. They finish a set, and adore themselves in the mirror. Their rest periods are devoted to texting, checking messages, talking on the phone, all while holding up a piece of equipment or bench that others sorely need. 

The moment warm-up is over, and I begin my first working set, all distractions cease to exist. I’m not there to make friends. I am selfish. I’m there to kick ass! Preferably my own! 

1) Why: 
This one may come as surprise. I can hear you scoffing. Why on earth would this be number one? Surely, it can’t be as simple as that. 

Let me finish the story I was telling, before I started listing my five reasons. I told you I disrobed and stood before the mirror, but neglected to tell you what I saw. As I looked in the mirror, I stared intently at the image looking back at me. Gone was the distended belly. I no longer had to suck in my gut. I reached for my phone and compared the image of what I had set out to achieve, in other words “my why.” 

 I’m not a proponent of putting pictures on the phone’s lock screen to serve as a reminder, unless it’s for the first thirty days. What usually happens, when it’s longer than that, it ceases to be a motivating factor, and becomes part of the everyday minutiae, as it slips unseen into the background. 

The picture that I indelibly etched in my mind was a conceptual art for the movie Black Panther. The artist depiction of the costume showed a lean, taut physique, even in a relaxed state. My attention was drawn to the flat midsection and the well-defined serratus anterior muscles. 

This became my overwhelming “why.”  Whenever I thought an exercise was too difficult to master, I remembered the picture. Days when I lacked enthusiasm, I remembered the picture. Days when the workout wasn’t going according to plan, I remembered the picture. Days when I looked in the mirror, and became disgusted at my perceived lack of results, I remembered the picture. 

Do you have a big enough why? Is it all consuming, bordering on obsession?  Would you feel incomplete if wasn’t attained? 

When you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you have found “your why,” and success is at hand, because you will not be denied.  

Bradley Booth (NASM-CPT)


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