I'm really having a hard time getting motivated. I'm a 56 year old, successful businessman who used to train with weights regularly in my 20s and 30s, but my wife and I had two kids, I got busy at work, and just quit training. I joined a gym and tried to get on a good schedule, but just don't seem to have the same drive I had as a kid. Can you help me?
J.D., Atlanta, Georgia.
J.D., I understand completely! After I quit competing, I no longer had the next contest to prepare for and to motivate my training. In fact, I was sick of training. It was no fun anymore. It had become something I had to do. Unlike you, I did not totally quit training, but I lost my training intensity and my food intake became more "normal" (read a disaster, like most Americans). Gradually, fat began to appear on the mid-section, muscles began to shrink.
Since I continued to train, it happened slowly and therefore almost unnoticeably. Finally, a photographer friend of mine suggested I take some photos while I was still young enough to get in shape. Before we set a date for this photo session, I saw a practice photo taken while I was training and it REALITY HIT me that I no longer had the physique I worked so hard for!
Oh, most people thought I looked great, with a much better physique than other men my age, but that has never been enough for me. I have always had an image of myself that I thought was a minimal condition I had to maintain.
I decided it was time to do something to regain my training motivation and cease just going through the motions. I started by looking at old photos of myself to reassure myself that I indeed did have a superior physique at one time. I pondered about what motivated me to train before I entered competition and realized it was the photos of John Grimek, Larry Scott, Frank Zane, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc., in bodybuilding magazines.
So I got out my collection of old magazines and began to read them again. The effect was almost immediate: I felt a stirring of motivation to look like those guys all over again! I also began listening to music that I trained by when I was a kid, and you know what? I was so psyched up by the time I was ready to workout that I no longer had to think about motivation.
Now that I was working out with renewed enthusiasm and intensity, I began to examine the diet. I knew that my renewed workout enthusiasm was for naught unless I did something to decrease the junk food and empty calories and concentrate on grilled or broiled beef, chicken and fish and steamed vegetables and fresh fruit. I also began to take minimal supplements (a multi-vitamin, extra B-complex, extra C-complex, and glucosamine for healthy joints.
The photo accompanying this article was taken when I was 52 after only 6 weeks of training. I began to have fun working out so that I actually looked forward to each training session. Now whenever I find myself unmotivated, I set a date to take more photos and use the same tactics all over again to motivate myself.
It comes down to this: you have to constantly set goals to reach. Make short-term goals, such as gaining a 1/16th of an inch in your arms or losing a 1/4 of an inch in your waist and plan your exercise and diet to reach those goals. There are few things in life as satisfying and reaching goals and few areas in life where goals are as easy to reach as in bodybuilding. You usually get out of it exactly what you are willing to put in it.
Happy pumping, and let us know how these suggestions helped you gain a new lease on lifting!