Driven Through Sacrifice

It is four AM and your alarm sounds. You hit snooze, let three alarms pass, and awaken to your final reminder- it is time to lift. It is early and your energy levels are at an all-time low. You are dragging your feet and contemplate going back to bed until work- but you keep on. You get yourself together, down your pre-workout, and drive to the gym. You walk through the gym’s double glass doors and enter your element-you are home. It is Monday morning, the gym is empty, and you are obligated to hit chest. Your energy levels rise, your scope narrows, and your focus intensifies. You are on a mission to crush weight, period. You start on the flat bench and warm up with a plate to get your blood circulating. It is game time- 3,2,1, go! You attack the barbell with precision and pulverize your every rep, leaving nothing behind. The sight of your blood, sweat, and tears indicate to you that you are finished, but you insist otherwise. You build from your previous exercise and use your momentum to fuel the rest of your workout. You annihilate set after set, using drop sets and forced reps until you can no longer feel your chest. You bend over in exhaustion knowing that you have made it through yet another grueling early morning training session. But why, some ask. Why go through the trouble of waking up early to exercise? Better yet, why exercise to the point of complete exhaustion? As fanatical fitness enthusiasts, we often struggle to answer these questions ourselves. When asked, we resort to popular responses like, “Do you even lift, bro?” To us, exercise becomes habit forming and we often forget why we started… or do we?

Undoubtedly, something gets us started on our fitness journey. Something provides us with motivation to accomplish a short term goal, whether that entails losing five pounds for a summer pool party or dropping ten inches to fit into a wedding dress for the big day. Short term motivation will almost always trump the temptation for food, alcohol, and its instantaneous satisfaction. But what keeps us going? What happens when we surpass whatever it was that was initially motivating us? Many drop off the bandwagon, leaving only the diehard behind. But what is in it for us hardcore enthusiasts? I recently had a heart to heart with a client who had stopped making progress. I asked her to explain to me why she thought she was struggling.As expected, her nutrition was off and her exercise was inconsistent. She was discouraged and felt as if she had nothing to work for- she had no “X” factor. At the end of the conversation, she turned to me and asked, “What keeps you going? Why do you work out?” I froze, stumbled over my words, and replied, “Because I would not feel right otherwise.” 

We do what we do by nature. We slave through strenuous weight training programs, grind through early morning “cardio” sessions, and overcome arduous conditioning work outs because we are programmed to do so. Essentially, fitness defines who we are. We plan and schedule entire days around 90 minute training sessions. We embrace delayed onset muscle soreness and live to accept failure, muscular failure that is. We commit wholeheartedly to the struggle and understand that it never gets easier; we just get better at it. We prefer protein shakes to alcohol, beta-alanine tingles to drunkenness, and heavy barbells to fat burgers. We exercise for incomprehensible reasons. Six pack abs, 200KG back squats, and five minute miles are all motivating in their own right, but they do not dictate our passion for the game. Goals fall secondary to our unconditional love for the gym junky genes that permeate through us. We do not exercise for credibility. Nor do we exercise for attention or egotistically driven recognition. We exercise because it is who we are. We exercise because without it, life wouldn’t feel quite right.