I haven’t called myself a “natural bodybuilder” for very long. Even now, punching those keys and reading the words on screen feels uncomfortable. It’s because in the beginning, I never set out for this.
Rewind my script 7 or 8 years, and there’s no way I saw myself flexing on a stage or being a source for friends and strangers regarding physical development. In reflection, I think about the reasons why I kept going and why I’m as motivated today as I was all those years ago. See, my motivations have changed over time. Or perhaps better said, they’ve developed. And as my motivations as a bodybuilder have developed, so too has my character.
My beginnings were akin to most. Order being relevant here, I wanted to look good for girls and perform better in sports. Those were my motivations to get in the gym, lift heavy, and pound my brown rice-salmon concoctions. Needless to say, my mind was less than profound at 18 years old.
But wait. Isn’t that beautiful? No, not the salmon smell, but the purpose. It was beautiful because I had one at all, and it was organic. I acted on that purpose, and it propelled me through my first couple years of lifting and learning. I was motivated.
But then I wasn’t.
Fast-forward two years, and I wasn’t engaged in competitive sport any longer. Also, I had a serious girlfriend. Basically, I no longer operated on the “Lift Weights – Get Dates” mentality. So…, I had a problem. I knew my love for lifting was there to stay, but I had to change my motivations or it wouldn’t sustain. Here at this mental crossroads, I stood.
My decision was unsurprising to those who know me well – I decided to take the craft more seriously. So, I began asking questions, tracking my progress, cutting off more sleeves from t-shirts, etc. I threw myself into anything and everything I could that might allow my biceps to grow another half inch or shoulders to get a hair more broad. I worried about calves later. Thousands of hours were spent reading articles, listening to experts, and experimenting with different exercise variations. And through that continuum, my enjoyment rose. The physical results were great, but the process was greater.
And here I am, today. I’m better.
I’m a Better Learner.
I think as we get older and formal education meets its end, we should continue learning. It’s undoubtedly difficult. It’s difficult because it also means becoming a seeker. But allow me to say, I’m as obsessed with learning about training and nutrition now as I was 5 years ago; perhaps more so. It allows me to speculate and theorize much like I did in school, enabling a sort of mental growth that should continue.
I’m a Better Planner.
Making changes to your body takes a hefty amount of foresight, and success doesn’t happen by chance. It takes skillful preparation – the ability to see yourself in a week, a month, or a few years. I write myself new goals every 6 months and refer to past goals frequently. I write my workouts on the left side of the screen with my goals on the right. This mentality isn’t unlike how I’ll prepare to grow professionally, monetarily, or someday as a pianist when I finally take on that challenge.
I’m a Better Worker.
As humans, I think we actively seek comfort. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll be the first to admit I’m currently on my fourth re-watch of The Office. However, recognize it’s tough to move forward when you’re only looking back. I refuse to stymie my own personal growth. If absolutely nothing else, these years of effort and exertion have proved to me that I’m able to do difficult things.
So, yes. I can see myself being a bodybuilder for a long, long time.
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