There are any number of reasons you might want to maintain an active lifestyle. Recently I realized that my motivation to be active has changed significantly over the years, and that this change has influenced my lifestyle choices.
For instance, I first became interested in exercise back in early high school. At that time, I was quite self-conscious of my scrawny frame. Thus, the motivation was to put on some muscle mass. Accordingly, I began lifting weights after school with some friends. At some point I also began taking protein shakes, and became quite focused on eating more (regardless of quality). Aerobic exercise wasn’t something I was particularly interested in.
Near the end of my undergraduate degree and during graduate school, I became aware that my body was no longer immune to putting on fat mass regardless of the junk I ate. Thus, rather than getting big and muscular, I was more concerned about staying lean. I started eating better, started running regularly, and slowly changed my workouts to include more cardiovascular components (e.g. skipping between sets of weights). Overall, this period of my life was probably the most intense I’ve been about having a clean diet and exercising hard. Unfortunately, due to the volume of training, I experienced recurring injuries (my lower back is a particularly injury-prone area for me).
This summer, I have come to realize that for the first time in my life, vanity in my appearance is no longer my main motivation for being active and eating well. As conversations between Marina and me drift towards starting a family, I’m more concerned about being around for a long while to see my kids grow up. Also, given our wanderlust, I’d like to be healthy enough to travel and explore the world into my senior years. Thus, being fit as well as preventing injuries is a main concern. Although I still work out regularly, the intensity of the workouts is a bit lower. When weight lifting, I have stopped trying to lift maximum loads – there is just too much risk of injury and simply no good reason to push that hard. I still do my best to eat clean and limit my intake of junk, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates. But, when I do indulge the odd time, I no longer feel much guilt about it.
I’d love to hear about your past and present motivations to be active, and how these motivations have influenced your lifestyle. Looking forward to you comments!