Why I Work Out


Towards the end of my pregnancy last year I became obsessed with the idea of becoming a bodybuilder. I started following bodybuilders on Instagram (total guilty pleasure) and reading everything I could about weightlifting and nutrition to support a killer physique. It wasn’t just the fact that I felt huge and very pregnant that had me dreaming about six-pack abs but the pregnancy itself made me curious about transformation and the stuff our bodies are capable of doing.

So these bodybuilders I follow on Instagram are constantly pairing their #gymselfies and photos chicken and oats in tupperware with motivational captions like “I have goals. Nothing will get in my way. You have to know WHY you want what you want and then you have to go for it full force.” (Trite, yes – but I’m a total sucker for them.)

These captions always have me feeling like I don’t know really know my why. That said, these women with boulder shoulders and glutes that won’t quit never really seem to articulate their WHY either. So I started thinking about my own personal reasons why I want to be in killer shape. I came up with two:
1. so I can kill zombies and look like The Walking Dead‘s Michonne doing it
2. so I can look like a zombie-killing badass in a bikini this summer

I think I’m disciplined enough to go to the gym and kick my own ass and track my macros down to the gram so I can look and feel like Linda Hamilton doing hundreds of pushups and pull-ups in Terminator or Ellen Ripley kicking some Alien ass or Michonne slaying zombies … but is it a sustainable why? Is looking like a post-apocalyptic badass the kind of why that will get my ass in gear when I’m tired and want to eat All The Sugar?

So I started digging deeper about my “why”. Why do I work out?

After lots of driving and thinking, showering and thinking, working out and thinking, walking and thinking, and brushing my teeth and thinking I came to the conclusion that my WHY boils down to two values: 1. transformation and 2. discipline.

Transformation. I love a good reinvention. I remember as a kid I was always excited for Madonna to unveil her newest look – I even admired how bold and unapologetic she was about stuff like her fake English accent. Into my late teens and early 20s America’s Next Top Model was my favorite – and the episode I never wanted to miss was the big makeover where they chop Rapunzel’s locks into a Rosemary’s Baby pixie. I couldn’t get enough.

And then there is Discipline. I love the idea of spontaneity and just living life, man… but when it comes down to it I thrive on discipline and routine. Trusting a process that will get me from Point A to Point B – it gives me the certainty I crave. But I’ve noticed over the past year that when I lose faith in myself, I stop trusting how over time little steps will add up to great distances. When I’m low I can’t even see past my own hand. Getting from Point A to Point B seems pointless when I don’t even know what Point B looks like. So discipline – it’s about focusing on the process. It’s about establishing habits that pull me, step-by-step, out of the valleys, even when I can’t see what’s ahead.

So back to my why. Why do I work out? Because I believe if I can sculpt my body into a zombie-killing machine then I will prove to myself that transformation + discipline can accomplish any vision I set my sites on. And right now, I have some pretty big vision.

So now I have my why. I like it. But I still want to look like a zombie-slaying badass in a bikini.

  1. RJ

    Nothing wrong with working out just to look hot! No justification needed.

  2. Holly

    Absolutely loved reading this post! One of my ‘whys’ is for discipline – I’m proud of the fact that working out has now become a part of my routine. After doing it for so long, my body is so used to it now that if I don’t do it for a couple of weeks, I notice. I bet few people actually think about the real reasons for why they’re working out – they just do it. And I think identifying them shows what we want for all aspects of our lives.

    Plus, I definitely want to look like a badass in a bikini too!]

    Holly | http://abranchofholly.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. If Sarah Connor and Michonne won’t inspire a girl to work out, nothing will.
    I haven’t worked out in years, but just got a gym membership to force me to go back to it (then I’ll go back to my beloved P90X). I must admit that I work out just to look bad ass. I mean, what do Michonne and Sarah Connor are, if not bad ass ladies? 🙂
    I love Alien, but Ripley… she was just naturally skinny-fit, I guess. I’m more inspired by her guts and brain combo, than body form.

  4. Rachel

    I work out (which for me, is playing hockey 2x a week) because:
    1.) I want to be able to take that random strenuous hike on vacation, or sprint after my dog, or run up 2 flights of stairs when I am late to a meeting without dying. I love the idea that I am in shape for almost anything that could come my way.
    2.) I did a program for a month called “track your happiness”. They send you surveys on your smartphone at random times during the day to track your happiness throughout your everyday life. I realized I was often happiest playing hockey and right afterwards. Endorphins, friendly competition and something that focuses all your mental and physical energy for 1 hr feels great

  5. Abby

    Both of your words nailed it for me. Having a strong and toned body is nice, but I know that’s not the only driving factor when it comes to me enjoying the workout process. (My workout includes Bodypump 3-4x week and running a mile as fast I can). I love that transformation is possible and that the discipline that I’m developing by going to the gym and pushing myself HARD will help carry me through life.

    Thanks so much for putting your thoughts on working out into words!

  6. JC

    I was really into bodybuilding in college. I got ripped, could squat over 200lbs and bench more than I weighed. It was a great feeling to know that I could do anything, lift anything, open every container, without a man’s help. The thing is that being in that good of shape ended up hurting my social life, skipping quality friend time so I wouldn’t eat crap or drink off my diet, wasn’t worth it. I think there needs to be a balance, something I have been struggling to figure out since.

    • YES – balance for sure. In some ways I’ve been more flexible than ever with my diet … so I’m curious to see if I can “have it all”.

  7. Sofia

    I just read your post. I’m on my way to work and when I finish I’m going straight to my first day at the gym. I’ve joined forces with a workmate who’s a bodybuilder, she’s very disciplined and willing to turn me into a killer Babe not only for summer but for always. That’s one of my why’s, the other why is I want to look good and fit for myself, because I feel bad when I leave my desk job go home and seat on the couch again. I do think want become a crippled old lady!

  8. Judy

    I so needed this post. Yesterday was another Monday of “THIS WEEK WILL BE DIFFERENT.” My baby turns one Feb 12 and I am running a half marathon February 22nd. I realize I am putting in the work, but I am still eating like garbage and not seeing any of the fruits of my labor in my body because of it.

    It’s so frustrating because with my first baby (it took 2 years) but I got into better shape than I had been in yeaaaaaaarrrssssss. It all boiled down to what I ate because I am always active. I know this. I know it’s about what I eat. I know what I am capable of. I know what I want.

    …..and yet. I EAT ALL THE SUGAR.

    • I’m impressed! I can still barely run across the street without peeing myself.

  9. Caitlyn

    I like that. I work out simply because I want a booty on par with Iggy, but it’s always nice to attribute meaning with more depth to our actions. Cause let’s be honest, after hearing “Daaamn! Look at that booty!” for months on end it loses it’s ring. Gotta have that deep soulful reason to keep you going.

    Rock on.

  10. I can totally respect the zombie killing badass in a bikini inspiration.

    I often think to myself… I’m so out of shape if the zombie’s took over tomorrow, I’d be bait.

    When I ran my first 2k mud run this past year, my brain kept saying… “You’ll never survive when the zombies take over. Flight or fight status regardless a zombie can move faster than I can.”

    My husband – doesn’t do ANYTHING remotely active (video game lover) he was smoking me that day!

    I vowed to work out more, and get in better shape and train more so that maybe this coming 2k-5k mud run, I can actually HANG. I don’t have to win, just hang and feel better about not being zombie bait.

    I’m still searching for my why other than that so my discipline is slim to none right now. 🙁

    • Kelly – my discipline runs low when I am either A) stressed (physically, emotionally, mentally) or B) having to make a lot of decisions. A couple things that help:
      – scheduling my workouts as a meeting in my calendar
      – eating the same thing for breakfast every morning

      I’m sending you lots of good running vibes. I’m so NOT a runner so I might be toast there too when it comes to the zombiepocalypse.

  11. Olivia

    Ah I loved this post! It really gave me the boost and motivation I have been needing. For years I have been wanting to be in shape, granted that in the beginning it was just to be skinny and have worldly approval, but now I want a healthy and strong body and to know that my body is capable of doing anything with determination.

  12. Tonia

    Great post. I am just coming off of 8 weeks of inactivity due to breaking two fingers on my dominant hand and having to undergo surgery on them to get all the little bones back together. The healing and PT process has been slow and tedious and frustrating, especially because I am used to being active.

    Even just washing the dishes without the use of my dominant hand for weeks on end was a challenge, let alone trying to figure out how to do a workout…so, I just took the time to practice patience and focus my energy on other things. And I survived. It could have been worse. 🙂

    Last night I went to the gym for the first time, after getting the go-ahead from the surgeon, and WOW did I lose a lot of strength during my time off! It’s discouraging, because I was juuuust starting to see some real results before my injury. But I want this. Lifting gives me energy, makes me feel powerful, and provides an hour of glorious “zen” time in the midst of a very un-zen-like daily schedule.

    I plan on kicking ass. It’s encouraging to see another woman doing the same- keep kicking!!

  13. But you already are a badass. I love seeing your muscle pics on insty.
    Get. It. Gurl.

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