What motivates me? What drives me to do what you do? Do I have it? Can I keep it? What is motivation? Where do I find it?

These were the series of questions that I repeatedly asked myself during one of the lowest points in my life. I was at rock bottom: 11th grade, weighing 90 lbs., and 5’10. During that time, I had been facing a series of health problems. Aside from being underweight, I was also anemic and experiencing painful inflammation.

It was no accident—I should add that during this time, I was eating an average of two meals a day. Which isn’t to say I didn’t have access to food—the reason for my lack of meals was because of my shift in focus from my physical persona to my virtual one. All of the money that was meant to go towards my meals was instead spent on video games. As time progressed, my body’s state deteriorated to the point where I would be bed ridden for a couple days. Literally unable to get out of bed without assistance, I often laid there for hours alone with my thoughts.

The thoughts weren’t exactly positive. They ranged in severity from self-pity to self-loathing, and I would find myself crying on many occasions wondering: why? Why, what? I didn’t know. But the persisting “why” would lead my thoughts to questions wondering why I was still alive, why I was given the opportunity to live where I was and have all the things I had when there were so many others I considered more deserving of the privilege. Why?

Though I could never find my answer then, I knew I wanted to make sure I would never have to ask myself those painful questions ever again. So when I was finally able to get up and out of bed, I shifted my focus to making myself better. The first place I thought of, surprisingly, was the gym.

My previous experience with the gym was limited. It consisted of only one workout, in which I was running on a treadmill after hearing from a close friend advised that you could build abs that way. Being one to not do my research, I unwittingly ran in vain, losing more weight with no growth of abs in sight.

However, this time around would be different. I arrived at the gym with a strong self-conscious sense that people were judging me, watching me, and secretly looking down on me. This mindset proved to be detrimental to my initial success at the gym, and within a week I was no longer even going. I noticed that while I felt that it hadn’t been a success, I had still had a significant weight gain of about two pounds, which made me really happy. I resolved to keep up my gym visits and work through the initial discomfort. Even though I was still underweight and self-conscious inside the gym, whenever I was back home looking myself in the mirror, I saw greatness.

getting started in the gymThe two pounds of weight slowly evolved to thirty pounds, a combination of fat and muscle. I had begun to gain steady weight but I was still feeling self-conscious whenever I entered my new home, the gym. Maintaining the motivation to go home to workout was difficult especially when I was constantly surrounded by gorilla-like men who lifted three times my weight and looked at me aggressively. I would make comparisons of myself to them, looking at nothing but my flaws. Not acknowledging my strengths led me to have many “rest” days where I would wallow in regret wondering if I should go workout or not. When I finally would gather the courage to pick myself up to go, it would be too late as even the gym has a closing time. As the number of these “rest” days accumulated, I took a step back to evaluate myself to prevent this. I set a goal, to weigh 155lbs, and then created a routine to target individual muscles on a weekly basis. But the most important question was, how do I stop letting my motivation waver from being self-conscious?

It was difficult initially because I chose to avoid looking at them completely but it did not stop the feeling that I was being watched. I worked out uncomfortably leading to a decline in my morale. Eventually on the verge of giving up, I thought about the goal I had set and looked at my gym mirror reflection. Throughout this process, if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s the importance of loving yourself. Even at my worst, I would look into the mirror and notice every little change and look at it on an inflated level. What others would see as a slight increase in bicep strength, I perceived as though I was worthy of status as a bodybuilder. It took only one day after I saw the slight changes in my body for me to be back at the gym. Whenever I started to feel lesser or compared against others, I would immediately look at my reflection. My changing reflection in that mirror led the way for me to continue making progress.

self love motivationNow let’s flash-forward to the present-day. I’m a junior in college now, and in comparison to my 90 lbs. junior year in high school, I currently weigh 155 lbs. It has been a long journey, and one that will not end. I’m doing better now than I’ve ever been. Motivation to me is something that can only be achieved by three important factors: self-love, self-reflection, and setting/achieving goals.

Love yourself! Love yourself to the point where you are bordering on narcissism even, because the first person to notice any change will always be you. And don’t forget to believe in yourself. Motivation is only extracted from the depths of your mind when you choose to explore your mind and reflect upon yourself as to what you really want, why you want it and what you can do to achieve it. We always fear losing motivation when really, it’s straying from the ultimate goal. If you don’t have that motivation and conviction, it is natural for one to stray from achieving the goal. Keep your eye on the prize. You have to want it, and that’s why you must reflect deeply to make sure that your goal is what you really want. If the goal you set is what you truly want to achieve, then you will take the necessary steps to achieve it. If you waver from it, then it’s simple: you didn’t want it enough.

So my message to you is this: reflect, set the goal, believe in yourself, and work through it. You got this. Because one day you’ll look back and think, “Wow. That was me. I did that.” And you’ll be proud.

About The Author

Suson is a Biology major at Stony Brook University. His favorite muscle to train is his back because that's all you'll see if you ever go on a run with him. Suson wants to be aesthetic enough to walk in public in only his Kleins. Fun Fact: He once ate Wendy's every day to achieve not the freshman 15, but the freshman 30.

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