The decision to get fit and start working out is a really personal one, and can be prompted by all kinds of different reasons, from health concerns to a change in circumstances. Over on the AskMen Subreddit, guys have been sharing their own stories of the moments that “sparked” a realization that they wanted to make some changes.
The thread was prompted by original poster ABash11: “After looking at myself in the mirror and not being happy with how I look and dealing with a toxic relationship that destroyed me mentally, going to the gym is honestly what helped me on a physical and mental state more than anything I’ve done. I know people may have different reasons or similar ones, but what’s your reasoning for hitting the gym and continuing?”
Getting over a breakup
From Joghurt88: “A girl I was head over heels in love with broke up with me… Drank for a week or two straight, cried and screamed at the universe. Then at one point I remembered my grandpa who was a severe alcoholic and was drinking every day for 60 years. A realization came of over that I do not want to end up like him. Packed my bag the next day and went to the gym. 9 months have passed and I’m down 50 lbs and have 13% body fat (the goal is to get to 10-11%). Already look ripped as fuck. Still think of that girl every day. When I get sad I just pack my bag and go to the gym. It’s the place where I don’t think about stuff. A place where I can escape everything and everyone for a few hours. Helps a lot.”
From blubirdTN: “Breakup rehab gym goer here as we’ll. Think the gym is full of mentally/emotionally exhausted, heartbroken, need a peace of mind people. I think its why so many people are often nice at the gym and willing to be helpful. Also you aren’t weak of mind. Breakups are often worse than death grief. Its a form of grief and its very normal to think of that person every day.”
Mental health benefits
It’s not just the recently dumped who find that the gym can be a place of refuge: plenty of guys made the decision to start exercising as a way of improving their overall physical and mental wellbeing.
As Tallywacka puts it, working out is “one of the best and most accessible means a guy has to improve himself physically and mentally… Positive out brings positive in.”
From Goatsonice: “I have profound anger and anxiety issues that only incredibly strenuous workouts can solve.”
From ElegantMankey: “I look better, I feel better, I sleep better, And it’s the best therapy for me.”
And then there are some of the more obvious motivators. From TallRob76: “My six year old daughter said I looked pregnant.”
Plenty of commenters said that they were originally motivated to start working out because they didn’t like the way they looked, but that their relationships with their bodies and with exercise changed as things progressed.
From KayRay1994: “Initially it was looking at the mirror and hating myself. I was pretty fat and didn’t feel any kind of confidence. Now that I’m a full on lifter, its a desire to keep breaking my PR designed with me being confident in things like the way I look as well as my physical ability.”
Some guys found that losing weight was just the first step, and that they actually wanted to be physically stronger. From Hatcheling: “Doing cardio exclusively just made me lose weight. Like, my upper arms looked skinnier than my forearms at one point. Not really a great look. So, started going to get some variation in, more strength.”
Staying healthier for the future
From graffitiworthreading: “Now, as I get older, it’s the realization that it’s largely downhill from here unless I get my shit together and keep it together. Yeah, looking nice is great, but have you ever moved furniture without needing someone else’s help? Being able to fall and not suffer injury or even prevent the fall entirely is something I’m starting to value that I never even thought about as a kid.”
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