It’s been about a year since I started working out seriously. Oddly enough, I didn’t start from any desire to “get big” or super ripped or whatever. Around this time last year, I was in a real rut; my research was going nowhere, and I was really depressed with the direction that my life was going relative to my peers. I was having a “quarter-life” crisis, if you will, and I felt like I had no control over my own destiny. It was also around this time last year that I discovered the “manosphere” – a series of blogs dedicated to topics such as men’s rights, “pickup”, and male self-empowerment, among others. Chief among the blogs is The Chateau, which I still follow. While the Chateau may seem rather misogynistic, there are pearls of wisdom in there, and reading that blog inspired me to get off my ass and regain control of my life. One of the things that is under my control is how I look, and apart from dressing snappily, a good physique helps to augment one’s appearance. Exercise also helps regulate serotonin levels, helping one’s mood and alleviating depression. The major reason why I started working out, however, was upon learning that strength training can boost testosterone levels. While the effects of testosterone on men are still not fully understood (my friend was ridiculing me recently for thinking it was the “manliness midichlorian”), it is still safe to assume that testosterone aids in motivation to score, which can also manifest in achievement in other areas of life. For those who don’t get it, to put it simply: Men do what they do solely to impress women! Dave Chappelle explains it extremely well:
As far as the exercise itself is concerned, my gains haven’t been as big as some of my peers (I still can’t bench my bodyweight yet), but seeing improvement and muscle growth gives a good feeling. Another thing that motivates me is the desire to become as muscular as possible and put an end to the popular myth that “vegetarians are weak”. With good quality whey protein concentrate now widely available and (relatively) inexpensive, it is possible to supplement one’s diet and have a vegetarian protein intake that others would normally get from consuming large amounts of animal protein. Of course, for musculature to become visible, one needs to shed bodyfat, and for most people (including me), that is more challenging than putting on muscle.
UPDATE: Donald J. Cram (1987 Nobel Prize in chemistry) talks about Creativity. This was another thing that motivated me to start exercising: “10. I have been continuously in need of violent exercise over the years to keep my brain in a refreshed state – to be able to maintain perspective, to keep my mind flexible, and to generate optimism. Good science is great for the mind, but sometimes very hard on the back. Writing a textbook and eighteen research papers in a two-year period was something I did in the late 1950’s. My payment for this labor was a great sense of accomplishment, a sore back, and a resolve to mix a good dose of regular exercise with my work. This I have done ever since. Surfing, skiing and tennis have been my sports, coupled with daily stretching and conditioning exercises. A strong, active body is the foundation for all other activities. There is no substitute for good health. “We were bred to move, and move we must.” I can think of no worse advice than that of a famous president of the University of Chicago who said “whenever he felt like exercising, he went to bed!”