Finding Your Motivation

A question I often get asked by other college students about my fitness involvement is, “where do you find the motivation?” I’ve struggled answering this in the past, and still have trouble putting it into words. Because of this, I thought it would be helpful to share my journey through 2014, and explain why fitness has been so incredibly important to me.

In August of 2013, my father was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer. I quit my job that summer, and spent most days in the hospital with him. Unable to speak after an emergency tracheotomy, we spent most of our time together watching TV, with me sitting and sleeping in a chair pushed up against his bed. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I went to the gym, showered, ate, and then went right back.

In November of 2013, I broke my hand. The doctors tried to reset it, but the break was rotated in such a way that it required surgery to realign. Two days after my surgery (and after a rather unpleasant reaction to the anesthesia) I was back in the gym doing hack squats, leg presses, and one-handed deadlifts in a neon-pink cast.

In March of 2014, after a couple months of increasingly serious stomach pain, I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. Although my lifts had taken a dive and I had lost quite a bit of weight, I still found myself in the gym every day I felt well enough and able to.

On June 28, 2014, after a year of incredible fighting, my dad passed away. I was at my first grappling tournament that day, and had promised my father the night before that I would win it all for him. In the second round, my opponent hit me in the nose while going for a hold, and deviated my septum. Eyes watering, scared, and in pain, I really wanted to quit- but I didn’t. I fought the rest of the round, ending in a tie and going into overtime. I went on to fight another round, where I lost by four points. Shortly after wandering off the mats, I saw I had a missed call from my grandmother, and immediately knew what was happening. Nose bloody, still in my shorts and rash guard, I raced to the hospital to be with my father, where he died six hours later. A week after his funeral, shaken and still struggling to breathe out of my nose, I was back in the squat rack.

I share all of this not to prove my dedication, but to make another, critically important point; in order to be successful at anything in life, you need to love what do.

Lifting weights is not just a sport for me. It is not a job or a chore. Exercise is my escape, my sanity, and my outlet. After every turn life has thrown me during my time at BU, fitness has helped keep me grounded. We are all dealt some difficult situations in life, and these can be particularly hard to handle while also juggling school. So don’t force yourself into workouts you hate just because you feel obligated. Do not use exercise as a form of punishment or self-deprecation. If you hate what you are doing, you will not stick to it when life gives you excuses to quit- and trust me, it will. Find something you love; be it yoga, powerlifting, swimming, or rock climbing, find a fitness routine that you wake up excited about, every single day.

Sure, we all have days where we have no motivation whatsoever. I’ve had my fair share, and would be lying if I said I never skip the gym. But at the end of the day, powerlifting has made me into a strong, capable person, and I couldn’t be more grateful. If there is anything I learned from my father, it is that life is way too short to be unhappy.

So love life, love yourself, and love what you do.