Fitness Motivation and Evaluating Success

It’s easy to get carried away with achieving a perfect muscular physique via working out. But it’s a double-edged sword because your evaluation of success rises and falls with the current status of your body, which can fluctuate quite a bit over time (due to illness, injury, weather, seasons, natural bodily changes, etc).

If you’re making money from your physique (e.g., via modeling or competitions), then focusing so much on your body makes sense. Maybe if you’re single and looking to attract partners, it could make some sense. If you happen to have lots of free time…perhaps it’s still worth targeting.

If none of these conditions exist in your life–and maybe even if they do–it seems to make more sense to focus on physical health, strength & energy than how your body looks.

But doesn’t physical health & energy fluctuate too, even if one works out on a regular basis?

Ha, yes, it’s true.

This brings us to my “secret trick”:

Use whatever positive attribute you can point to as being a direct result of regular exercise to help keep you motivated and continuing to work out.

In practice, even though I usually use my good physical health, strength & energy as an incentive to keep working out, I’ve been known to take visible physique gains into account too if it motivates me to keep exercising–i.e., I use anything I believe is a result of working out to keep me exercising.

Ultimately, I believe that working out is positive in so many ways in my life–especially as I get older–that I’ll do whatever it takes to get me to the gym or exercising at home or on the road.

I still think trying to achieve a “perfect body” doesn’t make sense for most people and can be a source of frustration and demotivating. However, if you happen to notice some increased muscular tone in your back or legs or wherever, might as well throw this observation into your “motivation pot” with any other ingredients you come across (like feeling good!) to keep exercise an active part of your life…:-).


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Body Fat % Measurement & Calculator

I found a nifty body fat % calculator (below) and thought I’d make it available on the Mike’s Fit After 50 website for your convenience and mine.

It’s a rough approximation, but it seems to give a reasonable “ball park” estimate.

To get a more accurate measure of body fat percentage, you should consult with a exercise or weight loss professional. Some gyms provide this service. You can also do it yourself using one of these:


The American Council on Exercise1 suggests the following classification of body fat:

Classification Women (fat%) Men (fat%)
Essential fat 10-13% 2-5%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Average 25-31% 18-24%
Obese 32%+ 25%+

Anything below the essential fat classification and the body is negatively affected, both physically and physiologically. A normal person should aim to have average levels of body fat.

1Guidelines for percentage of body fat

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