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In order to stay consistent with your training and nutrition program, you need to stay motivated. Motivation is your reason for putting in the time and effort into a bodybuilding program. Your motives for continuing to train and diet hard and consistently are often personal but they are absolutely essential in order to maintain a regular schedule in the gym.

In my case, bodybuilding competition was always my motivation. I began training at age 14 and started competing at 16 years old. That's over 20 years of competition under my belt! Getting ready to compete in a contest was always great motivation to train hard and diet consistently. Once I know that I will be getting onstage in a few months, my training intensity immediately goes up and the question of cheating on my diet never even enters my mind.

Nothing seems to drive me as hard as when I get ready to compete. In contrast, when I am only getting ready for a photo shoot, my motivation and intensity isn't quite the same. In 1999, I was dieting for a photo shoot with Micheal Neveux from IronMan Magazine. Since there was no definite date for the photo shoot, my motivation to diet wasn't as strong as it usually is when I get ready to compete in a contest.

I ended up delaying the photo shoot a month later than I originally intended because I was not as consistent with my diet as I normally would have been. Although I eventually made the photo shoot and I was in great condition, I noticed I was not quite as good as I would have been if I had been getting ready to get onstage.

Since I have been competing for more than half my life, I am often asked why I continue to do it and where the motivation comes from. My original motivation comes from my upbringing as a child. When I was young, I was very shy and didn't participate in any sporting events. Instead, I lived through my imagination by reading superhero comic books. By imagining myself as one of the muscular, colorful superheros that I read about, I began to develop the desire to one day show everyone how good I could look.

Although I was healthy as a child, I did have some problems that eventually contributed to my growing desire to come out of my shell. I had bad eyes (maybe from reading so many comic books) so I had to wear thick, Coke bottle glasses. I also had crooked teeth so I wore braces on my teeth for over 3 years. Finally, I ended up inheriting bad skin and suffered through terrible acne (mostly on my back and shoulders) through my teenage years. Wearing thick glasses, braces and having pimples on my skin didn't help my self-image as I entered my teen years.

When I discovered the sport of bodybuilding, I realized that this was something I could do on my own that could totally transform my physical form and eventually change my self-image. I literally threw myself into my workouts and diet, training twice a day, six days a week. I read everything I could about bodybuilding and thought about it constantly.

My dedication paid off. I began to gain weight and slowly built some solid muscle on my skinny frame. My skin eventually cleared (thanks to a new acne medication called Accutane), the braces were removed, and I exchanged my thick glasses for contact lenses. My transformation was complete and I continued to motivate myself by entering bodybuilding competitions. I didn't take first place in a contest until my fifth competition so my motivation stayed high every time I got ready to compete.

Today, my self-image is much better, thank you. The reason I continue to compete now is to see how far I can change my physique. It's an incredible challenge to get bigger and more ripped without using any bodybuilding drugs or other aids. The excitement of more intense workouts and an even greater physique is still very exciting and that is what continues to motivate me. What is it that motivates you?