There is a certain level of freedom one experiences when they are able to rise above the expectations of society. Whether you have been training for 30 years as I have been or have just begun to pick up this new lifestyle, it is important to really sit down and ask yourself the question; "Why am I doing this?"
The answer to this question may change quite a bit depending on what is going on in your life and even where you are at in your life. However, if there is one secret to success when it comes to fitness it must be consistency. Consistent training over time and without illness or injury along with proper rest is the "holy grail" of training, no matter what your sport. However, one aspect that revolts consistent training is mental burnout. In my experience mental burnout is probably the most underrated threat to consistent training.
Mental burnout can often stem from boredom and / or stress from your training routine. This can usually be easily fixed by changing your routine and / or adding extra rest time to your schedule. However, if you are a competitive type of person, stress can also stem from expecting too much of yourself and / or being sucked into competitive situations which are not in line with your health / fitness goals.
For many of us, we need to challenge ourselves / motivate ourselves by entering competitions which challenge us. I believe this is a great part of what makes us human. However, there may be other social and psychological factors at work in these situation which have nothing to do with becoming athletic or healthy. It is important to sift through these aspects of why we are training in order to determine if our behavior is in line with our goals. For example, beginning a workout routine because your spouse is pushing you to do so is not a formula for success if your true goal is to avoid physical exercise. You have to want to do it and you have to truly enjoy training. Otherwise, the motivation to continue to train will not be there over the long haul. As soon as you become sick or injured the training will stop and the resentment will grow towards whoever it was pushing you to get into shape. I am often asked; What is the best activity that one can do to get into shape? The answer is that it is the one activity that you truly enjoy doing and that will lead to other related activities that you truly enjoy doing. For example, if you enjoy walking the do that. It may lead to running, which may lead to a 5k road race.