Focus. Intensity. Pain.

It all starts when the alarm goes off in the morning. 5am. That obnoxious iPhone ringtone is there for a reason. It’s there because I can’t move fast enough to try to turn it off. By the time I do, I am so rattled by the ringing that I am already awake. “Who the hell would make a freaking ringtone like that?” I put my phone down and reset the alarm…with the same tone for the next day. 5am. Same…obnoxious…ringtone. It’s doing its job.

My body leaves the warm covers but then the most important part of the day happens in the next two seconds. As soon as my feet hit the floor I take a second to pray. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go after my dreams, so not only will I be able to realize them, but inspire the world around me to go after theirs.”

Time to get dressed.

I head to the kitchen, drink some water, prepare my protein and pre-workout and throw my iPod headphones into my ears. Usually, the first thing that comes up is a speech by Les Brown. The first words to ever hit my ears in the morning are these…

I don’t what that dream is that you have. I don’t care how disappointing it might have been. As you have been working towards that dream. But here’s what I know. That that dream  you are holding in your mind…that it’s possible. See sometimes we can’t say ‘I can do that.’ But what we can say that ‘It’s possible.’ That I can have my dream. As we run toward it. As we work on it day in and day out.”

By the time his speech is over, I am halfway to the gym. I open that bottle full of pre workout and can feel the caffeine hit my empty stomach. My senses light up. There’s this slight rush that often hits my in the back of my neck and then works its ways behind my eyes. I am aware. The music bumps. My grip tightens around the wheel. 10 more minutes and I am where I want to be. Despite the pain I know that is going to come, I am willingly driving quickly towards it.

A long time ago when I played baseball I was told by a sports psychologist to stop at the threshold of the field and only walk in when I was ready to be a baseball player and nothing else. But today, as I cross into the threshold of the gym, I do something quite different. I tell myself that I am willingly going to drag into the gym all my problems, my past, and my worries and defeat them. Because with every rep the things that seemed so hard or that challenge me today become less and less worrisome. I defeat my fears in the gym with proving to myself that I am stronger than them. And while life seems to get more complicated over time, well, I get stronger and race towards my dream. No longer does fear hold me back from achieving my own personal greatness.

It’s a new world for me. Dragging in my pain with me. Using the failures and the pain to motivate myself to achieve something I never have has been the missing link I have been seeking for a long time. I used to be scared of bringing that with me. Of uncovering the past. But truly now I am friends with the Black Dog. He doesn’t nip at my heels anymore. I take him into the gym with me and feed him as much as I can. Because as much as this project is about improving my life day by day, it’s also about putting the past to rest – a concept that has eluded me until now. I didn’t have a place for it. I thought it was writing, and in many ways it is, but I have found a new home for it – and it stays in the gym.

There’s this interesting line I cross in there that I haven’t been able to put into words for a long time. That moment when you are almost in a trance. Muscles are full of blood. Eyes are focused off into space. The beat is thumping in your ears. Everything, for a time disappears. Then you stand back up, throw  300+lbs on the bar and squat yourself to the floor. Your legs are shaking. Your muscles burn. And you find something within yourself during those reps where you thought you couldn’t take anymore but you did. Those reps I bring that old pain into the forefront of my mind. The dishonesty. Being ignored. Being told I couldn’t. The times I was bailed on. Flaked on. Lead on. Hurt. I bring it all back and use it.

I use the pain.

I use the pain to build myself a stronger foundation. I use the pain to motivate myself to achieve my goals. I use the pain to give myself the opportunity to let it all go. Because once that weight is re-racked, that pain of the old seems to be a little bit less. It seems to have been left on the bar and taken out of my body.

Fuel yourself with positivity. It will change your life like you have never experienced before. But if you hit a wall, remember to set fire to the pain. Use that pain to take yourself to places you have never been. Use that pain to let yourself be free of your past.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project