Finding the Motivation to Train

- An Excerpt from my Private Training Log -

By Paul "Batman" O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

Finding the Motivation to Train isn’t like my other articles. Yes, I’m going to share something about how to improve your fitness, health and physique, but rather than just give you the tips and techniques on finding the Motivation to Train, I’m going to share a story from my life. Now this is kind of a big deal. In an age where everyone and their mother have a blog and divulge a large amount of personal info – I don’t. I keep my focus on you, you’re needs and what will help you get to your goals. But this time, I think I can best make my point and share with you a useful tool, by telling you something about me.

I get frequent emails from people saying they have lost their motivation, that they can’t stick with a healthy lifestyle, they can’t say no to that second or third slice of cake, give up Coke, or make the commitment to do just the 7 Seconds of Exercise I suggest for their muscles. They ask, how do you do it Paul? How can you find the reason to keep it up. Truth is, for me, know it’s not a chore, it was once, but know it’s routine, it’s just part of my life – and it can be part of YOURS too.

So here it is the honest painful truth of why I train. The thoughts behind my training philosophy and why I some of the crazy things I do. This is the my story of finding the Motivation to Train, and at the end perhaps you’ll find yours.

This excerpt was from 30th of March 2007, when my father suffered his first stroke and his kidneys failed. Things didn’t pan out as well as I’d hoped for him in this entry, in fact he’s fought a long, hard battle, with another stroke just last month (April 09), but he still fights on, and so do I. We all do.

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I’m dying and in its own unique way, it’s a beautiful experience. Now I realize that we are all dying – but very few of us know exactly what will kill us, it could be cancer, heart disease, stroke….you don’t know. I, on the other hand do know what’s killing me, and it’s very liberating.

It’s the same disease my father has and I’m watching my father die from it at the moment. In a week or so, he’ll begin the first of 3 major surgeries. If he survives them, and I have no doubt he will, he will literally have been reborn. He will have over ten times the energy, he will no longer be hampered by obesity, his blood will be clean for the first time in over 20 years. He’ll have his life back, a second chance to enjoy a life he never really got to live. He’ll get to breath, I mean really breath and feel that oxygen flow through every part of his body – I can’t wait to see his face when that happens.

I’m very, very luckily. Be it intentional or not, and it wasn’t truth be told, my father has given me the most incredible of gifts – he taught me to enjoy every single moment of my life to its fullest. So for absolutely no reason other than to experience the elation of being alive I went running this morning. I ran till I fell over from exhaustion. Till my legs gave way and I crumpled and crashed into the soft grass beneath my feet. I rolled through as my sensei’s taught me during the gruelling hours of torture I endured in my youth as a martial artist and as I found myself standing on my feet once more, I shouted with all the energy I had left – for the pure joy of doing so – to feel that overwhelming sense of power in every part of my body - to release my very soul.

I lay down on the grass, the blades tickling my neck as I sucked in as much air as my lungs could take and then a bit more. The blood thumping in my ears and I lay there thinking, “I’m dying. This is what it feels like to die – and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alive”. Much later, I opened my eyes and saw a small little girl standing over me, and she’s says with these huge big brown eyes, “Are you okay?” I simply smile, perform (if I may say so myself) a perfect kip up and look down on her wide eyed and astonished face, smile and say, “Never better”, then I ran home.

I follow a strict code of ethics and morality called Bushido, the way of the warrior, the supposed lifestyle and beliefs of the Japanese Samurai (I say supposed because the Hagakure and the Bushido, the two books detailing the virtues and path of the samurai upon which I base a great many of my beliefs were written many, many years after the actual warring periods of the samurai, when most samurai were monks that had never seen combat – and thus had no clue what they were talking about…funny that...)

Anyway, in bushido – there is one major concept, strangely similar in fact to the attitude of the many major terrorist cells, counter-terrorism schools and military units...

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

That’s pretty easy for me to do. Every morning I take those ten deep isometric breaths as though they were my last and meditate on the thought they may be my last. I do the same every evening. As I’ve experienced my life, or perhaps I should just as correctly my death, I have found this to be my one total truth. My martial arts teachers always said this was “my hara showing”, my friends said it was unhealthy obsession – my family, simply think I am crazy.

But what has this do to with my training?

Simple – training is where I get to live my death.

Every time I go to practice an isometric contraction, or to test my strength in a public display like a bench press I try to approach it as my very last. I soak up that feeling, the possibility that I will never get to express myself like this again – that I will never get to test myself –that I will never again know the feeling of my muscles pushing themselves beyond their own limits. That I will never again experience what it is to truly alive in every part of being – then push. I give it everything I have and if I die here under that weight, I may die a dog’s death having failed, but that in my failure I attain nobility.

And so to my workout….

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Each and every time I go to contract a muscle in one of the exercises I teach in my 7 Week System called 7 Seconds to A Perfect Body, The Scientifically Proven Method for Transforming Your Body in Just Seconds! With over 250 pages and filled with more than 130 photos. I think this may be the last time you get to enjoy this, make it your best. I give it my all, till my muscles shake and I’m drenched in swear and I simply can’t give anymore, and then I push even harder, because it is in those moments when you have nothing left you find that you can push that little bit more and achieve the impossible.

In this excerpt you’ll have read the most personal reason I have for training and I’ve shared with you my motivations for training with as much intensity as I can. Some of you will get this, some of you won’t. Whether you agree with it or not isn’t really important – what is though is that EACH of you, have to find and know YOUR REASON TO TRAIN. This is what Finding the Motivation to Train is all about. You have to find the reason, the EMOTIONAL REASON you want to change, to improve, to push yourself. This is the last thing I’ll say about my training philosophy and on Finding the Motivation to Train -

Live each day like it may be your last, for in the end it is the opportunities we fail to take that we regret the most.

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