Corps Strength: Transitional Disconnect, Road Blocks and Magical Thinking

This past weekend I spent some time on the road with our Anti-Terrorism/Anti-Piracy class. During all our courses we build time into the schedule to make trips outside of Pensacola to attend training from other bases/agencies and to enjoy some liberty together. I often learn more about my students and their countries on these trips than I do in the classroom, as things are always different (and more open), when you get away from the flag pole. In any case, during this recent trip I was accompanied by an active duty U.S. Navy Senior Chief. He’s currently dealing with some foot injuries and from that, weight gain. During the trip we discussed diet and PT quite a bit. He told me while his foot injury has made maintaining weight standards extra tough, he admitted that he’s struggled with weight for his entire Navy career. However, while speaking to him it was obvious that he had a lot of knowledge about diet and exercise. While it may seem counter-intuitive that a person who is overweight and out of shape would have good knowledge on this, but I’ve found this to be a very common thing.
As we all know, many people struggle with their weight and in our present age of 24/7 cable TV, social media and the internet the world is awash with diet and weight loss information (good and bad). There is also no doubt that people who struggle with their weight spend a lot of time and money trying all kinds of different plans. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and I personally know a lot of people who’ve attempted dozens of different diets and workout plans over the years. Sadly, the vast majority yielded very poor long term results. Why is this? You would think that with more information out there, the more success people would have. However, in most cases the opposite is true. The sad fact is, as more information and options have become available, obesity rates have skyrocketed?

The reasons for the rise in obesity rates are many: People are less physically active in both their jobs and recreation is one reason. The greater availability of processed/fast food is another. There are many more. However, putting aside the causes for now, I want to focus in on why with all the good info out their, most people (despite their obvious knowledge) can’t get a handle on this? Based on my own experience and observation, I have a simple theory.

This problem is what I call; “Transitional Disconnect”. Now, don’t get mental, this isn’t just some high brow physco babble. I’ve actually seen this occurrence in many areas of training. What it simply means (Master Gunny speak here), is an in ability to transition what you know, into successful action.

In this case the knowledge of diet and exercise into successful weight and fitness maintenance. Why do many people have this problem? It’s not a lack of will or motivation, nor is a lack of time or funds. I think the disconnect is much simpler and more practical; Road blocks. With the vast majority of these being self imposed.

When someone makes a decision to get in shape and lose some weight they normally seek out some advice. Which like we said before, isn’t hard to find. Yes, they could get some poor advice, true. But most of the time it’s easy enough to find enough of the tried and true basic stuff, at least enough to get them started. After that it’s time to transition that knowledge into action, this is obviously the hard part and to be successful you need a clear path going forward. But this is exactly where people will unknowingly insert roadblocks that will in short order derail their plan. There are many of these roadblocks, but there are three are the most common and biggest.

1. Attempting a too strict and/or complicated program: Any eating plan that requires a lot of special foods, restrictions and supplements is doomed from the start. I could give you dozens of examples and reasons why this is true. Just trust me, it’s true for 99.9% of the real world. Real foods, in the right amounts, is the only thing that works long term. The same goes for a PT program, try to get too fancy, too intense or just too much and you will injure yourself, or burn out.

2. Losing the balance: Success in anything is really a balancing act. Work vs. Play, Family vs. Career, etc, etc. Eating and working out is no different. To work long term, eating and PT must be a part of your life, support for your life, not your life. People who are trying to lose weight and get in shape very often get this out of balance. They spend way too much time and effort (which is mostly mental) on it. It just becomes too much and then, like trying to balance on a slack line with a 50lb kettlebell in one hand, they will surely fall. Not being negative here, just realistic.

3. Expecting instant results: This a big one. The overall world of today is about instant gratification. Cell phones and the internet allow us to stay connected anywhere and almost instantly obtain the information we want. We have become spoiled in that expectation and think that it should apply to everything, including physical conditioning and weight loss. The sad fact is the human body has not kept up (nor will it ever keep up) with technology. You can’t hit a button and lose 20lbs, or download the conditioning needed to run a marathon. Sorry, the human body doesn’t work in WiFi. But, people tend to give up pretty quick if they don’t see quick improvements.

The bottom line here is that you have to change your thinking first and from that remove the roadblocks to make this work. To expect success without these changes is what I call Magical Thinking; Meaning I’ll just go into this half ass, with a half ass plan and Shazam, it will work great, like magic? Yeah, ok let me know how that works out. Then again you don’t have to tell me, I already know. Getting and keeping your self in good shape isn’t magic, it’s a combination of basic knowledge, sound planning and consistent action. Look at your lifestyle, your routine, the way you eat. From that come up with a eating and PT program that fits into your life. The most successful plans start with small improvements around the edges, not drastic changes. For example, just replacing regular soda with diet (water is better), can make losing weight a lot easier. Consistently going for a walk after dinner is another. These things may seem way too easy, but it’s the small things that you consistently do long term, that always beat out the huge changes that you do for the short term. Now, before you say it, your life is no busier than the rest of us. Mine is balls out, with family, work, travel and play going 24/7. Ask any of my exhausted family and friends that hang out with me. But that’s my life style and while everyone is different, just about anyone can make this work. In my book Corps Strength I lay out in detail how to make good eating and exercise part of your life, not your life. These things aren’t really that hard. Certainly not as hard as people make them. The key here is to remove the roadblocks to your success and that starts (like everything), with the right thinking. Think about it. Till next month.

“Be Safe Always, be Good When you Can”

Semper Fi


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