FirstSpear

Corps Strength – Day in and Day out

As a PT instructor and fitness author, one question I’ve been asked many times is: What do I think is the most important factor in staying in shape and maintaining a healthy body
weight? Diet? Workout routine? Attitude? Lifestyle? The fact is that achieving and maintaining a high level of health and fitness has several different components that all need to come together for long term success. However, when asked to name the most important factor I always give the same answer: Consistency. Consistency specifically in this case means the ability to follow a fundamentally sound (but not necessarily perfect), exercise routine and eating plan. To follow it not for a few months, a summer, a deployment, etc. but for life.

People who follow me on Instagram, know that I post my workouts: THE DAILY BEATDOWN”. It’s like a training log for me (helps keep me honest) and I also hope it provides some motivation to those who follow me. Based on the feedback I get, it does. The fact is I follow others on IG for the same motivation. Some are fitness professionals, military people, gifted athletes and other various mutants that are doing things physically I couldn’t do on my best day, but my favorites are just everyday people who work hard at staying fit. Their true life stories and efforts always give me inspiration to work toward my own goals and I’ve learned a lot from their practical experience. With all that, the main point I try to get across with the picture of my G-Shock showing the time I roll out for PT is that just about every day, day in and day out, rain or shine, home or when on the road, working or off, cold weather or hot; I put in the work. I punch that PT time clock and I have for over 40 years now. I’m convinced that my blue-collar, enlisted Marine approach to this has been the biggest key to my long-term success. I’m also convinced that just getting up and getting it done can overcome a lot of other less than perfect aspects of any program.

Now am I saying that you need to get up at 0430 almost every day and PT like I do? I could say that, as it has worked great for me and it might for you too. But for most people, it probably wouldn’t work, not long term anyhow. The point is that when I help people on their fitness plan and achieving their goals, it’s about finding out what works for them, not me. However, whenever you figure out what routine works best for you, the most important point is that you actually do it and do it on a regular basis. Regular in my opinion means daily. My simple rule on work out frequency is that I plan to PT for 1 hour, first thing in the morning, every day. I’m not foolish about it though, as I will take a day off when I need to, but I do my level best not to go two days in a row without some PT. On average this comes to a day off, every 4-5 days. With this mindset must also come with the understanding that to do this type of every day routine, you must widely vary the intensity and variety of your training to keep your mind and body from burning out. There are some (many) programs that preach the opposite mindset. Meaning that you should take a lot of time off for recovery and then when you do train, train at a very high intensity. In my experience that is a sure recipe for injury and burnout. Both of which lead to long periods of doing nothing. BTW, doing nothing is the easiest habit to develop and one of the hardest to break.

So how do you maintain the long-term motivation to workout and eat right (most of the time), almost every day? Well, it helps to have a high pain tolerance and somewhat OCD personality like myself. But for everyone there are positive and healthy ways to ingrain the long-term exercise and eating right habit. First, you have to figure out how to make this part of your life, not your life. Contrary to popular belief, as much as I like to PT, my life doesn’t revolve around it, it’s just part of my life, like sleeping, eating or dropping a deuce. Just a natural part of my day, not something I consider forced, or a hill I have to climb over to get to my life. The fact is great health and fitness allows me to do the things I like to do: climb mountains, hike, kayak, rock climb, mountain bike, play many different sports and do it all at pretty intense level. Not by any means what you would call a professional level, but at a level that allows me very few limits as far as participation goes. What I mean by that is while I may not be able to speed climb Mt. Rainier, I did successfully climb it without requiring an extreme effort, or suffering any injuries. I also had to do very little specialized training to prepare. My normal everyday routine was really all I needed. Plus, even at age 59 (and being the oldest member of our climbing team by 15 years) I was able to enjoy it. Make no mistake, it wasn’t easy, but not by any means a real physical struggle.

Just as getting good sleep supports your ability to work, play and stay healthy. You should think of PT the same way. Nobody would consider just not sleeping? Well, you’d say that’s not your choice as if you try to go without sleep you’ll just collapse at some point. True, and it’s just as true that if you go without regular exercise and good food your health will eventually collapse also. It will take longer and may be less dramatic, but have no doubt, your health will collapse. On the way to that collapse you will slowly be able to do less and less, and feel more and more like shit. Hey we all get old, sick and die, that’s life. You’re born and at some point, you die. Same for all of us. However, the different is what happens between the two, which can be vary greatly by our own efforts and habits.

The keys to developing the fitness habit, is really the same with embedding any good habit. First you have ease into it with small but consistent changes. Then over time slowly ramp up to the level that will get you to your goals while remaining sustainable. This is maybe the most common mistake that people make in this area. They try to do too much, too fast. It overwhelms their body, life style and mental state and they quickly fall back to nothing. You have to figure out your goal first and then from there design a solid (and simple) plan to get there. The plan needs to consider many different things in addition to your end goal, to include the time you’re giving yourself to get there. This is very important. Goals, both long and short term need a time line. I learned a long time ago the only real difference between a goal and a dream is a time limit. I want to earn a college degree in 4 years is a goal. I want to get a degree someday is just a dream, a fantasy. Your goals need a time limit if you’re serious about achieving them. However, if you aren’t that serious and are happy with just dreaming about great health, fitness and getting your weight right, have at it. That’s easy to do, but remember it’s just a dream, not real and not ever likely to become real. It’s just the way this stuff works.

Of course the mechanics of how to structure your workouts and eating are very important also. The surprising thing though is that this part really isn’t that complicated, certainly not as much as people make it. There is more good information out there on eating right and working out than you could ever need, like my book for example. But, it will take some trial and error to get it tailored for you, but that is the same in any endeavor like: running a business, a military unit or sports team. As they say about combat: The best plans can quickly become useless and have to be adjusted as you go, but prior planning is indispensable. Start with a simple basic plan and adjust as you go. Having no plan and just trying to wing it will fail. Again it’s just the way this stuff works.

The bottom line is getting and staying in shape requires goal setting, some planning, a little experimenting and above all else consistent long-term effort. However, it’s not rocket science and certainly doesn’t require nowhere near the time and effort as the most important things in life do: like earning a living, getting an education, or keeping a family together. However, I will contend that every minute invested in a sound fitness program will pay you back many times over in your health, your mental state and in your life overall. In fact it’s one of the best time investments any person could make to improve their life. I know this not only from my own life, but from witnessing this in an untold number of others. So do yourself a favor and invest a little time and effort in yourself every day, you’re worth it.

I hope everyone is staying safe and we are all over the hump on this pandemic and we can all get back to work and our lives soon. Till next month:

“Be Safe Always, Be Good when you Can”.

Semper Fi

MGunz

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4 Responses to “Corps Strength – Day in and Day out”

  1. Iggy says:

    Excellent post.
    I had a Lt who said he judged a man by his fitness as it was the only thing aside from his intellect that cannot be given or bought; what you have can only be what you’ve done yourself.
    Like you I wake each day at 0415 and train. I passed the sf continuum at age 43, always within the top third, zero mechanical injuries while I saw guys half my age fall apart.
    The overseeing physiologists simply stated that by my age with my lifestyle anything that could be broken or torn off already had been. 25 years of consistent training (I’d been a mountain guide before then) trumps 5 years of high school sports and a few triathlons.

    • Jocko says:

      Ha, I like this.

      “The overseeing physiologists simply stated that by my age with my lifestyle anything that could be broken or torn off already had been”

  2. Mick says:

    MGunz,

    First, give us an update on the new book!

    Second, yeah consistency is huge.
    Personally, I set up a gym in my basement, and instead of doing huge workouts I only do like 2-3 lifts a day, and just rotate muscles worked for active rest. I can get to the basement for 20 minutes a day every day (although with school kids, I can plan on life happening at least once a week, which is just “surprise rest day”).

    The other principal that helps for me is “just a little more every day”. Every day I add either 5 lbs to bar, or add a set, or just one more rep.

    Those two things really helped: mid 40s but feel myself getting stronger without beating myself down.

    Finally I’ve given myself flexibility and am not married to a plan or scheme like I used to be. “Forecast is sunny w/ storms rest of week? I guess today’s my run day!”

    I know it must feel like you’re repeating yourself ad nauseum, saying “this stuff isn’t rocket science, it’s a few bedrock principles + trial and error” but consistent emphasis on fundamentals is huge; it’s great reminder, great help in reinforcing good habits, etc.

    My other fave fitness web place is nerdfitness b/c he’s consistently hammering three messages: diet’s like 80% of fitness, don’t wait for perfect get off couch and do something, and try and do a little more than you did last time.

    Anyway, big fan, always enjoy your posts, please keep doing what you’re doing!

    Mick.

    • MGunz says:

      Hey Mick,
      Thanks for your support and question on my new book. I have it all in my head and a bunch on paper, right now I’m just trying to work through things here at work. Between the shooting and the virus, the international schoolhouse is having some rough going, but with a lot of hard work we are slowly getting back on track.
      To be 100% honest, I’m also looking for a new publisher, or I may do the self publishing thing. While the publisher for my first book was (and are great professionals), we’re having some fundamental disagreements about the next one. Trust me when I tell you. I’ve learned a lot about writing and book marketing since Corps Strength came out and I’ve developed some pretty strong feelings about what needs to go in a new book and I’m not prepared to compromise like I did my last time out. But in the end selling books is not only a personal thing, but a business, so I get their position. But I’m determined to only put out what I consider an honest, quality product. even if it may not appeal to the largest and broadest market that publishers are always looking for. Long answer to a short question I’m working on it, LOL. I do get asked this quite a bit, so I thought I’d take the chance to explain the delay. Thanks again and keep doing what your doing bro.
      Semper Fi
      MGunz