Wilcox BOSS Xe

Corps Strength – A Body in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Every person that exercises and tries to eat right has their own set of fitness and health goals. These are unique and personal to each person, with no two being exactly alike. Most are basic stuff like: achieving/maintaining a healthy body weight, improving performance for a sport/occupation, adding some muscle/strength. Under those very general objectives it can get as specific and detailed as your own ambition and imagination can take you. However, there is one common goal of everyone’s fitness program whether they actually say it or not. That is having an abundance of energy, both physical and mental energy, which are completely interrelated.

When you really think about it, energy has driven the human experience. We needed a lot of energy to survive, to hunt, to explore new lands, to build amazing structures and form nations. The fact is tired, exhausted people did not build our country, win our wars or develop the greatest economy in history. Our people did this with incredible physical energy and mental drive. Now in today’s modern world it’s not usually as dramatic a need that our forefathers had to contend with, as technology has made many parts of life much easier. But to be successful in just about anything you want to do, you still need a lot of energy. I know as a trainer that one of the things you often hear from people trying to get in better condition is that they’re tired, worn out. That at the end of the school or work day they have very little energy left to do anything but collapse, let alone exercise. I found this is even a common issue with younger people who have sedentary jobs. Needless to say, it’s hard to convince exhausted people that giving up some sleep to get up early and exercise will actually provide them with more energy, not less. But in most cases it does work exactly that way.

It’s been my experience that increasing activity (the right way), will provide you with more overall energy than a little more sleep, or sitting around will. It tends to build on itself in which the more you do, the more energy you have. It kind of works like interia. However, of course, this theory has a tipping point, where you do too much and the physics takes over and it goes the other way. But I think people can do a lot more than they would think. As a simple example the other day I got up at my normal time, my alarm is set for 0430, but 99% of the time I wake up before it goes off. Within 30 minutes, I’m up, drinking coffee and listening to the news as I put myself through a pretty intense workout in my garage for an hour. By 0730, I was finished, showered, had breakfast and headed in to work. From 0800 – 1400 I taught classes, attended a staff meeting (the most tiring part of my day) and had lunch. At 1400 I took my class of International students for an hour of PT. Standard military PT nothing crazy. After PT I finished the work day with prepping for the next day’s classes and answering emails, etc. Around 1600 I was driving home and noticed that the ocean was calm, with low boat traffic. Arriving home I quickly changed, loaded my kayak and fishing gear onto my truck and was on the water within an hour. Two hours of paddling and fishing yielded me one keeper (a nice slot Redfish, note the picture).

I got home around 1900, cleaned my gear and fish, which I grilled for our dinner. A hot shower and a cold beer had me ready for the rack around 2100. Was I tired? You bet and I slept like a baby with the intent that it would start again around 0430 tomorrow. That was last Tuesday and pretty much a standard day for me. No, I don’t always go fishing and for sure don’t always catch fish when I do. However, I almost always PT early and do something else physically active in the afternoon, a bike ride, climbing on my bouldering wall, some home maintenance, something. The one thing I very rarely do, is park my ass in a chair and stare at the TV or computer. That would exhaust me. People who follow me on IG or FB often say where do you get the energy to do all that crap? Well, habit for one, I’ve been doing a version of this routine all my life. But I do and more importantly don’t do certain things that greatly help me maintain a high level of usable energy. IMO, outside the assumption that you are following a good workout routine and are eating a decent diet, these are the five most basic and effective things that anyone can do to increase their energy levels.

1) Keep your body weight down. This should be obvious, if you’ve overweight (even a little), your body has to work harder to move that weight around, using energy that you could put to better use. If you’re really overweight, it will drain your energy reserves pretty quickly. Not just your muscles, but your organs will be stressed trying to move that extra weight you around. 10lbs doesn’t seem like a lot, but try just carrying a 10lb dumbbell plate around all day, it would become a pain in the ass quick.

2) Don’t eat large meals. Meaning a lot at one sitting. Now, there is no doubt that eating right; The right foods in the right amounts by itself is a huge part of the fitness puzzle, but for now let’s just assume you are eating pretty well. The point is that digestion, especially when processing a large meal, requires a lot of energy. Again, this is a pretty obvious thing, think about how you feel after you’ve had your typical Thanksgiving sized meal, you’re ready for a nap. You are much better off eating smaller meals and if you need more fuel add some nutritious snacks in between. Especially at night as having too big a meal at the end of the day can seriously tap out whatever you had left in your tank.

3) Get better sleep. This is a big one and for many people a very hard one, myself included. The world of today is a 24/7 affair and we all tend to overload our brains with the non-stop input of smart phones, social media, the internet, etc. etc. This all can make sleeping, getting to sleep and then sleeping soundly very difficult, if not almost impossible. I have this issue myself, always have. There is a lot of information out there that can help you with this. Though I know it’s a popular solution, I would try to avoid prescription sleep aids. This can be a complicated problem and you’ll have to do some research to figure out what works for you, but you can’t maintain high energy levels without good sleep.

4) Don’t smoke and don’t drink too much: When I was in the field, on guard duty or drinking with my buddies I smoked way more than my share of cigarettes. I luckily never developed the 24/7 habit and gave them up completely about 15 years ago. The nicotine will give you a quick boost, but in the end, you’ll pay a heavy price, not only in your energy levels, but your overall health. The years of research in this area is beyond dispute. The same goes for drinking too much, a few drinks can be a good thing. Getting slam drunk a few times a week has only one outcome. This can sneak up on you. Many years ago, I was on a two-month det in Thailand. I got in the habit of drinking Johnny Walker Black, as it was tax and duty free at the base package store for $5 a bottle! I drank a bottle just about every night for about a month, before I started to realize maybe I was developing an issue. Needless to say, I was pretty tired all the time too, but being young and in Thailand brings its own energy.

5) Manage/reduce your stress: Easier said than done, I get that. But stress is a huge energy killer. Sweating the load over work, family and social issues will tire you out more than running a marathon. Exercise is a big way to help burn some of this off, but that often isn’t enough, not for me. I find that spending some time doing something relatively mindless works even better. Bike riding, kayaking, fishing and just walking my nutcase cattle dog can go a long way for me. Find something without a bar to jump over, a little hobby. I know many high-octane people who have little hobby’s that they seem to live for, not because it makes them any money, or other tangible benefit, but just for the peace of mind and simple joy it brings them. Grown men that collect comic books, fly model airplanes and I even know a retired Marine Officer that makes appearances as an Elvis impersonator? (He’s actually pretty good too). The point is you can’t work, PT or travel 24/7. I enjoy them all, but I know they all can get old and wear you out. They say that you should think about what you used to like to do when you were 10 and try a version of that again. When I was ten, I lived on a sting ray bike, played sports and ran around the woods like a little wild animal. So it’s no surprise that hiking, bike riding and playing sports are things I still love to do. Don’t disregard the benefits of a simple hobby, it will recharge your battery.

Having more energy has many benefits, too many to list. But maybe the best one is that after the day’s battles are fought. After you’ve done all the things you have to do, you have some steam left over to do something you want to do, things you like to do. At some point you need to pay yourself, life is too short. Protect yourself and hang tough as we all work through this rough patch. We’ll talk again soon, till then:

“Be Safe Always, Be Good When You Can”

Semper Fi



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