Massif Rocks!

Archive for the ‘Corps Strength’ Category

Corps Strength – Pound for Pound

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

Many years ago before I found my place as a Marine, I had lofty dreams of being a professional fighter, a boxer. Big money, fame and a non stop parade of hot girl friends was all part of the fantasy. This was long before MMA was even thought of. So to make any real money as a little guy in professional sports, there was only boxing. How I got started in boxing was kind of a weird story, as I came from a weightlifting background. However, once I got started, I was hooked and dove in head first (more like face first), into the sport. From the very first I loved the workouts, though as you could guess, they were completely different from lifting weights. Right away I stopped lifting completely and quickly shed 10 lbs off my already small frame. I had been doing pretty well in both Olympic and Power lifting, competing in the 148 lb class (usually weighing in around 143-144), so I wasn’t very big to start with, but pound for pound I was very strong. I could easily squat over 300 lbs for reps and Clean and Jerk almost 250. However, boxing has a completely different skill requirement and the workouts to get there didn’t include weights.

My trainer was an old school guy who ended up with a couple of world champions. He had a wealth of boxing knowledge, which also included training and diet. He told me right off the bat that being just under 5’7”, I was always going to be fighting taller people (he was right and in all my bouts, I never fought a shorter guy), so I had to develop a style that would minimize that disadvantage. Think Roberto Duran, not Sugar Ray Leonard. Not that I could actually imitate any champion, far from it, but that was the idea. With that style you need extreme levels of conditioning and punching power (and a good chin), to beat taller, faster boxers. The problem was that when I dropped lifting and lost weight, I felt weak. I was naturally a pretty good puncher, but as some time passed I felt like I was losing strength. I spoke to my trainer about it and thought maybe I should add some weight lifting back into my routine?

He said what I needed was some time to adjust to my new sport and more importantly, an understanding of how this all works. (He was also big on the mental aspect of boxing). He asked me if I thought any weight lifter, bodybuilder, or football player of any size, could punch harder than Rocky Marciano could at 185 lbs? No, I didn’t think so. What about a smaller fighter like Marvin Hagler, at 160 lbs? Probably not, I said. Neither of those two guys ever lifted any weights. So, what is the deal, is it just a natural thing? Well, that’s part of it, as some people can puncher harder, just as some people can run faster, but not all of it. What Marciano and Hagler developed through training is how to transfer their weight into their punch. Think about it this way. If the biggest weight lifter in the world was walking down the street and a 135 lb bag of sand fell out a 3 story window and landed on his head, what would happen? He would be knocked unconscious at least, probably worse. The training that your doing is focused on getting you to do that with your 135 and not just once, but over and over and over. You feel weak now, because your used to a different kind of strength, but as you progress, you’ll get your weight matched correctly to your height and learn how to transfer that weight into your punches. From there you’ll discover a new kind of power, the kind of power you need for boxing. It made sense, so I dropped the idea about going back to weights.

He was right and over the next few months, Though I lost even more weight, I felt much stronger and developed KO power with either hand. I was also very surprised to find out that I could actually hit harder with a left hook, though I was right handed? It was all about using speed and leverage to transfer weight. In any case, looking back, I could hit harder then at 135, than I every could before, or frankly since. The end result was that in all my fights but one, I stopped the other guy. Unfortunately, in that fight (my last) I was stopped by a very tall, very skinny guy whose punches felt like I was being hit by a baseball bat? That fight made me realize that getting punched in the face (a lot), just wasn’t my thing and if you can’t come to terms with that, you will never take boxing to a high level. The bottom line was, while the money and fame of boxing was very attractive, the health risks weren’t worth it to me, so that was that.

So what is the point of this nostalgic sea story? I share this as I got a lot of feedback on last months article when I commented on the current issue of overweight people in our military ranks. Many people pushed back on my take that most of these people are just overweight and the new weight standards are making it worse. What I got specifically was that the body fat measuring methods used aren’t accurate (which I agree with to a certain extent) and that being bigger was actually better anyway. That being heavier isn’t a hindrance, but an advantage. That I don’t agree with at all, not for our military, or 99% of other occupations that require a physical ability and certainly not for the average person.

This is a common misconception that you need to be bigger, to be able to perform better. I’ve heard this a lot over the years trying to help people get into shape and lose weight. Which brings me (finally, I know right) to the point, the conflict between body weight, strength and conditioning. IMO these three things are completely interwoven and cannot be separated, nor do they need to be. However, many people have this baked in idea that they have to be bigger to be stronger, and then train and eat (with lots of supplements, of course), themselves to just being overweight. Gyms and the military are full of these “Joe Bulky” guys. Now if they were bigger in the sense that they were carrying mostly lean useful muscle, that would be one thing, but in the vast majority of people that isn’t the case, they’re just carrying too much weight for their frame and that will end up decreasing their overall physical ability, energy levels and in the longer term, their health.

Yes, it’s simple physics that if you’re heavier, you have a bigger base to push things around, but that by no means proves your in great (or your best) overall condition. For an extreme example, look at NFL offensive lineman. They are huge guys, that are certainly quick and athletic, but most are carrying a lot of extra body fat, some carry huge amounts of extra fat. But in their role on a professional football team, that pure weight is an advantage, as a defensive player has to try and move that weight (or get around it). But the average person is not an NFL offensive lineman, (though many look like it) and doesn’t need that weight. BTW, former NFL offensive lineman sadly have the shortest average lifespan of all positions. No doubt the extra weight they carry for years has an influence on that. I doubt anyone would say that an NFL offensive lineman is an ideal build for our military people, or for any other occupation, except with maybe a bodyguard or bouncer? The goal for the vast majority of us should be to develop a high level of useful fitness, health and energy for our occupation, recreation and our lives in general. To do that we need an all around, balanced type of conditioning and an important part of that is a body weight that fits your frame properly.

To use a motor sport analogy; what you want is a powerful and efficient engine, mounted in a resilient, tough and lightweight frame. Genetically your frame (height) will determine the right size engine required for optimum performance. The point is to fine tune the right sizing of frame and engine. Not to put a powerful (but small) motorcycle engine in a dump truck frame. You may think that dump truck looks big and strong, but in the end it’s slow, burns a lot of fuel and as it’s engine isn’t the right for it’s frame size, it will probably break down a lot and wear out quicker. Your body is the same way. Some people will say to the answer to this problem is just build a bigger engine, more muscle. That works to a certain extent, but the physics of it will take over pretty quickly and you become inefficient on the other side of it. Look at bodybuilders for the perfect example of that. They are an example of an engine that is too big for it’s frame, as they have as much pure muscle packed on their frame as possible, with extremely low levels of body fat. But other than lifting weights can do little else, certainly nothing else at a high level. Not to mention that the diet, workout routine and lifestyle required to get that much muscle is harsh and all encompassing. Plus, it’s an even harder thing to maintain. In any case, it’s infinity better to fine tune the muscle and frame balance and also much easier to maintain.

From long experience and observation I have developed my own system on how to figure out (approximately, as there is a range) what your optimum performance body weight should be for your height, of which I’ll share in a new book I plan to publish next spring. But for now I can say this, it’s a lot lighter than most people would guess, but not extremely so. As the skin and bone build of a elite marathon runners is no where near the ideal either, no more than the NFL offensive man is. The bottom line is that it’s easy to chow down, hit the weight room, bulk up and fool yourself that you’re at your best and for many people that’s good enough. I get that and if that’s your thing have at it. However, if you need, like our military needs (or just desire), great overall physical performance, great long term health and high energy, you need to take a different road to get to a different and IMO, much better place.

Lu

Just for one quick real life example. With this article I have included a picture of Lu Xiaojun. Lu is a Chinese Olympic and World Champion Olympic weightlifter and is also a world record holder. IMO Olympic lifting is the best example of dynamic strength, as the Olympic movements require high levels of athletic ability, balance and flexibility as well as extreme strength. Lu is 5’8” inches tall and weighed here at 169 lbs, which puts him 11 lbs under the maximum weight for his height by Marine Corps Standards, (max for 5’8″ is 180 lbs). His weight and height are an almost perfect match for his sport, actually he is statistically a tad on the tall side (by an 1”) for his weight class of 77Kg. In this picture he is clean and jerking over 450 lbs! Notice he isn’t wearing a lifting belt, no knee wraps, no “lifting suit” like you see in power lifting. I would estimate that 99.9% of the world’s population can’t lift 450 lbs off the ground, let along take it from the ground, to overhead. Yes, he is a world champion, with the rarest of genetics and years of hard training, but the point is that he represents how much dynamic power that can generated from a relatively small, lean person. I’m not saying that his weight/height match is perfect for overall fitness, using my formula he is about 9 lbs over the optimum target wgt for a man that is 5’8″: 160lbs. However, I have no doubt if he balanced lifting with a serious program of aerobic conditioning (which I’m sure he does very little of presently), he would probably be pretty close to that weight. In any case, he is obviously within the right range. BTW, how many 300 lb plus NFL offensive lineman do you think can take 450 lbs from the ground to overhead? My guess, is very, very few, if any. Who do you think would look better in a military uniform and perform military duties better? Think about it. I have for years and I’m devoting a entire chapter in my new book on this subject and there I will explain my take on all of it in much more detail.

In any case take care till next month and as always:

“Be safe always, be good when you can”.

Semper Fi
MGunz

Corps Strength – When Standards get lowered, Performance is sure to follow

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Recently a DOD study revealed some disturbing facts about the physical condition of our active duty military. You can get all the details here at: https://www.militarytimes.com/off-duty/military-culture/2019/09/03/this-branch-takes-the-cake-as-the-us-militarys-fattest/

While there was variance between the services, with the Navy being the most obese at 22% and the Marine Corps the least at just over 8% (which as a Marine I was disgusted, but not surprised by). The bottom line is that too many of our troops are seriously overweight, with the average of all branches being over 17%. That’s about 1 out of 5 being obese, not overweight, but obese. (The overweight number adds another 30%!) Obesity here being defined as a person with a body fat measurement of over 30%, and/or a BMI of over 30.

Now, many people will rant and rave about the BMI and other measuring methods not being accurate and in some cases they’re not. The fact is that all measuring methods have an accuracy variant. But it can work both ways, as I’ve seen some obviously very overweight people get under the body fat limit, mostly only because they have a big neck measurement. The most accurate way to measure body fat is Hydro Static weighing, but this isn’t something that everyone has access to. I had it done once about 20 years ago and it said my body fat was 13% and strangely enough the tape method used by the Marine Corps then had me at 10%? So, in at least my case, the tape method was more forgiving and my observation of many others being taped, is that would probably be the case also.

Putting the debate about the body fat measuring techniques aside for a minute and based just on a lot of personal observation made over many years. There is no doubt our service people are bigger and frankly fatter than ever. As a Marine I know my own service and spent a lot of time around the Navy, both aboard ship and on shore. Now since I’ve retired from active duty and work as an contract instructor for international military people, I’ve had a lot more exposure to the Army and Air Force than I had on active duty when I take my students to many different bases around the country. During these visits I’m often shocked at how many grossly overweight people I see in uniform. It’s actually jarring to see and is both officers and enlisted. The weird thing with all this, is that the PT programs of today’s military are much more sophisticated, scientific and widespread than we ever had when I came in, way back in 1981. The military gyms today are state of the art on bases and even aboard ship. Most bases have civilian personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors and classes are offered on everything from Yoga, to Cross Fit and all types of nutritional guidance. So why is the number of overweight people in the military ballooning? (Pun intended).

Well, to start off with the military is and has always been a reflection of the overall American society. In some cases it’s worse than what’s happening out there, in some cases it’s not as bad, but it’s never 180 out. As a few simple examples; Drug use was big in the civilian world back in the 70’s and 80’s, but I never saw as much drug use as I saw when I first came on active duty. I never saw cocaine, or hash in my life till I saw other Marines using it. Pot smoking was almost as common as drinking then, even on guard duty. Thankfully urinalysis testing and the zero tolerance policy put a quick end to the vast majority of drug use in the military. Not all, as there is still some out there, but nothing like it was. Racism was another thing I never really experienced until I came in the military. Gangs made up of different ethnic groups were common as was black on white, and white on black violence. For the most part that went away with much of the drug use and the much stricter enlistment (moral) standards that started in the 80’s and really tightened up in the 90’s. However, we all know racism still exists, but it’s much less than it was.

thumbnail

Now today, we have this epidemic of overweight people in the military and it’s another reflection of society, which in case you haven’t noticed is busting at the seams with obesity. The CDC puts the average obesity rate in the U.S. at around 38%. In 1962 that figure was 23%. Why the dramatic increase? There are many reasons, not just one. More fast food and snacks, less overall activity, more sedentary work, computers, less walking, etc. etc. The list is long and it’s not a simple issue to unpack. However, with all this I think there has been a bigger, more dangerous change, it’s the change in our thought process. It’s the norm today (in the United States), for people to just be fatter. Overall kids are more overweight, as are their parents. Frankly, it’s very common to see whole families that are very over weight. Don’t take my word for it, go to any Wal-Mart or Buc-ee’s truck stop and take a look around. However, it’s now something that you’re not supposed to comment on. It’s not politically correct and with so many people now overweight, they’re having their own influence on everything. Airlines make bigger seats, restaurants bigger chairs and most major clothing manufactures have lines of clothing to accommodate for the overweight people. Overweight models are a big thing now too, recently a famous fashion magazine had a very overweight model on their cover to make that very point.

Besides the business world, with all this comes many different health problems that are national crisis and not only health wise, but dollar wise. I read a recent report that stated: “Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the United States. Currently, estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.1 In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year”. So, with this fundamental shift in not only our physical state, but in the thinking that surrounds it, how do we at least stop the increase and then begin to reverse this alarming trend in the military, correcting the civilian world is a whole other and much more difficult issue.

Obviously, it’s not a matter of information, as the internet alone has more free information than anyone could ever need on the subject of exercise, diet and weight loss. Plus, like I stated earlier, the military is very supportive to help people lose weight and get in better condition, as unlike the civilian world, health and fitness are a requirement of service and frankly a matter of national security. IMO, the first big thing that must happen is the head shed must stop making excuses for our service members. Though the higher ups won’t admit this, but they do and have been doing it for many years now. But, they do it in a somewhat sneaky way. The way it’s done is to slowly relax standards. Supposedly to take into account today’s “bigger service members” Which frankly is bullshit, as hard science tells us that the human body hasn’t changed much in over 100,000 years. It’s just a way (excuse) to enlist/retain people who are overweight. Back in the day we just had hgt/wgt charts. Which despite popular opinion (around buffet tables), were very fair. However, if you felt you just physically had to go over this, you could submit for a wavier. This wasn’t an easy process, you had to go to medical, where a doctor did a real evaluation of your overall body fat, health, body type, fitness level, etc. The command also weighed in based on your overall job performance, appearance in uniform and PFT score. If approved, you got a wavier to an alternate higher weight and this could be pulled in a heart beat if your military appearance, or fitness level degraded. It wasn’t handed out very often, or easily, so most people just got off their ass, PT’ed harder and ate better to maintain the weight standard.

About 20 years ago they started the policy of adding a simple, alternate body fat % to the hgt/wgt charts. If you were over the chart wgt, you got taped. You didn’t have to do more than that and if you were under the body fat %, you were gtg. What you saw was a lot of people quickly learn how to manipulate the inherent inconsistency of that system and without any fanfare, the standards were now lowered. People who before worked hard to stay within the hgt/wgt chart, now had a lower bar to clear. So in response, they just relaxed and soon they were struggling to make the new lower standard. Any NCO knows that troops always push the limits of rules and regulations, the weight issue is no different. If you say the hgt/wgt chart is too hard (unfair), then 18% quickly became too hard and unfair. Soon 21% will be too hard and not fair. This is already happening.

Fairly recently the body fat standards were raised again with the new pretense being that it was now “performance based” Meaning if you could score a little higher on the fitness test, you could have an even higher body fat %. Again, the standard was lowered and people just got more overweight. It just became more the norm to be overweight as the lower standards now reinforced this warped thinking. This trend will continue as the young service members become even more overweight as they age, there will be more relaxing of standards to allow mid-career people to stay in. As that’s only “fair” right?

Another myth associated with this is that we have a recruiting, retention problem that forces the military to lower standards. Meaning, if we don’t allow overweight people to come in and then stay, we won’t meet our manpower goals. As a former recruiter I know the pain and suffering that goes into finding qualified people, (who want to enlist). As we have no draft, an all volunteer force will always have this problem in one form, or another. I heard the same thing about only allowing HS grads to enlist. That not allowing drop outs in, we shrink the pool of otherwise qualified people. Maybe the bigger fix is that we need a much smaller, but better qualified and motivated force overall? That is something I’ve always thought, but that’s another and much bigger issue.

However, the key to current weight problem is to just stop with all the new (and supposed improved) fitness tests and (relaxed) hgt/wgt standards, As even with all this new stuff, people are getting more and more overweight. Get back to training and evaluating people in the tried and true basics of PT and eating. At the same time, come up with the right weight standards. (Which I have my own theory on the best way to do this, which I will include in a new book I’m working on). Then apply leadership and consistency in enforcing them. Which BTW is how I learned to solve almost every problem I ever faced as a military leader and this problem is no different. The only thing that’s different is the way we’ve been thinking about it. Which obviously isn’t working.

Hope everyone is experiencing some cooler weather and stayed out of the way of the recent storms. Till next month:

“Be Safe always, Be Good when you can”.

Semper Fi

MGunz

Corps Strength – Avoiding the Black Hole of Stress

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

A major part of human history has been our never ending search for energy. Now energy comes in many forms besides oil and gas. Which we didn’t even have a need for until we invented the machines that required the inherit energy in oil/gas to function. Before that it was coal, wood, and at the most basic: food. Food, the caloric energy that kept us going. Now in today’s modern world we have many more sources where we can draw energy: solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, etc. However, these are fuel for our machinery, not us. When it comes to own personal energy stores it’s more complicated, as you can’t just throw a switch and have unlimited physical energy. That would be great as we all need lots of energy to live our lives. However, that’s just a fantasy and the fact is that even with all our high tech devices (that were invented to make our lives easier), today’s fast paced world is arguably more energy draining to people than in any other time in human history.

To start with we need to realize that when it comes to individual energy it’s basically a zero sum game. You can only store so much and you can only use so much. Good food, clean water, fresh air, enough sleep and a high level of fitness can optimize your energy levels by tuning your body to operate at a more efficient level. Just like a highly tuned race car does. Those things on are the plus side of the energy equation, things that add to your fuel cell, or at least allow it to drain off at a slower rate. On the other end, there are many more things that only draw from your tank. Work and the general everyday requirements of life all require energy, lots of it in fact. That’s both mental and physical energy as we all know that complicated mental tasks can drain you physically so much, that after a few hours of desk work, you can feel like you just ran a marathon. Plus, as we age we tend to have less energy. Just like that great truck you bought years ago, after many miles and a lot of bumps in the road, it just doesn’t get up and go like it used to, even if well maintained. That’s just physics and the nature of things, as eventually everything (and everybody) wears out. The point of all this is how do we get more energy, more physical drive and mental sharpness to do what we want to do? I bring this question out as when working with people on their fitness, it’s a question that comes up a lot and from all ages, fitness levels and occupations. As I stated earlier good food, fitness, sleep, clean water and fresh air are the basics to help you have more energy. But there are many more things in our lives that just drain our energy. Some are small, but they all add up to leave you tired and worn out.

Keeping your weight down can go a long way: This is simple concept as if you’re carrying extra body fat, it takes more energy to move it around. That’s not just your muscles, but your internal organs have to work harder also. Race cars don’t carry extra weight for a reason, think about your body the same way. What you want is a high powered and efficient engine mounted in the leanest frame possible. Smoking (at all) and drinking too much are two of the worst wasters of energy. Yes when you smoke you get a little energy buzz from the nicotine, but make no mistake smoking long term will drain your energy and in the end kill you, which is the ultimate emptying of your tank. Drinking too much is in the same league, these are true no brainers that seem too obvious to mention. So I’ll just say If you have a problem with these get some help, its out there.

image

However IMO the true “Black Hole” of energy is stress. The stress of work, family, the 24/7 connected world of politics, social media and internet bullshit will suck the life force out of you. Some stress has benefits as it motivates us to do things we need to do, even when we don’t want to. Stress is at it’s core just pressure and as they say, only pressure makes diamonds, but too much is a sure killer. Another dark side of stress is it will make every physical and mental issue you have, worse. Take it from this old Jarhead living with TBI, I can tell you that when I’m under pressure and stress from work, or what ever, all my TBI symptoms become worse. Stress can also originate it’s own health problems. High blood pressure is one, headaches, depression and eating disorders are just a few more, there are many. But putting all that aside, stress will drain your energy, big time. So what can we do? I’ve found a few simple changes in lifestyle (and thinking) have greatly reduced the stress in my life and it’s effects on my health and energy levels.

Being connected 24/7 is how the world works now and there is no 100% escaping it. However, un-connecting yourself when ever possible can go a long way toward reducing your stress. For example, I have an app on my phone so I can listen to the radio when I PT. I used to always listen to the news, but I finally admitted to myself that it mostly just kept me irritated 24/7. Now I just listen to music. BTW, don’t down play how listening to music you like can help relive stress in it’s own right, it certainly can help. I also have severely limited my news intake from TV and the internet. Remember when we used to get the entire days news in just 1/2 hour every night? Now it never stops. Try limiting it and you see that nothing really has changed, it’s the same crap, over and over. If something really big happens, don’t worry you hear all about from your buddies watching (and commenting) the news on their computers day and night. You won’t miss it and your body and mind will feel better from the reduced exposure.

With that find a hobby(s) that has zero measuring sticks. No way to measure it’s success, failure, or a way to compare it to someone else’s performance. Just something you like to do, something that is a passive recreation. I don’t mean “passive” in the sense like just sitting on your ass watching TV. I mean passive in that it takes very little mental energy. I have a bunch of these things that I try to spend time with. Going out in my kayak, walking my dog, fishing, shooting at the range. You may say that these things do require some physical and mental effort. True, but they are not really hard physically and mentally they aren’t taxing. I’m not doing fishing tournaments, or shooting competitions, I’m just doing something that requires some focus and a little physical effort that is relaxing and stress reliving. Everybody is different, some people like Yoga, many people find stress relief in practicing their faith, or volunteering in their community. Find yours.

It’s also been my experience that the vast majority of stress is self inflicted, self generated in reaction to the outside world. Of which when you really look at most of it, we all have about the square root of zero impact on, no matter how worked up we get. I have seen people make themselves physically sick when talking about politics, the weather and even sports? What I don’t think we realize is while it’s self imposed stress, not like the actual stress experienced by our ancient ancestors when being chased by a cave bear. The fact is your mind and body won’t note any difference between the stress of arguing over silly politics, or fleeing from a cave bear and both will take their toll in the same way. Unless the bear actually catches you, then your stress level is the least of your worries. The bottom line is we only have so much energy and we all need as much as possible to live a successful, happy life. Staying in shape, keeping your weight under control are great, but managing your stress is just as important. Turn it off, let it go. Grab your dog, dial in your favorite music and tune the F out. You won’t miss it as much as you think you will. That I guarantee you.

Be Safe Always, Be Good When You Can.

Semper Fi

MGunz

Corps Strength -Transitional Disconnect, Road Blocks and Magical Thinking

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

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.

Roadblock-breakthrough

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
MGunz

Corps Strength – Closing the Gap

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

The sporting world is full of amateurs, myself included. For every professional golfer who earns a living at it, there are 10’s of thousands of people who play golf for fun. This is very common with all sports, think of weekend softball leagues vs. MLB, or playground basketball vs.the NBA. Or for a much bigger gap, think about the ratio of wanna be body-builders in gyms around the world vs. the very small number of those who make money at it. That number is probably millions to one. In any case true professionals in sports (or frankly in any area), are a very small group. People who earn a living by consistently delivering a superior level of high performance, often while completing directly against other people of similar abilities, is extremely rare, and rarity (like gold and honest politicians), is a valuable commodity. It’s why Michael Jordan made a 1000x more than your average doctor, just by putting a ball through a hoop? It’s because there are a lot of doctors, but only one Micheal Jordan.

In my life I’ve been around a few professional athletes and one thing you understand pretty quick is that they come from a completely different place than the rest of us. The fact is while they normally train pretty hard (not always), they just genetically start at a much higher level than the rest of us. Some people can just run faster, jump higher, are stronger, bigger, are better at math, can sing, etc., etc. That’s just life and we all have to play in the uniform we’re issued. However, it doesn’t mean we can’t improve our game through effort and smart training. Plus, while a mule will never win the Kentucky Derby, no matter how hard he trains, or what he eats. He can be a kick ass mule and in mule world (which is where the vast majority of the world’s population resides), that’s pretty good. I say all this as though I consider my a professional in many aspects of my life. I’m not, nor have I have ever been (and not for a lack of trying), a super athlete. I was pretty good in some sports, but pretty average overall. This last week I was reminded of just how average I am during a climb of Mt. Rainier.
Myself and my two sons joined a climbing team of about a dozen to make a two day climb of Mt. Rainier. At 14,411 ft Mt. Rainier really isn’t that high a hill. I’ve been much higher (almost 18,000ft) hiking in Nepal. However, this is mountaineering, not hiking. Mountaineering requires specialized training and equipment. After years of some pretty rigorous hiking and trekking around the world, we decided we wanted to step it up. So we signed on with RMI (Rainier Mountaineering Inc) to get some training and make a guided climb of Rainier. It was a full day of training, followed by a two day climb in the cold, windy and dangerous conditions. This isn’t a joke and unless you are an experienced mountaineer (or a fool), you need guides to do this. In our case we had three. Three professionals with many years of climbing, guiding and training under their belts. Their climbing resumes were long and impressive. Multiple ascents of numerous high peaks around the world (to include Denali and Everest) and many years of training and guiding amateurs like myself to fund their climbing lifestyle.

My two sons Kyle and Branden and myself on the summit of Mt. Rainier

My two sons Kyle and Branden and myself on the summit of Mt. Rainier

During my time in the Marine Corps I learned quickly to spot professional competence and even quicker how to spot a lack of it. Mission and lives depend on competence and though many will try, you can’t BS your way through it. It’s also been my experience that professionals who know what they’re talking about have a way about them that runs true to form in any occupation; From the military, to sports, or laying bricks. It tends too look, sound and smell the same. Though when you first meet the skinny kid (BTW, anyone in their 30’s is a kid to me), in the beat up Patagonia hat with a pony tail, he may not look like a Marine Corps Drill instructor on the outside, but inside they operate the same way. It’s no bullshit, what works is what’s important and here’s why it’s important. Watch me and I’ll show you the right way to do this. Pay attention, or you could die dumb ass, or at the least fail to accomplish the mission.

From the time we started training until we made the summit and back down, I couldn’t have been more impressed with our guides. From how to climb, what gear to wear/when, what/when to eat and when to drink, they were spot on. They also ran up and down that crazy steep, icy ass mountain like it was a joke (one of our guides has summited Rainier over 60 times). While the rest of us mules struggled to make the top. In the end it was a fantastic two days of little sleep, cold, wind and hard effort that I got to share with my two boys. I have to say that as hard as I trained for months, it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Starting out at just after midnight on the second day, we made the summit a little after sunrise. (The views were unreal). Three of our team had to turn around prior to the summit, but our guides stated that only 3 dropping was a very good success ratio for this climb, as many people underestimate the mountain and overestimate their ability. It was both an awesome and humbling experience for this old jarhead. In my defense, for what’s it worth (maybe a lemon cookie, or two dead flys worth). At 59, I was the oldest on our team by a dozen years. But honestly, it would have been a hard hump at age 25, but I would haven’t been so sore and tired the next few days. In any case I was proud to have completed the climb, without killing myself.

Last rest stop, sunrise at 12,500ft.

Last rest stop, sunrise at 12,500ft.

After we all came down and debriefed, we had pizza and beer together. Of course, I had a million questions for my guides. How did they train, weights, cross fit, running, etc? Nope, no weights, Naw, no running, no gym. Crossfit? Huh? no. How about supplements? diet? One guy said his favorite climbing food was Fritos, another; Skittles. No special diets, though one guy said he tried to eat organic when possible. No supplements, unless you count coffee and beer? All were thin guys, not really muscular, pretty average looking really. However, the fitness I watched them demonstrate on the mountain was as good as I’ve ever seen in and out of the military. So what do you do to get in such condition? The universal answer was climb, climb and more climbing. Most of it done at 5000 plus feet, carrying a heavy pack. One guy was on a mountain rescue team and did a lot of back country skiing. Another said he did some rock climbing and a little mountain biking. One guy was a Div 1 swimmer in college. But mostly they just climbed. Ok, any advice going forward? Yeah man, get some more training, work on your skills (mountaineering) and climb as much a possible. In other words, try to close the gap between yourself and the professionals by training like them. There isn’t any tricks here, it’s training focused on a specific desired outcome.

This is sound advice for all of us, no matter the activity you want to get better in. Seek out true professionals for advice and guidance. Bar stool experts in all sports are a dime a dozen and realistically their advice is worth about a dime. I feel pretty good about the advice and guidance I give everyday to students and readers about physical conditioning for military duties and with that, maintaining an ideal weight and health. I do as while I’m not an elite athlete, I’m a hard-headed old mule, (who has been successfully plowing fields for many years), speaking mostly to other hard-headed mules. However, the main point is that we can all do better and trying to close the gap (a least a little), between us mules and the thoroughbreds, is a good way to improve. IMO effort in this direction also provides a lot of training motivation and if you do it right, a lot of personal satisfaction. Which when you really get down to it, that’s why most of us do these things. It’s certainly not for money, or fame, but for the personal satisfaction you can only truly gain from struggling toward a goal, doing something hard. Something that not everyone can do and maybe something you didn’t think you could do. Climbing provides that for me, but what ever your sport is, getting better can only enhance that experience.

After a few beers and pizza and a lot of great discussion, one of the guides asked me how I trained for this climb. I felt embarrassed to admit as I lived in Florida, I did just about everything but climb and I was going to have to make some changes as I wanted to climb some bigger stuff. One guide laughed and said, “Dude, you just summited Rainier and you live in Florida. Try to get some more climbing in, but just keep doing what you’re doing, it’s working.” With that comment I heard the faint squeak of the gap closing (about a RCH worth). But, this old mule will take that tiny victory and run with it, all the way up the next hill.

Please remember our fallen brothers and sisters on Memorial Day and till next month: “Be safe always, be good when you can”.
Semper Fi
MGunz

Corps Strength – Listen for Success

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

As you might guess, people approach me all the time about working out, diets, losing weight, getting in shape, etc. These are people I know: friends, family, students and many more I don’t know; Those who have read my book, or my posts here on SSD. 9 times out of 10 they want to get my take on the latest diet, supplement or workout routine they’ve heard of, or want to relate their recent experience with the same. What they always want to talk (ask) about is the specifics: calories, carbs, sets, reps, mileage, etc. Which frankly, is the last thing I want to discuss, as I always start off with questions; What is their long-term goal, their work schedule, their present routine and diet? Any heath issues or injuries? Then I try to bring this all around to how they’re thinking about this. While people are normally very happy to discuss themselves (as we all are), you can tell that they’re aren’t really listening when I start talking about how to get their mind around this in the right way, as they normally will bring it quickly back to sets, reps, meals, fat, protein, etc., etc. I’ve had this conversation 100’s of times and they’re all so similar that I can probably provide both sides of it myself.

   You know, human nature is a funny thing. It’s immensely powerful and yet completely unbiased. Meaning that it will work equally as well for, or against you and while most people will say they get that, they don’t seem to really understand it. Certainly not to the degree required to harness it for long term success. I’ve found that much of this disconnect is really due to a lack of listening. Learning to listen and hear what’s important vs. what is the loudest, newest or false, is something we all can have a hard time with. About 40 years ago my first squad leader told me. “Roarkey (he always called me that to break my balls), if you’re ever going to be a good Marine, you need to learn how to tell the difference between fly shit and pepper”. When I asked how? He said; “Get the mud out of your ears numb nuts, pay attention and listen” In other words, BS and the truth often look a lot alike and to tell the difference you need to pay close attention and that means listening. The fact is all the information you could ever need about losing weight and getting in shape is out there, but to make it work is secondary to how you think about it. That is the main thing I try to get people to listen too, with mixed results. 

   Right about this time last year, my son were in Nepal making the Everest Base Camp Trek. It was a great experience and everything we hoped it would be. Besides the unbelievable scenery and the physical challenge of hiking above 17,000 ft, another great part was the people. We met people from all over the world there making the trek, a few professional climbers going for the summit and a lot of locals. However, my most memorable meeting I had was with a retired Sherpa guide. His name was Aang Dawa and he is now retired from climbing and owns a “Tea House”. Which is their name for a hostel. His place was our first stop, just up the trail from the airport at Luka. When we were having dinner, I noticed there were a lot of pictures of a local Sherpa on the summit of Everest and some of the other high peaks of the Himalayas. There was also several framed newspaper and magazine articles about him. I asked our guide who he was and he told us that he was the owner. Later than night he came and sat down with us. He was in his 40’s, with the typical bright smile, cheerful nature and muscular build of a Sherpa. His English was very good and for the next few hours (over a few strong local beers) we had one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had.

    His story was that he started as a porter in his early teens, then later attended the famous Nepal mountaineering school in Katmandu and progressed to become a high-altitude guide, (that’s where the good money is). Over the next 20 years he guided for numerous international climb teams to summit all the major Himalayan high peaks, including making Everest 3X. He didn’t boast about his climbing, but spoke like how a man who lays bricks for a living, would tell you how he built a retaining wall, very matter of fact. Even so, he related many very interesting stories about his experiences. As a PT guy, I questioned him a lot about the physical aspect of climbing. He was a firm believer that actual climbing and hiking at altitude were the best physical training for climbing, not cross training. However, interestingly enough he had a lot more to say about the mental aspect of climbing. He had quite a few stories about people who had mental breakdowns during climbs and why some people could handle the extremes of weather and altitude while others couldn’t. Some of his stories were dark humor. Like the time he helped lead a group of climbers to the summit of Everest and once there, one climber told him, “He wasn’t going down”. That he just wanted to make top and now that he had, he just wanted to stay and die there. Aang told the guy he must come down alive, or as his guide he wouldn’t get paid and his family needed the money. So he convinced him to come down as a favor to him. After going lower, the man regained his senses and thanked him for bringing him down, as he had obviously been suffering from altitude sickness and was out of his head.

    The other story that I found very interesting was the time that he was hired by the British military to take a group of about a dozen “special forces”, (what ever that means; SAS, Royal Marines?) to the summit of Everest. They were climbing from the Tibet side and they were a huge party of people that brought in all the best equipment. He said they were all big, tough looking and motivated guys, but in the end, not a single member made the summit after a few hard weeks of trying. Why? I asked, bad weather? No, not really. They wouldn’t listen about the proper process of acclimatization for altitude, they all wanted to rush through it. They all got sick and had to turn around, some having to be airlifted out. I asked if that surprised him? No, he said, they didn’t follow the most important rule of climbing. What is that? You must “listen to the mountain”. The mountain will always tell you when it’s ok to come to the top and when it’s time to stay down. The mountain has rules and you have to listen and they didn’t listen. They thought because they were tough guys they could climb on their terms, not the mountain’s. But they were lucky though, they didn’t die. Many people who don’t listen, do die. It’s the most important thing about climbing. You can learn everything about ropes, equipment, weather and be in the best of condition, but if you don’t listen you may die. At the very least you won’t be successful. I asked him what did they say after nobody made it to the top? Not much, but he added with a grin, they brought “barrels full of money”, so it was a very good trip, they had good food too.

That’s Aang Dawa on the right, me on the left, my son in the center. 

    It was the best night we had on our trip and his advice left an impression on me. It’s a funny thing about many people I’ve met from poor countries. While they don’t have everything that we have here. They don’t have the education, the medical, and certainly not the economic opportunity. They often do have an intuitive feeling about life and living that sometimes seems much more dialed in than ours. I’ve always thought that’s because as they don’t have all the material distractions we have, they actually tend to think about basic things more than we do. In any case I found it to be sound advice and not just related to climbing. 

  I think his advice can apply to many areas of our lives and trying to stay in shape is no exception. Getting in shape and losing weight has rules that you just can’t avoid. You can’t rush it, go in half ass and expect success. You have to listen to those rules, or you are sure to fail. I have learned over the years that your mental state is much more important for success in this area than money, technology or routines. I say all this as I’m convinced that listening to the right guidance and getting the rights thoughts in your head will get you there. A lot of things in life are hard. Getting and staying in shape for many people is very hard, so hard they think it may be impossible, it’s not. Not when you listen for and find the right guidance. You then need listen to yourself and trust that you have the will to do it. Because you do, if you listen. 

I’m off to climb Mt. Rainer in a few weeks and will probably have something to share with you about it next month. 

Till then: “Be safe always, be good when you can”. 

Semper Fi 

MGunz  

BTW I thought his advice was so good I had it tattooed on my calf so I wouldn’t forget.

“Listen to the Mountain” in Nepali

Corps Strength: Transitional Disconnect, Road Blocks and Magical Thinking

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

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
MGunz

Corps Strength – Setting up your Base Camp

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

When attempting a climb on any of the world’s high peaks, there is always a well established Base Camp. This is a fairly high place that serves as the last large logistical point for a climbing team. It’s also the place where the trekking/hiking stops and the true mountaineering begins. Many of these places are themselves a tough physical challenge to get to. Just for one example, the Mt. Everest Base Camp sits at 17,600 ft and takes a hard week of trekking to get there, (Been there, done that, felt like shit there and loved every second of it). Establishing a solid base camp of health and fitness is kind of the same thing. In this case it means maintaining a well-rounded level of conditioning that can allow you to easily step up to some specialized (harder), training in preparation for a specific event, or activity. Simply put, you get yourself to a fairly high level, but it’s something you can do and then maintain without killing yourself.

I’ve put this to the test many times in my own life as I’ve channeled my lifelong ADD from one sport and outdoor activity to another. I had my high school sports years, then came my Olympic and Powerlifting phase. A few serious years of boxing, then martial arts. Later I was big into endurance events, completing lots of marathons, triathlons, cycling and other races. After that I got my adventure race fix and all along the way hiked, mountain biked, canoed, scuba dived, backpacked, kayaked, skied, road dirt bikes, hunted, fished, etc, etc, etc. Now for the past few years it’s been climbing, both rock and alpine. My poor wife is used to these every changing obsessions and asked me once when I was signing up for the Mars mission? Well……..

In any case, during this hyperactive race through life I was also serving as a Marine, doing typical Marine stuff, deploying and working a lot, with much of it around the world and aboard ship and as you well know, being a Marine has its own physical standards and time demands. Plus, being married with a family, my recreational interests took a back seat to my service and family (who would be glad to tell you how I drug them along on way too many of these things). Meaning that most of time that I wasn’t seriously training for any specific thing. So what I always did and still do during these times, was fall back to my own fitness Base Camp. I have a basic routine that I developed over the years that always kept in me in great all around shape. From that when something caught my interest (and I had the time), I already had a great base of fitness that I could quickly jump right into a harder, more specialized program. This is my basic program that I can maintain (just about indefinitely), without much mental effort, special gear or a big time investment. The fact is I could just follow my basic plan and without any specialized training and be able to do almost anything (most sane adult stuff), I would want to do and perform at a very good level. I know this because I’ve done exactly that, many times in fact.

Everyone has different interests and desires as far what they choose to do in their off time. For those of us that like to do different sports and outdoor activities, you know you need to be in at least decent shape to really enjoy it. I know some of you pursue your own interests very seriously, dedicating many hours of intense effort. I have friends that invest many hours every week preparing for their sport, while others like a more casual approach. In any case being fit is important. In my book Corps Strength I lay out the base camp routine I have used for many years. It has served me (and many others) well for a very long time and around the world. From that base I just add and/or subtract what I needed for more specific needs. For a simple example, as I prepare for some up coming mountain climbs, I have increased the weight of my training pack and the amount of stair climbing and hiking I do each week and due to the zero time equation of training, reduced my bike riding. The point is that for me to go from my basic fitness level to the specialized fitness I need for climbing will be quick, without injury (hopefully) and frankly, seamless.

On the other side after I complete an event, like when I came back from Nepal last spring, I just ramp down to my base camp routine to recover, yet remain in excellent condition. The fact is you need to cycle your training up and down from peaks to recovery, otherwise you’’ll just burn out and/or get injured. BTW, I follow my base camp eating plan all the time, I just eat more of the same stuff when I’m training harder and less when I’m not. The bottom line is if you want to participate in a variety of sports and outdoor pursuits, you need to have your own base camp fitness plan to keep you fit and ready between more specific goals. Mine has worked well for many people as well as myself and it’s easy to tailor it to your own needs and desires. In any case using my plan, (or your own) will give you that solid base of fitness you need to be ready for anything that comes your way. Because something new, fun and challenging is always out there and when it comes your way, you want to be ready.

Till next month: “Be safe always, Be good when you can.”

Semper Fi

MGunz