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Archive for the ‘Corps Strength’ Category

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

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

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

MGunz

Corps Strength – Day in and Day out

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

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

Corps Strength – Corona Reset

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Sorry guys, I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me here on SSD. Between the shooting we had last Dec and now the COVID-19 Virus, here at the international School House we’re hanging on by our short hairs. It’s been and continues to be a tough time for our staff and students. But we are going forward as best we can. I say that as I know that many people are hurting now with the effects of this virus and its impact on their economic situation.

Just by the circle of the people I hang with and in my family. I had a couple of early indicators that this virus was going to be a big thing. My wife is an RN, my sister is a Nurse Practitioner in California, a good friend of mine (a former enlisted Marine), is a VA doctor in east Florida, my youngest son works at the National Institute of Health in DC and my main climbing partner is an emergency room tech across the bay. [Yes, it’s weird I have so many medical people in my life? I can’t explain it]. They all told me several weeks ago that this thing was coming and it was going to be serious. I kind of listened but in reality, I just ignored them (as I usually do) and just plowed on. Then on March 2nd a former Marine that I knew, suddenly died of the virus. He was only 43, in apparent good health and had no prior conditions? He tragically left behind a young family and I instantly knew this wasn’t just media hype.

Now as most of you know that what I write about here on SSD is fitness, nutrition and weight management, mostly as it relates to the military and 1st Responders. So you might say, “I don’t give a shit about PT with all this going on” and I get that gut reaction. But this is a time when people are very concerned about their health and while I’m not a doctor and wouldn’t presume to talk specifically about COVID-19, this whole situation is about health. Which PT and eating right can have a huge influence on. It’s also a very stressful time for millions of Americans. Maybe not directly from the virus itself, but more so from all the economic issues and forced life style changes.

So, my simple aim here is to provide some thoughts and ideas that may help some people find something good in all this. This actually can be is a good opportunity to “Reset” your current workout and eating program. Especially as many people have been sent home, either working from home, furloughed, or laid off. Plus, unless you live on Mars we’ve all been hearing about “social distancing” 24/7. Avoiding crowds at public places, parks, etc. and that includes gyms. However, on the other side of that, many people now may have some extra time to start up a new routine. The fact is people like resets. Like New Year’s resolutions, or any other dated event that gives them a starting point for a new diet and/or exercise routine. It’s very common for people in the military to start a new workout program when they go to, or return from a deployment. This can be a great motivational symbol. It’s more mental than physical, (and doesn’t always work), but is real never the less. But considering the current limitations, what would be the best way to do this?

So gyms are for the most part out and with that are classes like yoga, cross-fit, spinning, etc. Though you can do many of those classes through the internet, like if you have a Peloton bike and account, not cheap however. But physical get together group classes in a gym setup will probably will be out for quite some time, even after the main health issue passes. This is the time for home workouts and/or isolated workouts outdoors. Over the years I’ve always kept a basic amount of basic fitness gear where ever I was stationed. Back in the day when I was just starting out with all this, gyms (outside of your HS school, the Y, or the Boy’s Club), were far and few between. However, many people that were serious lifters had “gyms” in their homes. I actually got started competitive lifting that way. A high school wrestling teammate’s Dad was a nationally ranked Olympic and Power lifter. He offered to let members of the wrestling team lift there to strengthen us for wrestling. He was a really good athlete and a motivating coach, so after a few workouts I was much more interested in lifting that wrestling. I went on to complete and win a few meets. However, one of the biggest things I took from this experience was that though his “gym” was little more than a screened in porch (really fun during upstate NY winters), you could still get a great workout. He had a full set of Olympic weights and a power rack, but little else. He also had almost an entire basement full of weightlifting trophies he’d won from the workouts he did in that little gym. I learned first-hand that you don’t need $1000’s of dollars of expensive equipment, or a huge amount of space to maintain an very effective program.

If you have a garage, porch, a spare bedroom, balcony or just a backyard you can set up your own home gym. The fact is you can do this is a very small space with zero equipment, by performing body weight only movements. I’ve worked out in some very small spaces aboard Navy ships and in different Marine offices, like my recruiting office. However, by adding a few relatively inexpensive items, you can really ramp up your program. I think that it’s in this area people make the wrong assumption of what you actually need. I think best way to build up a home gym is to add a little stuff as you go and buy quality gear, so it will pretty much last a lifetime. In the attached picture of my own garage setup, there are some Joe Weider plates that my dad and uncle first purchased back in the early 1950’s.

My first choice would be a door jam pull-up bar. IMO the best is the kind that can easily be taken up and down and cost less than 50 bucks. I like the type that work on your body weight better than the ones that expand into the door frame. They allow a greater range of motion, more room, different hand grips and don’t damage the door frame. As a more expensive but better choice is a freestanding “Power Tower”. This allows not only pull-ups, but dips and some ab workouts. More expensive, but a great addition to any home gym. In my garage I have a portable pull-up bar (you can see me use in my book), that was made many years ago by a guy that built circus equipment. It was expensive to buy at the time, but more than paid for itself over the years. So buy quality gear, which BTW isn’t always the most expensive. Do your research.

Next, I would add to that an adjustable set of dumbbells. In most cases if you get a set that will hold 40lbs for each dumbbell is plenty, though you can get them much heavier if you like. This is more expensive, but I think well worth it. I personally would avoid the new “high tech” dumbbell’s that you can adjust the weight by switching levers, etc. They are very expensive and IMO not as durable as the old school ones. I’m a big user of kettle bells and have several pairs of different weight sizes. They allow you to do some things you can’t do with dumbbells, but if I had to pick between two 40lb adjustable dumbbells and two 40lb kettle bells, I would take the dumbbells, as they are much more versatile.

There are a few more things that will allow you to do different exercises, like an adjustable bench, and a short barbell. From there your budget, space and ambition are the only limits. From my background as a boxer, I’ve always had a heavy and speed bag, and a jump rope (trust me on this, only buy a leather rope). If weights are your main thing and you have a sturdy floor, you could add a power rack, heavy duty bench and an Olympic weight set. The point is to start with quality basic equipment and add you go. I say that as I personally know many people that spent a lot of money on various “fad” workout machines, that now are just expensive book shelves and clothes racks.

That’s inside work, but outside you can still go out and run, hike, walk, ride a bike, etc. as long as you avoid other people. Strange to even talk like this, but it’s what we need to do for now. In my book I lay out a lot of different body weight, weight lifting and cardio workouts, and how to put them all together to make an effective program. Honestly though, there are 100’s of different good books and videos you can use, depending on what your specific goals and living situation is. The fact is that you can find many for free on line.

The main thing to remember from this is that during this stressful time, don’t neglect your health, to include your mental health. The worst thing you can do is just sit around, eat/drink too much and watch TV, or stay on line 24/7. Especially with the news and social media nowadays, watching too much will probably just piss you off and/or make you more stressed and depressed. Give yourself a break. If you have to work, or stay at home most of the time now, get yourself on a good routine. Get up early, PT, work, have scheduled meal times. Read more, organize your crap, etc. etc. If you can volunteer to help in your community do so, as there are some people out there that are worse off. I’m blessed to be healthy, still working and that’s the same with most of my family. But some friends are having a very hard time and it’s a good time to help them out if you can. Even if it’s just a phone call. I have a very close friend who is presently stationed in the south of Italy, their situation there is coming off the rails. He, his wife and young daughter have been basically locked down in their home for many weeks with no end in sight. We talk every few days, mostly about family and the lack of sports. For what it’s worth, it’s just talk, but I think it helps both of us.

Take a look at your present fitness routine and ramp it up if you can. You may even come out in better shape at the other end of this. In any case my prayers go out to you, your friends and family during these trying times. I know we will get through this and I hope I’ll be writing about something else next month. Till then

Be Safe Always, Be Good When You Can.

(Be Extra Safe and Extra Good in fact).

Semper Fi

Corps Strength – The Diet Merry Go Round

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

The little video I included with this article is to illustrate a very simple point. That being that the never ending stream of “new, great, ground breaking and fantastic eating plans” are just like a merry-go-round and like the big guys in the video, no matter how many times they go around, they’re still as overweight as ever. As a fitness trainer and author I’ve been saying this for many years, as it’s always been true and it probably still will be for as far as the eye can see. The recent popularity of “Intermittent Fasting” is just the latest in this trend. It’s all the rage now in the diet/fitness world, on the internet and I personally know several people who are on it. I’ve been asked many times, or should I more accurately say that I’ve been “briefed” about this new eating plan. I say “briefed”, as what really happens with these new things is people who know me, know that I’m into fitness, working out, etc. and when they want to relate to me their newest eating, or workout plan (the latest of many), they often go through a sales pitch of sorts. Telling me about the studies, the celebrity and pro athlete testimonials, internet articles, etc, etc. I always feel that they’re looking for some validation or encouragement. Of which I always give the latter and almost never the former. In any case, I wish them the best of luck, which I sincerely mean. However, long experience tells me that after some initial good (often very good) progress, their long term results will be minimal, actually probably non-existent as they will most likely gain back all the weight they lost and like being on a merry go round they will end up right back where they started; Looking for the next “new, great, ground breaking and fantastic eating plan”. Which have no doubt, is right around the corner.

My wife gets on me sometimes about being negative about new stuff. The fact is I’m really not a negative person about new things, I never have been one of of those people who wish they were back in the “good old days”. However, neither am I someone who is easily buffaloed by slick marketing. That comes from a long career as a Marine and especially as a non-commissioned officer you become naturally skeptical of initial appearances. Probably as we’ve heard every bullshit story, excuse and false promise made by professional bullshit artists for years and tend to rely more on hard earned experience and our own eyes and ears than anything else. It’s actually an astonishing thing that the fitness and diet industry can go from promoting one extreme to the other without so much as a shutter step, and even more astounding is that people will buy into this stuff without any hesitation. Do I need to remind people that just a few years ago the absolute gospel on eating properly was “grazing”. That you had tp eat every few hours to keep your metabolism up? People had all these little meals set up so they could eat constantly. Now the almost complete opposite is the new truth, that you should only eat between certain hours and not at all otherwise. If those aren’t complete 180 out thinking, I don’t know what is? It’s the same thing with the way things have bounced around the Zone, Paleo, high carb, low fat, high protein, Atkins, The Med, Weight Watchers, Keto, Vegan, Flextarian, DASH, etc, etc, etc. There are many more, too many to list.

Though all these plans are different (some very different) in some ways, both big and small they do all have three main things in common.

1. If followed closely they will help people lose weight.
2. They are about impossible to follow long term and will be eventually dropped by 99% of the people who try them.
3. Their main purpose is to sell products: food, supplements, charts, apps, etc.

Over the years I have watched people try all of of these plans, I even tried a few myself and like I said they all can provide good results, if and that’s a big IF you can stick to it. The cold hard fact of it is that very few and I mean VERY few people can stick to these programs long term. What do I mean by long term? Well, for life is what I mean, as I have zero interest in (like I have said many times) short term (30, 60, 90 day) fixes. I’m into long term results meaning everyday, every way fitness and of which maintaining the optimum bodyweight is a crucial part of this. They don’t stick to them because they don’t work, most do work. They work because, in the end they simply reduce calories, though they just do it in different ways. They don’t work long term as they are either too complicated, too expensive, too boring or the most likely, just an overall pain in the ass. Too hard to fit into a busy life. We all have better things to do than figure out our protein, carb and fat ratio for each meal, or spend our Sunday’s doing meal prep for the week. No thanks, eating (and PT), is support for my life, not my life. That baseline thinking is a big reason why my program has worked great for me (and those who try it) for decades, not just for a few months. The real solution to getting off the diet merry go round is to first understand that this is the last thing the diet and fitness industry want you to do. There is no money coming in from people that maintain a healthy body weight. Those people have figured it out and have no need or a new plan, supplement, app, foods, etc. No money in that. So stop relying on the latest “break through” it’s mostly just a sales pitch. Next, we need to understand that the human body has not changed that much in many 1000’s of years. What has changed is our habits, namely our food and lifestyle. This a very long subject, much too long to cover here, one I’ve spent many years studying and observing. However, just on this latest subject of Intermittent fasting I have some thoughts.

I have always felt and advised people that not eating (at least not much) between meals was a good thing. I have always thought that you need to give your body a rest between meals. Unless you’re doing some extreme training, or other high output activity like mountain climbing, backpacking, military ops, adventure racing, etc, you’re not a baby and don’t need to eat every few hours like one. Additionally, eating, processing and digesting food takes energy. It’s why you get tired after a big heavy meal. That energy could be better spent elsewhere. There is a balance between eating the right foods, in the right amounts and at the right times to give you maximum strength, health and energy and eating too little or (more likely), too much that doesn’t provide energy, it drains you. There is also an important cultural aspect to eating. Having traveled widely, I see the differences in how different cultures eat and its a big part of the social fabric in their country. The United States in no different as such this shouldn’t be disregarded. I heard a friend the other day talking about how he was trying to get his mother to alter her Thanksgiving meal time, to accommodate his intermittent fasting schedule? Come on man. I guarantee that if your eating plan is that extreme, it is on it’s way to the island of misfit diets.

The solution to all this isn’t that complicated, but it does take some personal understanding, some discipline and patience. I have worked with some very healthy and tough military people from all over the world and in many cases their diets vary widely. Yet they all are able to preform at very high levels. You see the same wide variety in how military people and athletes eat here in the U.S. I have known some seriously fit and tough people that eat like shit snd their bodies just turn most of it into fuel. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve been blessed with some of that myself). On the other end I know people who have been obsessing over their diet for years and never seem to get a handle on it. In any case, this all simply tells you that the absolute perfect performance eating plan for everyone doesn’t exist, as there is a wide variance of what will work. There has also been a lot of studies done lately about “genetic eating” and that people’s DNA may result them in getting better results from different diets. It makes sense, just as some people (like myself) are lactose intolerant, which is a DNA thing. But, we don’t have to be scientists to figure out what works for each of us. I know pretty quick after drinking a glass of milk that it’s not going to work for me.

The best place to start on figuring this out is to start with the basics and adjust as your lifestyle, goals and personal tolerances require. Eat simple, natural foods that are close to their natural state. Limit highly processed food, I.E. foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (fast food). Start with three balanced meals a day, limit in-between snacks. Don’t eat late at night and have a light lunch. When I say light, a good rule of thumb is too aim for a meal that is approx. 1/2 the size and calories of what you would consider a full meal. On days that you are going to share a big meal with friends and family, (like on the holidays), eat very lightly before and after. BTW, I hope this goes without saying that a balanced and consistent PT program is an important part of all this. In my book Corps Strength I go into more detail on how to do it, but it’s not rocket science by any means. Nor will you need a new plan in a few months because it has worked, still works and always will work. On the other hand it’s certainly not rocket science to constantly ride the diet merry go round thinking that if you just ride long enough, eventually you’ll grab the brass ring. That’s the diet industry’s fantasy to keep you riding, not reality for success. Try getting off and find the right path that takes you to long term success in keeping healthy, in good shape with your weight under control. As a hint, that path is probably a lot simpler (not always easy), than you think, as like most roads to success for everything are; Simple, but not easy.

I hope ever one is having a good start to their holiday season. Enjoy your friends, family and the time off from work. However, please remember our troops serving far away from home in dangerous places so we can enjoy this time (and all times) in peace.

God bless them, you and yours.

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

Semper Fi

MGunz






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.

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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.

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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.

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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