Showing posts with label exercise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exercise. Show all posts

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fitness Reminder

Max did a good post on ruck marching today. John Mosby also talked PT. If there is a single combat veteran/ SWAT or SOF person who argues that physical conditioning is not important I have not met them. Fitness matters a lot.

In the survivalist/ preparedness as well as the "militia" sphere it is by far the area most people are weakest in. 

The most important issue with fitness is that it does not have a fast forward turkey fried option. Fitness takes consistent effort and time. There is just not a way around it. That means you need to start now. Do not be crazy trying to do some super hard internet crossfit/ military athlete workout tomorrow. Start with something reasonable and gradually increase time/ speed/ weight over time. Most programs can be scaled appropriately to your strength and fitness level.

Do not disregard the importance of diet. First and most importantly you simply cannot outrun the fork. The saying that you lose weight at the table and get fit at the gym (and track) is very valid. Second the relationship between proper nutrition and athletic performance is very direct. You wouldn't expect the cheapest nastiest imported surplus ammo to shoot sub MOA or 2 year old, non stabalized gas that may have a bit of water in it to fuel a race car so why is the stuff you put into your body any different?

Couch to 5k is a good option to consider. Work in some sort of strength program and you will be headed in the right direction. We could argue exact methods, techniques, training plans and such. That is an interesting discussion to have for sure. However for a person who is 20-40 pounds overweight that genuinely cannot recall the last time they ran a mile none of that matters. Joe Beer Belly will benefit greatly from any sort of semi reasonable training program. Heck simply getting outside to go walking is a solid start.

Do not try to make a total 180 in nutrition and fitness overnight. It would be great but you probably will not be successful on nutrition and will likely hurt yourself working out. Do it gradually over time, a bit better every week till you are in a good place.

For fitness it is good to have goals. Obviously they should be reasonable and fit your age/ health/ body and have reasonable expectations for time. Going from a fat shmoe to a powerlifting SOF Pipe Hitter will not happen in a month and is not a realistic goal for a 60 year old with some medical issues. I do not want to get people down, just be realistic about your goals. I would recommend having interim goals to keep you on track. Say lose a pound a week and stick to X workout schedule.

You can do amazing things, it just takes time. A former co worker of Wifey's decided she wanted to run a marathon. The woman was obese and as out of shape as you can be. She got some quality coaching and started working on it. She ran a (slow) marathon 10 months later and lost about 40 pounds in the process.

Get started!

Edited to include: Day 2- 3 mile run this morning and 3 mile ruck this evening. My legs felt yesterday this morning while running uphill but otherwise it was fine on the fitness front. In terms of food I screwed up and didn't eat enough during the day. Forgot to bring a mid morning snack and ate a light lunch. I was a bit hungry throughout the day and my energy level was a bit low till after dinner. Anyway I ended up right on the nose at 1,800 calories so that worked out OK.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week and Dog Update

I spent a lot of time writing a post and shortly after publishing decided it had to go back to the drawing board. Not that my mind has changed on the issues but it didn't seem likely to go anywhere particularly productive.

So here we are. In a lot of ways this week was pretty good. The running went well. Lifting and rucking not so much. On the plus side I'm down a couple pounds. I think the illusive reasonable and fits into my life diet code may have been cracked. Will talk about it awhile down the road when things are a bit more conclusive.

My EDC/ GHB is pretty much set as is the car kit. Right now I am running some stuff in the normal bag I haul around every day and just making sure to bring it when I leave the house. This helps keep the amount of 'my crazy junk' in the car to a minimum and is more useful when I have to ride with someone else or whatever. I have a bit of tweaking to do and will write about this stuff sooner or later.

Project AR Upgrade showed up which is pretty cool. It was test fired and zeroed which was big fun.

Slapped some night sights on the Glock 19 which was cool. Picked up one of those new Ruger 10/22's and a Galco Matrix paddle holster also and purchased 200 rounds of .357 magnum ammunition.

Still trying to weigh different options and make some choices. I'll probably do a post and ask your thoughts shortly.

Coming down the pipe: This week I will lift 3 times (1 down), do 3 PT oriented workouts (1 down), run 3 times (1 down) and ruck twice.  Looking to do some trial stuff on our various alternative cooking methods and fiddle around with the little solar charger we have. In the next week or two I will announce a contest. Still lining up prizes and figuring out some details but it should be pretty solid.

Dog is working out really well. He is very easy going and low maintenance. Nudges one of us when he needs to go to the bathroom and generally fit right into the family. Kiddo is still learning how to be nice to the dog but that is a work in progress.

Dog is not exactly a fierce warrior beast but he definitely pays attention to where we are and shows decent guard dog potential. He rarely barks (3x in a week I think) but seems to do it at the right times. That being said most of the home security benefits of a relatively large dog are as a deterrent. The goal is not necessarily to make an impenetrable fortress (thought that is a fine idea)  but for your place to be a higher risk for the crooks) than the one across the street so they rob them instead.

Anyway that is what has been going on this week and a view of what's coming up.




Monday, June 11, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I picked up some moleskin for the get home bag. Also ordered a pair of black berkey elements for the filter, a couple surplus swiss poncho's, another compass and a Cold Steel Pipe Hawk. Yeah I decided to give the hawk a shot. Worst case it is sort of a cool thing to have anyway.

The biggest thing of last week is that I got back to a pretty normal exercise schedule for the first week after getting sick. Running, sprinting and lifting. Good times.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life Update- Back Into It

Well I have finally kicked that pesky pneumonia thing. Last week I felt pretty decent and was able to do some light exercise like easy cardio and low rep body weight stuff with plenty of rest between sets. This week I have been able to run and am doing an easy week of weight training to get back into it. As my schedule and the weather allow I am trying to get some extra runs in after work.

There is definitely a long way to come back after a month and change of being sick and inactivity. Really the last few months haven't been great for my physically as a lot of stuff like redeployment and leave have broken up my routine. Anyway it is coming into summer which is just a great time to put some miles on running shoes and boots.

I wanted to let you know that I have recovered and an doing well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Some weeks you end up buying a bunch of stuff and this was sure one of them. Prices seemed right so we bought silver and gold. I got a bunch of stuff to finish off the get home bag which I am pretty psyched about. I ordered a Nalgene bottle  with matching steel cup, another knife sharpener, some more water purification tablets, one of those heavy duty emergency blankets, too much stuff to remember or list. I will probably talk about it at some point once things arrive.

Also  we seem to be fiddling some with alternative transportation. I got a bike, though sadly not a sweet Harley. Also I found a small wagon, like to pull the kid around in. It is pretty cool. It has little seats and a place for him to put a sippy cup. We took it out this weekend and he really liked it. Being able to move him and a bit of stuff in a way that he is happy with is significant. Also the wagon led to a slew of Oregon Trails jokes which was big fun. These little steps may just take us somewhere.

Anyway that is what we were up to this week. I hope you all did some good stuff. Remember it isn't just about buying things. Exercise, learn and practice new skills, network and build relationships, work on your tribe. Just do something that makes you more prepared than you were last week.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

To Kip Or Not To Kip

Kipping pull-ups are one of the more hotly debated traits of crossfit. Kipping is a leg and hip swing that generates motion which makes it easier/ faster to do pull-ups. First I think this is because they are in stark contrast to how most people look at the exercise. Second and more importantly I think too many people spend too much time arguing about stuff on the internet.

One side says that kipping is a natural (from climbing a wall to a kid trying to get up on a tree branch) movement and is thus more authentic. The other side’s primary argument seems to be that it looks funny and then that it is cheating. Having done plenty of both I find the debate stupid and here is why.
Pullups are by far the dumbest exercise to argue over. Close hand, wide grip, palms facing you or away, kipping or not just grab the bar, hang from it and then raise your body until your chin is over the bar. Do lots of them in many different ways.

I think kipping has a couple benefits. First it lets you do more pull-ups faster and get better at them. For most people, because they are fat and or weak pull-ups, which should be a primarily endurance exercise are far more of a max strength exercise as they can just do a few of them. Most people are not willing to do the endless sets of 2 or 3 pullups required to really improve at them.  Kipping seems to help people be able to keep going and thus train more and get into better shape. It seems to get people out of a stall of mediocrity when it comes to pull-ups. Also it is a good core exercise.

The kip is just a variation of the exercise, sort of like a push press is to the standard military press. You will need to adjust volume accordingly. A factor of 1 strict pull-up to 2 kipping pull-ups will probably get you into the ballpark. This brings us to one point worth discussing. Kipping pull-ups definitely carry over to strict pull-ups. Also the crossfit people who get made fun of by idiots in videos can almost surely crush those idiots at strict pull-ups. A competitive crossfit athlete who can do 50+ kipping pull-ups can probably do 30 strict ones and a novice who can do 25+ kipping pull-ups can likely bang out a respectable 15-20 strict ones.
Personally I do both types of pull-ups. I also do weighted pull-ups and chin-ups. I tend to keep kipping pull-ups for crossfit style circuit type training where you are doing high volume pull-ups while tired. Do whichever type you like but do a lot of them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Got Muscle Up?

Recently I accomplished a big goal of mine, I got my first muscle up. In case you do not know what that is it is a basic gymnastics move where you go from hanging by your arms from a pair of rings (think monkey bars) to over the top of them with your arms fully extended. It is a pull up into a dip and far more than the sum of its two parts. If you still do not know what it is then type muscle up into the search bar and click on a video.
Some smart folks say that before trying to do a muscle up you should be able to do 15+ pull-ups and dips. I’ve also heard that you should be able to do weighted pull-ups and 10+ ring dips. Both are probably accurate but I would say the second is more valid as this is far more of (at least initially until you can do a bunch) a strength move than an endurance move. Being able to do a weighted pull up and DEEP chest(like below your peck/ boob) pull-ups is essential. 
I have been actively working towards this goal for more than 6 months and with serious focus for the last two of them. It was probably a lot harder for me than it would be if I was around people who could do them. I imagine I have been physically capable (had the explosive pulling strength) to complete one but it took a couple months of building more strength and fiddling with the skill component to get over the cusp and actually stick one. The transition between the two moves (pullup and dip) is the hard part. Most healthy moderately athletic adults can do at least one pullup and dip (ring dips are different but after a session or two you get used to it) but having the explosive pulling strength relative to body weight to transition between the two is another thing entirely.
What is this useful for? Well first in the process of getting there my upper body has become much stronger and more explosive than it once was. As for the move itself this quote from somewhere pretty much sums it up “Far from a contrivance the muscle-up is hugely functional. With a muscle-up you’ll be able to surmount any object on which you can get a finger hold – if you can touch it you can get up on it. The value here for survival, police, fire fighter, and military use is impossible to overstate.”

As for form following function my arms are somewhat thicker and more muscular. My upper back and shoulders are getting bigger moving from a square shaped torso to more of a V. I only mention this to remind you that if looking good is a concern for you those results can be achieved with useful exercises not just stupid single joint body building stuff with little to no real life or athletic carry over.

Well this was one of my biggest physical goals for the year and is another milestone to mastering my bodyweight. 
Got Muscle Up? Got pull up?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Deployments and Survival Scenarios

I was asked about mentally dealing with deployments recently. That is a pretty broad question so I will do my best to cover it. Also I hope that through comparison and examples some insight can be gained to dealing with various survival scenarios an average citizen might find themselves in.

For background I am currently deployed to Afghanistan and have previously deployed to Iraq. Also every deployment is different.  Some deployments are very kinetic (read lots of fighting and violence) and others are not, most are somewhere in the middle. Even for those involved in little to no violence the whole deployment thing is a pretty weird phenomenon of totalitarian control, social depravation, strange geography and weather. Whatever experiences people have pass through the filter of their personality (a sum of their background, skills, experiences, religion, etc) and there is an output. The end result is that people are affected in profoundly different ways, even by the same experiences.

In my experience if actual war was a video game nobody would buy it. The ratio of time spent doing monotonous tasks or boring repetitive duties (guard shifts, patrols, etc) vastly outweighs the time spent engaging or being engaged in combat. I would say this is true pretty much everywhere; it is just a question of what the ratio is. I believe this was true in previous wars though it manifested itself in a different way. In the current operating environment there are no front lines but contact is sporadic. A base or organization will keep doing the same thing and occasionally take contact. What people don’t see from the headlines is that for most people, in most places the average day is pretty quiet. When you hear some BN Commander on the news or in an article saying they are taking contact every day what doesn’t get mentioned is that all it means is that one of their numerous patrols got shot at, IED’ed or whatever. You can safely figure on at least 3 line companies and an HHC per BN. In each of the line companies there are probably 3 platoons and an HQ section. That is a lot of different pieces of a large organization. In short PVT Snuffy is not getting in a gunfight every single day. Now previous wars (specifically pre ‘Nam) had more clear cut front lines with more activity but units rotated in and out. The end result was probably somewhat comparable or at least within the same range.
Somebody once described war as long periods of complete boredom with random short periods of terror. I think that is half accurate. In my personal experience things happen so fast that you don’t have time to get scared. All the BS aside our training is pretty darn good and we know the right thing to do. We react to a given event quickly and with little thought. You are just acting and reacting until it is over. Later on the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if not for’s’ can haunt you if you let them. Dealing with the aftermath is far more difficult than the actual events. Like we talked about earlier, different people handle things differently and some profoundly worse than others. I don’t see a lot of reason to stress or worry. I do everything I can to be ready and to make the best decisions possible and if something happens, well that is that. I’m not fatalistic or anything like that but I don’t find much usefulness in stressing things I can’t control. You can the baddest dude alive and if you are in the shower and a rocket lands on it your race is run.

Now we will go onto the topic of staying sane over here. Finding ways to fill your time and mentally escape in a healthy way is essential. Lots of folks work out, pumping iron, running or whatever suits them. Some play lots of video games or read. A few take collect classes if their schedule and internet connectivity allow. Most have a laptop and an external hard drive full of TV and movies.

I find that human beings are far more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for. We can get used to just about anything. As for staying sane personally I work out a lot, watch tv and movies, talk to wifey as much as I can and do some reading.  As with most things in life having a healthy perspective helps a lot.
Relationships are a hard one. There are all sorts of stressors that mercilessly seek out dysfunctional relationships. Shallow marriages and relationships typically based solely on sex fall apart. Women cheat at home and men find ‘love’ over social networking sights. Deployments do a good job of weeding out the dysfunctional  (of which there are many but that is a whole nother post) military marriages. To be fair the added stress and distance also destroys some that would have probably been fine otherwise.
Adapting your expectations down is important. Everything here pretty much sucks but the least sucky things are by default pretty nice. I think finding the happiness in little things here is so important. A good cup of coffee or a hot shower, maybe a nice sunset or view now and then. Some of the best times are when you actually forget that you are here. The other day I was eating some chex mix and watching the Soprano’s on my computer and it could have easily been a random Weds night at home. Today I was in a great spontaneous political/ current affairs conversation with a group of guys. I looked at my watch and 3 hours had gone by. I couple have easily been in a restaurant or a quiet bar on a lazy afternoon. If you can’t find some things that make you at least relatively happy you are in serious trouble because there will definitely be plenty of things that stress you out.

There are of course endless negative things people can do here. The usual spectrum of derelict/ criminal behavior is present. Some folks turn to drugs or alcohol (also huffing canned air is a random and dangerous trend) to escape. Some folks stop caring or let their emotions get the best of them and get into all sorts of trouble. Folks get complacent and start doing stupid things. Others get into all sort of dysfunctional situations trying to get some kind of emotional closeness or just strait up looking to get laid. Some folks for whatever reason just can’t seem to deal with it.

How does this all relate to survival scenarios?  I think they relate pretty directly. I think there will be a variety of different situations for individuals but most won’t be the absolute worst or a piece of cake. I think different people in the same relative situation will deal with it very differently. That is just the start. Also I think survival scenarios are going to have the same, if not a lower ratio of boring to violent events, very low. Especially in common events such as natural disasters, storms and power outages where you won’t all of a sudden start a huge garden or need to cut a winter’s worth of firewood boredom is a big factor. This is where a stash of cards, board games and books, to include light easy reading type stuff is so important.

There will be a lot of boring routine work and every day challenges for every significant event. One thing about deployments is that there is a definite (if floating) light at the end of the tunnel. I know that at roughly next winter we will redeploy and I will go back to a better place. Most survival situations, except the really dark ones, will have that same benefit.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fitness Update

Crossfit and I are officially exclusive. We have always had a thing for eachother and were off and on for a long time. Now we are making some changes and giving it a solid go. Nothing is for certain yet but it is going well. The 3 on 1 off is the best schedule I have found yet. Also it is fast so it fits into my busy schedule.
One of the biggest things I have realized is that as with any exercise program you have to have some ownership. Sure well rounded fitness is a great goal but you know your situation, strengths and weaknesses best. If you need to work on strength do a bit more lifting and less running. If you are a bit too heavy do more running and callestenics/ gymnastics stuff. I also came to a realization that deals with one of my biggest reservations about crossfit. Simply if mismannaged it can be too random to the point where you fail to gain in measurable areas. For example if you only run or squat (or any other discrete exercise group) once a month you simply are not going to gain. It doesn't matter how hard the workout is the frequency is just not sufficient. I have taken to tracking when I do certain things in order to ensure things stay on track.
Anyway so far so good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I decided to shift this feature to a work day. Anyway my biggest accomplishment was that I got started on a good workout plan. I also found a folding Romanian side folding stock for my AK. That turned into quite the boondoggle. Also we are eating up the stored food and learning some stuff from that.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

quote of the day

 " Lose some weight, get your teeth fixed, exercise regularly, improve your lifestyle."
-Chief Instructor

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's How Much You Eat Silly

Everywhere I go I hear someone talking about this diet or that diet. There is scientific evidence to support this and testimonials to support that. All of these people write a book saying their system is the best and the really smart ones have a line of food or at least cook books and cooking accessories. All of this is pretty dumb IMO.

We need to talk about 4 things differently: nutrition, calories, fitness and body fat.

Nutrition is pretty obvious. Things like whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean protein are good and sugar, fat and alcohol are not so good. Nutrition affects body fat/ weight. Eating junk makes you sluggish and lazy while healthier stuff will keep you full for longer and fuel your body. I have never seen someone down 4 cheese burgers and a plate of fries then go for a long run.

There are so many fad diets. Some make sense and others are just silly. People will often loose weight on any fad diet, at least for awhile. Part of the reason for this is that the change shocks their system. Also I believe the bigger issue is that these people, for the first time in awhile are in some way or another monitoring what they eat. Just about any sort of portion control is better than none!

I am a huge believer in calories in vs calories out. If you burn more calories than you take in you will lose weight. If you burn fewer than you are taking in you will gain weight. Too easy. I have never seen a person who genuinely followed that simple plan consistently and did not achieve results. The reason nobody talks about it is that it is simple and will not lead you to buying their book. Invariably diets that are successful are compatible with this theory. A person could get fat on a diet of vegetables, granted they might have to eat a 5 gallon bucket of them but it is possible. Conversely a person who ate reasonable amounts of all sorts of food could lose weight. It would be very difficult to convince me that any diet can defy the calories in vs calories out rule.

Exercise improves your overall physical condition. Of course going from obese to not obese will make it a lot easier to do everything diet alone will not make you fit. Walking, hiking, running, body control exercises and weight bearing movements will make you stronger, faster and able to endure more physical hardships.

Starting to exercise helps a lot but be ware that unless you are exercising a truly crazy amount (think Michael Phelps or Ultra Marathoners) you still have to pay attention to what you eat. As Jillian Michaels said recently on the TV "a slice of pizza is 500 calories which is an hour on the treadmill." Personally I have experienced and observed this to be true. It is easy to think "oh I am exercising a lot now so I can have a bit bigger dinner/ whatever" and depending on your goals it might be. A young guy who wants to put on 25lbs to go from JV to Varsity could couple his heavy strength training with a couple more small snacks and a second helping at dinner. That kids parents who are doing an exercise program of walking, hiking and calisthenics in order to improve their fitness and get to a healthy weight would not be advised to follow their meat head son's diet. 


Body fat/ weight is an issue that holds many people back in terms of fitness. I am not going to get into it just being bad for you but well it is. Unless you are a world class athlete those 5-10 vanity pounds are not going to slow an average sized person down significantly or hurt them in body control exercises (push ups, pull ups, etc all) but a 30lbs spare tire sure will. I have known plenty of guys who were not exactly skinny and had a waistline which noted their liking of cheese burgers a bit but were in darn good shape. However it is hard to be fit when you are just plain fat. Hauling around unproductive mass makes it more difficult to move. Also that weight puts a lot of stress on knees and backs. A lot of (but certainly not all) bad knees and backs would go miraculously heal if their owners got to a healthy weight!

I find eating a healthy, reasonable amount of food and starting an exercise program work well together. Doing either in isolation doesn't seem to but they both sort of motivate me to do better with the other.

GET OFF OF THE COMPUTER AND GO FOR A WALK!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fitness

I started a new work out program today. Not exactly sure quite how I would classify it. As a co worker pointed out nobody really has a corner on most of these ideas anyway so it doesn't matter. Once I really figure out what I am doing it may get written about.

This should be good.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flashy Fantasy Seems To Beat Boring Reality

When I was in High School we had a Gym Teacher/ Coach who was a cool guy in that cheese late 70's sort of way. He had a saying "curls for the girls and cleans for machines."Kinda cheese but it had a real point. His point is that the exercises to build a showy beach body are very different than for a very quick, strong and functional body. That analogy can be used for emergency preparedness also.

I have noticed that general interest in boring practical stuff is often absent. Also I have noticed that same lack of interest extends to practical stuff in peoples considerations and preparations. The biggest areas people seem to ignore are financial preparedness and physical fitness. Maybe it is just that I take a broader and more holistic view of emergency preparedness than some folks, but I am not so sure.

I read a lot of blogs and keep in touch with a lot of great folks. I do not mean to take jabs at anyone as I do honestly like them all. I enjoy the personalities and seeing all the stuff people do and all their great ideas. It is just that occasionally I am really surprised by things. 

I am baffled when I read someone gets financially devastated by a relatively minor and common event. A car having a typical $500-700 breaking down or a higher than expected electric bill are throwing people for a loop and in some cases leading them to sell tangible goods or go into debt. I can't understand this at all. I am not trying to be judgmental or anything. I know life is hard. Things are always getting more expensive and wages are not going up. It is difficult to save money. We have a fairly average income and minimal expenses but it still took us a whole year of dedicated saving to get a 3 month emergency fund put away. For someone whose expenses are closer to their income it might take two or even three years to meet that goal. Having a grand or a months cash expenses is probably a darn good start. Even someone in the worst financial situation should have a few hundred bucks set aside. Being prepared for a major disaster or even the end of the world but not to put a clutch in the family car is something I can't understand.

Fitness is far more lacking. Maybe it is just that it is easier to take an anecdotal non scientific like survey because lots of folks have pictures up here or there. I am periodically surprised that people who are so together in a variety of ways are completely out of shape. I am not going to say that being thin or looking fit is the big thing. Obviously being functionally fit is more important than having nice abs. Plenty of guys who would be lean at one weight are just fit and average sized and 10 pounds heavier. I have known a few guys whose appearance showed they liked burgers and brewskis that were in good solid shape. However it would be a real uphill battle to convince me there is not at least a loose correlation between excess body weight verging on obesity and being in really bad shape. Many people who spend lots of money and time doing great things to prepare are completely failing to prepare arguable the most important asset they have, their bodies. These folks would be better off cutting out two or three hours a week of great preparedness stuff and doing some brisk walking.

Why do people completely avoid preparing their finances and getting their bodies into decent shape? I think part of it is that preparedness is a lot more of a hobby then we are willing to admit. As a hobby (at least of sorts) we naturally gravitate to fun stuff. Most of us were gun enthusiasts to begin with and that is what lead many people to preparedness in the first place. Guns, gear and gadgets are fun (also they all start with g) so it is not that surprising that people gravitate towards them. Also there is an element of fantasy that is involved. It is cool to think about how you would go all pioneer on the plains and shoot it out with some sort of bad guys. It isn't very exciting to daydream through a boring afternoon at work about how your emergency fund will help when the car breaks down or how being in decent shape will allow you to walk 15 miles home when your car gets stuck in a jam.

Specifically when it comes to finances I think a lot of people like to ignore reality. For some reason lots of folks take a head in the sand approach to finances. Their situation isn't real good so they ignore it and then go figure, it doesn't get any better. They like to pretend that somehow things will quickly fall apart in a certain way so the bank never comes calling about the mortgage or the car loan but their area will be fundamentally OK. 'Their' home would really be theirs. They do not like to think about any situation (say a slow slide or a long term depression or a total mess like Argentina) less than that total but idealized collapse. There is no pretending in saving money to have a dedicated emergency fund or eating rice and beans to pay off credit card debt.

When it comes to fitness I think the simple answer is that it isn't easy. Fitness takes effort and restraint. Eating a reasonable diet and doing some sort of exercise 2-3 times a week will do it, if you put a bit less on the place and actually go for the walks. Diet can not be over rated. Calories matter a lot and over time small differences of 200-300 calories a day add up to huge differences. A couple cookies or drinks or the worlds smallest bowl of ice cream is often the difference between being of a fairly healthy weight or too fat to walk home when you need to. Now don't get me wrong the eat a reasonable diet and walk some is not going to get you ready for the RPAT but it would probably get you ready to walk a few miles home. I can not help but to observe that many of the knee and back problems that keep from exercise would be greatly reduced by getting to a healthy weight. Fitness is a situation where good things build up to make more good things realistic and possible. Certainly getting to a basic level of fitness will go a long way in helping you with a variety of tasks.

I am certainly not saying that I am perfect. In the past I was pretty gun centric and too light on food. I am getting better about a more balanced approach these days but am still not perfect. My intent is not to be holier than thou but just to point out that the boring practical stuff is at least as important as the flashy fun stuff.

Your assignment for this week is do something that is boring and practical, like going for a long walk or saving a couple of twenty dollar bills.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Random Life Stuff

As you may or may not have noticed I have been using foul language a lot less lately. Not like I have had some huge moral revelations or anything. I just sort of realized that instead of using foul language intentionally just like I would use any other words it has slipped into my everyday thoughts with too much frequency. Having a job where foul language is fairly acceptable doesn't help.

I sort of realized a month or so ago that I was using foul language the way some folks use like or hmmm. If I bang my foot on something in the darn or slip and fall on the darn ice the first word out of my mouth will probably start with an F which is just fine. However I do not need to wake up and tell myself that I F ing need to get an F ing cup of F ing coffee going right F ing now.

Anyway this self improvement seems to be going well. Not sure what my next one will be. I don't drink much any more (1-3 drinks a few times a week) so no real need to mess with that. Probably making the jump to really stick in a supplementary (to morning PT) exercise program. I am pretty happy with my weight these days. I could bust my butt and have a diet that is restrictive in terms of what I eat and how much then maybe I would weight 4-6 pounds less. Then again if I can eat (within reason) basically what I want and weigh a little bit more that is probably just fine. I would however like to do 10-15 more pushups and situps on the next PT test and be able to do a few more pullups and throw around a bit more weight at the gym. Running faster is never a bad thing either. Yeah I think I will try and work on that now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Discipline

I got an email from a fellow about a week back. He asked about being disciplined, particularly in the areas of food storage and physical fitness/ exercise. I was flattered that he thought me to be capable of talking on this topic. Suppose in some respects I am relatively self disciplined as with anyone else I have areas where I am not so great.

Lets start with a definition of self discipline from our friends at Wikipedia. "Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one's self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behavior, even though one would really rather be doing something else. For example, denying oneself of an extravagant pleasure in order to accomplish a more demanding charitable deed. Thus, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be a synonym of 'self control'."

Some of it is admittedly personality. I remember when I was 18. I really wanted a rifle, not just any rifle but an AR. I had a typical (during school) situation where I had a couple part time jobs which payed car insurance and gas plus left a few bucks leftover for typical entertainment and pocket money. I figured out that at that time it would cost me about $1,200 to get an AR, about a dozen mags and a (to me at that time) decent amount of ammo.  So I got to saving. By slashing non essential purchases I was able to put $5 or $10 away most every week. That winter break I worked full time almost every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas. Working full time while your friends sleep in and hang out sucks. I kept saving and squirreling away money. Had a drug dealer style wad of fives and tens and twenties in my sock drawer. While I was saving I pretty much didn't do anything with my friends that cost much money. Let me tell you at that age not going to the movie you really want to see with all your friends when you have a wad of cash was hard. In any case by spring time I had an AR-15, a dozen mags and a few hundred rounds of ammo. Turned out that I even had some cash left over.

The point is that I made a choice. To me getting a nice rifle was more important than a couple weeks of sleeping in, seeing a dozen movies and a bunch of random trips to Jack In The Box or whatever else we used to do.

Self discipline is an interesting topic. As I mentioned before part of it is just natural. However I also believe that you just have to make a choice that the goal is worth whatever you are going to sacrifice to attain it. Setting realistic goals which will require realistic compromises and sacrifices is essential.

Self discipline is not a cure all. Most people can't just get off the couch and put their mind to it then run a marathon that afternoon. In fact doing so is dangerous and foolish. However self discipline might be a good way to get your marathon time down for the next one.

I find it is best to apply self discipline to attainable goals which can be broken down to some sort of measurable progress.

As part of this post I decided to apply self discipline to three areas of my life that have been lacking it.

1. Drink less coffee. I like coffee and plan to drink it most mornings for the rest of my life. However as of late my coffee consumption had climbed to a full pot a day, sometimes a pot and a quarter. This just can't be good. Also I think it was messing with fitness and sleep. I decided that I could drink two small cups (like what an actual 'cup' of coffee is not a gianty mug) a day, three on weekends.

2. Get back into the gym. I like lifting weights. I feel, look and perform better when involved in regular strength training. I set my goal at 3 times a week.

3. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. My sleep pattern has been jacked for as long as I can remember. It got pretty bad (some of which was uncontrollable) when I was training but now that my schedule is more regular it is time to get it right. My bed time during the week is 10PM. As I wake up at 5:25-45 this hasn't been a big issue.

However weekends have been the problem. If left entirely to my own devices I would probably wake up at about noon or one and go to bed around two or three. On weekends I have been slipping into this schedule. It means I can't sleep more than a couple hours on Sunday night. That means I am in bad shape on Monday and then sleep like 10 hours that night and still feel bad on Tues. My weekend bed time is now 12:30 and far more importantly my weekend wake up time is 9:30.

I have stuck to these goals for a week. Honestly I feel a lot better. The coffee thing was easy enough. Instead of big cups I drink little ones. I got my three lift days in last week though one was Sunday which isn't ideal. Getting and sticking on a more balanced sleep schedule has helped me a lot also.

I am going to stick with this for at least another 3 weeks before I consider adjusting my goals.

Fundamentally self discipline is just deciding that you want something bad enough to make it happen.
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