Back in the Saddle

I gave myself three weeks to not worry about workouts and diet. This being my first recruit training cycle, trying to manage my physical training regimen and three weeks in the field at Camp Pendleton just wasn’t going to happen. That meant coffee on my way in to work at 4:30 AM, McDonalds usually on my way in and out of work, and no actual gym time. Thanks to the pace of the training, I didn’t actually out on any weight, but I know I was putting my body through hell.

So this morning I am back at it, and with a vengeance. First up is the diet. A few of the changes will be simple: only drinking water (no more soda or energy drinks), no more sugar, eating the right number of meals and snacks in a day. Some will be a bit more difficult: no more fast food, keeping eating out to a minimum, eating properly balanced meals (I follow the Zone Diet).

Next is the workouts, which will also be tough. The first element is running. I’m recovering from an injury to my right Achilles heel. I nearly ruptured it back in July during marathon training, so the doctor said I needed to stay off of it entirely. I haven’t run in nearly two months, but I need to get back to it. It is too late now for me to continue training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October, but I was finally getting to a point where it didn’t hurt to run and I was actually enjoying it. My short-term running goal is to get back to a point where I could go five or six miles, four or five times per week, without any strain. In the long term, I’d like to do some half-marathons next year and possibly the Marine Corps Marathon a year from now.

The next element of the workouts is swimming. I’ve been swimming for a masters team in San Diego for the past year, off and on (but mostly off). I haven’t been to a practice since before the cycle started due to scheduling issues with the practices. Beyond that, though, I haven’t been swimming in the mornings at work in nearly a month with our stay at Camp Pendleton. So this morning I was back in the pool for 1000m freestyle. For swimming, my short-term goal is to get back to the kind of shape I need to be in to make it through practices with the team and start competing at meets. My long term goal is to compete in larger events or national meets next year.

The third element of workouts is to get back into CrossFit. There was a time I was going to CrossFit every morning and making huge gains in strength and stamina. The workouts here speak for themselves. Honestly, I’m a little intimidated to get back into it after literally having to suspend my membership for lack of attendance. But I think if I check my ego at the door and scale the workouts down for a week or so, I can start making my gains again. My short-term goal is to hit up a CrossFit workout at least three times a week, and my long-term goal is to compete at meets.

Lastly, for working out in general, I want to incorporate some strength training and active rest days. I had incredible results when I was in Iraq and came back completely ripped. I had a very strict lifting routine, and if I were able to replicate that I think I could have those results again. And with CrossFit playing such a strong role in my training, I don’t have to worry about losing the functional aspect of my fitness. My goal here is to build up strength, particularly upper body in the chest and shoulders. I need to make sure, whatever I do, that I’m remaining active even on my rest days. Maybe a light jog, maybe just a walk around the neighborhood, but my job promotes a sedentary lifestyle and I need to actively work to counteract that. My short-term goal here is the same as my long-term goal: to get out, find things to do, and take on new challenges. I want to be in good enough all-around shape that I can pick up anything and just do it.

This brings me to my next point. I want to work on exercising my mind as well. Part of that is starting this blog. I am going to make a concerted effort to write more often–even if it’s just short entries. And as I get more into it, I’ll have more links and discussions on various topics. I’m not trying to do anything amazing, but I want to get my thoughts out and, hopefully, reach people with whom I can share them. I’m spending more time reading lately in several different media: blogs, magazines, audiobooks, eBooks, and iBooks. Again, this puts me in a better position to engage people in discussion, share ideas, and develop my own. I am going to re-engage with my language skills, starting on German and adding Japanese. I think if I can spend even thirty minutes a night on each language, I will see improvements. In the long term, I’d like to talk to native speakers and further develop my abilities to eventually travel. The last mind element I want to work on will sound ridiculous: I want to play more video games. I feel like I’m missing out on something here that could develop into a useful skill. Not to mention the right games are incredibly fun.

I think if I work on these things, other things will fall into place. My activities will help me socialize, which in turn will improve my overall mood. Eating better and exercise will lead to feeling better in general, which will improve my attitude and mood in general. It’s always easier to make healthy decisions (physically, of course, but also mentally and emotionally) when I am living a healthy life already.

Let’s see how this goes, and I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Matthew

U.S. Marine Corps officer living in North Carolina. The views expressed here are my own, and are in no way intended to represent the United States Marine Corps, Department of Defense or any of its components.

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