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That’s not just perception or stereotyping — it’s a documented fact. A U.S. Army article released last year reported in 2014, “Approximately half of the retirees whose height and weight were measured at medical appointments in military treatment facilities that year had a body mass index that classified them as obese. Obesity rates for these retirees are significantly higher than the general population of the same age.”
Many of us who once called out others for being lazy, and overweight had become, or will become exactly that once we leave the service. Heres how it happens;
Someday, by choice or by force, everyone gets out. Once out, we say to ourselves, we’re tired of getting up early. We’ve given four years or 20 years of hard work to serving our country, and we decide we want to take it easy for a week or two. We treat ourselves to a few more beers than usual. But then that week or two of indulgence becomes a month or two. Then it’s too hard to start running or lifting again, so the month or two becomes a year or two, and soon the only way to recognize that person as a veteran is a crazy looking retiree baseball hat or military retiree bumper sticker.
It really doesn’t have to be that way. Fitness doesn’t have to be accompanied by pain, despite what some of others might lead us to believe. All you need to reap major health benefits is 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. And “moderate” includes walking. That’s five 30-minute sessions a week. If you can’t find that time, you’re probably lying to yourself. And if you think that’s taking away from your family or significant other, then take them with you on one or two of those walks — it can be a good way to connect with them after years of too much time away serving.
Walking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it requires no equipment and is completely free. On the other hand, many service members love to worship at the iron church — the base gym. That can quickly become an excuse for laziness once out of the service. Gyms in the civilian world can either be too expensive or not close enough. Civilian jobs often require long hours or travel, just like the military. Driving to the gym before or after work becomes the first thing to go when time gets tight.
You really don’t need to go to some commercial gym, though. Unless you are training for serious mass or competitive athletics, getting in great shape and getting pretty damn strong requires little to no equipment. If you have a few square feet in your garage or can slide over your kitchen table, there are a number of programs to get you on the road to fitness. Blogs like “1st N Weight Loss” by Dwight Obey (Ret. USAF)offer great ideas for working out, along with other useful information with no frills. These tips are handy even on active duty.
For those who don’t like to read, or who need a trainer’s motivation and can’t afford it, there are endless videos available to motivate you. Fitness videos can have some stigma in macho military culture from their association with aerobics videos of the 1980s and 1990s. Well, they aren’t your mother’s Jazzercise anymore. For example, the Insanity or P90X series of programs will challenge just about anyone, regardless of fitness level. For those without $100 or so in their pockets to spend, plenty of video programs are available for free online and via devices like Amazon Fire TV. Add just a pull-up bar and a couple of kettle-bells or dumbbells, and almost any fitness goal is within reach.
Home programs do have a weakness, though — they don’t get you out of the house. You’re out of the military now. Unless you resettled in either a military town or your hometown, you need to get out and meet some new people. There are a million ways to do that, but fitness events are a great way to do it. Putting such an event on your calendar gives you a goal and provides focus to your training. Most of these events also have substantial pre- and post-event social components. There are even groups that exist to help vets connect to their communities through fitness events. Getting outdoors and meeting people is pretty good medicine for anyone, veteran or not.
All of this is basically a long way of saying that there’s no excuse for sitting on your butt and getting fat. Working out is good for you. It’s fun. And besides, you can no longer make fun of others you considered being fat, lazy, and undisciplined when you, yourself have become one of them, can you? This post was inspired by, and is dedicated to the thousands of vets who follow my blog (Active and Retired), and have requested an article as such. I understand, and have been there. I was so concerned about ensuring the numerous businesses in which I ran were successful, that I forgot about myself, and eventually let myself go from a fitness stand point. Luckily for me I got back on track, sooner then later, and now Im able to travel the world, while helping thousands of others become successful, from both a professional, and fitness standpoint. It is my hope, this post has inspired you to get up and move......."Today Iz The Day"