Decimating the Freshman Fifteen

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…push it…PUSH!  You grew it, it’s yours!!!

My drill sergeants would be so disappointed right now…or not…they were a bit sadistic at times.   At least that’s how they could be perceived.  However, that was never my perspective.

I remember my drill sergeants for what they were; men and woman who were tasked with what at times must have seemed like an impossible task.  Teaching, mentoring, and molding us (America’s best and brightest) into individual warriors.  Men and woman who were capable of engaging those who would wish harm on our loved ones, each other, and the American way of life.  Part of that process meant that we had to put forth the effort to strengthen our bodies (and develop our mental fortitude) so that when it came time to engage in the unthinkable we could…and live to tell the tale.

I took great pride in the level of physical fitness I achieved in the Army (as I should have) at one point I was a recipient of the Army Physical Fitness Badge.  The Army Physical Fitness Badge is awarded to individuals who achieve physical fitness excellence, as defined by performing in the top rung of grading on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT); by scoring over 270 on the scale of 300 points that is used to evaluate individual performance on the APFT.

What I didn’t know at the time was that by receiving the Army Physical Fitness Badge I entered into another a new level of fitness competition with my peers; one that was measured by how much you could exceed the measurement of the scale.

As a vital component of training, while in attendance of the U.S. Army’s Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC), I later was taught how to train people to do the same; using the same techniques that I had used to achieve physical fitness excellence.

My total exposure to fitness in the military led to a life long appreciation of physical fitness as a critical aspect of living a balanced life.  Having stayed disciplined in this area of my life has helped me do many things over the years; including maintaining my overall health, developing self confidence in my own skin, maintaining the energy to enjoy life with my kids, and led me to one of my life’s crowning achievements-earning a black belt in the Korean art of taekwondo.

As a non-traditional student though I’ve found it difficult to continue my fitness success.  Over the past two years I’ve seen my weight steadily creep up, my energy levels go down, and my pants size expand.  Up until recently I’ve seen it as a necessary evil in pursuit of my academic goals, but my views on that have changed.

After some careful consideration, I’ve decided I’m not prepared to sacrifice my physical health for the sake of a degree, and I’m not sure I have to.

In order to defeat the freshman fifteen, and get this monkey off my back I’ve decided to fall back on the same physical fitness techniques and principles that carried me through my years in the U.S. Army, and led me to my black belt.  I will be re-establishing a baseline of physical fitness excellence; and then re-establishing goals that match my overall lifestyle requirements.

To do so I’ve developed a simple exercise program that relies on basic calisthenic body weight exercises, and regular cardio sessions consisting of running for short distances (not to exceed 3 miles), mountain biking on nearby trails, and the occasional hike.

To build muscular strength and endurance I decided on the circuit training routine outlined below:

  1. 3 sets max repetitions Close Grip Pull-ups.
  2. 3 sets max repetitions Parallel Grip Pull-ups.
  3. 3 sets max repetitions Chin-ups.
  4. 3 sets of Dips.
  5. 3 sets of Regular Push-ups.
  6. 3 sets of Regular Sit-ups.
  7. 3 sets of Wide Arm Push-ups.
  8. 3 sets of Supine Bicycle.

With the exception of the various Pull-up exercises all of the above will be performed in one minute sets with minimal transition time in between each set.  The beauty of circuit training is that you can both develop muscular strength and endurance, and maintain or improve your cardio-respiratory fitness during the same training session.  I will be performing the above routine 3 times a week, with the various cardio activities being performed on the off days (except Sundays).

I’m confident that by taking a little grit and determination, and mixing it with a some time management and self discipline, I’ll be able to achieve my goals in short order (although I’m not overly concerned with the timeline, just the outcome).

Achieving excellence takes time, and I’m a patient man.

On second thought, maybe my drill sergeants would be proud.


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