Get Fit

This site is called PaleoMarine because that’s me! The word Paleo in my name comes from the diet I adhere to; the lifestyle I’ve adopted to lose weight and to remain healthy. The Marine in my name comes from my being a U.S. Marine. While I’m currently a Soldier in the Army National Guard, as the saying goes, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Although I wear a different uniform and belong to a different organization, to the core, I am and always will be a Marine. Besides, I thought it would be silly to change the name of the website to PaleoSoldier.

I’ve discussed in the past my fitness, from my running to the necessity of my being physically fit for military service. I’ve also discussed exercise for fitness, but again, mostly as a counter-point to those who desire to lose weight through exercise without changing their diet or lifestyle. However, I’ve not gone into getting fit for the sake of being fit.

It sounds kind of silly, I know: get fit to be fit. But really, what reasons do people have to get fit? For me, initially, it was about feeling better. I was walking to get out of the house, to stretch the ol’ legs, and eventually, to try to get the heart pumping a bit more as I was living a very sedentary life. Sure, I lost over 100 lbs without lifting a finger, but I was also still weak and while I weighed a lot less, I didn’t really look that good in my new (very loose) skin. Getting fit solved a lot of those problems.

Increased physical strength. Getting fit will benefit you in your growing muscles and making them stronger. Your stamina will also increase. When I found myself getting winded using an electric drill while putting up shelves, I decided right then and there that I was going to start doing push-ups. I wasn’t expecting to get arms like Ahhnold (and quite frankly, I don’t really want to go down the rabbit hole that is body sculpting, although I respect those who do; that’s a level of commitment I’m just not willing to do), but I wanted to be able to do basic household work without feeling wiped out afterward.

Work. Some jobs require physical strength or agility. The military is one of those jobs with the added bonus of also requiring its members to adhere to height and weight regulations. While fitness isn’t the sole factor in controlling your weight, along with a good diet, it will help keep your speed up, your strength up, and your muscles will be better defined which help you look good in uniform and will keep your body fat ratio lower.

Finally, what most people are after when they exercise: look better and/or muscle definition. I admit that a small part of me was after this, too. After losing 130 lbs, I found myself with a lot of extra skin and not a lot of definition in my muscles. Worse, I still kind of looked a bit pudgy in the face. Once I began running and doing push-ups, that changed. At first, it was very quick and dramatic. I was actually able to notice a difference within about two weeks of running. Since then, there hasn’t been much change in my face, but my body continues to make changes as it becomes more muscular and as the skin (slowly) shrinks. Also, the muscles under the loose skin are getting bigger and leaner, and my legs are now very strong. Because of the loose skin, I will never look as great as I could have if I wouldn’t have become morbidly obese, but I’m also not shy about being shirtless. Sure, the very lower part of my gut looks a bit deflated, but the rest of me? I’m okay with, and that feels good.

So, while I spend the lion’s share of my typing here on eating right and on the psychological tools I use to succeed in weight loss and healthy living, I strongly advocate for getting fit. Even if you just walk for 30 minutes every other day. Start with that. Or you can start how I started: doing push-ups. My first day of push-ups was humbling: I did 5 (or 7… I forget, but it was definitely less than 10). It took me a while to get up to 10, and then 20 and then 25, and so on. I only did as many as I could comfortably do and I never “Pushed it.” This is the 80% fitness rule, and many military and special forces people do this to allow themselves to still be physically competent after a workout. You can see why this makes sense for them, but I found it made a lot of sense for me, too. You see, I hate muscle pain, and if I workout until my muscles burn, I will ache for up to 5 days afterward, and that leaves me never wanting to exercise again. So, doing the push-ups until you feel like you can no longer do another one comfortably made sense. And the crazy part? It worked! Within three months, I was up to 120 push-ups in two minutes! The best part? No pain along the way!!! Now, currently I do between 60-80 push-ups mostly because I’ve been slacking in my workouts a bit, but I know that if I need to, I can ramp it back up and work up to more.

So, there are lots of good reasons to get fit. Find one that suits you and hold onto that and get out there and do it. Stop procrastinating. It’s super-easy! Just walk. Or jog. Or run. Or do push-ups. Or buy some kettlebells and throw them around for a bit every other day. But whatever you do, make sure you do some reading to make sure you’re doing it safe, and don’t over-do it! But most importantly, just do it.

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