“You come back from deployment either benching 300 or weighing 300” – Captain Todd Gately
I first heard this quote in 2010, and vowed not to be the latter of the two options. I knew it would be hard: willpower, particularly when it comes to exercise, is not a strong suit of mine. Even worse, organized PT, in which attendance is mandatory, is non-existent throughout the deployment. Many other Soldiers are in the same boat. Although plenty of Soldiers just kind of muddle through, most Soldiers flock to one extreme or the other.
While I don’t think it’d be possible to eat my way into an extra 120+ pounds in 10 months or to bench 300, I have been trying to get into shape. Fortunately, a stable sleep schedule and a lack of the insane hours I worked prior to deployment have given me the opportunity to finally start living a bit healthier life style.
In the spirit of deployment, I’ve managed to (so far) effectively pursue two long time goals of mine. First, to eat healthy. Second, to finally improve on my running, always a weak point.
The first one is easy. All my meals are at the dining facilities. While there are unhealthy choices there, it’s equally convenient to eat vegetables as it is to eat cheeseburgers. Other than taste, there’s effectively no cost to in time or convenience to eat healthy down here. That, and a very limited access to junk foods that have traditionally made up my diet, have put me well on my way.
The second goal is not as easy. I decided to train for a marathon during the deployment. It’s difficult. I was out of shape coming into this deployment. 3 miles was a lot for me. Running outside here during summer is oppressive. It’s uncomfortably hot once the sun is up, and it’s up at 5 am. Plus, Afghanistan is a dusty place. I’ve run outside a few times, and it’s pretty brutal. The second option of course is the treadmill. Once I started running on the treadmill, I found I enjoy it. I’ve finally found that elusive runner’s high (hidden several miles in). However, I’m aware that the treadmill is not going to seamlessly translate to real running, nor is the prospect of running double digit amounts of miles on the treadmill appealing.
However, one motivation technique that always works is shame, or fear of shame from backing out. That’s why I’ve decided to publicly declare my intent to run a marathon next April or May wen I’m back in Germany and the weather is nice. I don’t know which one yet, but hopefully I will soon.