It was my father who first got me into fitness when I was young. Little boys want to be like Dad, and my Dad would do some pretty weird fitness routines when I was young. He was usually training for a canoe race, or just burning off excess physical energy.
He was a welder at St. Regis mill in Maine, and the men he worked with called him the Three Million Dollar Man. I’m not sure if he was half of Steve Austin’s height, or capabilities, but it didn’t matter to me: He was cool. He’d walk on his hands around the living room, or hold onto one toe while jumping over his leg with his one planted foot. All of this from a guy who was over 40. He had virtually no body fat either, and looked young enough that people used to think he was my older brother.
When we were out to camp, I’d be sitting on the beach and he’d wake up to me. “Time to go for a run, Doug.” We’d run around the lake on the beach. People would look at us like we were nuts. I guess we were. Then we’d paddle the canoe around the lake or we may paddle to some remote location like “Thirty Nine Tannery,” at which lie the ruins of an old tanning facility. I’d help port the canoe, which built some pretty tremendous upper-body strength for a 10 year old.
Because of all this, I always did really well in my fitness tests in Junior High and High School. I was a little kid, but it didn’t hold me back.
I think I was blessed with a combination of good genes, and a father who knew how to make exercise fun. There was always some random physical challenge he’d come up with, and he never shorted me on praise.
I think that the attitudes he passed down to me are still of help, as I routinely max my physical tests and am told that I look much younger than I am. So, from Dad I learned that physical training should be fun and random. One day I may lift weights, another I may go for a run or just a walk. I rock-climb, do body-weight exercises, just about everything you can imagine.
In recent years, two types of training have been of considerable benefit. The Combat Conditioning routines advocated by the controversial Matt Furey (It’s an all body weight routine) and working with Russian Kettlebells. Kettlebells are iron balls with handles on them. You can do various swings and presses wih them, and they build an excellent balance of strength and endurance. One other form of exercise that I like and science has proved to be a great training protocol, is interval sprinting and hill sprinting.
I plan to begin training with kettlebells again as soon as I’m out of AIT.
As far as diet goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Some say 5 or 6 small meals a day is the way to go. Most experts agree, but from what I’ve noticed, these experts don’t appear to be in very good physical condition themselves.
Here’s what I’ve found to be effective, and what recent science is suggesting may be of great benefit. It’s called controlled fasting, and yes, it’s controversial. The person who got me onto this is named Ori Hofmekler, and his book–The Warrior Diet–has helped a lot of people with their energy levels. It’s premise is that the best diet is one large meal at the end of the day, with some nuts or small amounts of fruit during the earlier parts of the day. Coffee is advocated, which of course I like. The diet may not be for everyone, and I personally don’t agree with everything that Hofmekler says, but he does back his ideas with science, and my own experiences say there’s something to his ideas. Mice, subjected to a fast, then given the opportunity to eat as much as they pleased lived approx. 30% longer than mice who were fed a normal diet. This occured without the normal negative effects of reduced calorie diets (muscle loss, lowered labido, loss of strength).
To sum up my overall attitudes about fitness and diet:
1) Make exercise fun.
2) Don’t make exercise something that breaks you down. It should build you, and make you feel more energenic.
3) Eat instinctively and naturally. You know what you want to eat, but the easiest and quickest food available may be what you grab for. Resist the urge and eat natural food as much as you can.
4) Finally–don’t make your eating too Spartan. Treat yourself every-so-often and if you have a food you don’t believe you can live without, eat it. I like beer and wine. I also like ice cream. I eat them and drink them in moderation and my results are fine. And, actually beer and wine in moderation are probably a good thing. Here’s to Heineken and Merlot.