Each day we are in good health is a gift. It’s a sentiment Marine Veteran and nutrition Expert Nick Biase lives by, who encourages fellow Veterans to serve their own health just as they unselfishly did for our country.
Serving in the military has been an honor and the best decision I’ve ever made. I can honestly say I would not be who I am, nor be where I am today, had I not enlisted. One of the motivating factors behind my decision to enlist was that I wanted to get in the best shape I possibly could. I was not alone in my thinking, as I encountered many other service members with the same mindset. But what happens when we’re not paid to do push-ups anymore? Now that I’ve been out of the Marine Corps for almost 7 years, I can’t help but notice from my time working at the VA hospital to scrolling through my social media feeds that Veterans are joining the ranks of overweight and obese Americans. In fact, the VA estimates that 78% of Veterans are overweight or obese.
Why does this happen? Loss of motivation seems to be a major factor, with “I don’t have time to exercise” and “my job isn’t dependent on how many pull-ups I can do” are some of the excuses that are often encountered. Other circumstances regarding those who suffer from battlefield injuries, including invisible wounds such as PTSD, are also likely to lose motivation or perception that fitness is still a possibility.
Though it’s true most of us will not receive praise or bonuses at work for being able to crush a 6-minute mile, our health is still worth the investment. For those who’ve lost something physically and or mentally during their service, healthy lifestyle choices may help facilitate the process of feeling whole again. Here are some tips to getting back in the fight:
FIND YOUR SQUAD
If the loss of camaraderie you once had back when you wore the uniform has you down, then consider seeking out one of the many community style fitness programs. Check out Team Red, White, and Blue which is a nationwide Veteran nonprofit that organizes group runs and other means of fitness. Also, though generally associated with expensive membership fees, many CrossFit boxes actually offer free classes on weekend mornings.
Of course eating nutritious food is an obvious method for getting back on the healthy train but simply cooking at home may be therapeutic in itself…especially when you’re cooking for others. Eating with family or friends presents opportunities for quality time. As an added benefit, holding conversations between bites may help limit total calories eaten in one sitting when compared to eating alone or in front of a screen.
MAKE A PLAN
Exercise and trying to “eat healthy” may seem monotonous after a while and if that’s the case, then try switching the focus towards a goal. For example, planning to run a race, compete in a fitness competition, and simply doing a muscle-up are all measurable goals. Once you have identified a goal, diet and exercise start to take on more meaning. After you accomplish that goal, more are likely to follow.
I am grateful for the health that I have, and am a firm believer that every day above ground is a good one.
As Veterans, we owe it both to ourselves and to those who didn’t make it home to live our healthiest, exciting lives ahead.
For my San Diego local Veterans, I highly endorse these FREE activities:
- San Diego chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue
- November Project
- P.O.W. – Actively improving the mental, physical and emotional well-being of veterans and active military through MMA-style fitness, yoga and peer-to-peer support.
- Fathom CrossFit – Adaptive Athlete/Veteran class every Wednesday 1pm and Community class every Saturday 10am
- Bear Republic CrossFit – Community class Saturday 10am
HEADER IMAGE: BERNARD GABRIEL
Nick Biase is a San Diego-based registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition and wellness. Nick is a Marine veteran, fitness enthusiast, home brewer, and a firm believer that you can keep both 6-packs. To develop your nutrition game plan with Nick, make a visit to Nutrition Cadre.