By Staff Sgt. (CA) Jim Tortolano
First of two parts
One of the missions of the California State Military Reserve to is augment and help train the California National Guard. Are you physically fit enough to take on those tasks?
Although the CSMR is open to Soldiers from 18 on up into their 60s, the nature of a state defense force—with many prior service personnel as well as trained professionals in civilian occupations—means that many troops in our ranks are into middle age and above.
While the CSMR does enforce height-and-weight standards, it doesn’t demand physical fitness tests. But if you’re going to serve in potentially hazardous and stressful situations as first-responders, is your body ready for it?
Taking the most “liberal” physical training standards of the U.S. Army, a Soldier should be able to run two miles in 25 minutes, do 26 situps and seven pushups. Can you meet these goals?
If you want to be able to keep in a potentially demanding situation, here are some ideas. Some of these are taken from Army Field Manual 21-20 on Physical Fitness, as well as Sgt. Michael Volkin’s “Basic Training Guidebook.”
As always, you should consult a physician before embarking on any strenuous physical activity. This is opinion, not medical advice, and different people respond differently to different regimens.
Weight: This is a problem for many over-40 Soldiers. Not only are many Soldiers of that age engaged in sedentary occupations, but our bodies are changing. Muscles lose elasticity or weaken, some body parts (such as spinal discs) degenerate and for women, menopause can lead to changes in metabolism which cause fat to be stored rather than burned.
There are hundreds of weight-loss and maintenance programs out there. Pick one which works best for you (again, with proper medical advice). But here are a few common-sense ideas which may have an immediate effect.
• exercise in the morning before breakfast. A walk or run before eating will mean that your body will burn stored fat, thus maximizing the effect of your workout.
• avoid (or at least limit) alcohol and sodas. Alcohol dehydrates you and is full of calories. The term “beer belly” developed for good reason. But sugary sodas can be just as bad, giving you empty calories while packing on fat. Water is the best drink; if that seems boring, try the new flavored waters which may be tastier and still have zero calories.
• pay attention to portion sizes and calories. You don’t have to be a vegan to eat lighter. Today’s restaurants are required to disclose the calories (and in some cases, fat grams) in their dishes. That information can be used to avoid going too far. A good, lean steak of 5 oz., say, may hit only 500 calories, while a salad with a fatty dressing (ranch or blue cheese) can easily have three times as many calories, although it “looks” healthier.
• drink water with your meal. Water helps digest food better and help the body acquire the best of the nutrients the meal has to offer.
• weigh yourself regularly. Chances are pretty good that if you don’t check your weight from time to time, it can creep up on you. Stepping on that bathroom scale every week may be enough of a jolt to get you to adopt healthier eating habits and an exercise plan.
Next: A modest physical fitness regimen.