The military is all about efficiency – with both the people and the equipment that they have. With the endless variety of diets and gimmicks for people that want to lose fat, hiring a military veteran for your coach (such as myself) is the best option. Why? We were taught what works from the beginning.
I personally lost 20 pounds in boot camp and came out in the best shape of my life, and I promise I wasn’t issued a weight loss pill, Men’s Health magazine, or a local personal trainer for it either.
Here’s 5 reasons why you need a military veteran as your coach:
1. We Know How To Cut The Bullshit – Respectfully.
From day one of my boot camp – or Recruit Training Center as they prefer to call it – till graduation, I was yelled at constantly. It’s an expected harsh tool for discipline and motivational purposes. It’s to push you out of your comfort zone and learn to handle stress. I still remember one particular moment, while marching in formation, my company commander screamed so loudly into my ear that it was ringing for a few hours after. We were yelled at in the morning, during pushups, while we ate, while we slept, while we showered, etc.
We often don’t realize what we are capable of, or how much we can be pushed. I guarantee you haven’t been pushed to the far limits of your capability, and I know you have more in the tank than you say you do. Last week, I had a strong male client complain he couldn’t do the weight I had asked him to do. I knew he could, but he mentally doubted himself, as he does often. I told him he had to do it, and then this client did it and set a new personal record for himself. His sheepish grin after accomplishing this goal was all the satisfaction I needed. I will never ask you to do more than you are capable of, but I will ask you to do what I know you can do.
2. We Live And Breathe NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) And HRI (High Resistance Interval) Training.
I walked everywhere. Or marched, or drilled, or ran. There was no sedentary office life or driving to anywhere I wanted to go. On base, I did nothing but move. And that’s what NEAT is all about. It’s the energy expended for everything that we do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, yard work, and even fidgeting. We underestimate how much just moving around can do for our overall health. The total calorie burn adds up and unlike traditional cardio, the fatigue accumulation is almost non-existent.
Yes, when you go to boot camp, you do run. Sometimes a few miles, sometimes more than that. But it was always for a purpose. The military recognizes that cardio is a tool that can be used for disciple and helping obtain a caloric deficit. But it uses the minimum effective dose necessary for basic health. Too much or too intense cardio can be counter-productive for fat loss because it consumes nutrients needed for muscle growth, affects recovery, and activates catabolic pathways that negatively impact muscle growth.
3. We Are Forced To Hydrate.
The galley was a special place of terror. The galley is what our kitchen was called, and it is used by both the Navy and Coast Guard. The other branches call their kitchens by other names such as mess hall or chow hall. You would think eating would be a time of rest and maybe some relaxation, but our company commanders used it as a time of training. When you finished your meal, you had to pass by the only occupied table near the receptacles where you empty your trays – the table where all the company commanders sat. They would use this time to find something wrong with your uniform or challenge you with a fact you should know. They also wanted you to speak quickly, address them by proper rank, and perform under the pressure of many different company commanders yelling at you. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant time.
You were required to drink two full glasses of water with each meal. No other liquid. If you did not approach the receptacles with two empty glasses of water (face down to prove they had been finished), you would be stopped and harassed endlessly. Additionally, you had to completely finish your canteen of water before the end of the day. You had to hold it over your head with the cap off to prove it was empty. The military understood that dehydration would upend your progress and could potentially put you in danger.
4. We Are Forced To Sleep.
It’s no surprise that we were woken early in the morning to the sound of shouting company commanders. It’s a well known tactic in all branches of the military to wake up recruits in order to induce chaos and stress to achieve the desired training effect. However, we were forced to go to bed at the same time every single night. And it wasn’t a “get in bed but look at the phone or watch tv deal” either. We had no phones, no entertainment, and no lights. It was completely dark in the barracks, with roving guards that stood watch to ensure we neither left our bunks or got up for any unnecessary reason.
I slept beautifully every night. The stressful daily routine, marching, and fitness ensured that when the lights went out, it took only seconds before I was also out. The military understood that sleep was integral to our functioning – ensuring we were asleep during the best parts of the circadian rhythm without any distractions. And when they woke us early in the morning, the best time to sleep was already well past us and we could be awoken refreshed even so early in the morning.
5. We Operate At a Caloric Deficit.
While we couldn’t count our macros there, we didn’t need to. Our portions were served everyday in fixed amounts with a mostly balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Combined with NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) from marching everywhere, High Resistance Interval and weight training, and fixed amounts of cardio, our metabolism was in high gear and ready for all the nutrients and the needed recovery. We could not go up for second servings, and it was only well into boot camp when they finally allowed us to go up and fix an additional sandwich with our meals.
This deficit underscored the basic laws of Thermodynamics and the science that goes with it. It doesn’t matter what fad diet you follow, what tribe of paleo, keto, or carnivore you adhere to, or if you think you can eat unlimited fruits and vegetables as a vegan. The undeniable fact is that if you have a caloric surplus of any kind, you will gain weight. If you have a caloric deficit of any kind, you will lose weight.
Now, optimizing that caloric deficit with the proper ratio of macronutrients is my specialty, but knowing that caloric intake is the entire foundation to your goals and then tracking that intake daily is the overall key that I use to induce transformation and help people lose fat.
The military operates efficiently because it is required to for the purpose it was designed for. When you consider hiring a nutrition coach, or even a personal trainer, try to find one with a military background. They were given a solid foundation from the beginning that will only further help you now.