January 9, 2014

Marine for Life: I need a boot camp butt-kicking

By Rob McDaniel
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It doesn’t seem that long ago my mornings were filled with formation runs and extreme calisthenics mixed with the speed and intensity expected of every Marine.  Those early morning physical training (PT) sessions with the hard as nails Non Commissioned Officers (NCO) we often referred to as “the death squad” are now a thing of the past, and my body is showing the signs.

Granted, when I was medically retired from the Marine Corps, I had a lot to overcome physically and mentally before I could begin a strict PT regiment again, but at some point my body healed and I began using the term “disabled veteran” as an excuse to not keep up with my physical fitness.

I could make at least a dozen excuses; I did my time, why push myself if I don’t have to?  I settled into the college lifestyle and my mornings started to begin later in the day.  I began eating convenient meals rather than making healthier choices.  I got lazy.  The reality of it is I have been neglecting my body and making excuses.

At some point I forgot everything my Drill Instructors and NCOs taught me about overcoming challenges with confidence in my ability. 

I used to embrace the pain of a good workout, after all, pain lets us know we’re still alive.  But now I catch myself thinking about how bad this sucks and how much I’d rather be doing anything else.

When did that happen?  When did it become so easy to give up during a hard workout?

I’m not really sure, but it’s something that really bothers me about myself.

Since leaving the Marine Corps, I’ve put on about 40 pounds.  My 10-mile runs during my lunch break have turned in to 30-minute naps and my lack of upper body strength is embarrassing for someone who once did sets of 20 or more pull-ups for breakfast.

I’ve made so many excuses for myself but, at the end of the day, it all boils down to me getting lazy and that’s not something I’m proud of.

At the risk of sounding like someone who is making a whimsical New Year’s resolution to lose weight, I’ve decided to set certain goals for myself in the hopes of restoring some of my long lost physical fitness.

Aside from wanting to lose a little weight, my goals are more detailed than that.  Not only do I want to pass a Marine Corps PT test, which consists of pull-ups, sit-ups and a three-mile run, but also I want to make the maximum score possible.

It’s going to take time and a lot of effort, but it’s something that I need to do for myself. 

Obviously this is something that has bothered me for a while, and I’m going to invest the time and energy needed to make my goal a reality.  I’m not doing this as part of a dumb New Year’s resolution but because my heart still belongs to the Corps.  I represent them even seven years after parting.

I don’t want people to look at me in surprise and ask “you were a Marine?”  I want them to ask, “are you still in?” 

After all; once a Marine, always a Marine.