By Deryck J. Dickerson
Ed. note: Dickerson is a Coronado-based Navy SEAL who will be part of the Spartan Death Race, an extreme event that includes up to 48 hours of trekking through the Vermont woods, as organizers throw a variety of curveballs at contestants, from carrying heavy tree stumps and rocks, to crawling a muddy field lined with barbed wire. It's estimated that only about 15 percent of those who enter finish. He survived , right?
The event kicks off Friday. Coronado Patch is doing its part: If he failed to successfully place a piece he'd written in a local media outlet, Dickerson would have to swim an additional 12 miles before the punishing race even started. That challenge has been met, Deryck. Here you go!
It’s 0300 and I can’t sleep and I’m watching television. As I flip channels it is the same – same, but different. Some loud-mouthed paid promoter telling me, “this product will change my life” and “I am the trainer to the stars and if you do this program, you will look like this.”
The screen flashes with a before and after of overweight men and women turned fit fanatics. You – because you are not sure what to do you – will sit there and study every part of that infomercial. Debating whether the $60 is worth it. If you don’t purchase them, it will be there in the back of your mind 'til you consciously decide to stay fat, or pick up the phone and go insane, go extreme or change your lifestyle.
If you live in Coronado, you may have seen me running with a 45 lb. sand bag on my shoulders or doing burpees with a ruck sack. This training was nothing new; in Iraq I would drag a tractor tire for hours.
People have told me that I was blessed with fitness. God did give me the tool to be fit, just as he gave you and every other person the same tools. At age 36, it is hard work to bounce back from a hard workout and do it again the next day.
Being healthy and fit has always been my choice. Just like it was my desire to participate in the Death Race. For those who know me I have trained in this manner all my military career, never getting fixated on one aspect of physical fitness.
You must be ready for whatever life throws at you, from going on Escape and Evasion in a hostile country to dealing with a car accident on the freeway. Life is physically challenging as well as mentally. Mentally you must decide what you want to do with your life.
If you decide to stay obese, I hope for the best for you. If you can live a long productive life then more power to you, but realize some of the health risks that being obese comes with, according to Wiley Online Library:
- 66 percent of hypertension is linked to excess weight.
- Coronary artery disease is evident in 70 percent of obese women with hypertension.
- Obesity is a contributing factor to cardiac failure in more than 10 percent of patients.
- Being overweight or obese, combined with hypertension, is associated with increased risk of ischaemic stroke.
- 10 percent of all cancer deaths among non-smokers are related to obesity; 30 percent of endometrial cancers are.
- 6 percent of primary infertility in women is attributable to obesity, while impotence and infertility are frequently associated with obesity in men.
For those obese adults that are raising young children it is a greater chance that the youngsters will be obese and have the same or worse health issues. Are we evolving in the right direction if the next generation is fatter and lazier than we are? By changing your lifestyle you will affect the kids' attitude in a positive way.
It may seem that I have some prejudice to overweight people. I don’t, but the people I do have issues with are those who want to do something, talk about it, but do nothing. Those who find an excuse for every obstacle placed in their path. The desire is only half of what is needed to take on the mission of better health.
Healthy living starts with having the right state of mind. Believing that if you miss your workout, your day is not complete. Establishing a lifestyle that promotes good health is not easy but as I say, “Anything worth having is worth working hard for.”
Health is not in a bottle, on a DVD or upon any one machine, it is everywhere and in everything we do.
The first step – just getting out and finding what you enjoy. The next is finding people who enjoy the same activities as you do. The last step is understanding that your routine may become stagnant and you'll need to change things up.
Step one is the hardest of the three, finding an exercise that is fun and one that you feel comfortable doing. It may be triathlons, mountain biking, or weight lifting, it doesn’t really matter as long as you feel a sense of accomplishment and have a good time.
I have gone through many different activities and found that it is the variety of just being outdoors doing something, anything, from working out to playing with my four-year old son. Spending the day kayaking, mountain biking or doing cross-fit and feeling accomplished at the end of my day.
Perhaps it is that want for variety that drew me to do the Spartan Race. When I was done I was hooked. I am not the best runner, most agile or the strongest, but it was pure enjoyment. I was not there to compete, I was there to complete. But, I walked away top of my age group with a smile on my face.
This may be the easiest of all three steps, finding people who have the same interest as you. There are billions of people who go to the gym everyday. I’m sure there are several at your job.
The internet has groups for every activity you could ever want to do. Groups for running, swimming, biking, SUP, geo-trekking, you name it you can search it.
Connection is motivation. A sense of belonging to a group or association is one of the basic human needs. Abraham Maslow placed belonging and love in the middle of his Human Need Hierarchy chart.
Lastly, people burn out and workouts get monotonous. It is like life, you have to spice it up. I’m not saying go out and spend thousands of dollars on a new mountain bike, but perhaps go to your local shop and demo one for the day.
Do an activity you would never have tried. It could open your eyes to an aspect of yourself that you would not have expected. If fitness starts Jillian, Shawn or Tony are what you need then they are better than nothing.
But it must be a conscious choice and selfish choice. The desire to be better, to live longer, to enjoy all aspects of life is just a step away. Take that first step to your new life style – it’s worth it, believe me.