Guest writer: Jim K. from Thessaloniki, Greece.
One day, I came across Navy SEAL fitness books (about one year before enlisting for my obligatory Greek military service) on the internet. I purchased one book that got me into all-around fitness -- running, lifting weights, swimming and calisthenics (by Dockery), which felt really good by the way. This triggered me to do some further searching on Navy SEALs, and I decided to attempt Stew Smith's "BUD/S warning order."
I would have a free weights session at the gym and then get back home for a one-hour session of calisthenics (not recommended to anyone, since it can cause serious injuries due to severe muscle strain).
Those Navy SEAL fitness books managed to boost my endurance and fitness levels to a point that I'd never thought I was capable of achieving. Before I started doing the workouts in those books, I had considered myself to be fit because I could lift some serious weights, even though I wasn't bulky at all. This showed how wrong I was; free weights didn't offer the functional strength "SEAL fitness" did.
I couldn't join the special forces because of terrible eyesight (I've had eye surgery recently), so I said to myself, "If you can't join them at least, why not be as fit as these guys are?" Being SEAL fit was probably the hardest exercise pattern I've ever followed, but I don't regret it. I stopped lifting weights and got into the advanced level of "BUD/S warning order" with all my heart, always keeping up with the pace, driven only by my personal will to become "SEAL fit."
Excessive running (six- to seven-minutes per mile) almost daily, swimming almost one hour each day and calisthenics had managed to reduce my body fat to a level I never imagined. Yes, I'd exercise about three hours a day, and there was a short period that I'd suffer from serious stomach cramps because of those workouts' intensity.
Those cramps were probably the hardest pain I've ever endured so far. It felt as though someone was cutting through my stomach with a knife, and they lasted for about two weeks. But even this couldn't keep me away from exercising, and I kept saying to myself to be patient and that they'd go away when my body would get accustomed to this physical exertion. And they did.
Today, I can recognize the symptoms and prevent this from occurring, but I was determined to reach the fitness levels Navy SEALs had set, and there was nothing that could keep me away from it.
My military service was rather frustrating in terms of fitness, at least for me. However, I had the will to keep on working out, so I had a daily workout on my own. People were giving me strange looks, because I was the only one in the camp who would exercise. I recall a competition between our company and another one where I was asked to compete against another guy (former special forces) on push-ups.
He kept yelling and shouting that he'd beat me easily, but he dropped face-first into the ground, and I kept on going for an extra 20 reps before being stopped by the cadets who had the roles of referees (I could keep pushing out more reps, though). By the way, that guy never talked to me again.
I resumed my regular workouts after I got dismissed from the Army and kept on following the "SEAL training pattern," which also helped me develop a never-give-up attitude, helping me a lot with my job. Back to work, I was assigned to a "special task" for which I couldn't find any serious support on how to deal with, no matter how hard I searched. Not accepting failure as an option, though, I finally managed to fulfill the given task on my own with 100% success. It was probably that "fire in the gut" that kept me going.
Years passed by, and further internet searching on fitness led me to "Perfect Pushup," and this community of motivated people has managed to keep me fired up over the years and looking to further improve myself, not only in terms of fitness but also as a person. What can one say about Alden's inspirational posts but a great thank you?
Looking back, bringing change to one's life requires a stimulus that is usually external, but then equally important is the person's own will to succeed and make change happen. It definitely requires being open-minded so you can accept the coming changes, no matter whether it's fitness, work or other aspects of one's personal life. Set short-term, realistic goals that will take you to your final objective.
Maybe the road to improvement is hard (yes, those stomach muscle cramps are something I don't ever want to go through again), but it's worth the effort. As Navy SEALs say: "It's mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it doesn't matter."
Jim K, Navy SEAL fit in Thessaloniki, Greece
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