Back in my Army and West Point days, I never thought of marching
and carrying a ruck in fitness terms. It
was a necessity. What you carried on
your back is what you brought into combat. The more you put in, the more you were weighed
down. The less you put in, the more you
ran the risk of being ill-prepared.
Recently, however, I realized the fitness benefits of rucking for civilians. I started carrying a weighted ruck in preparation for the Shadow West Point March back that happened last week. The March Back coincides with the annual 13-mile march back of the United States Military Academy’s Plebe Class at the conclusion of summer Cadet Basic Training. I and about 15 fellow members of the West Point Society of Central Texas finished the march last week. The March included loaded Rucksacks and the Texas Heat! See the picture below. The Weather Channel even filmed a piece about us! I will let you know when it comes out.
Rucking has many benefits and is my latest fitness obsession. There is even a community of Veterans that go
on rucking events. It is called GoRuck
and raises money for Veterans dealing with PTSD. I am currently training for the next major
event near Austin.
Here are the five major benefits of Rucking:
Impact. Unlike running that puts stress
on your joints, rucking is low impact especially if you pack your ruck
It burns 3 times the calories that walking does (even more in Texas
Carry your Hydration. A ruck provides a convenient compartment to
store water and remain hydrate. I fill
up the bladder from my Camelback in my ruck.
It adds weight and prevents me from passing out int the Texas heat!
I bought my rucksack for less than 40 dollars on Amazon. There is no need to get a specialized
rucksack unless you want to. To weight
it down, I just evenly distributed 5 lbs. weights that I already had in
Fun and social.
I loved marching with fellow members of the Long Grey Line and being out
Marching with a ruck is not just for the military. Pick up your ruck, lace up your shoes and
march back to health!
I meant to write this blog a few weeks ago when I infiltrated the Oklahoma Football watch party for the Army versus Oklahoma game (see picture below). A devoted Army fan, I went to the only watch party for the game put on by the Oklahoma Alumni of Austin. I and two other of my West Point alumni joined close to 200 enthusiastic OU fans.
I thought I would leave the game about after 20 minutes since Army was supposed to lose by 30 points. But I ended staying to the end. For those who did not see the game, it went into overtime! Even though Army ultimately lost, they gave the powerhouse Oklahoma team a run for its money. How were they able to do it and go on to have a top 25 season (please, please stay there and Beat Navy!)? There are three characteristics of the Army Football team that lead to success both on the football team and for those trying to get healthy:
Consistency – The Army football team does not have a lot of plays, but what they do have they run in a consistent manner. Each player knows exactly were to block in their Flexbone Triple Option set. This scheme is run only at the Service Academies and it requires discipline and consistency. Each player needs to execute flawlessly due to the smaller size of the players. This type of consistency also served me well as I lost over 170 lbs! I did not have a lot of plays in my weight loss arsenal but what I did have (tracking points, walking, mindfulness), I did on a consistent basis. Each day I tracked my food, walked at least a mile, and spent at least 10 minutes on meditation. Much like Army pounds the football down the field, I pounded away the pounds with consistent execution!
Persistent – The Army football team persistently pursues its playbook even when behind. They do not stop running and driving even if they have to catch-up. Passes are few and far between as they methodically drive down the field. They never stop pursuing their game plan. This persistence is also necessary to successfully restore your health. When I started out, I could barely walk around the block. But little by little, through persistence, I was able to workup to 50 miles in a single day. I did not do it in a week or a month but through persistent exercise over the course of a year and half. Be persistent like the Army Football team and stick to your plan. You will get healthy!
Attitude – The Army Football team stands undaunted against any foe as they demonstrated in the OU game. They stay positive even when facing incredible odds. Also, even when they come up short in the end (like they did in the OU game), they do not let it get them down. They just pick themselves up and win the rest of season, driving into a top 25 spot! You need the same attitude when tackling a weight loss journey. Setbacks will inevitably happen. Like the time you gain 2 lbs in a week because of work demands cut, or eat too much for Thanksgiving (while watching football no less). But at these times, it is important to have a positive attitude and continue marching to your goal, just like the Army football team marches down the field!
I would like to end with a rephrased Army fight song for those driving to their weight loss goals:
Diversity of opinion and the ability to share ideas across cultures, creeds, generations and genders is transforming. Each of us bring to a solution a unique perspective that no one else can totally replicate. It is tempered by our experiences, upbringing, and the place each of us call home. Each person was put on this earth to fill a unique purpose. It is the mission of a true leader to meld the singular talents of each person to gain the best result. What unites us is surely greater than what divides us and what unites us is the spark of humanity that is in each person! It is also imperative for personal growth to learn from one another; to celebrate the differences.
Diversity is part of the secret sauce of my company Accenture. We take the best of each member of our team and meld it to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems. Here is a link to the thoughts on diversity of my company.
In the next few days I will provide vignettes from another leader in diversity – my school West Point. This is where I learned first what people with different viewpoints and cultures could do together. The first vignette will be about the person that you see in the featured image (that is for the next post however!)
In closing, Gene Rodenberry perhaps said it best.
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”
― Gene Roddenberry
Who can think of Star Trek, without thinking of the empathy of Bones McCoy, the bravery of Kirk, the logic of Spock, the communication skill of Uhura, the ingenuity of Scotty, the determination of Sulu, or the spirit of Chekov? Let us celebrate diversity and boldly bring us to a better world!