Juiced and Loving It

Former Major League Baseball slugger Jose Canseco wrote a book in which he described his use of performance enhancing drugs, or steroids. The book not only detailed his use but made accusations that many players were using such substances helped to reveal a culture in MLB that saw many players using while owners and management turned a blind eye. My version of being “juiced” to borrow Canseco’s book title is far different. I prefer citrus and other fruits run trough a blender to anything that I might have to inject with a needle. I don’t like needles or shots. 10 years of allergy shots  given 1-2 times a week as a kid cured me of that.

For 30 years in the military I have struggled with being in my weight standards. My problem is that I am undertall. just a bit about 5 and a half feet tall with a barrel chest and thick body build.  But in the military which is ruled by tall skinny people with the exception of Army Chief of Staff Ray Odinero defines undertall as overweight, even if you are in otherwise excellent physical condition and can kick ass on the Physical Fitness Test. The older you are the harder it gets, especially when the services are downsizing, no pun intended.

Since I entered the Army in 1981 until now the standards for physical readiness have increased. In fact to score an equivalent score to what I needed to get a maximum score in the Army in the 1980s I have to do as much or more. My weight limit is basically what I had to meet when I was in my 20s. Now I don’t know about you but not many people in their 50s are anywhere close to their physical condition when they were in their 20s and most civilian employers don’t care so long as you can do the job.  As a 52 year old in the Navy I have to meet weight, body fat and physical standards that are little different from when I first entered the Army over 30 years ago. I am not complaining but that is the way life is, as some say in the Navy “choose your rate choose your fate.” I chose to continue to serve as an old person in an organization which is designed for young people. The men and women that I entered the military back in 1981 are almost all retired or have otherwise left the military. I am now a dinosaur. When I entered the Army if you were over 50 you were exempt from the standards. the same in the Navy. It is not that way now. Fat people are easy targets when ranks need to be thinned, no pun intended.

My body type is a prime target. I am for all practical matters a fireplug. Depending on my height on a given day I can be 66” or 67” tall, which in the Navy is a difference f 5 pounds. Thus if I go beyond the maximum weight on the weigh for my height in I am subjected to a Body Fat Composition determined by a highly subjective measurement of my abdomen and neck.  In the year following my tour in Iraq when I was physically, emotionally and spiritually a wreck I tipped the scales a bit too heavy and was taped. I passed the physical fitness test with aplomb both times but because I was over my body fat I failed both times. In the Navy if you fail 3 times (weight/body fat/PT test) in 4 years you are out.

Thus I ended up on what I call the “BCA (Body Composition Analysis) Death Watch. This means that if I fail the weight standards again before 2014 I am out. As I mentioned I am have a fireplug body build. Even way under my official weight limit I am not skinny and since my neck is not thick if I fail the weight limit I am probably going to be near, at or over my body fat limit no matter how hard I try. Thus I need to be under the weight limit.

I didn’t have a real problem with this until I came back from Iraq in 2008  Then everything went to hell. I gained a lot of weight, suffered from PTSD, severe depression, loss of faith and had a number of nagging physical injuries that I kept re-injuring. I self medicated with beer and donuts. Tasted great, made me feel better but made me fat. Nothing like 4-6 hot and fresh Krispy Kreme Glazed donuts with a couple of good amber lagers to wash them down just before bed. However as good tasting and satisfying as the combination is it is not healthy and I don’t recommend it, unless done in severe moderation which was not my habit back then.

Now it has been a couple of years since I failed a BCA. I have worked hard, but not without struggle. I gained more weight than I wanted to after I broke my leg last summer and was really afraid to do much on it. However as it healed I began to test my physical endurance and helped by a switch of running shoes, enabled me to really get back in shape. For the first time since before I deployed to Iraq in 2007 I ran over 7 miles last weekend. I have developed a really good conditioning regimen that exercises all of my body and supplement it with running on the beach near my apartment. But exercise is only part of the equation. The other part is diet.

Since I gained more weight than I wanted over the winter I had to find a way to shred it without resorting to starvation type diets. What I found was my blender. Yes most parts are edible. Actually no, it was what I put in the blender and what I am now loving. My mix which produces about a liter of juice follows:

2 medium Ruby Red Grapefruit, 1 Banana, 1 Medium Navel Orange, 2 cups Strawberries (Halved)  8 ounces water

I lover this. I drink this during the day rather than eating donuts and high fat/sodium junk foods and then follow up with a healthy dinner, low in fat but rich and balanced with appropriate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates etc…. Once in a while I will splurge and have a big burger or pizza and an occasional dessert but generally I have switched over to healthy items taken in moderation. I also did not have to stop drinking beer which I have with dinner every night. The result was that I lost weight and feel better. In fact after I passed my weigh in today I had more of my juice before going out for a big burger reward.  When I came home from dinner I made another batch of juice. I like it and plan to continue it because like I said I like it. I figure now why not? If I keep up my physical conditioning while watching my diet I will be better off and in the fall during the next Physical Readiness cycle I will not have to change habits.

For physical conditioning I alternate running on the beach with doing a type of circuit training that I designed to fit me. I have a course that is about 4/10th of a mile. I run it and at a predetermined point stop and do 25 sit-ups, 15-20 oblique sit-ups on each side, 70-100 flutter kicks and 15-25 push ups. I then stand up, start running and repeat. I try to do this for at least an hour pausing only to tie my shoes if they come undone. In an hour this means I run about 4 miles, do 150-250 push ups, 250 regular sit ups, 300-400 oblique sit-ups and 700-1000 flutter kicks during the work out. As I get in better  shape each week my number of repetitions has increased on each exercise and my running distance has increased. It is a good thing. I have to think my old assistant who was my body guard in Iraq, RP1 Nelson Lebron for helping me figure out something that would work for me. Nelson is a beast and has been on Team USA and the All Navy Team in Mixed Martial Arts and was a Gold Gloves Boxer.

My blood pressure and cholesterol always surprise my doctors because they are better than most people younger than me. Part of this has to be genetics but part is conditioning, diet and hard work.

As far as overall physical condition I am happy and pleasantly amused that at age 52 I can outdo many younger people who should by all accounts leave me in the dirt.

Reward (But in Moderation): The American Burger at Rucker John’s Emerald Isle

I am blessed that I have recovered from injury and am back in shape. It has taken a lot of work but it is worth it. I feel better and it is a good thing. Tonight I celebrated with a big burger and a couple of beers at a local restaurant. Tomorrow I will do my juice, get in a strong workout and eat a healthy dinner. However I may continue my celebration with a dinner at the local Mexican restaurant before going back to salads, soups or small pasta dishes with an occasional steak or burger.

Here’s to health.


Padre Steve+


Filed under healthcare, Military, PTSD, sports and life

5 responses to “Juiced and Loving It

  1. Jack Patriot

    I’m still trying to figure out how you got PTSD from being in Iraq in 2007-08, during the awakening, when they stopped shooting at us and blowing us up. Are you sure you weren’t misdiagnosed with simply combat stress, combined with other corollaries that may have very little to do with the war? Just plain ‘ole tired? Were you shot or blown up? Are you sure you didn’t have these nagging doubts about your faith before you went to “war,” as you put it? Don’t be defensive, this is an honest question that I think you should seriously consider.

    • padresteve

      No Jack, I wasn’t miss diagnosed and I thought before I went that I was prepared and immune. I was very experienced in dealing with trauma and death before I went to Iraq. I dealt with mass casualty situations and was exposed to enemy fire with small groups of Americans and Iraqis. I put more miles in tiny convoys and night flights than you will ever know. I have seen things that I still cannot really talk about. I still have my times when things go to shit. If your question is honest that is the truth, if you are simply trying to make me something I am not I am sorry. I am what I am and experienced what I experienced. I wish I had never had to deal with this thing called PTSD. My life would be a lot easier. I could simply deal with theory, theology and psychology and not have to deal with the shit. When I close my eyes I can see the wounded and vividly remember their wounds, and the little things, tattoos, dog tags, burns, and the smell. I was a inner city trauma department chaplain used to dealing with multiple deaths on a daily basis, but it never prepared me for this. I ended up getting thrown out of my Church in 2010 because of this. Faith has returned but it is not the same. I don’t accept easy answers or or party lines, I think as a Christian I have to question when people claim to have all the answers or use faith to abuse others. I don’t like bullies. I despised those on the Left that made ad hominem and bully type attacks on President Bush and feel the same way about what the Right is doing now. Maybe that doesn’t fit your paradigm but it is what it is. I certainly mean no disrespect to you in this but I have to be honest. Again, I wish I had never heard of PTSD, but I have volunteered for Afghanistan. I haven’t been called but I have volunteered. I left part of me in Iraq and brought some of Iraq back with me. I am not the same. I do wish you well despite any differences that we may have. Peace, Padre Steve+

  2. Jack Patriot

    Look, I think this is a fair question. My last little gadfly-comment, you lashed back with a jack-hammer, with lots of unfounded assumptions. So please take this in good faith. Now, as I understand it, you were on the road a lot, and seen shelled out towns, but wasn’t present during the actual fighting, just the aftermath, like countless other Soldiers. It seems to me that your issues are more post-stress than post-trauma. Did your doctor consider that option?
    Jack P

    • padresteve

      I do apologize for firing back so hard the other day. It was a bad day and felt I was in a “fight or flight” situation. That wasn’t your fault that was me. Part goes back to having a neo-Nazi make threats on me a couple years back. His moniker used the name “Jack” call it whatever but it was an overreaction to your comment which on a good day I might have just let go. As far as the PTSD and Iraq, I did get shot at and it wasn’t just the aftermath. All the doctors and shrinks that have treated me know the extent of my injury. My life would be much easier without it. However it does allow me to care about the Marines and Sailors who come to me not knowing where to go. In that the curse is a blessing because I do understand what they are going through from more than a theoretical or academic way. In a way I wish I had a physical injury because people can see those and and don’t question them, unless you are one of the many who have been shot or blown up and are still fighting for a Purple Heart and that recognition. I see too many of those brave men and women. When I see young Marines and Sailors with a PH and Medals with a V device I am humbled, many with their visible and horrible injuries I am humbled. I see too many of those young men and women, as well as those that have the unseen wounds. Thank you for asking and blessings on you, again I am sorry to go so hard at you, I do have my baggage. Peace, Padre Steve+

  3. John Erickson

    While your dietary regimen is truly impressive, have you considered (and I only say this half-kiddingly) trying “gravity boots” – the upside-down hanging system? Seriously, if an inch is 5 pounds difference, stretching out the well-compacted vertebrae might gain you that inch that saves you having to lose even more weight.
    Besides – do they even make “lifts” for combat boots? 😉

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