Pal #3 - Last week, I connected with one of the new friends that I have made since my move to Florida. He works midnights in a very small affluent community just up the road. They work twelves: 6:00PM to 6:00AM. In his town too, the number of places to eat is very limited.
He was recounting how since we had attended the lateral academy together, his weight had swelled. In recent weeks, he has been on a very aggressive exercise regimen coupled with an eating plan that nearly eliminates carbohydrates. He told me that he knew what to do because he had done it many times before.
"Huh?" was my reaction. He told me that over his career he has seen his weight swell by 30% at which point he would go on a drastic program to take it off. He had repeated this process four times, or so. Each time, he seems to gain more weight back than he had lost.
Too often, we hear of coppers who have retired only to die before scratching the surface of the pension they'd worked so hard to earn. There is a constant barrage of articles, books and videos having the stated goal of teaching a cop to make it safely through his career. Getting to retirement in one piece, with your health, seems to be the goal. Realistically, that is NOT the goal. The REAL goal is to make it to and through the career and on into whatever you decide will be next. Achieving that long-term goal is where you need to put your focus.
What we do in the early years will directly affect the quality of the years that follow. I would bet that you have known someone who played college football and by the time they are in their forties, their knees are giving out on them.
As a gym rat myself, I have run into a fair share of middle-aged guys who worked out like maniacs when they were in their teens and twenties. Often, they were power-lifters. In most every case, their drive for more weight caused them to throw good form out the window. They pay for it in spades as time goes on.
I've been working out for a couple of decades. In that time, my body has become less tolerant of stupid moves in the gym. Age does slow the recovery process. So an injury now seems to take forever to heal. I can still be a crazy-man with weights. I LOVE to workout. Today, the motto is: Work Smarter, Not Harder. It is all about good form.
Food is the body's fuel; not much different than gasoline for your car. What you really needed to know about food and diet was probably taught to you by your parents by the time you reached five years old. It is not complicated stuff - although the smart adults among us seem to make it sound much more difficult than it really is.
The connection between specific eating choices and impact on the body are more elusive. I liken it to the heavy drinker. He does not get cirrhosis of the liver from one drink - not even from many days of heavy drinking. Cirrhosis comes as a result of the cumulative effect of choices about alcohol over time.
Food choices are quite comparable. Make enough bad decisions and you will likely begin experiencing weight gain, a rise in blood pressure, possibly diabetes, even heart disease and stroke are all on the list of outcomes. Is one Red Bull or a single Twinkie going to cause all of that? Of course not, but each food choice becomes part of the structure upon which your future will be built.
Think of it this way: if you were building a house and chose to use a cheap inferior concrete in the foundation, what could you expect? Would the house fall down in the first day? Probably not. But the defective concrete would be there forever and ultimately cause the structure to fail.
Dinosaurs Step Aside
I'm not taking a shot at old guys. I am one. However, it is likely that our life's choices have already been made. Our foundations were poured long ago. Can we change? Yes. But, statistics show that it is very unlikely that we will. So, I want to focus this writing at the young coppers who are in the first half of their careers.
As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
Recognize the symptoms: