For most people, getting ready for summer means sprucing up the back yard, planning a family vacation, firing up the grill, and getting ready for some outdoor fun! But for the average crimefighter summer means so much more than fun in the sun. Right now is a great time for you to ask yourself: “Am I ready for summer?”
Winter often means “weight gain” for some, “couch potato syndrome” for others. Thanks to the holidays, colder weather, and the sheer boredom of the winter months we have a tendency to fall off the diet and exercise wagon. Start by assessing your level of fitness. Are you “fit for duty” as they say at the Cooper Institute? Are you ready for that foot pursuit? And once you catch the bad guy, are you confident that you’ll have enough steam left to get him safely and tactically into custody? If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure” then it’s time to either reach out or do some research to figure out how to get in better shape. Keep in mind, getting and staying in shape doesn’t mean two hours a day in the gym, but it does mean understanding how to relate your workouts to your job performance. Basically, we need to be strong, we need to have a good level of endurance, and we need to be flexible. There are countless ways to achieve this, just make sure you’re getting good advice and information, and always remember that your level of fitness could be the difference between life and death for YOU or one of your fellow officers on the street!
You can’t truly achieve proper fitness without good nutrition. Does your summer uniform feel a little snug? Is there a muffin top spilling over your duty belt making your pistol hard to draw? Summer is the easiest time to change or reform your eating habits, so make it happen. There are numerous free apps for your Smartphone that will help you keep a food diary, or take the old-fashioned route and write down everything you eat in a notebook or journal. You may be in for a real shock. We do an awful lot of mindless eating in this profession - whether you’re pushing a patrol car or patrolling a desk - and keeping track of what you’re shoveling in is a great way to get control. Again, do your research; find out how what and how much you should be consuming each day and plan ahead. Prepare and bring your own food to work (hit the local farmer’s market in your beat for fresh options) or get a copy of the fast food edition of “Eat This Not That” and find out how many calories are really in that frozen mocha latte you suck down at the beginning of every shift. The goal is not to look like a supermodel, but rather to enhance your physical skills with the proper fuel for your body. The bonus to all of this? You’ll feel so much better.
Also make sure you wear sunscreen (it’s not just wrinkle prevention, it helps prevent cancer too), keep your hair out of your way (a ponytail might be cute, but it’s not safe, it’s a handle for a dirtbag who wants to hurt you; keep your hair up and tight against your head or cut it short), and drink tons of water (hydration is key to your survival as well as essential to your critical thinking skills)! Take care of your body as well as you maintain your other essential tools.
We have a lot going on this summer. The economy is bad, racial tensions are high, and government mistrust is rampant. People are more likely to shoot at us, yet our budgets and our staffing have been pared to the bone. The “occupiers” and their fellow anarchists are coming out of hibernation as are the gangs, burglars, thieves and terrorists who may have lain low during the winter. Add all that to the usual warm weather antics of our citizens, and it looks like we’re going to have a busy summer!