Guest Post by John DurfeeIt's very common for those serving in the military to gain weight quickly when returning from duty. I personally gained 45 pounds in the year after I came home. We go from a state of constant high activity and limited nutrition to one of excess and low activity. The sudden weight gain just demonstrates how our modern civilization is in conflict with our evolutionary means of consuming food and staying active. I now workout regularly to combat the weight, but it's a slow and gradual battle: easy to put on, twice as hard to take off.
I work for Airsplat, which is a large retailer of Airsoft equipment. Though I am an expert on our equipment, I had not thoroughly explored the spectrum of activities centered on Airsoft. One day, when my feet were dragging a bit, I decided I was going to give one of the Airsoft MilSim (military simulation) excursions a try. I thought it could be a great active adventure and diversion from my normal fitness routine – I was more than right. Not only was I outside and active, but it was intense and due to the nature of the game, I felt like I was doing burst training as I sprinted from blockade to blockade to avoid being shot. What was even more compelling for me was, for once, I felt like I was putting all the hours in the gym to use.
The day was fantastic and entertaining. I paid my entrance fee, met with my team, and we started the day. I was running, dodging, sliding, and splashing my way across the woods, breathing in fresh clean air. I felt rejuvenated, had more energy, and was clearheaded for days afterwards. When I got home I reflected and have outlined the reasons why airsoft, such a simple and fun activity, is a fat and calorie blaster!
Kidney and liver health through water: Think of your kidney and liver as the filters to a car, they take out all the impurities and keep the car running at optimal performance (metabolism) Eating junk food and too much salt, sugar, fat, and alcohol, slow down the performance and flow of filtering. Drinking water dilutes the toxins, increases the flow, and makes your metabolism run at optimum speed. Though my pack was nowhere near as heavy as it was when I was on active duty (45 lbs with body armor in Iraq) the 20 or so pounds I had on me started to work up a good sweat; needless to say I felt my blood pressure rise when I saw our starting camp was on a rather steep ridge. By the time I got to the camp I was soaked, and we hadn't even started playing yet! Throughout the day I kept refilling my 2 liter hydration bladder with cold refreshing water, and my body couldn't get enough. All this activity outdoors reminds you how important it is to stay hydrated.
Small meals: I prepared for the event with a military mindset. I packed my car with (a more palatable version of) military rations: Protein Bars, Jerky, dried fruits, some apples, small plastic containers of pasta my wife made me. During real tours of duty you're really eating on the go, a bite here and there, nothing smaller than can fit in the palm of your hand. This was very much the same way we've evolved to eat, hunting and gathering small amounts here and there. This way of eating, 5 or 6 small meals a day, actually raises your metabolism more because you are burning through calories at a steady rate. Also, you need both hands on your airsoft gun, so you have to eat fast and small or get "killed" with your mouth full!
Goal Setting: Activities like airsoft are a great treat to yourself if you're really dedicated to losing weight and keeping it off. All the extreme physical activity lets you have a good sense of your own body and how far it has come in terms of physical improvement. Before I started my workout routine 6 months ago, I wouldn't have even made it a through a few hours of playing airsoft at that level of intensity. Going to these serious airsoft events provides a good training checkup and it also gave me something in the future to work towards. It changed my workout mentality. Instead of simply getting through it, I was thinking - "this will help me be little faster than the other guys", "this will help me carry my gear around better after hours of playing". I'm the kind of person that needs a clear goal to keep motivated. Attending these Milsim airsoft events gives me tangible goals in my journey to lose these "civvy" pounds To find a nearby field, AirSplat has a comprehensive listing of airsoft fields, so you can plan your next intense physical outing. I try to go at least two times a month, and it gives me something to look forward to, and definitely breaks up the monotony of ‘focused' workouts on the track or at the gym.
John Durfee is a Gulf War veteran and the marketing manager for Airsplat, the nation's largest retailer of Airsoft Guns and Airsoft Apparel.