After 12 years on active duty, I remember thinking about the early mornings I spent doing physical training. I thought about so many mornings that I spent wiping the sleep from my eyes getting ready to walk to formation for another exhilarating session of PT. I thought about the 6-mile runs, the 12-mile ruck marches, and slipping and sliding in the ice in Fort Drum’s subzero temperatures. I had gotten to the point where I had a lot of pain and was ready for a break from PT, but I quickly realized that taking a break just wasn’t an option and I needed to look for ways to stay healthy after the military.
Develop a Post-Separation Workout Plan
Like many veterans who separate or retire from the military, I saw my separation as a time to relax. I saw it as a time to wake up on my own schedule and work out when I chose to. The problem was that I quickly started focusing on other things and putting my workouts to the side.
After all, working my way through the details of transition needed to be one of my highest priorities, right? But as I missed more and more workouts, I began to notice my stress level getting higher and higher. And as I started to add on a few post-separation pounds, I could hear my inner soldier telling me there was no excuse for getting out of shape. I needed a new workout plan!
In the military, we used specific workout plans that prepared us for the missions we would face. It is no different when transitioning from the military. Developing a post-separation workout plan is about overcoming the challenge to stay fit that many veterans face after the military. It is about redefining yourself and staying physically and mentally fit.
Whether your plan involves running, walking, playing sports or weightlifting at the gym, the most important part is to have fun doing what you love to do. Your mind and body will thank you.
Take Ownership of Your Own Health Care
One of the great benefits of being in the military is the world-class health care that we receive while on active duty. Sure, many of us may see it in a different light while we’re in the military, but think of the wide range of services that we have available to us. And to top it all off, it’s free.
Another thing that makes the deal even sweeter is the fact that we don’t have to think about much of our health care. The military reminds us when it’s time for an annual exam, a dental exam and many other important checkups that keep our clocks ticking. The military invests a great deal of resources in us, and for good reason. Staying healthy and fit means our military has a strong and ready force to fight America’s wars.
Life outside the military is much different. We no longer have someone who will remind us to get our annual checkups and our necessary tests done. It is something we must take ownership of in order to stay healthy and fit in our new life. Many veterans avoid being seen for certain issues while in the military for fear of it hindering their career.
Taking ownership of your health means taking care of yourself and your medical care. It involves becoming an advocate for your own health care and taking the time to understand the best treatment plans that help you be your best self.
Keep Your Stress Level Low
Transition can be an incredibly stressful time. It presents a wide range of challenges that can all cause a lot of stress.
Keeping a consistent workout schedule is a great way to keep stress low. Learning how to relieve stress is an important part of navigating the mazes of transition.
There are many reasons why you should exercise and take care of yourself, but one of the biggest might possibly be to relieve stress. Transition and adjusting to life outside of the military is hard enough without having health problems, and stress make it worse. Take the time to develop a plan to stay healthy and your transition and new life will be a much better experience.
Jamaal Wheaton is a recently transitioned Army veteran with over 12 years of active duty service. He is the founder and owner of the Wheaton Group, a public relations firm that specializes in being a voice for veteran and military related issues. Jamaal currently works as a government contractor for the federal government and shares his personal experience of transition with the hopes of helping others navigate the through their own transition.
Are you too busy to fit in a good workout? Check out “5 Ways to Fit in Fitness at Work.”