It’s a common effect of returning back from active duty. After spending months to a year at a time in a harsh environment, constantly performing high level activity, limited calorie intake, and perspiring, we come back a little underweight but in top physical form. Then suddenly everything shifts, you’re not longer active, there’s a wealth of delicious food and drinks at your disposal, and the pounds start coming on at an incredible rate. The beers at all the welcome back parties, the bbq, the fun nights out with your buddies. It’s only natural, our bodies are wired by evolution to do this. You come back in a starvation/survival state, and with the sudden influx of nutrition, your body thinks this moment is rare and will start storing most of it as fat to hold you over when the next lean time comes. But there is no lean time, in today’s modern world calories are easy to come by. I gained 45 pounds in the time I had left active service and settled back to civilian life. Only recently in the last 6 months have I started to do something about it with an exercise regimen. It’s slow, but steady progress.
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 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.
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, small plastic containers of pasta my wife made me. I made sure to bring along gallons of water that I could fill my Hydration bladder with. Usually when I play at local indoor fields a small bottle of Gatorade is enough as I only work up a minor sweat; but something about the seriousness of the event website told me this was something I’d have to rely on my military training and background for. I also invited a few of my buddies (some from my unit and others who just like to play airsoft) to come along with me.
We parked at the location, paid the fees (45 for registration) received our mission objectives, and proceeded to our starting point a mile away. Though my pack was nowhere as near as it was (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!
I barely had time to catch my breath and gear up when we heard the call over the long range radio that the scenario had started. Our small platoon locked and loaded their
Airsoft guns and we rolled out. Apart from me and my buddies, a lot of the other players were older teenagers, so we weren’t the most coordinated, but that added to the fun. It was frenetic and we were running around at top speed, weaving between trees and plywood barricades. When we called lunch I had gone through my entire 2.5 liter hydration bladder and had to refill! I was amazed at how much water I had gone through. I also knew that being hydrated also made me the most efficient fat burning machine.
Usually when working out, I can forget to drink water because I’m almost done with a set of reps, or it’s a hassle to carry when running. Not when playing airsoft. Your body demands it so badly you’re constantly chugging it down between mouthfuls of air. For lunch I could almost feel the food energize me as I ate it, which meant that it was being used for playing, rather than storing in my gut.
The rest of the day was a fantastic fun. I was running, dodging, sliding, and splashing my way across the woods, breathing in fresh clean air. Activities like airsoft take you out of the structured norm, and lets you have a good sense of your own body and how far it’s come in terms of physical improvement. I knew before I started my workout routine 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have survived a few hours of playing at this level of intensity. I think going to these serious airsoft events provides a good training checkup to see if I’ve improved overall. It also gives me something to work towards every month or so, and changes the mindset I have when I work out. “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 strong motivator to keep my motivation going. Attending these events helps add some clear personal goals in my journey to lose these “civvy” pounds
To find a nearby field you can go to this site, http://www.airsplat.com/states.htm it has a full listing of fields and local groups by state, so you can plan your next intense physical outing. I now make a point to go at least once a month. I am able to exercise, be outside, spend time with a few friends and best of all, it’s really inexpensive.