Army Profile: Injury Recovery and Rebuilding Discipline

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Photo: Yelena Yemchuk

Injury and illness can happen to anyone. It's easy to slide to the dark side by thinking your body has failed you and that you have to start your training over again.

These moments of demotivation and depression are real, but you have to reframe it or you will let this injury eat you from the inside out, even after you've recovered from the physical setbacks.

Here is an email from a formerly injured Army reservist on profile who needs to get moving again for many reasons: general health, wellness, mindset and to keep from losing his job.

I am a specialist in the Army Reserve. I am currently on profile and very overweight. I came across your program for military training. Due to my current injury, no motivation and self-pity, I have let myself go. When I came back from basic and AIT four years ago, that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I want to become that soldier again. I must admit I need to be motivated and pushed to get back on track. Thank you for your time and your service. Sincerely, Manny T

Manny, I understand. Getting injured or ill can really affect your motivation, especially when you feel like you have to start over again. But look at it this way -- you GET to start over again.

Not everyone is offered that option after an injury or illness. Realize that starting over is a challenge and accept it. Remember when you wanted to join the Army in the first place and had to train to prepare yourself? Tap into that mindset and the energy of a recruit or candidate and go back to that kind of drive, determination and focus.

My advice is to treat yourself like a beginner with a recruit mindset, but you also need to focus on what will keep you in the Army by emphasizing PT test events and weight loss.

You will accomplish this goal by daily training (even if just walking or rucking) and building better eating habits (eat better and eliminate what is unhealthy). You have to burn more calories by moving than you consume throughout the day to lose weight. It is hard to be depressed or unmotivated when you are moving, so get moving all day, even if it's only walking.

Remember that, when you train daily, you should be focused on eating better and hydrating for more energy and recovery before your next workout.

I like to earn my food through physical activity -- even if that's only a 10- to 15-minute walk before or after a meal. Depending on your weight and injury, you may have to do more non-impact cardio options (and/or walking) before you consider running. Here are more diet suggestions for you to consider and see what you like and what works for you.

You are not alone. Many of us get depressed or de-motivated when injured or ill. I personally feel like my body has failed me for a while, but you have to snap out of that mindset. Go back to your discipline of being a soldier because that attitude is what will get you through every time.

There will be days that you are not motivated; that is natural. Your initial motivation energy to write this email has to go into building daily habits of training and eating smaller but healthier portions. These habits become discipline. Discipline will be the key to your success of staying in the Army.

Once you are ready to start improving on the PFT , running faster or training for the new CFT, check out these articles and programs.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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