April 2015

April Blog of Education
Health Tips from Kev

I’m often asked about health and fitness. Let me preface this response by saying I’m not a certified nutritionist or trainer, I am just someone with over 20 years of weight training experience and plenty of time on the road and trail running. I’ve cut weight for tournaments and packed on bulk when I wanted it for strength. I don’t know everything but  I have listened to some of the best who are certified pros and have developed a program that works for me. Hopefully these tips will work for you.  If you feel inspired by any of these ideas, check with a physician, seek proper training and learn your limits.

Glowing Green Smoothie

The “Glowing Green” Smoothie by Kim Snyder. Start your day off right!

1. Investments Are More Than Financial
You never regret investing in your health. Some of my immediate circle of friends and family were shocked when they found out how much I paid for my Vitamix blender. Sure, the upfront cost can lead to sticker shock but since the fall of 2012, I’ve enjoyed using almost daily it to turn fruit and vegetables into smoothies, soups, puddings and salsas. My consumption of dark leafy greens has absolutely increased and I can’t adequately describe the overall sensation of feeling clean. Since a lot of the people reading this are my fellow knife enthusiasts, let me relate it this way. I own some expensive knives I don’t use everyday. My blender provides me a return on my investment more than some of my high end blades. Spend your money wisely thinking about the value of your purchase in the grand scheme.

My friends were quick to judge me for my blender purchase but were more supportive when they heard about the sacrifices I made to cut weight on a few occasions. An hour here, an hour and a half there, the time adds up. When you think about the amount of time it takes to burn 100 calories walking, running, swimming or any other activity, the amount of time can be overwhelming and reaching your goals seems impossible. To achieve results, you need to invest time in your training. Have a goal but think about your workouts one day at a time. I once heard Married with Children/Modern Family star Al Bundy describe his motivation for achieving a Black Belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. All it took was him to “Get out the door.” You’re more likely going to regret not working out than working out hard. Just get out the door.

2. Drink Water
So many people walk around dehydrated on a daily basis. Depending on your activity level, you will need to drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water on a daily basis. Get a good water bottle, something stainless so you can wash it in the dishwasher and even boil with it in a fire, and drink from it frequently. Don’t chug your water as it will go right through you. Sip it like the Bedouin tribe and let it work it’s way into your body. If you can’t stand the taste, slice up a lemon and put that in your bottle. Monitor your hydration by observing the color of your urine. It should be almost clear. If it looks like lemonade, orange juice or concentrated orange juice, you need to drink more.

Think about your muscles as an elastic band. When an elastic band dries out, it cracks and snaps. You have these elastic bands all throughout your body and depending on your muscle mass, you will need plenty of water to keep them stretchy. Without enough water in your body, your muscles will cramp and fail you. When muscles fail, more stress is put on the body and injuries occur. Drink water folks.

Also, if you really want a pick me up, look into Nuun electrolyte tablets. When you sweat a lot, your body depletes not only water but salt. I found the Nuun brand to be the best of the electrolyte replacement tabs available. During a heatwave a couple years ago, they were passed around the campfire and just about everyone remarked how the “light switch” went on once they kicked in. They’re safe for the caffeine sensitive and I simply can’t say enough good things about them.

3. Develop Functional Strength and Flexibility
Starting my freshman year in high school until about 2008 (that is roughly 13 years) I was consumed with strength training. Benching was my thing (like most guys) and I was making good gains pushing up 300+ pounds. I spent hours developing muscle isolated on a bench and was interested in beach muscle. In 2007, I picked up martial arts again and became hooked with that training. Through martial arts (Sayoc Kali, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing), I learned better body awareness and flexibility. After realizing how certain training (kettlebells, deadlifts, burpees) enhanced my martial arts ability, I stopped my gym membership and exclusively trained in martial arts. I wanted to make sure how I worked out reflected my scenario based training. Everything I did was focused for a specific purpose.

The moral of that story is simple, train your body for the functions you wish it to perform. If you want explosive power, you need dynamic workouts like kettlebell swings, cleans and kipping pullups. Use the internet to find workouts meant for your sport or activity. Martial arts, hiking, kayaking, all of these have workouts for you online so Google them. By the way, your core can never be too strong regardless of whatever activity you’re participating in so do another set of crunches, plank or leg raises. Once you feel like you’ve met your goals through attribute training, don’t level off. Read the section below about cross training to see how to level up from here.

4. Build Endurance
If there is one characteristic of a survivor a workout can help with, it is endurance. Cardiovascular endurance cannot be overrated and adrenaline can only take you so far. Imagine gassing out after the first five rounds knowing there are five more to go. Imagine making it to the summit without the energy leftover to make your way back down. Imagine running a friction fire set to the point where your coal is about to form only to tire out prematurely. Think about the scenarios in your lifetime where you told yourself you cannot go on. Now imagine you had the opportunity to do something about your ability prior to that. Here is the reality, you did have the chance, you just didn’t take it. We live in a world where convenience has affected our endurance. Baggage is wheeled, elevators and escalators make us abandon the stairs and we would rather drive around lap after lap looking for a parking spot nearest the door than park on the other side of the parking lot. Build your endurance everyday by deliberately doing work and bucking the convenience thrown in your face that just makes you weaker.

Endurance training comes in many forms and we all hit our walls in one way or another. Set a realistic goal and work your way to that goal with each workout. If you want to be able to run a 5k in the 24:00 minute zone and have never broken out of a jogging pace, don’t expect to do it overnight. Build endurance first and speed will come later. If you want to have more endurance for hiking under the weight of a pack, slowly add weight to your pack and increase the distance. Going too far too fast is counter productive but there are times when you need to have “long” days where you do push yourself just slightly more than you can handle. Why train endurance? I ask, “why not?”

5. Cross Train for the Unexpected

Students often wonder about my energy during courses and seminars. Some have joked and inquired if it can be bottled. If you have been on any trips or courses with me,  you know I fire on all cylinders and will teach as long as students are willing to learn. Staying in shape is a requirement as an instructor and survivalist. From cutting wood on trips and courses to portaging canoes around to hiking at altitude, I’m always up for a physical challenge thanks to crosstraining. I previously mentioned the need to build attribute strength, flexibility and endurance but I also recommend building strength in other forms as well. Never miss leg day and challenge yourself by researching various ways to exercise. The muscles and breathing used for running are not necessarily the same for swimming. Those used for kettlebell snatches are not the same for indoor rock climbing. The world is your gym when you realize your workout is limited only by your imagination. When you get comfortable after a workout or feel like it isn’t challenging anymore, move onto something else and keep challenging yourself. You may wonder how pushing a weight sled will ever help you until you have to push a car through muck or snow. You may feel like a workout is ridiculous until the unexpected happens where that muscle memory kicks in and all that physical preparation gives you an edge over your competition. Don’t limit yourself to one type of training as it is a surefire way to fail.

As a survival instructor, I need to be on point with the information I present and the skills I demonstrate. I owe it to my students to be credible and reliable for the skills I teach could mean the difference between life or death. A survival instructor MUST inspire confidence in skills and there can be no doubt he/she owns their skillset and is an authority. A survival instructor should live a lifestyle that reflects his/her trade (much like a personal fitness trainer should embody personal fitness standards).  Since we all are born only to begin to die, the challenge isn’t just living ( we all lose this battle), the challenge is how you live. Developing skills and understanding of the natural world makes life easier and is an obvious part of good living but something often overlooked in the survival community is wellness. What will you do to live a better life? It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf and make your life better through fitness training.