During my second deployment, I had finally got my diet dialed in before I got wounded in combat and then sent home for surgery.
I greatly regressed post deployment until I became a personal trainer. My diet fluctuated but was mostly healthy, except for the unchecked alcohol consumption. It got worse as my third and final deployment approached.
I wasn’t eating out as much and I was cooking most of my meals. My stress was pretty high, due to an unhappy home life and the stresses of being in charge of 12 other soldiers.
This led to a continued abuse of alcohol.
The night before I left for my 3rd deployment, 2009, I ran a red light, almost hitting another vehicle. I should not have been driving.
That was a wake up call that lasted for a little while.
During part of our training we were ordered to consume no alcohol and, to my knowledge, my detachment was the only one that followed that order.
While overseas, I was lucky enough to get my best friend and fellow lifting partner put into my detachment. The war in Iraq was over and we were closing bases, so as time passed, I had a couple other soldiers that joined us for daily workouts.
My diet was about as perfect as you can get while overseas. I ate a lot of grilled chicken, wraps, eggs, and steak every Sunday. I didn’t eat anything fried and I only had dessert once or twice a month. Add that to the 2-3 hours a day I’d spend in the gym and I felt and looked great. I found it easy to maintain a healthy eating habit when you have limited choices and others that were doing the same thing as I was.
In 2010, I came home in some of the best shape I have ever been in. When I came home, I wanted to continue to stay in shape and find something to keep me active.
I found rugby and Krav Maga.
I went back to college at George Mason University to finally finish up a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While I was there, I joined the club rugby team and started to attend Krav classes twice a week. Needless to say, I was extremely fit. I loved the physicality and fitness of rugby and Krava Maga.
There was one major problem though, drinking is a huge part of rugby.
Wake Up Call
It was Halloween weekend of 2010 and I was at the rugby house for a post match party. While there, I got into an argument with one of the players’ girlfriends. I don’t remember what it was about but that’s not important. What is important was what followed that argument.
Deciding I didn’t want to ruin the party, I left. I had been there for a few hours and I definitely wasn’t in any condition to drive.
My house was about a 15 minute drive from campus and I planned on taking the back roads to avoid as much traffic, and police, as possible. I was at the light around the corner from my house when I decided to do a big burnout in my truck and cause it to slide around the left turn I was making.
What I didn’t see as I was doing this was the unmarked police car sitting at the light.
As I pulled onto my street, I suddenly saw blue lights flashing behind me. I was f*cked. I will never forget this moment.
When the officer asked if I had been drinking, I slurred, “Yes Sir”. He asked where I was going and I pointed to my house. I could literally see it from where I pulled over. He took my license and walked back to his cruiser.
I thought for sure I was going to jail.
My nursing career was over before it started. You can’t be a nurse with a DUI on your record.
He came back up to my window and asked if the purple heart license plate belonged to me. I said it did. He replied that he respected my service and that he had an important call to get to go. He drove me to my house, made me wake up my wife, and told her if he sees that my truck has moved, he would file for a warrant for my arrest. Obviously I owe this officer a huge amount of gratitude and thanks. I wish I could remember his name.
That was a huge wake up call and I managed to control my drinking for a while. That next semester I began applying to police departments because I was done with the college atmosphere.
This is now 2011 and I was hired by Prince William County Police Department. I did disclose my traffic stop and luckily it didn’t ruin my chances. During the police academy, I joined my first box, Crossfit Liberation. It was owned by a former Special Forces soldier, so I felt at home.
During the academy I moved, so I had to move to another box. It was there that I first experimented with the Paleo diet.
Paleo is somewhat restrictive in what you can eat. The Paleo diet consists mostly meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. It excludes dairy, grain products and processed food. I had great results as far my physique was concerned but my strength performance suffered.
After Paleo, I simply focused on eating enough calories and enough protein. I would say my diet was a healthier version of your standard American diet. I ate whole grains over enriched, mostly lean meats with the occasional rib-eye, drank mostly water and I got plenty of exercise in. By now I was coaching at a box while being a police officer.
I viewed my health and fitness to be literally life or death. If you’re overweight and lack strength and fitness, being in a foot pursuit or in a combative situation could mean the end of your life, or worse, your partner’s.
Overall, I was feeling good and performing well. I never lost a foot pursuit and never had anyone out power me when trying to place them under arrest.
Improper Coping Mechanisms
The only problem was that I got two weekends off a month and my close squad mates and I would go out and de-stress by hitting the bars in the D.C. area.
We used Uber or the Metro to get us around, but I can recall spending hundreds of dollars a month on going out. It was taking a toll on me financially. It wasn’t until February 14, 2015 that this all changed.
You’ll find out why next week.