How A Conversation With A War Veteran Changed My Outlook & Approach To Fitness
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” just kidding. But really though, one time when I helping customers at the check-out stand I ended running into this one reaaalllyyy buff older gentlemen. I mean this guy looked like Thor (before Avengers Endgame). Our conversation about health and fitness for men changed the way I approach exercising. In fact his story also taught me about the importance of developing self discipline.
So while we’re talking, I come to find out that this guy was a Vietnam war veteran. I was so mesmerized at how this guy looked like a demi-god but at the same time is old enough to be my grandfather. Health & fitness from a war vet’s perspective was not only interesting but also very enlightening.
-Side note: We all know that both men and women should learn to be disciplined and apply it to their fitness routine. But since the site is called Men’s Healthy Fitness that’s who’s being addressed in the post. Now back to the story-
Also if you’ve ever wondered if you need a gym membership or not check out https://menshealthyfit.com/no-gym-learn-5-benefits-to-doing-calisthenics/ to find your answer.
So as we’re talking I told him how I had a hard time gaining weight and turning it into muscle due to my high metabolism. When I voiced that him he to me “kid…don’t worry too much about gaining muscle. That part comes later. Sure no man wants to stay skinny or thin but take it from me when I tell ya; start focusing on your abilities and not your physique”.
When I asked him is that what he learned in the army he said “Absolutely. In the army back in my day the only thing we were concerned about was being strong enough to fight, survive and win. I look at guys your age who are built, most of them just try to look strong. Sure they aren’t weak…at all, but I’d pull these wimps apart and break ’em down”.
When I pointed out to him respectfully that he can say that because he’s a veteran he responded by saying “you’re right but let me tell you something here kid, even though I’m in my 70s I ain’t retired yet. I do steel manufacturing work and lots of guys your age (I was 23 at the time) are big guys but I outwork these chumps everyday at work. Don’t focus too much on being big in muscle. Just center your attention on discipline and pushing yourself physically. Not somethin’ mainstream society will tell you but that’s the truth kid.”
How Our Conversation Changed The Way I View The Purpose Of Exercising
True that you may not have a conversation as dramatic as talking to a Vietnam war veteran but what he said did some real changes on the way I look at fitness. Even though he was older and I’m in my youth, a war vet’s view on fitness did help me to see the importance of prioritizing something more important that physical aesthetics.
When I said to him “Man something tells me you’re stronger than me.” he responded by saying “I am stronger that you. But I had to discipline my mind and body. You can get like that too but not if you’re worried about being buff as the next guy like you see in magazines.“
The point that he was making was to prioritize discipline and functional strength is more important than being ripped. When you develop this mentality and you constantly apply yourself, then the results start to show in your physique. We’re too busy comparing ourselves with the next guy but not occupied enough to constantly push ourselves with the purpose to having functional strength.
What’s notable for me to point out is that he wasn’t trying to share some theory he came up with. But he was speaking from the experience of being in the army and using the discipline he acquired. Now I’m sure he’s not as strong as he was in his prime, but the fact that he does STEEL MANUFACTURING in his 70s should speak volume on the importance of putting discipline & functional strength over acquiring that dream spartan-like body.
How I View Men’s Health & Fitness Now When Exercising
Occasionally I’ll look in the mirror and I’ll be like “Ha haaa…I am seeing progress”. But when I think to my conversation with Captain America (referencing to the Vietnam war veteran…every pun intended) I stop and ask myself “Am I tracking progress of my appearance or my physical capabilities?”
If you constantly as a skinny, thin or slender focus so much on your appearance as opposed to refining your performance, then eventually discouragement will settle in due to a seemingly like of progress. Like mentioned I before, no man wants to stay skinny but discipline is what helps you break you limits 1st and then see results later.
You may want to go from being skinny to jacked to look good at the beach, or to get the woman who’s finer than red, red wine, but if that’s the mindset that you adopt do you think that you’ll be able to boldly say “I ain’t retired yet and I’m in my early to mid 70s” and still have a body like Captain America? With the mentality and the intent of looking good (which is NOT inherently wrong) probably not. With the mindset of being disciplined first and training to sharpen your physical performance constantly I’m sure you can make that claim in the future. In time you can make the same claim Captain America made with me at the grocery store.
It’s amazing what a war vet’s view on fitness can do for. That conversion was a while ago and it still holds value to this day. As the saying goes you really can learn a lot from your elders.
Prioritizing Performance Over Physique (Developing Self Discipline)
“Wait, what other people who prioritize performance over physique?” you might be thinking. But you already know who they are. If you can’t think of any then how about I jog your memory…
- Martial Artist (For the most part)
- People who do calisthenics as a sport (YouTube it)
- Soldiers in the army (based off of what Captain America told me)
The most impressive of these ones listed are gymnast. Why I say that? Because if you pay attention to male gymnast and take a look at their build, they…look…like…titans. Those guys are HUGE, and yet they are more concerned with discipline and performance over looking big. In other words their main concern is not just looking strong but actually being strong.
Herschel Walker for instance is an athlete who’s built like a monster but focuses more on prioritizing physical performance. If you’ve never heard of him then do a google or YouTube search. If you know exactly who I’m talking about you probably know that 95%-99% of his exercises are just calisthenics and that, like you’ve been reading in this post, he became the way he is through discipline and constantly pushing. As a result of his training he got that Thor like physique.
Now to be honest I would have never considered these facts had I considered a war vet’s view on fitness. Most notably the Vietnam war veteran’s view that I had mentioned earlier.
To Sum It Up (Health & Fitness For You)
I’m not saying to completely all together to stop looking at how you look. It’s normal to want to look muscular; no man wants to look like he desperately needs a sandwich. But it’s very imperative to keep the way you look in it’s proper place and to never put the way you look over the way you perform.
One of the best ways to develop a mindset of performance over physique is to observe someone who already has this mentality. This will help you to understand what it takes to be prioritize performance over aesthetics whenever you do any type of fitness. When you find the answer that you’re looking for adopt the same mentality every time you are about to begin or go through a workout.
So that was what a war vet’s view on fitness taught me. As always share your thoughts in the comment section below about the post over all or something that either fascinated you or share your opinion about the a certain of the post that stood out to you.
Remember to be healthy & stay fit.