5 Ways to Start "Manning Up" After Sedentary Life - ITS Tactical

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5 Ways to Start “Manning Up” After Sedentary Life

By ITS Guest Contributor


Editor-in-Chief’s Note: This was originally posted in our forum by ITS Tactical Crew Leader Firewalker. Many found it to be inspirational and we wanted to share it with you. There’s a bit of language, but sometimes you have to tell it like it is.

I’ve had a pretty easy life for the past little while. I went to work, came home, watched TV, played video games, went to bed, got fat, got lazy, got useless. I would generally only get off my ass at work. Now, I did this for quite a few years and got used to the easy life. It’s hard not to. However, in the past year or so, I’ve gone through a bit of a change and decided my shitty job in Security wasn’t going to pay bills for my family (well, soon to be. It’s just me, the wife and a cat for now.) I decided I needed something new, so I went into welding.

Changing from the easy life of doing nothing all day, to one where I’m working hard for the day, meant that I had to get back into shape. I had developed a nice beer gut and some formerly tougher parts had grown weak. This had to change, so I figured out 5 simple ways of making my life easier by living harder.

1. Just because you can do it easily, doesn’t mean you should.

I always found the easiest way of doing things because I was lazy and had no motivation. However, in my new trade, I had to do a lot of lifting and carrying and what not that used muscles that hadn’t seen movement in years. Now the simplest of tasks for others were a bit of a struggle. I decided that if they were a struggle, that eventually they would become easy if I just kept at it. So I did.

Eventually, the difficult things became easy. Now I wasn’t improving, I had simply plateaued. So I figured, instead of making it easy on myself, why not add a bit of challenge into it?If I have the time, Instead of one load of plates, I’ll take one and a half, or two. This can apply to any job or task. Raking leaves or  shoveling  snow? Don’t just rake or shovel your yard, ask your neighbour if they need help. Walking to and from work? Get up early and find a longer route.

If it gets easy, take on more. Take on as much as reasonable, then add a bit more to that. You’ll find that the challenge becomes something you actively seek out, rather than avoid.

2. Stop consuming shitty stuff.

This is the easiest concept, but hardest challenge. It used to be that I’d have to have two donuts and an extra large 2 cream, 2 sugar coffee in the morning (I still have the coffee, but I’ve cut it down to 1 x 1 and I also use milk instead of cream. Some things you just need to prevent murder.) On top of that, dinner often consisted of fast food, as it was just easier and faster than cooking at home.

Since I needed to pay for college (welding course at a trade college,) I lost the luxury of spending money on fast food. This meant I had to plan for meals in advance to budget out our grocery costs. My wife and I sit down and figure out our meal plan for the month, we keep the meals balanced and the portions reasonable. However, not only have our food costs dropped from $500 per month to $100-150 per month, so has my weight. Sort of, but I’ll get to that later.

Not only is shitty food expensive in the long run (for example, on the cheap side: 4 x $2 burgers + $2 drink = $10 per night x 7 = $70 per week x 4 = $280 per month on DINNER alone,) but it’s more detrimental to your health. I’m 29 years old, had the blood pressure and cholesterol level of a 45 year old smoker and would get winded going up stairs. All of this was because of my shitty diet. I know this seems simple, but the math alone was enough for us to break out of the fast food prison.

The other thing is alcohol. I was an alcoholic when I met my wife. I didn’t need AA or anything, I just needed a reason to stop drinking and she gave me that reason. When I met her, I weighed 250 lbs (at 5′ 11″, that was mostly gut.) I recommend cutting alcohol consumption down to an “occasional” type of thing. I really only drink on special occasions now in a social setting, rather than just getting blitzed for the sake of it. I feel better, and my wallet is fatter for it.

If you’re an alcoholic and can’t stop drinking on your own, you might not need to go to AA, but could benefit from some sort of outside assistance. Talk to your doctor for recommendations.

3. Be a man, not a boy.

This is difficult to grasp for some of us. I know it took me a while, but I got it. Being a man isn’t about eating meat, drinking beer and fighting bears. Being a man is about responsibility for yourself and your family. It sounds simple, but it isn’t.

Taking into account your actions and how they affect others is not something we, as humans, are built for. It takes conditioning, something I lacked growing up. I grew up in a great home; no divorce and a happy childhood filled with great times. However, I was pretty much given everything I could ask for. I rarely had chores beyond raking leaves or shovelling snow (which would be done half-assed so I could get back to my video games.) My parents were great parents, but had trouble disciplining me or teaching me important things like responsibility.

This ended up faulting me as a man, as it took me longer to realize what I was supposed to do. They did their best and I love them for it, but they could have been harder on me to prepare me for the real world.

I learned that being a man is all about providing for yourself and your family. You need to contribute to the house beyond financial means. Help out with the dishes, do some yard work, etc. Do those chores you were supposed to do as a kid. Beyond that, you do need to put food on the table. If that means taking on two jobs, then do it. I’m working on weekends and going to school on weekdays. If I could fit work in the evenings, I’d be doing that too (I do need to sleep though.) Responsibility is a hell of a motivator.

If you know another person is relying on you, it makes you get your it together pretty quickly. If you’re married and you’re concerned you’re not doing enough, then do more. Don’t ask what needs to be done, just find what needs to be done and do it.

It’s that simple. If it means bringing more money in, then try your best (these times are tough, so it’s easier said than done). If it means working at McDonald’s even though you have a Masters degree, then so be it. It’s not demeaning, it’s providing for a family and that is NEVER demeaning, no matter how it is done.

A true man will do anything to make sure the family is taken care of.

4. Live Like You’re in the 30’s.

This one is probably the easiest to accomplish. You’ve had a long day on your feet for 8 hours and the last thing you want to do is go to the gym. That’s fine, I feel that way too.

With my workload, I am exhausted when I get home from a long day. I really don’t want to lift weights after doing so much work in the shop (although, to be fair, see #1 for how I get my extra exercise in.)

The easiest way to relax while still taking a load off is by not sitting at a TV, computer, iPod, iPhone, whatever. Want to take a load off? Go for a walk to a park with your friends or significant other. Get out, go somewhere, but do it by foot. Go to a library, read a book, walk back home. It’s simple.

Live like you’re in the 30’s and avoid all of our modern conveniences. If you want to just relax, do it away from home and get there by foot. When you start to realize how much more enjoyable life can be without technology, you’ll also learn to appreciate the technology we have more without abusing it. You don’t need a car to go to the store 5 minutes away, get off your ass and walk there.

People swoon after the simple life of the 30’s for a reason. It’s because there was nothing to keep us distracted back then. We had to strive to survive and if we didn’t, we died. A mentality like that goes a long way in days like these.

5. Learn to love living.

Sappy time.  I was a pretty miserable bastard for the longest time. Truth be told, I still have my moments (clinical depression is pretty hard to deal with, but that’s for another story). However, when I decided that my life was shit because of the choices I made, I made a change to better myself and learned one thing that will make you the strongest.  Living life is great.

Motivation to make yourself better is the best conditioning tool that no one talks about. Being fat and sad is one thing, but being able to break yourself out of that is paramount to moving the pillars of the earth. It’s the hardest thing a person can do. If they’re battling clinical depression, that adds another layer of difficulty. A motivation element needs to be present in order to be a better person. This is the part that requires a huge look inside yourself to see what’s needed to change your life.

For me, it was realizing that I needed to provide for a family that I wanted to start. My wife saved me from drinking myself into an early grave, but it was the personal choice of wanting to give her a better life that made me snap out of “child mode.”

If you’re finding it hard to do anything in life because you just feel it has no point, you need to realize that it has a point. Living isn’t easy and it does suck at times, but you have to take the time to step back from the shit and smell the roses that are planted in it. For guys in the military, you know what I’m talking about. Good Livin’.

As a welder, I have a better analogy: Life is tempered by the heat of our tribulations and the cooling of our triumphs.

You need to push through the shit and learn to enjoy your accomplishments. Failure does happen and it can be tough, but the key is to remember that no matter how many times you fail, you can always try again with knowledge gained from your failures. If you found a marriage that didn’t work, you’ll know what not to do next time. If you had to quit a job or got fired, you’ll know what not to look for next time. It’s all about learning from failing.

Failure is the biggest key to success. If we never fell as babies, we would never have learned how to get back up.

In Closing

I hope this ramble has provided something for those who are in a slump like I was. I’ve been busy bettering myself and thanks to this site, I’ve found some tools to make accomplishing the above 5 steps easier. I now hope the anecdotes above will make it easier for you to get back on your feet.

Writing this has been a bit challenging (not as challenging as reading it, I’m sure!) It’s helping to prepare me for my next goal though. I hope to complete a GORUCK Challenge around my 30th Birthday in September (depending if I can get to one around then). If I can accomplish that, then I’ll know that I’ve made some serious strides in my life. From someone with no point in life, to a man who can take care of anything that may face him.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: When asked for a bio, Steve aka Firewalker, gave this: “Short Bio? Shit, I’m just a regular guy who didn’t want to be lazy anymore. I like guns, rum and loud music. I’m a welder by trade, really nothing interesting at all.”

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  • Gene Martin

    This was an inspiration to me. I am 14 and overweight, this article will really help me to get going in life.

    • Logan Anderson

      Just keep going, 2 years ago i was in the exact same situation. The best thing that i did was to find a sport I enjoyed playing.

    • Steve H

      Author here…

      I started my problems around that age and I find it was a lot to do with getting out of sports and getting into computers and video games. Spending hours in front of the TV or Monitor instead of going out and playing sports really brought my weight up.

      Best solution is to make yourself earn the right to play those games. Want to play an hour of video games? Well that’s going to cost 30 minutes of exercise. Come up with a plan like that and it’ll be a good start. The key is to kick your own ass and you’ll get it done.

  • Greg Natsch

    I just retired after 27 years. These are good words. I’m entering a new chapter, not a nursing home.

  • Carson G

    Firewalker, you are so right. Our society tends to portray men as selfish children, and I resent that. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that you’re working hard to be the man that your family needs. Also, great point about unplugging from tech and enjoying the real world. Nothing is more satisfying than enjoying time with loved ones.

  • Guru The Second

    oooh rah firewalker, ooh rah

  • just plain, awesome. thanks.

  • This was a great article, my friend, and absolutely a fantastic inspiration to kickoff the coming weekend. Bravo.

  • Davis

    I’m happy to see that this made it to prime time ITS, anybody that does not participate in the forums was really missing out.

  • Aaron K

    Good on you, sir! The part about being a man not a boy is so necessary in our generation (I’m 25). I’m so sick of seeing people our age wasting their lives away.

  • Alexander

    Good stuff. Thanks for posting.

  • William Hillman

    Excellent read. Great content. Very inspiring.

    I found myself falling victim to the daily grind the last few months. Work, kids, sleep…rinse and repeat. Bad diet, no gym, overspending. Blah, blah, blah…

    Thank you for taking the time.

    Audentes Fortuna Juvat

  • Raven

    This seems as if it was written just or me. I’m overweight, work in security, have a failed marriage but a great girl by my side now… I really needed this. Thanks for posting this, guys. This community really has saved and changed my life and even those around me. We really have a wonderful community together and it’s true what the article says: learn to enjoy good livin’. And Gene Martin, hang tough, man. You’re with good company here and I know you can accomplish your goals. Set em and go get em!

  • Casey

    Excellent article. I’m 29, and work in security, as well. I got promoted about a year ago, which took care of my money issues, but the new position requires much less physical work. My lifestyle has become sedentary – I’ve gained about twenty pounds, spend most of my off time in bed or on the couch, and rarely eat anything but fast food. I’ve never been this unmotivated and out of shape in my life. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only guy out there trying to talk himself into making a lifestyle change.

    • Steve H

      Security is such a stigmatized gig, but there are ways to do more. I found that doing extra patrols helped, but if you can’t, then the best bet is to look into doing office exercises.


      These helped me when I was stuck in security and wanting to do more. The other thing is fast food… Dear christ what a shitty thing to put into yourself. It’s easy and it’s fast, but you can circumvent that by preparing meals in advance. Healthy stuff like salad is easy, but full meals can be made on Saturday or Sunday, frozen, then you just take a container from the freezer, and you’re eating healthy and easily. Plus, it’ll give you more money in the bank in the long run.

  • WHW

    You are wise beyond your years. Thanks for the great article. I will add your words to my collection of inspirational classics. I will also recommend your article to many people I know. Again, great job.

  • Lynn Smith

    Well put, Firewalker.

  • Sara

    Thanks for this! I’ll be 61 in a few days. I’ve recently started working out at the local recreation center. Talk about finding muscles I’d forgotten about!! Great inspiration! Somehow I’m going to copy it (if that doesn’t breach copyright) & post it on the bathroom mirror, keep a copy in my gym bag, etc. Every word applies to women as well, no matter the age.

  • spenceman

    Great stuff! I know that was posted in the forums quite a while ago, so how’s the progress going?

    Alcoholism aside, for those who enjoy a beer or two(not a 6-pack) per night consider switching to red wine if you can find some you enjoy. Apparently Beer tends to make folks hungry (sure does for me), and wine doesn’t so much. Believe it or not, a glass or two (again not 5 or 6) is possibly good for your heart. Of course for every study there is a contradictory study, but in my case a wine belly is much smaller than a beer belly.

    • Steve H

      I’m doing good, just broke my wrist so that’s slowing things down. I’ve been doing a grip pyramid at my desk after work while watching videos. It’s based off of Bryan’s shoulder cool down but uses a gripper instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkbi8ANbEkg

      The wife also had a medical incident last year that pretty much ate up our summer (bone infection, but she’s all good now). Then I got laid off, lol. It’s was a rough few months, but we got through it and I was just getting back to doing my healthy regimen. I was down from 240 lbs to 216 lbs, I’m back to 230 right now (having been on light duties for a couple of weeks has actually made me gain weight, I miss my job), but I do tend to store more fat in the winter due to my metabolism being buggered by the lack of sun. Hibernation mode activate. My goal is 195 lbs with considerations for muscle gain. I did lose a bunch of fat when I first published this article but I actually gained weight from adding so much muscle so that my actual weight only went down by 10lbs at first. Now I’m on to a toning stage and attempting to get rid of the pesky “last 20”

      I’m hoping to get a GORUCK down this fall, but it’s only if I can afford it. If not, I might just do a GORUCK-like thing with some friends this year, at least it’d be a way to get my head in the right place. I’ve got my 13 in 13 and I hope to accomplish most of them by the end of summer.

      As for alcohol, I enjoy a good drink now and then. I can’t drink red wine, the tannin doesn’t agree with my GI tract and it’s heartburn for hours 😉 Moderation is the word of the day. God, I can ramble when I’m bored.

  • Great article! Love the TR quote.

    It is this kind of article that confirms my current goal to be self-reliant and more minimalist. Growing up in a city and working a white collar job rarely causes us to pause and reflect on our ability to be self-sufficient, when in reality it is this skill that is perhaps most important.

  • Jason Crist

    Good stuff! I had a similar epiphany usually every year from 35 on. My drive to stay fit would last a few months at best. As 40 approached, I got serious – for real this time. Glad to see you taking charge of your life and health so early on. Your angle is plain and simple, and truthful. It aint hard, it’s just NOT the path of least resistance.

  • Rob Martindale

    Best thing I ever did to make me feel better after my depression was get a dog! I adopted a GSD/Lab cross, called him Duke. Just having someone around always made me feel better, plus dogs make you get off your ass and walk. R.I.P Duke.

    • Steve H

      Any animal, really, will help depression. It makes your home feel lived in, like there’s someone else there. That’s all you really need sometimes. Plus having a living creature to talk to can really help depression as well as PTSD, it’s like having a friend who can never judge you for whats going on in your brain.

      And yeah, dogs are great for making you get off your ass, but I have to say, lugging around 10lbs of cat litter isn’t an easy task either 😉 I use my cat litter containers as weights, fill em with sand and they weight a bit more than the amount on the label (my 7lb container usually ends up being about 11lbs when filled with sand).

  • Clark

    All I have to say is, “Thank you!”

  • jdwii

    This is the dumbest article i’ve ever read.

    1. “Just because you can do it easily, doesn’t mean you should.” Why??? Isn’t that the most efficient way of completing the task? I’ve always found this to be true just like the driveway example it still worked out fine

    2. Well this is true and you’re right on this except on the money part unhealthy food is cheap, if living alone you could get by on 200$ a month eating out Most healthy people spend that much in a week.

    3. “Be a man, not a boy” Most possibly the dumbest part of your article all this was about is money and there’s PLENTY of jobs that demand little to no actually physical activity, and usually their the higher paying jobs.

    4. Live Like You’re in the 30′s?
    Lol you used the example of being social are you nuts there’s always that time in the day when your alone or with your family and that is relaxing and yes TV, movie room. Also what if your anti-social? What if you’re a nerd(such as me)?

    5. Motivation agreed

    Lets be fair and say this is still a lot better than other articles i’ve read

    • Steve H

      1) You clearly missed the whole point of the article. It’s ok, it was bound to happen. Living easy is boring. If you wish to remain unchallenged in your life, that is your prerogative.

      2) Healthy food is cheaper than unhealthy food, just less convenient. I’d like to know, if your statement is true, how it is possible that I’m spending half the amount I used to spend on food by eating healthy? It’s not all organic kale that costs $5/ oz. and farm-grown flax chips that cost $10 per bag. Chicken breasts? $2/ lbs or less. Most frozen vegetables? Buy a big bag for $10 at costco that will last more than a month. Buy in bulk and save, that’s why man invented freezers, friend.

      3) I’m going to assume you have difficulties with reading comprehension, either that or you didn’t read the sum of that whole section and chose to only pick the parts that stood out.

      4) If you’re anti-social, then that’s your problem. It’s clear through this “criticism” (and I use that in the loosest of terms) that you can easily type negative things, yet you seem to have trouble completing anything challenging. Some folks love the easy way, and they are people who are a dichotomy to this site and its values.

      5) Glad you thought it was better than some of the others, now if only you could use that positive thinking in other aspects of life, you’d probably change your mind on your other statements.


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