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Freedom on Veterans Day

holiday Nov 11, 2023
Veterans Day | George Arangio


It's something that, at times, I take for granted.

Maybe you do too.

A healthy body provides infinite freedom to live the life you desire.

And since today is Veterans Day in the United States, no matter where you live or where you fall on the political spectrum, I hope we can all agree to support the men and women who served in our armed forces.

My grandfather served in the infantry of the U.S. Army during WWII.

And my father served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam.

The veterans of our armed forces have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy in the U.S.

I'm a wonderfully fortunate American.

I know that so many of the things that I am able to enjoy would not be possible if not for their service.

So thank you, veterans.

Freedom on Veterans Day

I’ve done this for years.

Teaching my client-athletes to embrace a “new” way of thinking and it's been highly successful.

Consider the things that many people complain about:

  • The weather, traffic, or stuff you can't change.
  • How you have no time.
  • Politics, taxes, someone else's social-media post, celebrities, or anything related to other people's lives.

Then call your dad, or your grandfather.

And if they've passed away, go to the next person in your life from their generation.

Firstly, all that complaining punches holes in your bucket of happiness.

All of your happy feelings drain right out the bottom.

Second, you will feel like a spoiled child.

Or at least, in my case, I feel that way.

At 47 my dad had been married 22 years, served in the U.S. Navy, had four kids, and worked like a dog.

It's hard to worry about foolish things, or worse, other people's foolish things, when your priority is raising a family, making a living, and helping others.

I'd like to share a true story about my mom's older brother.

Uncle Jim is in a better place now, but when he was alive, he was a talented engineer, U.S. Marine, and veteran of the Vietnam War.

The war had impacted him deeply, yet he did not talk about it often.

I remember, as a middle-school kid, we were visiting him in beautiful Upstate New York.

It was summertime and we were outside.

I recall birds chirping, bright sunlight, and warm breezes shaking sugar-maple leaves.

He just started telling a story about one tropical afternoon on his military base in Southeast Asia.

Uncle Jim was a helicopter mechanic and, this particular day, they needed a Marine to operate the M-60 belt-fed machine gun that hangs out of the open side of the helicopter.

My uncle was strapped in and the aircraft slowly lifted off the ground.

A moment later, the pilot got a radio call to come back down immediately.

Someone in command needed Uncle Jim to repair another helicopter that was damaged.

So the helicopter lands, Uncle Jim gets out, and in jumps another Marine, barely 19 years old.

A few hours later, that same helicopter returns, riddled with bullet holes, filled with dead and mortally wounded Marines.

What happened to the dutiful Marine, Uncle Jim's last-minute replacement, charged with manning the M-60 door gun?

That young man was killed too, leaving behind devastated parents, siblings, and so many loved ones.

Remembering Uncle Jim, and how courageous and tough he was, makes me think how soft my generation can be.

Heads down, looking at our smartphones. Mad because the WiFi is slow.

Annoyed at the long line at the grocery store, or some other trivial thing.

Then I'm like, man, my badass uncle must have thought the same thing about me, all the measly dumb stuff I used to complain about.

"My nephew Joe is as soft as a marshmallow," he probably thought.

Indeed, the world has been turned inside out by some virus.

But we're not in an actual war with bullets and bombs.

And that's an important thing to remember: To keep life in perspective.

Another story.

Many years ago, I stopped worrying about insignificant things like watching sporting events (live or on the TV), etc.

I thought to myself, “Why would I want to sit around watching other people do stuff when I could be out there doing stuff?”

According to A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day.

In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years in front of the tube.

Crazy right?

Yet tons of folks spend way too much time, energy, and money rooting for their team.

Punching the screen when their team loses. Carrying on like a spoiled child.

Watching their team, while boozing and pigging out, at parties.

Of course they find infinite ways to justify the mindless behavior.

Look, I'm NOT saying to never watch sports.

I'm NOT saying never attend a party.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Just don't prioritize being a spectator over your health.

Here’s my humble suggestion for long-term happiness:

Focus on getting yourself in the best shape of your life.

Strive for excellence, not just being able to walk across the mall parking lot without feeling breathless.

Actually strive to achieve strength, endurance, power, and athletic levels of bodyfat.

It’s really quite simple to do what I’m suggesting.

Simple but not easy.

How? Change your perspective.

You see, it’s all about perspective.

For example, in the midst of seemingly overwhelming challenges, do you have faith or fear?

When he was still alive, Uncle Jim didn't say much when I told him that middle-school football practice was "really difficult."

He just gave me a look that said, "war is difficult... your sports practice should be fun."

Our lives have never been easier, despite a recent global viral pandemic.

Most Americans have food, clothing, shelter, and other basics covered.

But imagine not having food to eat or clean water to drink?

Imagine not having clean clothing or a roof over your head?

Imagine half hanging out of a helicopter, shooting a heavy machine gun, as it blazes over jungle treetops... and gets peppered with enemy bullets?

Again, life is about perspective.

We are living in strange times with two-thirds of us overweight or obese and at risk for preventable diseases like diabetes and heart issues.

Fortunately there's a solution to these potential killers.

You just have to commit to taking action and doing.

If you want the high-level overview of how to get lean, and stay lean year round, in a very uncomplicated way, here are SEVEN strategies.

1. Do some activity everyday

If you have a strenuous physical-labor job (think laying concrete block all day long) then that should mostly take care of itself.

If you work a desk job, then four 45-minute weekly sessions will stave off many preventable issues.

Simply put, stay active each day for a set period of time.

It could even be a pick-up basketball game; however, I suggest structured resistance training combined with a few 50-meter hill sprints.

If those things seem enjoyable, then do them more often.

In fact, finding fun activities is often the best way to stay consistent with them.

2. Fill each meal with protein, low-calorie carbohydrates (veggies), and healthy fats

People fuss over low fat or high fat and low carb/high carb.

Generally speaking once your protein requirements are met, those are the two macros you will manipulate in order to get into an energy deficit (protein has the highest thermic digestive rate of the three).

But you don't have to get obsessive about counting if you manage your portions and get them from high-quality sources.

For carbs, I think of them like this now:

You don't fill up your car and then keep pumping gas because, if you did, it would overflow onto the ground.

Carbs aren't dissimilar.

You eat enough to supply your energy needs and for repair.

That amount will vary from person to person.

But I would advise erring on the side of being conservative and increasing them based on training demands.

3. Push the majority of your carbs into the peri (around) and post-training window

This when you're most likely not going to store any of said carbs as fat.

Again, just don't get obsessive.

4. Increase your NEAT

NEAT is an acronym for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

That's all the stuff you do that requires energy outside of your planned training, like going for a walk in the park.

Other examples to bump your NEAT:

Use the stairs instead of the elevator, tote your groceries around in a basket versus the push-cart, stand up at work for 15 minutes every hour, etc.

Just find some ways to move more, where beforehand you were moving less.

5. Re-feed when needed

If you're tired and flat, re-feed by upping the carbs and taking the fat down to minimal levels for a meal or two.

This does not mean to "cheat", i.e. eating a whole bag of microwave popcorn and two pizza slices.

In fact, unless you're super lean or have arrived at your goal, you really don't need to cheat at all.

There's really nothing magical about cheating.

Unless you are already fairly lean and are training intensely at least four days per week, re-feeding isn't even necessary.

So why do I talk about the “cheat” meal so often?

Well, to be honest, most client-athletes are so used to eating poorly, that they panic if you tell them they cannot have their splurge foods, like pizza and ice cream, or whatever processed things they enjoy.

So it’s a way to ease the mind and encourage them to adopt the new lifestyle changes I’m suggesting.

Kind of like a baby taking the first few steps.

After several weeks of excellent nutrition, most of these cravings lessen because you get better at practicing mindful nutrition.

6. Don't overextend yourself

One thing about all of the above is that it's putting you into a caloric deficit.

The deeper the deficit, the more ravenous you will become.

The more ravenous you become, the higher the probability that you will not be able to stick to your eating plan and lifestyle.

Activity actually works against you when you're trying to shed bodyfat, as it will increase your appetite.

Moderation is very important here so it’s easier to stay the course.

7. Think long term

The old saying "if you walk 10 miles deep into the woods you gotta walk 10 miles out of it" applies here.

You didn't get to be 80 pounds overfat in 12 weeks, so don't expect to undo it in 12 weeks.

Set yourself up with some changes you can apply daily, weekly, and monthly.

This is why it's important to see #6 and not overextend yourself.

Slow and steady wins the race.

If this seems like a lot, well, it’s easier when you have an experienced coach, a proven plan, and a supportive community to help you.

Pass this along if you think the message and seven strategies will help someone you care about.

To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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