Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

“The military community just gets me. It’s like no other. Military spouses have a special bond. You don’t get it unless you’re a part of it.” I’m sure we’ve all heard these statements before, and some of us may have even said them. Yes, the military community is special, but there are other communities out there who do understand us, who do get us, who do have a similar sister/brotherhood.

One of those communities is CrossFit. Yes, please keep reading, I promise this is not all about the workout of the day and how much we can lift. CrossFit has a community; it’s one of the things people like most about it. The CrossFit community and the military community have so much in common that you find a lot of the same people in both. Here are some of the ways they’re the same.


Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

(DVIDS)

1. They’re immediately welcoming.

When you show up to a new duty station as a military spouse, you start making friends before the boxes are unpacked. Within the first week, you have a hairdresser, a babysitter, at least one invitation for Thanksgiving, and some emergency contacts. When you walk into a CrossFit gym, you receive a similar welcome. You’ll meet new people immediately, they’ll start asking you questions, figure out what else you have in common, what mutual friends you have and you’ll be part of the group before the workout starts.

2. They show up for each other.

In the military community, we show up for each other day in and day out. Your neighbor will snag your kids off the bus if you’re not home or show up with dinner that night you are going to lose it. CrossFit friends are the same. One CrossFit friend, who works as a labor and delivery nurse, showed up to deliver her fellow athlete’s baby because of the bond they created at the gym. Sounds a lot like that military spouse who drove you to the hospital and held the camera so your spouse could watch the delivery downrange, right?

3. They cheer you on, even when they’re suffering.

There is nothing as heartwarming as watching a military spouse who just sent their spouse off on deployment excitedly holding the hand of their friend who is welcoming their spouse home. Being happy for our friends is what makes friendships rock-solid. In CrossFit, we can do the same. We cheer on new personal bests while we beat ourselves up for not going harder. We celebrate wins as a team, always.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

(DVIDS)

4. They hold you accountable.

Everyone needs that friend who tells you when you have spinach dip in your teeth, and you’ll find that friend in a CrossFit gym and the military spouse community. The one who texts you at 4:45 a.m. and says they’re picking you up on the way to the gym. It may even be the same one who comes over and sits you down on the couch with your six-month-old while they fold your laundry, so you finally rest. They know what you need, and they make sure you do it.

5. They are truly a family.

From coffee groups to impromptu backyard barbeques, military spouses cling to each other when they live far from family. They put up with the good, the bad, and the screaming toddler while you’re trying to finish book club. CrossFit friends do the same thing. They hold your toddler so you can finish the workout, they tell you when to take a break and rest, they support you in every part of your life. Family comes first, and if you are a military spouse who CrossFits, you have two awesome families.

We see this in CrossFit affiliates and among the top athletes. Just like we see military spouses rally around the brand-new spouse while simultaneously showing up for the seasoned spouse. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen athletes cross goals off their list while competing against each other on an international level. We’ve seen tears of joy and frustration. We’ve seen pranks and fun head-to-head matchups, even one that took place at the US Army Warrior Fitness Center at Fort Knox.

BLUF: Community is everything. Find your people. Hold on tight.

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5 ways being a military child shaped how I travel now

Where did you grow up? This is a complicated question for children from a military family. My answer: everywhere and nowhere.

Because of this unique childhood I’ve always felt at home in the world and understood why I love to travel. Later in life, it dawned on me it also influenced how I travel.


As the daughter of a Marine, and the wife of a soldier, I’ve been exposed to a lifestyle that carries with it a certain mindset and way of moving through the world. I’ve adopted a few of these valuable tools for myself and found they inspired a sense of confidence and self-reliance. Whether I’m miles away in a foreign country or just down the road, they are always there as a reference.

In addition to a sense of humor and infinite patience, these 5 lessons have served me well on my travels.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

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“Check Your Six”

Situational awareness. I can’t talk enough about this one. It’s first on the list because it’s so important, especially in this age of attention-detracting smartphones. In a crowd or on your own, it’s a simple concept worth practicing. Keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to your surroundings, and trust your instincts if something feels amiss.

Find the courage

As someone who often travels solo, I get asked about fear all the time. It’s healthy to be afraid but more often than not, we imagine scenarios and dangers that will likely never happen. It helps to break the situation down into manageable pieces. Try to pinpoint exactly where the issue lies and look for ways to solve that particular problem. As the saying goes, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

Stay In Touch

Situation Reports (aka sit-reps) are a vital means of communication in the military. By checking in occasionally to say what you’re doing or where you are, you’re ensuring an extra level of personal safety. Hiking alone in the desert can be exhilarating but a quick message to let someone know your general direction is always a good idea.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit
Image by PDPhotos from Pixabay

Be Prepared

Spontaneity is exciting, but preparation and organization leaves you with even more room to sit back and relax stress-free. At the simplest level, it could mean arriving at the airport with ample time or packing a complete carry-on for an unexpected delay. On the serious end of the scale (i.e. having emergency supplies or extra fuel in a remote area) it could be the difference between life and death.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

Don’t Forget The Bennies

The scope of recreation-related benefits available to service members and their families has changed and grown tremendously. Taking advantage of these free or discounted perks can make for interesting and cost-effective travel. A simple web search will produce an exhaustive list but here are a few ways to enjoy military-friendly travel: USO airport lounges, Space-A flights, RV rentals from Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) or an Armed Forces Vacation Club membership.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Facing PCS backlogs, Army wants to increase incentives for soldiers to move themselves

The U.S. Army has issued hundreds of waivers for many military permanent change of station moves, despite a Defense Department-wide ban on international and domestic travel until at least June 30, top officials said Tuesday.

And while many PCS moves are halted amid the global pandemic, the Army is bracing for backlogs during the busy summer move season after restrictions lift, and are weighing what incentives it can offer to those who can ease the burden on logistics by moving themselves.


Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, said the service had roughly 48,000 personnel with PCS orders to move to their next duty station in March, when the travel ban took effect; “several hundred” of those were ultimately given permission to move anyway. To date, the vice chief of staff’s office, headed by Gen. Joseph Martin, has considered 500 waiver requests, he said.

Even with the latest stop-move order — which does not apply to basic training or deployments and redeployments within the combatant commands — officials said the upcoming summer months will still be the busiest for troops and their families trying to relocate. And springtime moves delayed by the travel ban will add to the summer rush, which is why the Army is bracing for backlogs to occur, added Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy chief of staff for logistics.

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“There are a limited supply of moving companies that exist every summer,” Gamble said. “We’re working to streamline the PCS process … making sure soldiers get orders quicker so they can get their moves scheduled quicker.”

That includes having families move themselves instead of waiting for the government to contact a moving company, he said.

The military commonly reimburses self-moves at a rate equal to 95% of what it would pay a moving company. But Gamble said officials are considering upping the rate to encourage more troops to take advantage of it. He did not offer additional details about the change.

“We’re making recommendations to the Joint Staff and to the leadership for these changes,” he said, adding a proposal to streamline Personally Procured Moves (PPM), more commonly known as DITY moves, will be sent to the Office of the Secretary of Defense this week.

On Tuesday, Army Human Resources Command also published a new survey for troops projected to move this summer, asking them to weigh in on policies.

Roughly 7,000 people moved themselves over fiscal 2019, he said.

“Juxtapose that against 48,000 [in just a few months],” Gamble said, explaining that government moves still make up the majority of PCS moves. “If we continue on the current policy, we have to move five months of people in three months.”

Seamands said the Army is considering exceptions to the stop-movement order on a case-by-case basis for personnel facing hardship and those deemed mission-essential. “We’re encouraging soldiers to seek help from their chain of command” to get their permanent change-of-station move done, he added.

Mission-essential personnel who had already begun the process of relocation were given preference to proceed with their moves, Seamands said. Mission-essential designations are up to the gaining command, he explained.

Officials “coordinate with the losing command to see if the losing command is prepared to allow [a soldier] to leave based on the COVID situation, their area and other readiness issues,” he said. “Then the gaining command comes up through the Army staff to the vice chief of staff of the Army, who from the strategic level makes an assessment on whether or not to support the soldier to make the move based on how mission-essential they are.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 
Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit
Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

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But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

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MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

64 scavenger hunt clues to keep kids busy in quarantine

Our unwelcome nationwide experiment has confirmed our suspicions: Working full-time from home while keeping young kids educated and entertained is impossible. Toddlers and preschool-age kids aren’t developmentally ready for extended solo playtime, and even if you’re not opposed to parking them in front of screens, they’ll eventually get bored. What you need is a safe, reasonably educational, and time-consuming activity that requires only half-distracted parental assistance. Believe it or not, such a thing exists: the scavenger hunt.

A form of good clean fun, the scavenger hunt, like hide-and-seek, is as old as time; scavenger hunt clues give parents a chance to be creative, and the hunt helps kids see their everyday surroundings in a new light while developing problem-solving skills. Scavenger hunts are, most importantly, something kids can do mostly on their own, buying parents some time to do what they need to do. For younger kids, a simple list of pictures can serve as the type of scavenger hunt where kids just need to find one of each item. To up the ante, lend them your phone and let them take photos, or adapt it for the backyard. To really up the stakes, turn off the lights in a room and have kids search for items with a flashlight.


Indoor Scavenger Hunt Clues

  • A picture of you as a baby
  • Something soft
  • Something you can wear
  • An eraser
  • Something that smells good
  • Something spiky
  • A paperclip
  • A crayon with a funny color name
  • Something heart-shaped
  • A miniature toy version of something adults use (a toy truck, play food, doll clothes, etc.)
  • One of your drawings
  • A pair of shoes that don’t fit
  • Something shiny
  • Something with legs
  • Something small enough to fit inside a lunchbox
  • Something hairy
  • A game
  • A key
  • Something you can spread
  • Something that’s your favorite color
  • Something that could help clean up a spill
  • Something that helps you sleep
  • A type of food you don’t like
  • Something that turns on and off
  • Something you can see through
  • Something you can’t see through
  • Something that makes a sound
  • Something that moves on its own (e.g. a slinky, a pet, or a marble)
  • Some sort of box
  • A ball
  • Something that’s used to carry other things

Category Scavenger Hunts for Kids

  • Something from each color of the rainbow: an object that’s red, one that’s orange, and so on… yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • An object (book, paper, shirt) that has the letter A. Then find an object with the letter B. Continue for the rest of the alphabet.
  • Something you can feel, something you can smell, something you can taste, and something you see.
  • Something soft, something rough, something squishy, something hard, and something liquid.
  • As many things as you can find for every shape: circle, square, triangle, rectangle.
  • As many things as you can find with flowers on them.
  • As many question marks as you can find.
  • Things that could fit inside an envelope.
  • Things that start with the same letter as your name.
  • A collection of all of your favorite things: something that’s your favorite color, smell, thing to cuddle, shirt, shoes, favorite snack, best gift, and favorite book.
Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Clues

For those with access to a backyard, an outdoor scavenger hunt is as simple as compiling a list of things for your child to find. Kids can either collect each item or take a photo of it.

  • A flower
  • A worm
  • A three-leaf clover
  • A leaf with four points
  • A stick
  • A spiderweb
  • A bug
  • An acorn
  • A pebble
  • A feather
  • A piece of moss
  • A pine needle
  • A gardening tool
  • A puddle
  • A cloud
  • Dew
  • Pollen
  • A seed
  • A flower that hasn’t bloomed yet
  • A flower petal
  • A flower stem
  • A bird
  • A squirrel

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

Common military injuries: Myths & treatments

Those suffering from injuries will do and try just about anything to relieve pain. With musculoskeletal injuries being a top health problem for the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s time to prioritize better treatments and solutions. 

A recent report by Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences found that 3/4 of medically non-deployable service members are sidelined due to musculoskeletal injuries, and 68,000 service members fall into that category each year. Studies suggest that non-combat musculoskeletal injuries could account for nearly 60% of soldiers’ limited duty days and 65% of soldiers who cannot deploy for medical reasons. 

Throughout my five years working with the military, currently with units from every branch, including Special Operations Command and the Reserve Component, the most common musculoskeletal injuries I see our service members suffer from are lower back pain and lower leg issues, with the former being at the top of the list for the warfighter. Lower leg issues are a close second, with those injuries ranging from shin splints and stress reactions to stress fractures.

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No one takes shin splints seriously until they’ve had them.

These two injuries are the most common across the force, but each branch exhibits certain types more than others. For example, the Air Force tends to suffer from lower back injuries because Airmen are sitting in cramped areas for an extended period. Additionally, they are at an increased risk for spinal injuries, neck, and back. The neck becomes an issue because jets are faster and helmets have more tech, making them heavier. Confined spaces, faster jets, and heavier helmets make a great recipe for spinal injuries.

However, the Army is the best example of lower leg injuries because they tend to cover the most mileage on rugged terrain over long distances. 

Although these two branches stand out for certain types of injuries, nearly every service member will suffer from some musculoskeletal injury during their career and seek the best solution for recovery and pain relief.

Whether information is found on the internet or received from a doctor, it is typically seen as the magic cure by the patient seeking help.

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“If I hear one more ‘I read on WebMD’ I’m just gonna snap…”(U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers)

While there are certainly good doctors and sound advice online, each injury and individual require specific, personalized treatment. As an expert in using Force Plate Machine Learning™ (FPML™) to identify, prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries, I encourage military leaders to seek out programs that focus on the individual warfighter’s health and fitness needs. Solutions like FPML™ will allow for early identification of musculoskeletal weakness and help create individualized training programs to prevent future injury.

Practices that utilize evidence-based, individualized solutions are best for preventing injuries and correctly training the body but understanding that this technology is not yet widely used by the Service, I will share some generic at-home remedies for common service member injuries, as well as dispel myths about well-known treatments.

The easiest way to make an injured area feel better is to stimulate or contract the opposite area. For example, if suffering from back pain, a solution can be working your abdominals with exercises like the plank. This is because the human body has antagonistic relaxation – meaning when one muscle group fires, the other is inhibited. Therefore, activating the abdominal muscles will, in turn, relax the back muscles and provide relief. 

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit
Planks: Tricking tough guys into doing Pilates for decades (U.S. Marine Corps)

The quick and easy treatment used by traditional doctors reluctant to adopt more complex solutions is RICE. We’ve all heard it: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Sure, ice is great as an anesthetic (a numbing agent) for short-term pain relief immediately after injury. It will hide the pain and help with performance for about 5-60 minutes post-injury. But after that, ice and RICE will significantly prolong the healing process.

Both RICE and ibuprofen (Advil) actually delay the healing process and can be harmful to the body’s recovery. Many doctors still prescribe the nifty acronym because it’s easy to remember for the physician who is still operating in the 1980s.

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Or football coaches… (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rusty Frank/Released)

RICE exemplifies the power of simplification and reinforces the idea that people will try just about anything – opioids, RICE, or over-the-counter painkillers when in pain. 

In reality, movement is the best medicine, with data-driven, individualized movement plans being effective solutions that can help reduce chronic pain and injuries.


Dr. Phil Wagner is a physician, strength & conditioning coach, and expert on using force plates and machine learning to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries. He is the founder and CEO of Sparta Science.

Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Moore

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

CNO sends a message to the Fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday sent a message to the fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday.


Below is the text of his message:

Shipmates, this year we are celebrating our 245th Birthday virtually, around the world, together.

Although this birthday is different than in past years, what has not changed is how proud we can be of two and a half centuries of tradition, as well as our Sailors and civilians who continue to build our legacy with family members and loved ones at their side.

Today, Sailors stand the watch from the Western Atlantic to the South China Sea, and from the High North to the South Pacific. Your Navy enables prosperity 24/7/365 – at home and abroad – by helping keep the maritime commons free and open. And I promise you that our allies and partners – as well as your fellow Americans – all sleep better because you are there.

Our birthday is an important occasion because we celebrate our rich past, recognize the accomplishments of our shipmates today, and look to our bright future ahead.

The Navy needs you to be the best that you can be. Serve others. Be courageous. And always remember that America has a great Navy.

Happy 245th Birthday Navy Family. See you in the Fleet, Shipmates.

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MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Mystery ‘Rocket Man’ reported near LAX, 2020 keeps getting weirder

Look! Up in the sky!

It’s a bird!

It’s a plane!

It’s… a guy in a jetpack?


Pilots flying into Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday evening reported seeing a man in a jetpack flying at an altitude of around 3,000 feet and about 10 miles from the airport. The first pilot to see the mysterious aviator said he was only about 300 yards away from the plane.

You can hear the exchange of the actual transmission here.

“Tower, American 1997 — we just passed a guy in a jetpack”.

A second pilot also reported seeing a flying apparition in the sky in the same area.

The air traffic controller acknowledged the message and quipped, “Only in LA”.

He then sent a warning to other pilots to use caution when approaching LAX.

While one might think the pilots were seeing things or tired, aviation experts doubt that. Pilots are highly trained and have a great sense of vision and perception. For two pilots on two separate flights to notice the same man in a jetpack gives credibility to the story.

That begs the question. Who was this Rocketeer?

The FAA reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate it, but after a flyover of the area, the LAPD did not see any flying men.

Jetpack technology has been around for awhile. Anyone old enough to remember will recall the wonder of seeing one at the Opening Ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics. But the technology of jetpacks is limited by two things: altitude and fuel efficiency. Jetpacks can’t get too high off the ground and they can only be in the air for moments at a time. That is what makes this case so perplexing.

Was it actually a jetpack? Was it actually a man?

Maybe it was a drone, balloon or something else?

Was it David Blaine practicing his balloon stunt?

Was it a new military device? Did SpaceX create a new jetpack for their Mars mission? Is there a new tech company that is testing a new device?

Well, if there is one way to find out it’s the Feds. The FBI is now looking into the mystery and is hoping to find answers soon.

While there is some type of levity to the story (not the craziest thing to happen in 2020), there is concern of someone or something drifting into the path of an approaching plane. Pilots already must deal with birds and natural objects, but lately also have to keep an eye for drones, balloons and now…. Jetpacks.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 tips to solo parenting success

Whether your partner was already in the military when you met or just finished basic training yesterday, raising kids with a parent in the armed forces is a daunting task. You can have the best partner in the world and still feel like you’re going it alone. There are bound to be plenty of challenges along the way, but that’s what you sign up for when you become a parent- military spouse or not. Here’s how to navigate the military parenting world and come out unscathed. (Well, mostly!)


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Wikimedia Commons

Come to peace with semi-solo parenting

The tricky truth of being a military spouse is that most of the parenting will fall to you. You might have to celebrate birthdays and holidays alone. Make big decisions alone. Take care of a houseful of kids with the flu alone. In some cases, you might even have to give birth alone! While you have the financial support of a partner, you’ll also have to deal with the loneliness of a partner who you love and respect, but isn’t physically there.

Once you embrace that reality, come up with a system that works. While your partner is home, prepare for as many future milestones as possible. Are you going to work or stay home with the kids? Where will they go to preschool? What traditions can you create to ensure Mom or Dad is still a central part of the family unit? By planning ahead, you can avoid future conflict and show your kids that you parent together- even when you’re apart!

…and putting a career on hold

The biggest obstacle to having a career as a military spouse isn’t raising kids while holding down a job. It’s navigating long-distance moves while trying to settle into a new job. You might just get that big promotion you wanted, only to get uprooted again. If you work from home, that’s one thing. If your career requires making a long-term commitment to stay in one place, it might have to wait. See if you can find ways to gain experience in the meantime. Then, you’ll be ready to climb the ladder when time is right.

Help kids cope with frequent moves

Moving isn’t any easier for kids than it is for adults. To help them adjust, do your best to establish constants. Having weekly routines, including quality family time, nightly dinners, a consistent bedtime routine and special days out together can make all the difference.

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DoD photo by Elaine Wilson

 

Enjoy the perks

Being a solo parent has a few benefits. While you’ll still try to get your partner’s input on the important stuff, you don’t have to agree on every little thing. You’ll develop your own routine, get the kids to bed without someone igniting a 9 p.m. wrestling match, and won’t have to argue about whose turn it is to take the trash out. You’re doing a lot of the work yourself, but in some ways, it’s easier than trying to get someone else to pitch in!

During deployment, reach out for help

Fewer fights are great, but sometimes you’ll want nothing more than to have your partner home safe. Deployment is scary, and it will never stop being scary. When your partner is in potential danger, the added stress makes it harder to handle the rigors of life on the homefront. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Have a friend, family member, or close neighbor keep an eye on the kids while you take some time for yourself. Have a girls night in. Hire a sitter to handle after school pick-up, or a housekeeper to lighten your load. Being strong for your family doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care of yourself, too.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee

Find your village

If you’re far from family, have few friends, or just moved, finding a network of people who get it makes a huge difference. The best place to find that sense of camaraderie is with other military families. They’ve been through the same struggles, and many of them are more than happy to go the extra mile to make a new family feel at home. Military families are some of the warmest you’ll meet, so don’t be a stranger! When your partner finally comes home, he or she will get to be a part of a close-knit community, too.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Living (and loving) in a soberly-divided marriage

Marriage can feel like a roller coaster, full of unforeseen ups and downs. But a marriage that becomes divided by sobriety levels up the ride, adding sharp turns, twists and loops that will make any head spin.

From the moment my husband and I met in 2007 — at a bar on a Monday night — alcohol has played a significant role between us. We bonded and drank our way through every phase: courting, engagement and newlywed. We drank through good times and bad, for good reasons and not.


When we entered the new-parent phase, there was a shift. My husband, whose sole goal in life was to be a dad, started to slow down his drinking. I boldly amped it up, increasing with each of the three children we brought into the world.

When my heavy weekend drinking trickled into weekdays, my husband expressed concern. When I drank excessively while he was on missions, he gave me ultimatums to not drink.

When my few solo travels resulted in reckless drinking, we both agreed I should stop altogether. Twice I attempted to break up with alcohol for my kids and marriage — once for 100 days, the other for eight months.

Yet, I knew I’d drink again because that’s what my husband and I did. We drank. A lot. Together.

By the beginning of 2017, my drinking was at an all-time high, and I was at an all-time low. My soul felt beyond broken. I was living life on alcohol’s terms rather than my own.

I was in single-mom-mode with our kids and on day four of an uncontrollable bender. I heard a very distant voice. It was my own, deep inside, and it said, enough. In that moment I knew I was ready to get sober — not for my kids, not for my marriage, but for me.

Fast forward to today, more than three years later, and I’m still gratefully sober.

The years have gifted me heaps of self-growth, such as how to honor my feelings, to stay present and to live authentically. I’ve found my voice and my calling in a new career. I’ve also done a complete 180 on how I perceive alcohol and the alcohol industry.

When people ask about the hardest part of recovery my answer has been and remains my marriage.

At first, it was not only the elephant in the room, but an elephant between us. To remove the elephant, we’ve attempted a dry house, which resulted in resentment from both parties.

We’ve tried a normal routine of my husband drinking as he pleases, which has also resulted in resentment and rejection from both parties.

We’ve talked. We’ve fought. We’ve cried, and we’ve loved each other so hard through it all.

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(Military Families Magazine)

So how then do you live in a soberly divided marriage?

For us, there is no black-and-white answer, but I can attest to what we’ve learned over the years.

Honest communication is a must.

If I’m triggered or having an off day, it’s best to own it and say it aloud. Otherwise, my husband may have no understanding as to my bitterness or emotional distance. Plus, he’s able to better support me in the future, and vice versa if he struggles on his side of the journey.

Establish and honor boundaries.

Being around my husband when he drinks usually doesn’t bother me because, oddly enough, I like his tipsy, talkative lighter side. But my boundary is set at two nights in a row of his drinking. Beyond that and he knows he’ll find me elsewhere, doing my own thing. He honors my choice and space, but more times than not, he’ll not risk losing my company for a drink.

Respect the differences.

He’s a science guy. I’m a believer in Jesus. In all our time, we’ve respected our differences in faith. Similar respect is now applied to our opposing relationships with alcohol. We agree to disagree, and we do so respectfully.

Time and patience do wonders.

Despite the infinite ups and downs outside that come with being soberly divided, it’s clear with every passing sober day, we grow stronger in our marriage. We also grow stronger as individuals. But we must practice patience when the sober journey feels tough.

Practice empathy daily.

Lastly, without empathy, we may have fallen apart years ago. With empathy, we see through each other’s eyes more clearly. We’re better equipped to practice the “Golden Rule.” We’re forever reminded that at the end of the day, we’re two imperfect people doing our best to love each other through the sober journey’s good, bad and in-betweens.

Visit https://www.instagram.com/teetotallyfit/ to follow Alison Evans’ journey with sobriety and fitness.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

10 reasons the keto diet could be making you gain weight

The keto diet has been quite buzz-worthy as of late, especially since the high-fat and low-carb way of eating has spawned tons of keto-friendly products and online recipes. But while the keto approach supposedly has its advantages (some claim it lowers sugar levels and gives you improved energy), there are other disadvantages (we’re talking a lot of fat consumption) to the diet that are worth acknowledging.

Yes, the keto diet is said to help accelerate weight loss, but if you aren’t careful, the diet can actually lead to unintentional weight gain. To see just how you can gain weight on the keto diet, we spoke to expert nutritionists, dietitians, trainers, and medical professionals about all the sneaky ways the keto diet may be making you gain weight. Here are some things they recommend keeping in mind.


1. Your genetics are working against you.

“The keto diet may not be working for you if it isn’t right for your body type and your genetics,” nutritionist Dr. Elizabeth Trattner told INSIDER. To determine if keto is the right diet match for your body, Tratter recommended getting your APO-E gene tested, especially since she said this gene will help you discover how you metabolize fat. She also recommended looking into other possible genetic issues, as she explains that this will help you find the best diet match for your body.

2. You aren’t taking care of yourself in other ways.

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Diet or not, exercise is always a good thing.
(Flickr / lululemon)

“No matter what diet you’re on, not working out or sleeping enough will definitely make you gain weight,” Dr. Trattner said. Food allergies and stress are other culprits of weight gain according to Dr. Trattner, as she said they allow for the secretion of cortisol, which causes you to hold onto weight instead of losing it.

3. You really aren’t observing the keto diet correctly.

“The only way someone would gain weight on the keto diet is if they binged on high calorie foods for an extended amount of time such as full-fat dairy, avocados, coconut oil, fatty cuts of meat and nuts,” board-certified cardiologist, Dr. Luiza Petre explained to INSIDER. To avoid sabotaging any progress you’ve made on the diet, Dr. Petre recommended being cautious of any low-carb foods, and consuming whole, real foods as much as possible.

4. You are consuming too many calories.

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While experimenting with the diet, it may be helpful to track them.
(Flickr / Neil Conway)

“Some will say that you don’t need to have a caloric deficit in order to lose weight, but that’s simply not the case for everyone,” explained board-certified clinical nutritionist Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS. When you are consuming a high-fat diet, it’s very easy to go overboard on the calories, Brigham said. To make sure you don’t overindulge, she suggests tracking your food intake (with an app) for a few days to see where the caloric level is, and adjust accordingly from there.

5. You are having too many “cheat days.”

“Many people observing the keto diet still have cheat meals or cheat days, and to be honest, this diet clearly doesn’t work like that,” registered dietitian Jenn LaVarderatold INSIDER. Just one day of eating too many carbohydrates can take your body out of ketosis, LaVardera suggested, which can ultimately threaten any weight loss you may have experienced on the diet.

6. You’re not eating enough.

“The body will reduce the number of calories it needs when it’s presented with a significant calorie deficit,” said Kyle Kamp, registered dietitian behind Valley to Peak Nutrition. What this means for keto dieters is that the weight loss will stall or plateau, Kamp added.

7. You’re missing hidden sources of carbohydrates.

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Yes, even vegetables have carbs.
(David Saddler / Flickr)

“There are very few foods completely devoid of carbohydrates, and foods that are not readily recognized as a high carb food will still contain some carbohydrates,” Kamp suggested. Case in point: nuts and vegetables, he said.

8. You’re drinking alcohol.

“The carbs in alcohol are not doing you any favors on the keto diet, especially since you’re only allowed a small amount of them,” suggested Lyuda Bouzinova, ACE certified fitness nutrition specialist and co-founder of Mission Lean. Given that most mixed drinks (and beer) have extremely-high sugar and carb contents, Lyuda said you’ll want to avoid them altogether when observing the diet.

9. You are eating too much fat.

“Anytime you are taking in more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight,” explained certified Nutrition Coach Esther Avant. “Too much of any food can cause a person to gain weight, and fats are no different.”

According to Avant, fats are the most calorie dense of the three macronutrient groups. Both proteins and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, she said, while fats have nine calories per gram. However, she stresses that this does not mean that fats are bad for you, but it does mean that eating a lot of them (which is usually encouraged on the keto diet) can contribute to your daily calorie intake.

10. You are eating too much protein.

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Too much protein can be a bad thing.

“Too many proteins will stop your body from getting into ketosis due to a process called gluconeogenesis,” explained fitness trainer Ryan Weaver. Gluconeogenesis, he said, is a metabolic process that transforms excess protein into glycogen and keeps your body reliant on the energy resulted from glucose. This can usually lead to unintentional weight gain, he suggested.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Talented military child finds purpose and resiliency through cooking

“Mom, I just picked a few basil leaves from my garden to add to the pasta frittata that I’m making for dinner tonight,” 12-year-old Maria Francesca tells her mother Sofia, who has just come back from the hospital where she received treatment for the cancer she was diagnosed with in 2019. The extra-virgin olive oil was slowly warming up in a pan on the stove, and the military preteen was in her element, busy whisking a few ingredients in a bowl: eggs, freshly grated Parmigiano cheese and a pinch of salt. 

“I love how humble this dish is,” explains Maria as she pours the mixture over spaghetti cooked al dente. “It was born in my mother’s hometown of Naples, southern Italy. People were poor back then, especially after the Second World War, and had to make do with what they had, so they would use leftover pasta and mix it with basic ingredients to make a rich meal — they didn’t waste anything and they often raised chickens and made their own cheese. I find that inspiring.” 

The comforting and ambrosial smell of lightly fried egg, melted cheese, and homemade tomato sauce engulfs the kitchen in their home in Prince George County, Va. A few minutes later, Maria skillfully flips the frittata to let the savory thin crust form on the other side. 

When ready, she gently turns it over on a large plate and places the vibrantly green basil leaves that add a fragrant smell to the dish. 

“Dinner’s ready!” she proudly proclaims, making sure to serve a big portion to her mother, whose appetite has been reduced by heavy medication. The genuine smile on Maria Francesca’s face conveys all the love she poured into this dinner in the hope that the flavorful meal would invite her mother to eat. And judging by Sofia’s empty plate and a hand on her tummy full from the rich meal, Maria has more than succeeded. 

“My passion for cooking started when I was about 4 years old,” she explains. “I used to carefully observe my mom as she prepared delicious meals and soon began to imitate her.” It didn’t take long for Maria to learn the secrets of the trade and to perfect her recipes and techniques. On birthdays and Christmases, she’d ask for new cooking utensils and recipe books. 

“Cooking also helped me improve my grades in school,” she recalls as she proudly shows her newest kitchen addition: Thermomix 6, which she had asked her parents for as her graduation gift. “In sixth grade, I had trouble with math and cooking helped me understand weights and measurements.”

Since her mother’s diagnosis, cooking has taken on a much more prominent role in Maria’s life, as she uses her culinary skills to channel her emotions while creating a safe and secure space that allows her to tune out talks about medical checkups, treatments and, more recently, statistics about an ever-growing pandemic. “Cooking takes away my sadness,” she admits. “Making delicious food that my loved ones can enjoy brings me joy.” 

For Maria, cooking and learning about food is a way of life. An avid and expert hunter—she shot and killed her first hog at the age of 7—a patient and skillful fisherwoman, and a loving gardener, this talented military kid can do it all and, even though she credits mostly her mother for showing her the ropes of homemade cooking, it is her active duty father who first taught her how to hunt and fish. 

Within a matter of years, the student has become the master. “I recently taught my mother how to make pesto,” Maria says with a soft giggle. And even though her savory dishes are exquisite, her desserts are legendary, which is why she is often asked to bake birthday cakes and sweet treats even for large gatherings at school. 

As for the future, this talented military kid with a gentle soul hopes to one day make it to “MasterChef Junior”. “I’ll be sure to use my secret ingredient,” she says. “Love.”

__

“Making delicious food that my loved ones can enjoy brings me joy.”

– Maria Francesca

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

You love watching military reunions. We wish you could see the goodbyes.

On Tuesday night, the nation watched as President Trump praised a military spouse for her sacrifices and efforts, and then surprised her and her children. “I am thrilled to inform you that your husband is back from deployment. He is here with us tonight and we couldn’t keep him waiting any longer!” The woman looked genuinely surprised.

She gathered her two young children close and they watched as her husband, handsome in his dress uniform, walked down the stairs toward them, as members of Congress and millions of television viewers cheered.

But some of us in military families saw something different.


As pleased as we were for that family, and we were very pleased, we were also cringing. We knew more, much more, was happening under the surface, and would be happening for many days to come. I’ve been married to a soldier for 17 years, and he has deployed nearly every year of our marriage. I know this subject well.

Some of us call these public homecomings “reunion porn” because they’re shared for the entertainment of the spectators, not for the health of the family. Surprise public reunions are such a part of our culture now, after 18 years of war have overlapped with 15 years of YouTube, that in the later weeks of a deployment, well-meaning friends and family members will start asking us what our plans are for the reunion. They look on expectantly, hoping for details of jumbotrons — like we’re supposed to be organizing a flash mob on top of taking care of absolutely everything else. For them, these are grand milestones that should be celebrated en masse, like over-the-top engagements and increasingly complex gender reveals.

But a deployment reunion does not have the unfettered joy of an engagement or a birth announcement. It’s a complicated stew. There is joy, undoubtedly, but there is also trauma. There is survivor’s guilt, and resentment, and weeks of awful reintegration that loom, in sleepless nights after endless fights. On some level, I wish that every reunion video was paired with a deployment video, bookends of the war experience, and that you didn’t get to celebrate the hello until you had agonized through the goodbye. I wish people saw that many months before that child was surprised by a smiling, uniformed parent in an elementary school classroom, he had to be peeled and pulled off that deploying soldier by the parent who was staying home. I wish people saw that service member gulp, blink back tears, and force him or herself to turn and walk away. Not out of indifference or cruelty, but out of duty.

I wish people could hear the screams – the actual screams – military teens and tweens make when they are told their parent is deploying. Again. I wish the cheering crowds knew what it feels like to give birth alone, in a town where you know no one, and to take that baby back to an empty home without a clue of what to do, but having to do it anyway.

I wish they knew what it feels like for a service member to meet his own child on Skype, and not get to hold her in his arms until the baby is already crawling. Or to not be at the bedside when their child goes into surgery. Or to miss a graduation, and every game, recital and play.

I wish they saw me, sitting in a patio chair in the July heat, trying to hear my husband over a spotty satellite phone connection, with gunshots and mortar rounds perforating the conversation. Then hanging up and putting on a brave face to go back inside the house, because it was time to give my dad more pain medicine so that he wouldn’t feel the cancer that killed him.

I wish they heard the three volleys. I wish they watched the flag being crisply folded. I wish they hugged strangers at military funerals because it was obvious those strangers needed hugs. I wish they pushed the wheelchairs and suffered through the night terrors and witnessed the humiliation of a brain-injured warrior trying to remember his own address.

But, of course, I don’t actually wish everyone could see all of these raw moments. No one should have the worst days of their lives televised. I suppose what I really wish is that the same good-hearted, well-intentioned people who are sincerely happy to see our military families reunited would pay more attention to the war. I wish they knew where our service members were deploying to, and why.

I wish they knew our lives, even when the scenes aren’t pretty or heartwarming, so it wouldn’t feel like we were carrying these burdens alone.

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