CAMP RIPPER, Iraq --
Keeping in peak physical condition isn’t an exception but more like a rule for Marines and this mindset doesn’t change during deployment.
Marines with Regimental Combat Team 8 are well aware they are in a combat environment but also understand they need to stay physically fit in any clime or place.
“It’s going to be a long deployment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Wright, the RCT-8 Personnel Officer. “Regardless of where we currently are or expected to be, we must maintain our physical standards.”
The Marines deployed to Camp Ripper have many amenities similar to home but these luxuries are a double-edged sword. Keeping a healthy balance between a dining facility offering healthy salads and grilled chicken, as well as personal pizzas and ice cream can make a Marine fit or fat.
“You can take advantage of the fast-food restaurants on main side or you can eat a healthy meal at the chow hall,” Wright said.
Three square meals a day is important to staying physically fit but Marines need to burn those calories by lifting weights at the gym or running on a regular basis.
Weight-lifting is a popular exercise for many Marines here, who either have a goal of bulking up to lift heavier weights or toning their muscles to have a beach-body physique by lifting smaller weights with more repetitions.
“I’ve been lifting weights since 2007,” said Cpl. David Olivier, a maintenance management specialist with Headquarters Company, RCT-8. “But now it’s all about toning muscles for me.”
Olivier has reduced his barbell curls down to 45 pounds so he can increase his repetitions. Already a large man at 220 pounds, he has a goal of being down to 190 pounds by the end of the deployment by healthy eating, daily cardiovascular exercise and light weight-lifting.
During a deployment, Marines have added stresses that can demoralize them eventually affecting their quality of work and attitude. Exercise and proper dieting helps keep stress down while keeping the Marines energized.
“Working out keeps me sharp and decompressed,” Wright said.
Not only does exercise and a healthy diet help handle stress better, it gives Marines goals to improve themselves, thus making them try harder.
“I’m here to improve my physical fitness test,” said Cpl. Matthew Fedrick, a motor transportation operator with RCT-8.
Fedrick wants to improve his fitness test for further advancement in the Marine Corps but he also has a personal goal.
“I want to go home and look good for my girl,” Fedrick added.
Small fitness goals are healthy ways for Marines to improve their overall lifestyle of maintaining their Corps’ standard and keeping lean, mean and green (well, tan for now).