I Was Deployed Overseas and Here’s How I Got The Best Shape in My Life

Jordan Mendiola
After a half-marathon in Saudi ArabiaPhoto byAuthor

Spending a year overseas puts some things in perspective. You’re far from home, you are part of something bigger than yourself, and you want to come back better than you left.

With temperatures reaching over 120 degrees some days, you feel like you don’t need this. But your desire to push your body more than it’s ever been pushed before drives you.

That is what life was like on deployment. I went from being 195 pounds and slightly overweight (for being 5 foot 7) to 180 pounds and toned. I’ll take you back to my journey and some of the things I did that helped me find my stride.

My Job as a Construction Engineer was a bit of a workout itself.

Starting my shifts every day as a construction operator means a lot of ground guiding, getting in and out to inspect, and getting familiar with my surroundings.

Doing this job overseas gave me a minimum of 4,000 steps per day.

When shift is over it’s a good time to nap and recharge.

We’ll get to the workouts, don’t worry. Starting bright and early can be exhausting, so I’d usually head back to my tent, get 30 minutes of shut-eye and wake up a bit more recharged.

Waking up from a nap means it’s time to lace up and get ready for a 3–5 mile run.

Luckily, we had a beautiful running route that went 4 miles down a pretty modern road and back. I got to see camels, the beaming sun, some stray dogs running around, the locals, and our allied soldiers.

But before stepping out for a run, you’ve got to stretch.

Warm weather and a fair amount of walking during the day keep you loose, but you still need to stretch if you’re a runner. I would make sure my hamstrings, quads, calves, arms, and neck were nice and relaxed prior to zooming off.

A 3–5 mile run at an 8-minute pace, then a 7-minute pace or faster.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a runner is to come out the gates, guns-blazing, and wear yourself out. I would stick to a steady 8-minute pace for the first mile and then gradually speed up. Music with 140 bpm or more typically helps you maintain a decent pace.

1 Mile walk cool down and post-stretch.

After a run, your body needs to have a gradual return back to reality. This is why I walked for a mile and did some mini stretches on the same areas prior.

Before grabbing dinner, we’re headed to the gym to get a 5–10 minute ab workout in.

A strong core will make running a lot more tolerable. While running is great cardio, your abs will help build a strong foundation and make running go a little smoother. I like sit-ups, v-ups, bicycle, leg raises, side crunches, and knee to elbow. One minute on each ab workout is plenty. You can finish up by going into a cobra pose.

Hydration and nutrition things to know.

Prior to my workout, I’d typically take a small sip of gatorade, a small sip of water, and go on the workout. Post-workout, I’d do the same to save room for dinner and avoid cramping. As far as food goes, something with protein, salad, and a small desert.

Final Thought

Surprisingly, deployment was a much simpler time for getting in shape. The military keeps things simple and makes this much easier because I didn’t have to commute anywhere, only walk outside and get it done. I hope my insights from my military career can help inspire you to reach your workout goals!

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Creative entrepreneur - Former Army Engineer - Committed Writer. Connect with me on social media:https://linktr.ee/Jordanmendiola

Chicago, IL

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