Imagine hiring a combat-hardened Navy SEAL to be your personal trainer. This SEAL will live with you in your guest room for a month, and you must do everything he says regardless of how ridiculous it may sound. That is what Jesse Itzler did, and he documented his experiences in his book Living with a SEAL. This book is partly a self-help book, partly a health and fitness book, but it is mostly popular for its entertainment and comedy. While Living with a SEAL is mostly read for entertainment, it contains some great health and fitness tips that are worth sharing.
Itzler’s first workout with the Navy SEAL was an outdoor run when it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Most people would think it is crazy to run outside in such cold weather, but SEAL (the Navy SEAL’s name was not shared and he was called ‘SEAL’ throughout the book) ran in shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of gloves. He explained that mental imaging and toughness can do a lot for your performance. If it’s 14 degrees out, pretend it’s 50, start running, and don’t think about the cold. Your body will warm up as you get going. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work in hot weather. If it’s hot, it’s hot.
When Itzler needed to go on a short notice business trip, he let SEAL know they need to leave to fly cross country the next day. SEAL was not happy and used some strong words to say that he can’t get up and go on a trip while giving up on training. Training needs to be prioritized despite traveling for work. After the day of travel, Itzler is tired and ready to settle into bed at his hotel. SEAL knocks on his door and commands that he goes to the lobby in 10 minutes ready for a run. The lesson, even when you are tired and have other important factors in your life, you must prioritize your workouts.
One night, SEAL told Itzler to go grab the most uncomfortable chair in their home. He does and is then told to sleep in the chair instead of his bed that night. Another night, Itzler walked into SEAL’s room to find him setting up a tent that is designed to depressurize to mimic high altitude camping, which he then slept in instead of his bed. But why would SEAL do this? Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone both while training and generally in life is the only way to learn and grow. Later when Itzler was ordered to jump in a frozen lake then run back in the snow while barefooted, he did so with little hesitation. Don’t get too comfortable, find ways to get out of your comfort zone.
Itzler completed some of the hardest workouts he has ever done while living with SEAL. SEAL’s motto is “when you think you’re done, you’re only at 40% of what your body is capable of doing, that’s just the limit we put on ourselves.” Keep pushing even when you think you hit a wall, but never let your form degrade. Doing exercises correctly and with good form will give you your best results. “You get more out of 10 push-ups done the right way than 30 done improperly.”
SEAL was notorious for being a very good looking man and he was stirring up discussion in the office space when he would shadow Itzler at work. SEAL didn’t only care about his looks but wanted to stay healthy on the inside. He said, “you can be fit without being healthy, but you can’t be healthy without being fit, meaning you can be in great shape on the outside, but if you don’t eat great and take care of your insides, you aren’t in great shape.”
By the end of the 31 days, Itzler was able to do 1000 push-ups in a single day. He not only got in great shape but learned how to be mentally strong and push through workouts in extreme conditions. He leaves us with one last piece of advice, “if you push the body, the body will respond.”