Rule 1 for Survival: Fitness – Part 2, by John H.

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

You are the expert on your body, and it is within your ability to train it effectively.

Just like with anything, there are a million exercises you can do. Don’t worry! Here are some simple tips that will be helpful.

  1. Strength train 2 – 3 times per week. I like to include strength training on my cardio days, but with a break in-between.
  2. Mix it up. You can do back exercises on Day 1, shoulder and arm exercises on Day 2, and a combination on Day 3. Also, you can and should vary the exercises themselves. Again, go to YouTube and find ones that work for your specific fitness goals.
  3. On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, increase the difficulty of your training. You can either increase the repetitions (reps) or weight of your exercise. However, don’t let an exercise get too easy. Always push yourself just a little bit.
  4. If you do Yoga, exercising your core comes naturally. However, it is always important to include core exercises as they are the most underrated and missed. Especially if you are older, having a strong core will help prevent many injuries.
  1. Cardio

There is no survival without cardio, and a big aspect of this is weight. There is no way around it. There is a direct correlation between losing weight and running faster.

It makes perfect sense. If you are carrying less weight, your heart does less work because your blood circulates more quickly and efficiently.

The good thing is, even moderate cardio training can have large effects on your weight and overall fitness. There is so much variability here, don’t be discouraged by having to run X amount of miles in a month or whatever.

Every form of cardio training is helpful, and here are some specifics.

  1. You have two different types of muscle fiber: short and fast twitch.

Your fast twitch fibers provide sudden bursts of energy, while your short twitch fibers provide steady endurance. This points to a key factor in all exercise: You have to mix it up and do different forms of cardio.

Doing a long distance, low-intensity run on one day and then hill-runs or sprints the next day is a perfect example.

  1. You have different measurements of cardio ability. For example, your v02 max measures the amount of oxygen your blood can hold. The higher it is, the more endurance and strength you will have. Your resting heart rate measures how strong your heart is, and by extension, how efficiently it pumps blood to the rest of your body.

In order to maximize these elements of cardio health, again, you have to mix it up and do different kinds of cardio training. Your v02 max will plateau pretty quickly if you only do long, slow runs. You have to do sprints, hill runs, and long,slow runs to help your body move efficiently.

  1. Pick the cardio form that is right for you. I like running, especially because it is fun for me after years of healing. Of course, running is also difficult on your joints. My personal opinion is that the best cardio plan includes each of the trifecta (running, biking, swimming) but you can choose which works best for you.
My Training Plan:
  1. Yoga every morning, either a thirty minute session in a beginner’s course or a shorter version that focuses on my back. I still have hip problems from my injury.
  2. I will eventually include biking and swimming, probably on my “rest days”.
  3. The longer I can make those hikes, the better. As long as I am not running, there is no significant wear on my joints or muscles, so walk as far as you want on those “rest days!”

Day 1:

  • Couch to 10K Run
  • Post-run Stretching
  • Weights and Compound Exercises – Chest and Arms

Day 2 (Rest day)

  • Hike and hill runs
  • Eventually, I will replace one day of hill runs with 1500 meter sprints.

Day 3:

  • Couch to 10K Run
  • Post-run Stretching
  • Weights and Compound Exercises – Back and Core

Day 4 (Rest day)

  • Hike and hill runs
  • Eventually, I will replace one day of hill runs with 1500 meter sprints.

Day 5:

  • Couch to 10K Run
  • Post-run Stretching
  • Weights and Compound Exercises – Combination

Day 6: (Rest Day)

  • A hike. walking my dog

Day 7: (Rest Day)

  • A hike. walking my dog
Key Elements of Diet:

You cannot address fitness without diet, and just like fitness, everybody has an opinion, and there are a million different websites and books selling their own plans.

I would suggest that diet, except for those of you suffering from very legitimate health problems, is a great deal more simple than it seems.

It is also very important to address diet because we are what we eat, and it is impossible to fuel our bodies without the proper nutrients.

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Eat less red meat. There is no doubt, especially for those of us with cholesterol or blood pressure problems, that adding in more poultry and fish, along with cutting the amount of steak we eat, is helpful. All you have to do is look at the literature surrounding the Mediterranean Diet or the lifespans of the Japanese to realize that the type of protein we eat is very important.
  2. Eat less junk food, or maybe none at all. It is easy to turn the package over and check to see if the chips have added sugar, how much fat is in the cookies, or how many artificial colors are in the candy. Anything that is processed, refined, or in a bag, should be limited.
  3. Cut out soda and instead go for unsweetened sparkling waters. I promise you, it’s likely the carbonation you are missing, not as much the sugar.
  4. Eat lots of whole-grains, vegetables and fruit, as well as brown vs. white rice. Don’t cut out animal protein entirely, but also see how beans, legumes, and other plant products can contribute to your overall diet.

Here are some personal opinions, which I’m happy to have people disagree with! Again, everyone is different and should find what works for them.

First, Don’t go for a fad diet. Keto is a fad diet, just like thousands of others. Read about it, and you will realize it may help you lose weight, but then will cripple you as you become more active. Unless you have a specific dietary or medical need – which certainly exist – moderation and balance are key.

Second, I do not believe in six small meals a day. My opinion is that eating this way trains your body to snack. Snacks are one of the more insidious weight gain devils because they are available whenever you want them. Your brain just has to tell you, “I’m hungry!” even if your body does not need food.

I personally believe that as you become more healthy, it will be easier to stick to three balanced meals per day. You should be able to eat a good meal and not have to snack. Of course, in a survival situation, you should be focused on energy, not weight loss or maintenance. This mode of thinking goes out the window in TEOTWAWKI.

For example, I am currently on a 1,500 calorie diet plus exercise to lose weight. Thinking about the content of each meal and realizing you have to make those 500 calories last for the next five hours is a powerful learning tool and motivator.

Key Elements of Mindfulness and/or Self Control:

Finally, it is important to address the issues of your mind and your heart. Separate from religion and spirituality, it is possible to take responsibility for your actions throughout the day by recognizing what your body is feeling and intentionally changing your behaviors.

Here are a few examples.

When it comes to food, we have been programmed to eat whenever we feel hungry. This leads to snacking, often on high and empty calorie food. If your body is hungry, let’s say when you wake up in the morning, it is perfectly acceptable to make it wait.

If you wake up at 6:00, try just drinking some water and coffee until 8:00 or 9:00. Likewise, if you still feel hungry after eating a dinner that you know has enough calories, let the chemicals that are firing subside before you decide if you need more food.

This is an issue of self control and resilience. In a survival situation, we will have to do more while eating less food. It is a good idea to have your mind and body trained for the eventuality.

Mindfulness can also help us in our physical training.

Fear, whether it be of pain, failure, or something else, can often get in the way of physical activity. The key is to recognize when that fear arises, consciously trace the cause of that fear, and then consciously choose to do something about it.

The less our responses are reactionary and rather trained, the more control we have over our body and mind.


I hope this post has been helpful. There is so much information out there about exercise and nutrition. If you want to go more in-depth, of course you should! I just hope I was able to show you that getting your body back in shape is entirely in your control.


  1. Great article(s). I agree fitness is an important part of any lifestyle, and certainly preparedness. I have a similar early routine (including xc ski/cycling trainer in the early AM). As an arborist, my job demands a lot physically- climbing rope, ‘deadlifting’ logs which aids core strength and stability. I focus more on cardio for my off-work training.

    I think we overlook the benefit of outdoor, physical jobs. Not everyone has the luxury of choosing this kind of employment, of course, but my (anecdotal) evidence suggests that people so employed, if they can maintain (in parallel) good nutrition, strength and conditioning training, and otherwise healthy life choices, will often fare better in the long term. We forget how critically important it is to move!

  2. Dr. Joel Fuhrman relates an interesting theory never taught to us. The reason Americans look like they do is diet and exercise. WoW!
    Interesting note on the diet part is ~ our nutritional intake is what triggers “feeling full”. The “Amount” of food that pleases the palette and usually having No nutritional value lends only to stretch one’s britches. Always hungry.…

  3. If you are like the majority of smart phone owners, the health Icon on your phone has largely been ignored . I had an awakening or sorts.. One day I clicked on it and found a step counter and was shocked that the phone, unbeknownst to me has been counting my steps.. short story shorter, I went from a 38 inch waist to a 34 inch waist. I cut out all forms of sugar except what comes in the form of fruit, cut out all bread, even whole grain, and lost 35 lbs in a matter of a couple of months. All i did was pay attention to what I ate, and the step counter and miraculously I shrank. some days my step counter says I took 7k steps, other days It says I took 12k steps.. I was 250 lbs when I clicked on the little red heart icon on my I phone, today I am 203, Im 5’10” Simple and uncomplicated.

    1. Larry, this is the best gem of information I have received all week! Wow! I had no idea that my phone had this capability!

      Thanks so much for sharing this. I will start using the pedometer function. I feel silly that I never knew about this!

    1. I have found that stretching every morning – about twenty or thirty minutes – is really helpful for me. I then stretch briefly, a few minutes, after workout.

      A foam roller is always helpful as well.

      Any stretching is helpful. When I trained during college, I stretched less, but I always had leg and back issues.

  4. You are making many important points, brother. Gear is useful only if you can lift and use it.

    I had a complete heart workup last summer after going to the ER with “symptoms”. Part of my testing was a treadmill stress test for a v02 max. I was told that my target max was 122. Wow, was it tough. And, I maxed out at 139. High five. My chart described me as “athletically fit”.

    I attribute that to bicycling for errands and meetings instead of driving. That mode requires endurance and sprinting, both.

    I hope this finds every reader reenergized to choose fitness.

    Carry on

    1. Once a Marine-

      You just hit on another important point. We can exercise and eat okay but without routine diagnostic medical testing we don’t know how healthy we really are. I didn’t yearly physicals until about 4 years ago when I ended up in the ER in the middle of the night. I thought I was reasonably healthy -and for the most part I was/am. My issue would NOT have been detected by any medical test. (Lucky me!) But now I get 2 physicals a year. One by my primary care doc and one by the VA doc. One in the spring the other in the Fall. I just got a shingles Vaccine last week.

      Any medical types got an opinion as to the vaccines we should have anything we should look out for as we get older? Any test we should have. After being in the military I’m pretty sure I got every vaccine know to man. Felt like a human pin cushion more than once.

  5. You lost me with “eat less red meat and junk food”. This is just not true. Sounds good. Sounds like something your mother would say. But the science just isn’t there.

  6. First, although I think your recomendations might be good, there are better ways of doing habits. Doing a 5k walk that gets faster is better than doing a short run that exhausts you quickly. Cleaning out heavy things – including for your neighbors or church is better exercise than weights. You need to figure out how to lock in a habit for both long walk/jog/runs, and weights, but what you will do is better than what you can aspire to while the equipment sits there.

    Keto is not a fad. Many top athletes do paleo (including and especially red meat). See for a series of articles. Including intermittent fasting. But they also say to avoid ALL grains.

    Your suggestions are just another “fad” diet by your own definitions.

    It also may vary based on heritage. Northern Europeans tend to be able to handle alcohol, milk, and meat better since they had to find something with calories during the winter before agriculture, while Italy and Iberia had year round food. Japanese have eaten rice for thousands of years, Europeans not so.

    So I would avoid generalization. Find what works for you. But we eat too much unnatural, processed, low nutrient density, sugary and starchy food. Eat REAL Food as a start. One doctor says not to eat fats and carbs at the same meal. But again, I say find what workd FOR YOU.

  7. I am pleased as punch that I have had great success with the Keto fad diet! Over the course of approximately 10 years I gained more and more weight. Over the years I tried numerous diets and forms of exercise with no success. Last April I had surgery which required a six-week recovery, off my feet. I begged the Lord to help me with my weight and He led me to keto. During the 6 weeks of recovery I read everything I could about keto and implemented ‘the diet’. In 7 months I was down almost 50 pounds. I have maintained the weight loss by eating FAT, MEAT, and VEGETABLES. In December I started walking about 3 miles a day, Monday through Friday. My joint pain has decreased and my self esteem has increased! I had lab work done in January and it couldn’t be better. I plan to eat keto for the rest of my life!

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