Let’s end the week on an inspirational note. I’ve been chatting with Karl Schirrmacher, a Staff Sergeant in the Army and currently deployed in Iraq. Karl wrote to tell me about his efforts to change his diet, and the specific challenges he faces as a result of his deployment. After reading his note, I will never again bitch about having to drink my coffee black. Karl wrote:
Our adventure started while surfing a CrossFit forum where I stumbled upon a link to the blog. I dug. I read. And I found an attitude and approach that I really appreciated–sprinkled with f-bombs. Fanfreakintastic! (Note from the Author: We haven’t dropped the f-bomb since the inception of the the “Maureen Martone Rule” almost a year ago.) I was hooked and I wanted in. I printed the “Change your life in 30 days” page, and one of our other Team Sergeants wanted in too. We started right there and then.
The tough part is that we are currently deployed in Iraq. That means we have some limitations to the “super strict, no cheat, by the book, Paleo” concept. We are limited, for the most part, to what we find at the Dining Facilities (DFACs) and PX where we live and work. So, that means we have to cope with the following:
- Little or no control over the cooking process. Our control comes in our choice of what goes on our plate, but we don’t cook it; little men from Sri Lanka, India, and the Phillippines do.
- We still have to live with vegetable oil. Olive oil is available in squeeze bottles to add to veggies and such, but nothing is cooked in it–it’s all industrial vegetable oil.
- No access to anything raw, organic, or grass-fed. We have lots of fruits and vegetables, but again it’s all industrial grade picked and prepped by little men from Sri Lanka, India, and the Phillippines.*
- Limited on meat, nut, and seeds options. We only get big brand almonds and cashews at the PX, and we are at the mercy of the DFAC on what meat is available every day.
But, we can hold to eliminating dairy, legumes, grains, and sweeteners from our daily intake. Alcohol is taken care of by General Order Number One (no alcohol in theater), so it’s not even a temptation. But the temptation to cheat is a constant, as at every meal we see piles of burgers, fries, chicken fried steak, desserts, ice cream shakes, and… it’s everywhere. Most military people eat terribly. We have resolved to do otherwise.
When we looked at the calendar to figure our 30 day window, we realized we would finish the cycle just as we get back to the United States (we’re at the end of our tour). So our countdown to completing the challenge is also our countdown to the end of a very long year filled with suicide bombers, grenade attacks, politics, heat, and dust. I can’t think of a better way to set ourselves up for continued success. Again, Melissa, thank you for opening this up to us.
Feel free to hit me up with questions (email, blog comments, wherever). Otherwise, I’ll be keeping up on regular check-ins with the rest of the community.
SSG Schirrmacher, Karl M.
I can’t thank Karl enough for his note. In an environment as stressful as his, with challenges as life-threatening as they get, I would imagine it would be all too easy to abandon something as “trivial” as trying to stick to a strict Paleo diet. However, Karl has made it a priority for his health and wellness, and is choosing every day to do the best with what he’s got. It sounds like you’ll be coming home soon, Karl – until then, stay safe and keep leading by example. I’m honored to have you as part of my little community.
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