Special to The Sun
If you’re like the rest of us, you probably gained an unwanted pound or two during the holiday period.
Advice on how to burn off all those excess calories is as plentiful as those trips to the dinner table or trail mix bowl. Staying in shape is a necessity for police officers and firefighters, and some of Edmond’s finest offered insights into their fitness routines.
Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades said today’s fire service is more demanding than ever — both mentally and physically. Firefighters put on bunker pants, a jacket, helmet, mask and self-contained breathing apparatus weighing combined about 65 pounds. On top of that, they might have to carry a 200-pound adult to safety.
Physical fitness is the foundation for a firefighter’s daily duties, and it’s critical that each of them are healthy during and after their careers, Rhoades said.
“The rate of cardiac and other health-related issues are at an all-time high not only in society but in the fire service as well,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades said the Edmond Fire Department lets members work out while on duty in the gyms at their stations. The past year, the agency partnered with the University of Central Oklahoma to provide wellness screenings including muscular endurance testing and bone density scans.
Many additional opportunities are being explored as the agency moves forward to ensure personnel have access and opportunities to stay healthy and fit, Rhoades said.
Police officers never know when they are going to have to pursue a suspect on foot, wrestle an uncooperative person to the ground or use a battering ram to enter a drug house.
Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said it’s important for officers to be physically fit to keep up with the demands of the profession.
“Beyond being able to keep up physically, we encourage our officers to work out as an outlet to relieve some of the stress that is associated with the job,” Monroe said.
WEIGHT LOSS 101
Calories are the energy in food, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your body has a constant demand for energy and uses the calories from food to keep functioning, from fidgeting to marathon running.
Proteins and carbohydrates have about 4 calories a gram, fats about 9 calories a gram, alcohol about 7 calories a gram.
Calories are either converted to physical energy or are stored within your body as fat unless you use them up, either by reducing calorie intake so your body must draw on reserves for energy, or by increasing physical activity so you burn calories.
Since 3,500 calories equals about a pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose a pound. If you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about a pound a week, experts say.
Cutting calories can be as simple as skipping high-calorie, low-nutrition items, swapping high-calorie foods for lower calorie options and reducing portion sizes.
Doctors recommend a combination of diet and exercise to shed pounds and stay fit.
Edmond Police Officer Colter Morey knows what it’s like to struggle with losing weight.
Four years ago, he weighed more than 280 pounds and was able to lose 100 pounds with running, weight training and a good diet. He has been able to keep the weight off and stay fit with CrossFit and clean eating.
“It’s possible for anyone to lose weight it just takes some dedication and believing in themselves that they can,” Morey said. “The best advice I can give is to not give up.”
Morey does strength training in the morning and visits an Olympic lifting coach in Moore one day a week. During the evening, he participates in group classes at CrossFit OKC, 633 Enterprise Drive.
In 2008, Edmond Fire Department Driver Luke Gregory and several others spent a weekend in Colorado to become CrossFit Level 1 certified.
The class took students through the back (and front) squat, shoulder press, push jerk, deadlift, sumo deadlift, high pull and the medicine ball clean. It enabled Gregory to perform the movements perfectly and to understand the fundamentals so he could teach them to others.
“When we got back home we trained our whole department on the nine movements that we focused on and outfitted our stations with equipment that is necessary for doing CrossFit,” Gregory said. “It is a very good way to train for the demands of our job.
Gregory advised individuals who want to lose weight through exercise who haven’t been at it for a while to consult their doctor first. Don’t go into the gym without a plan. Then find something they enjoy doing, and do it with a like-minded group of friends for accountability.
“Even if you don’t feel like training, just go,” Gregory said. “You will eventually get in the groove and then you will feel better about yourself when you’re done.”
Other advice from Gregory includes beginning slow and building up workout intensity and being consistent, smart and patient. Set short- and long-term goals, and celebrate milestones. Keep a journal of your training and nutrition and review it at the end of a week to see how you did.
Edmond Police Detective Jimmy Gwartney is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and works out daily at the gym. Gwartney said CrossFit focuses on stretching one’s core and offers a conditioning program that delivers a fitness that is by design broad, general and inclusive.
Gwartney said using both strength exercises and cardio helps improve one’s fitness. Each person is different, and the method depends on one’s physical limitations as to what exercise is best for them, he said. For some, that might be running and rowing for another.
“The best advice is to make it a lifestyle change, not just going to the gym,” Gwartney said. “You need to get a partner or a group that can help keep you accountable.”
Also, if you’re having problems finding a fun workout or routine, these changes can help you keep it up for a longer period, not just as a New Year’s resolution, Gwartney said.
“Remember, there will be ups and downs, so just stay with it,” Gwartney said.
For most healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends using a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Guidelines suggest spreading the exercise out during the week and sessions should be at least 10 minutes long. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
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