“On my Honor I will do my best … to keep myself physically strong …”
To be a Scout of any age, health is important. Obviously, you can’t enjoy the adventures of Scouting the most or serve others as best you can if you aren’t physically fit. But it also goes deeper than that.
One of the most elemental aspects of being a Scout is being prepared. For what? For “any old thing”! Baden-Powell said in ‘Scouting for Boys':
“The Scout Motto is: “BE PREPARED”, which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY. … Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.”
Something could happen at any time that would require a great physical exertion on your part to save the life of someone else or even yourself. If you are a Scout, this is important because saving others is your Duty. If you are a Scouter, this is even more important as you have both a Duty and a Responsibility.
When I was younger, I didn’t think too much about being physically fit. I ate junk food and sweets and took little time to purposely exercise on my own. Now that I’m 18, I’m starting to reexamine how healthy my lifestyle is, and I’m finding it very lacking. Building healthy habits is very important! As I was growing up, my parents and other adults would tell me to eat right and build good, healthy habits now, as it’s a lot harder to change them when you’re older.
For the record, I’ve committed to doing my best to take on the identity of a true Scout, and I will remain one till the day I die. That means I can’t ignore the important physical aspect of being prepared. To that end, I’ve decided to make building healthy habits a priority! As good habits are established, they will become easier to maintain as time goes on.
I encourage you to join me in this resolution! Each person’s schedule is different, but everyone has the time to build better health habits in different areas of their lives. Of course it will be a challenge, but Scouts do hard things! Every Monday, I will be making a post on a different aspect of becoming physically fit the Scout way.
To start off, I think it’s important to keep the overall picture in mind and examine the basic building blocks of health.
Eating well: this is probably the hardest one for me! I’ve definitely got a sweet tooth, and I enjoy chocolates, cakes, pies, and all kinds of other delicious confections. However, everything we know about the body says that high amounts of concentrated sugars aren’t good for you. Moderation is the key here!
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been abstaining from all sugared food during the weekdays. Although I’ve had a few small lapses in willpower, I’ve been sticking pretty close to my goal of only eating sweets on the weekends. This is, I believe, a good start to building a habit of moderation.
There are other aspects of diet than sugar, though. The type of food you eat also matters. I am no nutritional expert, and there are many different trains of thought when it comes to diet, but I’m going to call this one out as pretty much common sense. These are the kinds of foods that we need to eat more of: raw vegetables, fruits, meats, whole grains. These are the kinds of foods we want to eat less of: deep fried food, anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup (it’s in some ketchup and hotdogs!), bleached flour breads, and etc.
The amounts are also important. I’ve been cutting back in the amount of food I consume in each meal, and I’ve found that my body really needs significantly less than I eat. Of course, when I cut back, I get that hungry feeling because my stomach is accustomed to having more. But that soon goes away when I don’t think about it, and as I get used to eating less, I get that craving less.
This is one thing that I think is often overlooked in fitness. People talk a lot about diet and working out, but they don’t seem to talk much about plain activity in the open air. These days, many people don’t have a job which has them getting a lot of mild aerobic activity in the open air. Working around the yard, playing outdoor games with family and friends, or having a physically active hobby that can be done outdoors are all great ways to get this. This kind of activity isn’t for building muscels as much as it’s for increasing blood circulation and oxygenation.
Many of the activities of Scouting are right on the money here. Camping, Hiking, and Pioneering are all excellent ways of getting this kind of activity. All the more reason to camp right and camp often in the wilderness with your Troop!
For those of us who aren’t blacksmiths or lumber yard workers, it’s important to get a muscularly challenging workout on a regular basis. Taking out thirty minutes, six days a week, to do a bodyweight workout is one of the many great ways to do this.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then strength training is a great way to speed up this process along with cutting back on your food intake. Taxing your muscles builds more muscles, and the whole process burns fat. In later posts, I will go into a lot more detail about different exercises and workout routines.
It’s all about setting good habits in place of bad ones and building a good lifestyle. It’s not about achieving a certain body-fat percentage, it’s not about building muscle or looking great: all these are side effects of getting healthy. That’s the way you should look at it.
If you just want to reach a certain number on the weight scale, then once you accomplish it, you will feel like your work is done. Being healthy is an active and continual work. It never stops, and it isn’t easy, but it is so very much worth the time and effort.
As Scouts, it isn’t our duty to bench press a lot of weight or to look great in swim trunks, but it very much is our duty to be physically prepared to serve others and save lives. That means being physically fit; from Tenderfoot to Scoutmaster.
So let’s all make a resolution to build healthy habits: not a race to the finish line, but a healthy lifestyle.
Stay tuned in for a lot more great stuff on Scouting and an additional new post every Monday on being physically fit the Scout Way!