Since I have departed from the military, clearly a lot has changed. I am no longer hunting bad guys in the middle of the night with my adrenaline pumping daily. Everything is different. I am able to train with a higher intensity and longer periods of time because let’s face it if I crush my CNS during a workout, I can take a nap and recover. The stress’s I have as a civilian are much different than those during my time of service.
I have a very hard time both falling asleep and staying asleep. There are times when I only get two to four hours of sleep a night and am expected to operate as a functional human being the next day, which brings on the migraines and additional stress to everyday life. Also, the friendships and support system I have now are much different than what were built with my Ranger buddies during training cycles and deployments. It has been tough to find friends who can relate to my experiences and issues.
With that being said, the kindness and loyalty I have shown people I care for are often not reciprocated or simply seen as a weakness. I have come to understand this, and have learned to adapt as best as I possibly can to these circumstances. It is rare that someone who has not been in our shoes is willing to understand us, no matter how hard we try to explain. With these changes, my own training program has changed completely.
During my service in the military, exercise was a necessity for me to do my job at the highest level. In the transition to civilian, exercise is now an outlet to improve stress levels, my health, and my cognitive function. My workouts are designed for me to feel good, both physically and mentally. For example, patience has not always been one of my strong suits.
In understanding this, I have developed a passion for calisthenics because it has forced me to understand patience. If it were not for Ken Gallarzo (my calisthenics instructor), I would still consider calisthenics to be as basic as any PT test I have ever taken. I am currently and will always be a student in this field because I am absolutely fascinated with how the human body and mind work. I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to do what I love for a living, as well as teach others. I am a terrible salesman, and you can ask any of the athletes I have trained and I am certain they would attest to that. I truly owe my transition success to my time spent in the Regiment. The Team Leader in me will never go away. When I write a program for someone, of course, I personalize it to what they are looking for.
What they don’t see is I do push them to also become mentally stronger. If I tell you to complete six reps during an exercise and I feel you could do more, I will literally put myself in your way until you complete the reps before you can rack or drop the weight. This is why I have had the same clients for a long period of time, not because I don’t deliver results. I want people to learn what to do on their own, I don’t want to train anyone forever. Money is not my number one concern, and that is why I am where I am. Bottom line, training physically hard to meet my personal needs as a civilian is what keeps me going every day. Suicide is never the answer, and I hope that someday I can do something big enough to prevent it.
We all have brothers and sisters in arms who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we all have been through some shit, and we can all help each other in some way. I have lost close friends and think about them every day, along with everyone else who has lost their lives in the service. I miss my Ranger buddies, as it is extremely hard to find any loyalty these days. Find good people, and hang on to them. Find something you love, and create a demand for it. Live.
Rangers Lead the Way!
Christian Lopez retired as a SGT team leader in 3/75 D Co and is currently a personal trainer out of Southern California, online training is also available and comes highly recommended by The Havok Journal. Contact him on Facebook.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on April 21, 2019.