Do It Yourself

Survival Fitness: Your Body Needs As Much Upkeep As Your Rifle



My name is Van Becker. I am an ACE certified personal trainer and have a Master of Arts in Human Performance from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Soon I will be 57 years old. I still perform physically almost as good now as I did in my 20’s. I am a big fan of the book “Younger Next Year.”

I am motivated to speak to those who, like me, expect major upheavals in America in the near future. Social unrest, civil unrest, economic unrest and even racial unrest are looking more likely every day.

Weather changes and drought affecting the food supply, economic woes abroad affecting the world economy, an administration bent and income redistribution causing the wealthy to put their money in safer vehicles and not in America’s economy, growing socioeconomic tension, all give pause for us to up our preparedness for possible scenarios of chaos.

So what do we do? We stockpile food and water. We hoard supplies likely to vanish off the shelves in a panic. We acquire firearms and ammo. We prepare to live off the grid and cook and eat with no municipal electricity, natural gas or water.

We build shelters to withstand all but a full on military assault. We think we are prepared. Yet I would share my professional experience with you and say that many will be stunned to find out that although their brains helped them prepare for many chaotic scenarios, they are likely to find out that their bodies will have let them down.

So many people you see on “Doomsday Prepper” and YouTube videos, show people well prepared in terms of food, water, shelter, weapons and supplies but the most important asset they need, their bodies and their health, were all but forgotten about or ignored. In short, unless you can successfully hold off a siege for many months, movement and health will matter very much, possibly more so.

To put it bluntly, when you are hurt or ill, and there is no medical help, while you are fighting for survival, your body can become a liability and actually hurt your chances of survival.

I would assert more time and effort should be spent on getting and staying fit and healthy. What does that mean? Dropping weight is crucial. The more you weigh, the slower you move and the less distance you can go. You are likely to have musculoskeletal problems that the weight only exacerbates.

If you are carrying a lot of spare tire fat, you are also more likely to have metabolic syndrome. Oddly I bet more of you can better describe the ideal characteristics of an urban defense firearm than you can what is metabolic syndrome. Sadly many of you already have it and don’t know it.

In future articles, I will discuss things you should learn about that I feel are of vital importance to your health and survival.

Things like:

* Body fat percentage

*cardiovascular fitness


*muscle strength and endurance

*balance and coordination

These are all important survival characteristics that go seemingly ignored by many who prepare for chaos.

Like the character in Zombieland said, “Rule number 1: Cardio”.

The zombies got the fat people first. So I will be discussing each of these aspects of fitness and how they would impact your chances of survival.

When and if that day comes, knowing you can count on your body as much as your AR-15, is crucial.

You can always acquire another weapon, you cannot acquire another body. The sooner you start the better, because most of the “age related” maladies are not age related, but time of neglect related. Many can be reversed.

So preparedness should also include time for fitness and wellness. Now is not too soon. Stay tuned for future articles, the next article will cover cardiovascular fitness.

Van Becker, M.A., H.&P.E.
A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer

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  1. Bill R.

    February 14, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    I could not agree more with this article. I was one of those people that got out of shape and just figured that is was just part of being old. Indeed, I was dealing with the issues of metabolic syndrome. Bad diet and a sedentary life style is not a good combo. I always wondered how I would manage in a survival situation given my physical fitness level.

    Three years ago I discovered Crossfit and it has changed my life. At the age of 42 I am in just as good shape, if not better, than I was when I was in my 20’s while I was in the military. It’s amazing at the physical fitness level that I am at now and it wasn’t that hard to accomplish. It just took consistency and listening to the advice of coaches that knew what they are doing.

    • Van

      February 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Outstanding Bill R. Only concern, cross fit racks up the injuries on back, shoulders, knees and elbows. Lots of tendon trauma. Be prudent. Don’t sacrifice form for time and risk injury.

  2. Clifford N Alford

    February 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    We moved to the country 16 months ago to get ready. A winter through fall time of near daily woodcutting got me in excellent shape again, but I had many days when I felt like I was going to just lay down and die afterward. Now I have enough wood to last us awhile, and am doing other equally strenuous things with ease.

    I am just shy of 60 years old, and have a few war wounds from life as a mercenary that I had allowed to slow me down a bit. However, now I am back in good combat condition. Even though I am physically incapable of controlling a firearm accurately due to extreme shoulder injuries, I have found other weapons that work just fine for me. If I can do it then you can too.

    I have also developed a survival community of like-minded neighbors, and we are all helping each other everyday. When an emergency comes along then it will just be “business as usual” for us. Again, if I can do it then so can you. All it takes is a few short conversations to feel people out, and then to talk with them about what they see coming for our country. Then you make friends with the ones who have the heads out of the sand, and decide now how you will deal with the others who don’t prepare, but may want what you have. A moment of indecision in a crisis attack by desperate people can make all of your preparations be for nothing.

    • Joe

      February 14, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Clifford that is a great story!

      I would love to speak with you further about how you involved your community in your preparedness as that seems to be a hard thing to do.

      Everyone tends to have the lone wolf syndrome and just refuse to speak about preparedness and that is something that needs to be fixed!

      I’d also like to hear about how you have coped with your shoulder injuries and what weapons you have found work best, not to mention I’m sure you have some great stories to tell about your mercenary days.

      Please feel free to respond back to me if you would like to discuss this further!


    • patrick

      February 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Shoulder injuries. Look into a doctor that does prolotherapy. If he tells you that you not a candidate, PSP(Platelet Rich Plasma) might work. I have seen some amazing healing from these treatments. Look them up.

    • Van

      February 27, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Yep, so true.

  3. Loa Andersen

    February 14, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    What does one do if they can’t find like-minded people nearby? My neighbors ALL think I’m silly to be doing what I do…and they don’t know 75% of what I’m doing to be prepared! I’m a female, well over 70 years old and live the life of a recluse (not by choice, necessarily). I have joined a preppers group, but the nearest member lives two bridges and miles away. Any suggestions?

  4. JJM

    February 14, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    I wish my medical would benefit from weight loss, I would have done so 30 years ago. I know that hard physical work results in not requiring quite as much insulin. Continue to search for valid natural control or cure for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes that I was diagnosed with at age of 30. Cinnamon &/OR Colloidal Silver may be responsible for slight reduction of insulin but still must keep stock of refrigerated meds that expire in 18 months. At least that would be enough time to get my sons pointed in the right direction.
    Any proven solutions would be greatly appreciated.

    • JW

      February 14, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      a big misunderstanding about diabetes is that most people think it is caused by . yes sugar plays a big part. but oils or fats also cause a big problem. the fat coats the cell and stops it from receiving the insulin that your body produces. if you are interested let me know and I will go through my books and see what I can find on natural remedies for diabetes. JW

      • JJM

        February 14, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        Would appreciate any suggestions you might offer for TYPE 1. Meanwhile, with no winter in Houston, I plan to start planting my herb garden next week including several mentioned as potential aids.

        • JW

          February 15, 2013 at 4:45 AM

          give me a couple days as some of my books are still packed from a move. JW

          • JJM

            February 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

            I’ve waited 25 years so a few days or weeks is no prob. Just concerned about what if SHTF.

          • JW

            February 16, 2013 at 5:47 PM

            Here is a list of some diabetic herbs:

            Garlic: normalizes blood sugar levels. Use raw, extracts, decoction of garlic cloves

            Early flowering periwinkle: mild hypoglycemic effect, reduces Glycosuria (loss of sugar in urine). Use decoction of leaves, extract

            Bilberry: supplies glycoquine, with hypoglycemic effect. Use infusion of leaves.

            Artichoke: hypoglycemic, contains inulin, ideal food for diabetics. Use infusion or fresh juice of leaves or extract.

            Cabbage : decreases sugar level in blood. Use juice of fresh plant.

            Lesser centaury: stomach invigorating, hypoglycemic. Use infusion of flower clusters

            St. benedict thistle: digestive, reduces blood sugar level. Use infusion or decoction of leaves

            Walnut: mild hypoglycemic effect. Use infusion of leaves and/or fruit green rind.

            Kidney bean: contains arginine, an amino acid which reduces blood sugar level. Use decoction of pods

            Goat’s rue: ant diabetic. Use infusion of leaves and dry flowers.

            Sage: hypoglycemic. Use infusion of leaves.

            Burdock : contains insulin (carbohydrate ideal for diabetics). Use infusion or cold extract of root.

            Soloman’s seal: diuretic, hypoglycemic. Use decoction of rhizome

            With Type 1 diabetes aka insulin dependent diabetes, the pancreas cannot make the insulin needed to process glucose. Some people can develop diabetes as a result of stress, obesity, or pregnancy. Certain medicinal drugs and oral contraceptives, adrenal corticosteroids, phenytoin, or thiazide diuretics. A high sugar and white flour diet can lead to diabetes. Hypothyroidism or parasites can also do it.
            Obviously, sugar of all kinds, (white, brown, corn syrup, and especially agave) will aggravate your diabetes. But, so will bread, pasta, and other foods that are made with flour. Wheat flour turns into sugars when digested by the body. Along with this, a diet that contains a moderate to high amount of fats and/or oil will aggravate the problem. Insulin is the key that opens the cell, then carries the sugar into the cell. With a high fat diet, the cells get coated with fat and this blocks the insulin from entering the cell. Thus, the sugar in your blood does not get used by the cells and you get a spike in your blood sugar levels. Then you take an insulin shot and your levels drop.

            Natural Remedies:

            Eat smaller meals, and chew the food thoroughly. “drink your food and chew your drinks” This means chew your food until it is a very liquid state before swallowing and swish your drinks in your mouth to mix with saliva before swallowing. Do not eat late in the evening. (7 pm should be the latest that anything should be put into the stomach) Overeating can induce diabetes or, once contracted, increase it.
            Vegetable broths and fresh fruit are nourishing. A high carb, high fiber diet will reduce the need for insulin and reduce the amount of fat in the blood. A low fiber diet can bring on diabetes. get your protein from vegetables. Most vegetables have protein especially the dark green ones. A lie that has been told to us is that we need lots of protein. On the contrary, we only need about 50 mg/day. Most people get much more in any given day. A fat free diet is a better way to go.
            Onions and green beans lower blood sugar, a diet high in raw food is also helpful. Some people have reduced their insulin intake from 60 to 15 units per day by eating more raw foods. Eat raw garlic every day. It will reduce blood sugar. A raw food diet contains, ideally, 80% raw and 20% cooked. Of course, adding any raw to your diet is better than nothing.
            Vitamin C 1-3 gm/day
            Vitamin E 900 IU
            Vitamin B6 1800 mg (for women on birth control)
            Vitamin B12 500 mcg, 3 times a day
            Chromium 200-1000 mcg
            Magnesium 1000 mg
            Zinc 15-25 mg
            Coenzyme Q10 120 mg
            Inositol 500 mg two times a day

            One study found that diabetics should not take much niacin (B3), thiamine (B1), PABA, or
            vitamin C.

            Thing to avoid:
            Sugar, white flour, greasy foods, meat, eggs, cheese, excess vegetable oil, rancid nuts and seeds. Totally avoid tobacco and those who use it. Because it restricts circulation, and will aggravate our condition. Do not drink cow’s milk. Do not eat apples and bananas. Do not eat milk and sugar combinations (ice cream). Coffee can induce very high blood sugar levels. Avoid gluten foods (wheat, rye, oats, barley). Eat buckwheat, rice, and corn (no gluten). Chew well, don’t be in a rush. The quicker you eat the higher goes your blood sugar.

            Get lots of exercise. Improves circulation and lowers blood sugar levels.
            Use fenugreek (herb) it contains 6 compounds that help regulate blood sugar levels.
            Onions have been used for centuries to treat diabetes.
            Other herbs that are used are: gurmar, dandelion root. Huckleberry, cedar berries, black walnut, Echinacea, burdock, buchu, uva ursi.

            I hope this helps. If you decide to try any of these, please continue to take your other meds as well. Then let your doctor change your doses if he sees fit. You may want to find a naturopathic doctor and work with them.

            I am not a doctor, I am not diagnosing your health, I have done my own studies to get this info.

          • JJM

            February 16, 2013 at 11:54 PM

            Thanks – Much more than I expected. Several herbs I had never heard mentioned as potentials. Hope against hope to eliminate the insulin but at the same time, the less required the better. Always keep hoping that something will be discovered to repair the Pancreas – so back to following

    • Roger

      February 17, 2013 at 5:20 PM


      If you are the type of diabetic whose cells are insultin resistant, then METFORMIN is the drug of choice. It is a generic and very inexpensive and It works wonders. However, if you are the type who produces an insufficient amount of insulin and. Thus requires insulin, you would not do well on METFORMIN. Tfhe way to tell is to have you blood tested for “fasting insulin”.If it it’s. high, then you are insulin rsistant. Work with your doctor and eventually cn accumulate a sick months or more supply.


  5. SCSharon

    February 14, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Just finished DEVOURING the book: Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD.
    I have studied nutrition and exercise for the past 40 years and have found myself in the embarrassing position of carrying around a “spare tire” IN SPITE of low fat, vegetarian, diet, lots of exercise, no sugar diet, cleanses, vitamins, etc. Made WW bread, homemade, for many years…Dr. Davis makes an excellent case for Modern hybridized Wheat, white, whole, organic, whatever, as being the culprit, spiking our blood sugar, causing Carb addiction and diabetes! For some reason, no one thought to test out the hybridized wheat to see if it was good for people! I suppose those stashes of pasta would keep you from starving, but, he documents many,many cases of weight loss from simply dropping ALL wheat from the diet. Hmmmmmm, seems worth a try!

    • JW

      February 15, 2013 at 4:44 AM

      you’re right we turns into sugar when it’s in the body so too much we will cause diabetic problems as well. JW

      • JW

        February 15, 2013 at 4:54 AM

        that’s supposed to be wheat not we. JW

    • van

      May 3, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      yes. I struggle too with the wheat addiction. I have dramatically cut wheat down to 3-4 servings/day. also recently eliminated artificial sweeteners. weight is slowly coming off. since I am not in a hurry and don’t kill myself working out, it will take a month or so.

  6. Irish-7

    February 14, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Although I am disabled with multiple injuries and conditions from 30 years in the military, I still do some form of exercise at least 5 days a week. I call it “PT” (Physical Training). I never had much of a metabolism, even when I was young and healthy. So, I only eat one real meal per day. This may not be correct by medical standards, but it has sustained me for quite some time.

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