Overweight, out of shape: Hack your body back

The enemy that quietly and slowly attacks your physique, and how to combat it

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Change is difficult, especially when transitioning to a new career. A lot of times, work demands too much of your time and instead of living a healthy lifestyle, you find yourself sitting behind a computer for 10 to 12 hours a day, sometimes up to seven days a week.

Not being able to achieve a work/life balance can turn what was a healthy physique into a far less muscular version of what once was. 

Nathan Magniez, security services enablement architect, Optiv Security, knows all too well the toll that a sedentary job can take on the body. A former U.S Marine turned cybersecurity pro, Magneiz went from having a hard body of armor to slipping physically out-of-shape. 

The change didn't happen instantly, though. "I transitioned out of the Marine Corp 10 years ago, and I kept some of those principles of performing different levels of physical activity," Magniez said. But, being able to eat whatever he wanted and stay as fit as he once had been wasn't as easy as he expected it to be.

"I went from on my feet 12 hours a day to being behind a computer, plus I was aging," Magniez said. Going from the person people call on for help to the person who has to admit he needs help can be humbling, especially for those who are used to giving, not asking for, advice.

It took him 10 years to admit that he needed some help, which is counter to his profession as a consultant. Professionally, he understands that people need help solving problems, but he didn't want to be the guy who needed help getting fit. He wanted to fix it alone.

In his Derbycon talk, "Body Hacking 101 (or a healthy lifestyle for security pros)" Magniez discussed his diet agnostic approach to change. "I hired a professional trainer, started making better food choices, and became more informed about what makes up nutrition, then we came up with a plan to fit my goals."

As he talked about monitoring and tracking his food intake, I couldn't help but notice the correlation between protecting the body and defending the digital environment. How many times have you heard a security pro say that in order to mitigate risks, you first need to know your risks?

It's the same with the body, said Magniez. "I teach security classes, and when we talk about packet analysis of network activity, we talk about normal versus abnormal behaviors." 

In order to determine the malicious behavior, you have to start by looking at the normal baseline activities. "In order to alter your eating habits and physical habits, you need to first ask, What is your baseline? What do you need to do to change those?" Magniez said. 

Using myfitnesspal.com to track caloric input and output made achieving his goals much more manageable. However, as it is in security, so too is it in the human body. Magniez needed to know what was going on in his environment. He needed to understand more about fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and how different foods work together to fuel the body or have adverse affects on wellness.

So, if you see yourself slipping into a less than impressive version of what you want your body to look like, defend yourself against the enemy. Work together with like-minded people who share in the struggle to find a work/life balance that allows them to both look and feel healthy.  

"I worked remotely with a group of people on Facebook, Body Hackers, which allowed us to help keep each other accountable," said Magniez. 

Defending the body against intruders that will slowly attack its health is not a set and forget process either. Changing habits can take time, so is setting goals, Magniez said, "Take the safer approach. Rather than saying I'm going to lose 20 pounds in two weeks, try working toward losing a pound a week."

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