There are tons of motivational and self-help books out there dealing with subjects ranging from exercise and diet to stock trading and how motorcycle repair is a parable for life lessons, but not a single one of them boasts a quotation on the cover reading, “It’s hilarious.” from LeBron James. I knew this was a different kind of book.
Living With A Seal: 31 Days Training With The Toughest Man On The Planet for all intents and purposes is a log book from Jesse Itzler detailing the month he spent being broken down, beaten up, and physically challenged in every way known to man by a former Navy Seal, whom we only get to know as ‘SEAL’. Itzler first encountered SEAL during a 24-hour relay race in San Diego. Itzler was on a team with a number of running enthusiast friends, while SEAL ran the entire thing by himself.
The man was a machine and Itzler needed to know how it worked and could he learn from it.
So begins a training regimen that easily falls under the banner of human rights violations and voluntary torture. Six mile runs nearly every morning in the near freezing climate of New York CIty in December. Burpees counted off until you can no longer hear the numbers over the pounding of your own blood through your skull. That’s before I even get to near frostbite incident.
Why would someone put themselves through such hell? Itzler himself is a running fanatic and fitness junkie, but he felt stuck in his routine and needed a way to break out, not only of how he exercised his body, but also his mind. He wanted a new way of thinking and there was no one out there with a more unique outlook on life and the world than SEAL.
And yes, I am capitalizing the name SEAL on purpose because that is how Itzler writes it in the book and also because SEAL deserves nothing less.
From the beginning of their time together you wonder if there is anything really human about SEAL, but as the book progresses you get glimpses into his world, his way of thinking, and eventually into his humanity. The man is a beast, but one who will stop at absolutely nothing to protect the things he cares about.
As a fitness guide, the book is more like a fantasy or nightmare, depending on your personal goals, but instead of workout routines I took some life lessons. One being that if you want to do something there is no time better than now and there are NO EXCUSES why you should wait. Also, eating only fruit before noon is a good way to keep your energy up all day and keep your system “regular.”
Living With A Seal is a quick read, but will leave an indelible mark in your brain. You will never look at another runner without thinking, “I bet you he doesn’t have a 50-lb. vest under that. What a wimp.” If you really want to get motivated, get this as an audiobook and take it on a jog. See how many extra miles you pack in.