This week I had the opportunity to sit down with University of Dallas junior philosophy major and Marine Officer Candidate Ben Starnes to talk about balancing exercise and academics.
LH: Hi, Ben, can you introduce yourself to everyone?
BS: I’m Ben Starnes, a junior philosophy major here at UD. I like to read, learn, study and write, and I also love shooting and working out.
LH: When did you start working out seriously?
BS: I started to try to get a scholarship to West Point and do the Marine entrance tests. My junior year of high school, I went to the local marine office, and the captain there gave me a set of pull-up exercises, where no matter where you started, you could get to 20 pull-ups within 17 weeks, so I started on step one and just stuck with it.
LH: How has that work stuck with you in college?
BS: It has continued because now that I’m there, I really don’t like to get out of shape; it’s really become part of my lifestyle. I feel like something is missing, like if I don’t pray, or if I get behind on my studies, I just feel lost.
LH: What type of workouts do you do at school?
BS: I mostly work out by myself, about one hour and 15 minutes per day either in the gym or running.
LH: How does that fit into your overall schedule?
BS: I just set aside that time each day, usually between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon, and make that my workout time. I find that time works best, because I get full after dinner, and since I had heatstroke, I can’t exercise in the mornings.
LH: What happened with the heatstroke?
BS: I was at Officer Candidate School last summer and collapsed after a three-mile run. I had a temperature of 106.8, which is usually fatal, and they couldn’t cool me down, so they had to take me to the hospital. Now, when I look back on it, I just thank God that I’m alive. An Air Force candidate just died last week under the same conditions.
LH: What caused it?
BS: Interestingly, it wasn’t lack of water that got me; it was because I didn’t eat that morning. Not eating before working out is like trying to run a car without gasoline, and I learned that the hard way.
LH: Wow, that’s really incredible. What keeps you committed to working out every day?
BS: Apart from the enjoyment of it and the benefits, like being “ripped” or “buff,” one thing that really keeps me going is that I offer up each workout for some prayer intention. It gives more meaning than just “getting ripped” and really helps to push me. Instead of leading my desires, the fitness I achieve follows from a greater goal.
LH: What advice would you give to people who want to follow your path to fitness?
BS: Take courage and don’t be afraid to start. No matter your fitness level now, we all started somewhere; nobody is born ripped. I’m always proud of the person who isn’t in the best shape, but still in there working hard. Everyone in the gym started from nothing, so don’t be afraid to do it yourself.