The one guy you don’t want to live with…or do you?

Fun fact about me: If you were to look at my search history (you creep!) you’d see I’ve googled some random, very telling things.

Toughest endurance events on earth.

Athletic events no woman has ever completed.

Bucket list athletic achievements.

Climbing Mt. Everest.

Biggest mountains to hike in California.

Most challenging marathons.

Navy SEAL workouts.

I’ll stop you before you start thinking I’m super cool and motivated. Like, “OMG, Kara’s gonna climb Mt. Everest! I can’t wait to read her blog from the top!” (How kind of you!) Sadly, I’m a victim of delusion. I mean, I certainly believe in the power of setting crazy huge goals. But I tend to take it to the extreme. And I REALLY THINK I CAN DO IT! I get so excited that I can barely tell the difference between “can” and “should” and “sleeping in a warm bed” vs. “waking up on an ice cold mountain in Nepal for 3 months straight while dealing with altitude sickness”. (Who doesn’t want to do THAT?)

Which is why I feel like Jesse Itzler is a kindred spirit in his desire for the extreme…and immediately read his new book, Living with a SEAL. (And finished it in two days.) I feel like Jesse should be my best friend now so, Jesse, call me when you get this and we can go do some pull ups together. (Maybe you can also teach me to do a pull up.)

Living with a SEAL by Jesse Itzler

In this book, he talks about his history with endurance events, his career, and oh, how he decided to ask a U.S. Navy SEAL to live with him and put him through the toughest workouts possible for a full month.

Come on. That’s awesome.

I already asked Brendan if the Navy SEAL guys he knows would come live with us but he said no. I don’t think he really even ASKED. I’m not giving up.


I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

This book was hilarious and eye-opening and jaw-dropping. I laughed out loud and cringed all at the same time. I like to think I can do the toughest workout and not complain and keep my “F YOUs” in my head, but when I read about the sleep deprivation and other stuff this guy made Jesse do, I was all:

I prefer a solid 9+hours.

It gave me some great perspective. I’ve only been through a small handful of workouts that even begin to be as tough as some of them described in the book; tough workouts under even tougher conditions. (Confession: I also kept thinking about how good it would feel to sit in yoga pants on the couch AFTER doing these crazy workouts. “Guilt-free” laziness is the bessssst motivator.)

But, there were some challenges I wanted to try…just to see how I compared. The SEAL made Jesse do a timed 100-burpee test, so I did a timed 100-burpee test. (With pushups! No messing around.)

(I finished it in 9:15. I’m still sore.)

Not only did I love this book because Jesse’s writing was relatable and entertaining (and I was super impressed with his dedication), I loved it because of it’s sheer power to inspire (it got me to do 100 burpees for crying out loud). The lesson is simply that, at the end of the day, we should all just want to be better than yesterday. Most importantly, we can do more than we think we’re capable of if we get out of our comfort zone, stay consistent in challenging ourselves, and don’t quit. I feel like I’ve been given a gift in this book…one I will no doubt re-read. (Here’s an article with more gems of wisdom from a Navy SEAL who led the raid on bin Laden.)

There’s also another hidden lesson, personal to me. When I finished reading, I was immediately thinking, “F IT, I’M GONNA GO RUN AND RUN AND RUN AND WHEN MY LEG FALLS OFF I’LL MAKE SOME SORT OF CONTRAPTION AND ATTACH IT TO MY BODY SO I CAN KEEP RUNNING.”

Definitely not the point of the book.

I couldn’t help but wonder (like Carrie Bradshaw), why does my mind refuse to accept “defeat” and ignore all common sense? I keep volleying back and forth. Maybe it’s because I think injury=defeat and I need to re-frame my thoughts so injury=a chance for coming back stronger. But then I consider that this Navy SEAL guy can work out all day long and log hundreds of miles a week and finish an ultramarathon on a broken foot and still essentially be fine.

So why not me? Why can’t I be that badass? Are these people different, physically, than me? I mean YEAH. Duh. Look at me.

This is the exact scene I picture when I'm talking to other people about working on. Like, I'm pretty sure they're thinking this when someone tells someone else I'm an Ironman.

This is the exact Sandlot phrase I picture when I’m talking to other people about working out. Like, I’m pretty sure they’re thinking this when a friend tells someone else I’m an Ironman. “I thought you said the great Bambi!”

But we’re all human, amiright?! We all have the capacity for success if we dedicate ourselves. In short, what does he have that I don’t have?! (Don’t answer that.)

I’m neglecting a couple glaring facts. Sure, pushing past your body’s insistence on quitting seems cool when you’re healthy and looking for a good workout. Never quit, right? BUT SHOULD I always try to push past it? Lately, for injured me, the answer is “no”. It’s common sense. Every once in awhile a voice creeps into my head that says “YOU’RE NOT A FREAKING NAVY SEAL, KARA” but then this other voice is like, “SHUT UP, YOU TOTALLY COULD BE, INJURIES MEAN NOTHING.” Nonetheless, somewhere in my brain is a deep respect for the fact that I’m not invincible. I’m aware of my mortality and that I want to be an athlete (or at least healthy) for life, and I have to treat my body with respect, especially when it’s telling me it needs some R&R. AKA don’t become an old lady who only talks about what part of her body hurts the most.

So where does that leave me? Besides the fact that I was inspired reading about Jesse’s experience, I don’t know. I’m trying to tie this post up in a neat little bow with the “answer” and some incredible words of wisdom, but I have nothing. I’m still struggling to understand why I worry so much about the fact that I’m not, in fact, invincible. I think it partly has to due with the fact that I sort of define myself by my fitness level and it seems like everyone around me is SO AWESOME. I know I shouldn’t…but I catch myself thinking, “the tougher I am, the better I am”…even though I know there’s plenty of other ways to define myself. HELP.

Do you define yourself in any specific way? Would you live with a Navy SEAL?!



I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!


  1. November 19, 2015 / 2:47 pm

    Karaaaaa! As usual, I feel like we are the SAME person. I recently started looking into SEALfit programs, and told Mike that I will be signing up for Kokoro Camp (aka a 50 hour physical torture test). WHAT!? I’m going to buy this book immediately and start plotting other ways I can be a badass too. Let me know if you join the marines or something, I’ll be right behind you! 😉

    • December 10, 2015 / 4:54 am

      OMG that exists?! Googling now! Hope you loved the book – let’s discuss soon! PS I tested myself against the Marine standards and totally passed. Let’s go for it :)

  2. November 19, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    meh, I know not running the marathon was the best thing for me and my injury. And yet I know others who have finished and I think, well hell – if she can do one so can I!! No Navy Seal for me, I’m not really good with getting yelled at.

    • December 10, 2015 / 4:55 am

      Hahaha I’m laughing at your comment about getting yelled at. I hate it too!

  3. November 24, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    I just started this book two days ago!!! It is HILARIOUS so far and I am loving it. (I especially love that he just refers to him as “SEAL” without a proper name.) I agree that it kind of makes me want to try it, though I’m sure I’d be terrible. Have you heard of GoRuck challenge? I am kind of thinking about signing up for one of those (the 12 hour one).

    For a COMPLETELY different type of book, I just finished Ashley’s War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and found it incredibly inspiring and moving. I definitely cried a ton, which is not what I’d expect out of Living With A Seal.

    • December 10, 2015 / 4:57 am

      Hahah I thought that was funny too – I guess he didn’t want his name in the book! (I read a couple articles about the book that the author was interviewed for.) I haven’t heard of that challenge but Googling now! Also, thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll look that up too :)

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