Bluffton police officer Richard Ramirez running

Exercise and wellness wisdom from a best-in-class police officer

Fit for duty

Story by Tasha Esselstein + Photos by Jordan Matthis

The S.C. Criminal Justice Academy recognized the exceptional achievements of Bluffton police officer Richard Ramirez during his graduation ceremony March 31 in Columbia. Ramirez received two prestigious accolades: the J.P. Strom Award, recognizing him as the top student in his graduating class, and the Physical Fitness Award, commending his exceptional performance across all fitness categories (running, jumping, climbing, dragging and changing direction on the run).

“This is a proud moment for Officer Ramirez and for the Bluffton Police Department,” Bluffton Police Chief Joe Babkiewicz said. “Ramirez represents the caliber of officer the department wants to attract, and we are beyond proud of him for his dedication to the academy process and to the profession.”

A Bluffton High School graduate, Ramirez brings a rich background of experience to his role as a police officer. Before joining the Bluffton Police Department, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2012-2022. Throughout his tenure in the military and police academy, Ramirez developed a disciplined routine that propels him toward achieving his physical and mental health goals.

Bluffton police officers
Bluffton police officer Richard Ramirez (center) was awarded the J.P. Strom Award and the Physical Fitness Award in the recent graduating class of the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. Pictured with Ramirez are Bluffton Police Chief Joe Babkiewicz (left) and Jackie Swindler, director of the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy.
Bluffton police officer Richard Ramirez flexing

Efficient and effective exercises

Ramirez prioritizes efficient workouts that deliver maximum impact within a 20-minute timeframe. His preferred approach involves selecting a few key exercises, such as pushups, squats and crunches, which he performs for one minute each. To optimize recovery and maintain intensity, he incorporates one minute of rest between each exercise. To further elevate his heart rate and add variety, he intersperses a 30-second jog after each rest period. These short, high-intensity workouts offer convenience for individuals struggling to find time to exercise, as they can be completed virtually anywhere.

Ramirez believes that many people focus primarily on their physical appearance rather than their overall well-being. To achieve personal fitness goals, he emphasizes the importance of prioritizing how one feels. In addition to the aforementioned exercises, he suggests incorporating everyday activities like walking, cycling and swimming into your routine. These activities contribute to overall fitness and can be seamlessly integrated into daily life.

One challenging workout that Ramirez incorporates regularly is known as the “two-minute leg blasters,” a regimen he learned from his lieutenant in the Marine Corps. This workout consists of 20 squats, 20 lunges, 10 jumping squats and 10 jumping lunges (alternating legs). The circuit is repeated five times, and the workout concludes with six 20-meter shuttle sprints, providing a rigorous and demanding session.

By combining these efficient workouts, functional exercises and challenging circuits, Ramirez optimizes his fitness routine to achieve his goals while respecting time constraints and promoting overall well-being.

Healthy eating guidelines

Eat a balanced diet: Include a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (such as poultry, fish, beans and tofu) and healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil) in your meals. This will provide your body with a wide range of essential nutrients.

Portion control: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Use smaller plates and bowls, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

Limit processed foods: Minimize your consumption of processed and packaged foods that are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats and sodium. Opt for fresh, whole foods whenever possible.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support overall health and help control appetite. Limit sugary drinks and alcohol.

Plan and prepare meals: Take some time to plan your meals and snacks in advance. This will help you make healthier choices and avoid relying on convenience foods.

Practice mindful eating: Slow down and pay attention to your food while you eat. Chew thoroughly, savor the flavors, and listen to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness. This can help prevent overeating and promote better digestion.

Be mindful of added sugars and unhealthy fats: Read food labels to identify sources of added sugars and unhealthy fats such as trans fats and saturated fats. Choose options with lower amounts of these ingredients.

Allow for occasional treats: It’s important to find a balance and enjoy your favorite indulgences in moderation. Restricting yourself too much may lead to feelings of deprivation and make healthy eating less sustainable.

High protein food for body builders as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, buckwheat, oatmeal, nuts, bean, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed. Top view.

A holistic approach to nutrition 

Ramirez takes a refreshing approach to nutrition and fitness, prioritizing a balanced diet over strict rules and calorie counting. He recognizes the importance of incorporating all food groups into his meals and sets realistic goals and expectations for himself. By adopting this mindset, he avoids the pitfalls of excessive dietary restrictions that can lead to exhaustion, diet lapses and unhealthy binge eating. He understands that long-term success lies in a sustainable and mentally healthy approach to nutrition.

In the event that Ramirez indulges in a meal that may not be optimal for his health, he counterbalances it with a quick workout. This proactive strategy helps him maintain equilibrium and ensures that he remains attentive to his body’s needs. For Ramirez the key to his physical journey lies in listening to his body’s signals and maintaining a practical perspective regarding both his food choices and exercise routines. By embracing this holistic approach, he achieves a harmonious balance between his overall well-being and his fitness goals.

Prioritizing mental health

In Ramirez’s everyday life, his mental health takes center stage as the most crucial aspect. He firmly believes in the intrinsic connection between physical and mental well-being, attributing much of his physical fitness to the state of his mental health. According to Ramirez, dedicating effort and attuning oneself to the body’s signals are pivotal for success in the health journey.

Ramirez recognizes that exercise holds significant benefits for mental well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity can be highly beneficial, promoting positive moods, reducing stress and transforming one’s overall outlook on life. Moreover, he emphasizes the importance of nourishing the body with foods that make one feel good. This mindful approach to nutrition has the potential to positively impact everyday life, fostering an optimistic and balanced mindset.

Given the potential stressors in Ramirez’s demanding schedule, he acknowledges the need for exercise, proper nutrition and a balanced lifestyle to achieve his physical and mental health goals. By actively incorporating these elements into his routine, he strives for equilibrium and sets himself up for success in both domains.

Mental health checklist 

Self-care: Be sure you are getting enough sleep, practicing good hygiene, engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy and setting aside time for relaxation and self-reflection.

Stress management: Develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress. This can include techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, journaling or engaging in creative outlets.

Set boundaries: Learn to set boundaries in your personal and professional life. Prioritize your own needs, avoid over-committing or taking on too much. Learn to say no when necessary, and create a healthy work-life balance.

Practice positive thinking: Surround yourself with positive influences, practice affirmations, and engage in activities that uplift and inspire you.

Limit screen time: Set boundaries around your screen use and make time for activities that don’t involve screens, such as outdoor activities or hobbies.

Take breaks and rest: Allow yourself regular breaks throughout the day, and ensure you’re getting sufficient rest and sleep. Quality sleep is essential for mental and emotional well-being.

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