If diet and exercise pave the road of healthy living, certainly being at Bastrop FSC can create some potholes.

Diet is the real challenge as an inmate has no control over what is served in the Chow Hall. Food can be supplemented with commissary purchases, but healthy commissary items are limited and costly. One of the main reasons I wanted to work in the kitchen is that working there gave me more choices. I can eat more fruit, fewer starches and more protein.

Exercise is not as challenging. I was surprised to see organized sports here at camp. The softball is highly competitive and is on par with most city-league competition. The basketball is reminiscent of my son’s 9th grade team, where the players have more moves than X-Lax, but the ball is unfamiliar with the hoop. Points should be awarded for shots on goal.

There is an outdoor workout pavilion with excellent treadmills, stair climbers and elliptical machines. TVs are available to watch and for listening through my radio. There is also a handball court, beach volleyball, a soccer field and a 1/4 mile track. I have frequented the track and pavilion, but limited my workouts otherwise to push-ups, dips, pull-ups, some isometrics and core exercises.

If you are reading this and are headed to a federal prison camp, here are some facts that I cannot stress enough.

* Get a full physical and dental checkup before you arrive

* When you arrive, your health is in your hands ALONE. Most medical facilities are dangerously understaffed.

* Be selective and eat healthy foods as much as possible.

* Make a regular and sensible workout part of your daily routine.

* Schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning as soon you arrive as it may take 12-18 months to see the prison hygienist.

* Purchase over-the-counter medicines as soon as you can from the commissary.

* If you get injured, you’re screwed. A typical wait time for an MRI is a very long time, so don’t play organized sports.