Get fit to fight -- stay fit for life

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Andrews
  • 459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office
(Editor's note: Senior Airman Jessica Andrews is a Unit Public Affairs Representative and an Air Force diet therapist in the nutritional medicine field. See your doctor before beginning any radical new fitness routine or regimen.) 

In some cases, even enemy flyers don't strike the fear in Airmen the way the Air Force physical fitness test does. 

As a Physical Training Leader in my squadron, I sometimes see the most talented and skilled professionals crumble when it comes time for their fitness test. 

Those feelings from basic training may come rushing back, but the test shouldn't be feared; it is not meant to measure your prowess in an Iron Man competition, rather, to gauge how ready you are for deployment. 

Lt. Col. Michael Laughton, 459th Air Refueling Wing commander's executive officer, wants people to put the test into perspective. 

"It does take a little self-discipline and an investment of time to pass the test," he said. "The Air Force isn't asking you to hike 20 miles, or bench press 200 pounds. Just do a few push-ups and sit-ups every morning like I do or walk instead of drive once in a while."
The colonel added, "I'm 55. My last score was 85 ... if I can pass, most anyone can."

Chief Master Sgt. Sherri Stanford seconds that notion. 

"Fitness is not only a personal responsibility, but a responsibility to the entire force who depends on you in time of need," she said. 

"No matter what your job is, everyone relies on everyone else to get the job done," the chief added. "Do you wish to be an asset or a hindrance? People who don't make fitness part of their career focus should reconsider their future in the military."

There are two things to keep in mind regarding physical training. 

First, if your mindset is that you need to get in shape "just to pass"... then you are already failing. 

You've heard it before, but being physically fit and healthy should make you feel better about yourself, and allows for a better quality of life. Do it for yourself; you may find your standards are even higher than anyone else could impose. 

Secondly, when people refer to us as "the Chair Force" it just makes me want to prove them wrong. Reservists get an even worse rap. 

Master Sgt. Hunter Plog, 459th Aeromedical Staging Squadron Fit to Fight program manager, is also a clinical dietician as a civilian. 

"With the ops tempo picking up, Reservists work side by side with our active duty counter parts. It is important that we maintain appearance standards so that we uphold the mirror force concept," Sergeant Plog said. 

"Passing the fitness test is only the first step in a lifetime of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle which allows Reservists to perform our mission effectively." 

Sergeant Plog added that proper nutrition and fitness training go hand in hand to achieve the best results. 

"Beyond dieting, food should be thought of in a new way," Sergeant Plog explained. "Food, eaten properly, is fuel that will sustain you in physical activities and will make you feel good when sedentary." 

Sergeant Plog said many physicians and dieticians encourage their patients to consider nutritious foods over "fad diets." 

I like to eat a diet full of antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, which promotes healthy skin and other benefits. 

I can say for sure that group encouragement works, and so does working towards a goal. Do something that will take you out of your comfort zone; for example, train and compete in an organized race. Do it for yourself, do it for your health.