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Obesity is a Terrorist

Mar 10, 2018

When I swore to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic I had no idea that I would one day use that oath to take on the fight against obesity.
For more than 20 of my 26 year career - I was one of the statistics that you read about about as it relates to obesity in the military.  Yet -
I was a Good Airman, well decorated with many accolades that hung from a very snug 46R mess dress.  I made the assumption that I was fit (enough) to fight and I had the medals to prove it. 
In all aspects of my career I wanted to be the best I could be.  I've
received two national honors because I was driven internally to excel - yet I neglected my health at times with the excuse that I could 'still do my job' and I thought I was doing it well.  The truth was, I was just getting by and did so with fitness for a long time.  As my age and my weight both continued to climb I found myself on the failing end of a PT test.    It was completely embarrassing but it took two more failures for me to realize that I was just one test away from losing it all.  I wanted nothing more than to serve, so I had to change my lifestyle.
I had been successful with Weight Watchers in the past so I gave it one more shot to see if I could save my career.  This time however was different. For once in for all, I wanted to do my absolute best.  I was going all in and not looking back.  I enlisted the help of some key people in my life who kept me focused on my goals.  Through daily communication, I never drifted too far away from the course to fitness.  I kept one simple thought at the top of my mind and daily I asked myself, "How bad do you want it?"  It's a question I easily knew the answer to, but without a constant reminder of what it was I was working towards I had failed previously.  This time, I kept the focus on the prize - An Excellent Score on my Fitness Test.  The PT test that haunted me for years, was my nemesis, and I wanted to defeat it. It was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar career. I wanted to be able to excel on this test, no matter what conditions I faced it in. 
There is no secret weapon when it comes to losing weight - "Burn more Calories than you Consume" it's simple math and on paper works out perfectly.  However our society makes it very easy to give in to temptations and suddenly the numbers game alone isn't motivating enough.  I had to figure out "WHY" I wanted to be fit.  It took me some time - but the articles helped drive that point home for me.  I did not want to be represented in those article.  Even though they didn't call me out by name, I knew they were writing about me.  I shamefully feared that others would read what was being reported and immediately identify ME as the subject. 
Knowing what I went through to lose 91 pounds and reach an 18% body fat measurement - I'm often reminded that I didn't do anything special.  I just wanted this goal more than anything else.  I needed to remain focused on my new lifestyle until I no longer recognized the old one.  Today - I work hard to reach out to anyone who is struggling the way I used to internally.  A few times a year I have the honor to speak to those who need the motivation to win this battle.  As someone who has lived this life for too long - yet found a way to turn it around - I want them to know they have a Wingman that will walk this journey with them.
Through the course of my transformation of both mind and body I accepted healthy eating and moderate exercise as a new way of life.  I started slow in both areas and built on the foundation that I knew to be true.  Today - when I put on the Air Force uniform, a complete sense of pride resonates inside of me.  It's a feeling that reminds me of the days when I first wore the uniform during basic training.  This is what I've been called to do and I almost gave it all away.  When I eventually retire, I will know that I did the best I could, in all aspects of my career.  I'll know that I retired on my terms and that it's time to pass the torch to the next generation.  As the greatest nation in the world our way of life is worth defending.  Those who serve well into the future need to be fit - that's what the job requires.