Excellence in "ALL" we do

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mark D. Stoup
  • 509th Bomb Wing
The Air Force is making a monumental cultural change on July 1, 2010, with the new fitness instruction, AFI 36-2905. As Air Force professionals, every one of us needs to make a personal commitment to change. For some, it might be a significant lifestyle change and for others it might be more minor.

No matter what level of change you need, we should all approach the new PT standards by refocusing on our commitment to excellence. I don't necessarily mean an excellent PT score either. For some readers this is too lofty a goal, while others would sell themselves short. Instead, think simply about doing the best you possibly can when it comes to your personal fitness. "Excellence in all we do" absolutely encompasses health and fitness.

As a professional, I am the legal advisor to the wing commander on all the fitness issues in the wing. I couldn't be happier if I never saw another fitness issue cross my desk. No one likes seeing promising careers cut short because a person cannot achieve the AF's fitness standards.

I've studied the data and personal history of each case, and I wish there was something I could do for at least one person to help them improve. I really can't do anything to help since it is 100 percent up to each individual to make changes in their fitness approach. I can provide some common sense advice that might help the "process" of improvement.

Not everyone buys into the benefits of improved fitness, but focusing on fitness, like any other part of your job, is a significant start. There are aspects of every job that are less enjoyable, but simply must get done because it is important to the Air Force mission. Fitness standards are no exception. By now it should be abundantly clear why the Air Force is focusing on fitness.

Maintaining appropriate levels of fitness helps people on a number of levels. It sharpens the mind, it provides energy, it prolongs life, it prevents health issues, it increases productivity, and the list goes on. Simply put, it increases your excellence across the board.

Many people would love to take this concept seriously, and achieve personal excellence in this area, but they run into a number of common road blocks preventing them from making any real change. These factors include lack of time, physical energy, knowledge and motivation. All these issues are easy to overcome. Again, this is no different than taking on a new job task. Here are some basic steps that should help.

First, embrace it and make fitness a priority in your life! Remember, it is a lifestyle change. Put workouts on your calendar. This makes exercise a priority. Second, set realistic goals. Losing weight or running in a certain time are common goals, but they often produce only temporary results or no results. The reason is that they can create artificial barriers. Instead, a person should focus on the process, not the outcome.

Also, set goals for short durations. For example, a great goal is to work out four times a week for four straight weeks. The process will take care of the fitness improvement and the timeframe is realistic and attainable. Third, don't start working out too fast or too hard; it leads to burn-out and injuries. Fourth, rest! This is a critical yet often overlooked component.

Exercise is a process where muscles or the cardiovascular system is stressed. The body compensates to meet the new demand. This compensation can only come through rest. Take appropriate days off. Fifth, mix it up. You will avoid getting bored with a routine and you will keep your body guessing. The more routine your work outs are the less your body will need to compensate and the less you will improve.

Consistency should not come in the way you work out, but consistency is important when it comes to getting to the gym or getting on the track. Sixth, give your body the right fuel. Think of the concept "garbage in, garbage out." If you put junk into your system, you won't get the performance you need.

The final point is to get help if you need it. Don't reinvent the wheel. There are a number of great resources available to help. When you are looking for information, caveat emptor, "let the buyer beware." Be careful about information from some sources like the Internet. You can't always tell if the information is accurate or if someone is attempting to sell something. They definitely don't have your best interest in mind.

Perhaps, the best resource is the Whiteman Health and Wellness Center. They are free, convenient and have your best interest in mind, so stop by and pick their brains. As you get fired up to hit the gym, take the right attitude along, and do your best. Happy training!