Commentary

May 9, 2013

Deployed Airman loses 40 pounds, scores 99.8 on fitness test

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Commentary by Master Sgt. Shane Sullivan
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)
Master Sgt. Shane Sullivan works out on a rowing machine May 2, while deployed to Southwest Asia. Sullivan lost more than 40 pounds, scored a 99.8 on his fitness test and won the wing’s Biggest Loser contest. Sullivan is assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity office.

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) – You want to get in shape during your deployment, but what does that mean? Do you want to lose weight or score better on your fitness test?

Before I left Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., for this deployment, I promised myself, and my leadership, I would return a new person. I set a lofty goal and told anyone who would listen, which initially helped me be accountable for my choices. I predicted I would lose 40 pounds. People encouraged me, but still pointed out it was a lot of weight and it would be tough.

After allowing myself a couple weeks to get acclimated, I began the battle on my waistline. I kept hearing about early risers who participated in an exercise regimen that was intense, awful, awesome and fun all at the same time. I decided to try it. Just before Thanksgiving, I went to my first class. Three days later, I regained movement and was able to go back. I scaled my workouts and tailored them to my abilities.

The more I focused on skill work and proper form, the more my body responded. I was running faster, lifting more weight and recovering quicker. When I needed motivation, my workout brothers and sisters were there to encourage and inspire me — and each other.

While I attribute much of my success to exercise, I had to do my part in the dining facility as well. I drastically cut carbohydrates, ate smaller portions and made better choices. I didn’t starve myself and yes, I had a cookie or two once in a while.

Did I have setbacks? Yes, I was down for a few days with arthritis pain and there was at least one week, during which, I gained weight instead of losing it. I didn’t let it discourage me. I used those moments to motivate me to work harder.

I was also able to compete in the wing’s Biggest Loser competition. By the time it started, I had already lost 13 pounds and was entrenched in my routine.

When the contest was over, I had lost an additional 30 pounds and placed first. I scheduled my fitness test with the hope that having lost more than 40 pounds and having worked out for five months I would be ready. I could never have predicted just how ready I was.

I scored better at 40 years of age than I ever have, a 99.8. Twenty years ago, I ran my 1.5 mile test in 10:24. This time I ran it in 10:06. I reached my goal of losing 40 pounds., took 7 inches off my waist and I’m in the best shape of my life.

I set a specific goal, set my mind to it and stuck to it. I know I am not alone. Miracles do not happen overnight; they can take days, weeks or months depending on the goal.

Now it is time for a new goal. I have to promise myself I will never look like I did five months ago ever again.

You, too, can accomplish your goals. Dream big and work hard to achieve that dream, you can do it.

Air Force fitness centers offer a variety of workouts, just visit your local staff and find out which one is right for you.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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