Basic training and technical school keep Airman on the go, constantly moving and being active, with allocated times for physical fitness and meals. Food choices are also minimized by providing access to dining facilities. This helps Airman stay healthy and in top physical condition. However, habits tend to change when one leaves this regimented way of living to return home, to their civilian jobs or back to their duty stations. The more relaxed environment can make it easy for weight to increase. Senior Airman Coral Williams, 163rd Reconnaissance Wing Comptroller Flight, found herself in this exact situation, relaxed and gaining weight. Through hard work and motivation, she is now in a habit of living a healthy lifestyle.
“After returning to my unit from school I started slacking on my fitness routine and nutrition. I was only running to pass the physical fitness test, which I wasn’t taking very seriously,” Williams said. I was eating whatever I wanted and as time passed the runs were getting harder and harder. “Before I realized it, I had gained about 25 pounds.”
Wearing the same uniform daily made it difficult for her to see the weight she had gained. It wasn’t until she looked at older pictures of herself that she realized she needed to get on a plan to change her habits.
“I began working out and watching what I eat,” she said. “First I noticed an increase in the energy I had and then the weight began to drop off.”
She started going to the gym, lifting weights and doing more cardiovascular exercise.
“The gym can be intimidating at first, especially for women, because mostly men use the weight lifting areas,” William said. “However, I kept reminding myself why I was there—for myself, and kept this in mind ‘til it became a habit.”
Furthermore, by making the gym a habit, Williams began learning more and more about exercise, which helped motivate her to keep going.
“I started learning more about my body, the mechanics and benefits of specific movements and exercises which helped me reach new goals and change my body,” she said. “It also helped me gain confidence in my ability as I learned the proper form and technique of weight lifting.”
Williams started slowly, and regularly increased her workouts in duration, intensity and the amount of weights she lifted to lose all the weight she had gained. Her current routine is: three times a week, she will complete fasted-cardio in the morning, lift weights another 30 minutes of cardio after work. On alternate days, she does full-body, weight lifting workouts; one upper body and one lower body and then a day of plyometric training.
Fasted cardio is performing any cardio exercise before having anything to eat. This is believed to help the body burn more fat due to the fact that you won’t be burning calories from the food you recently ate, rather you will burn strictly fat from the day before. Plyometric training is a type of cross training involving jumping and other high impact exercises that focus on maximizing the stretch reflex of the muscles, helping muscles to produce maximum force faster, which enhances performance for exercisers.
Williams also found inspiration through her husband, who is a personal trainer, and through an online social networking service where users share photographs and videos. She and her husband worked out together, making it easier for them to stay with a program and create a healthy lifestyle. She turned to social media for more ideas and to find healthy recipes.
“(Social networking) is my picture diary. It helps keep me on track and on pace with my goals,” Williams said. “Now people that follow my account, ask me for advice and workouts and then they tag me in their pictures accomplishing one of the workouts I suggested. It’s motivation in full circle.”
Williams now has more than 1900 followers on social media. She believes that she has gained many of her followers by going against typical stereotypes and inspiring others to do the same.
“I’m a women, wife, mother, Airman, Samoan and Polynesian and a lot of these carry negative stereotypes of how I should look,” Williams said. “For example, Polynesians and Samoans are usually big and overweight. “I am proving to others not to judge by a label.”
In addition, Williams also competes in a “Biggest Loser” competition at her unit and hopes to compete in a body building competition in August.
“My advice to new Airman is not to let off the gas pedal once you come back from school or training,” she said. “Make eating healthy and physical fitness a habit (because) once it becomes a habit, it’s like putting on your hat,” said Williams.