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931st ARG Airman loses inches, gains confidence
Master Sgt. Mike Walker, 931st Force Support Squadron career advisor, lifts weights during his second of three daily workouts, Nov. 2, 2010, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Sergeant Walker was able to lose 24 pounds and six inches off of his waist in four months, drastically improving his physical fitness test score. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Abigail Klein)
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McConnell Airman loses inches, gains confidence

Posted 11/4/2010   Updated 11/5/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Abigail Klein
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/4/2010 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- While most Airmen are satisfied with being able to pass their physical fitness test, Master Sgt. Mike Walker, 931st Force Support Squadron career adviser, wasn't.

"I never stressed about my PT test before, but with the advent of the new PT system I realized that the [Air Force] culture is changing and is getting more serious about the fitness test," Sergeant Walker said.

The waist measurement Sergeant Walker received on a practice PT test last June was also a motivator.

"When they measured my waist and said it was at 44 inches, that was the creation of the epiphany for me," he said. "The epiphany was that if I continued on the same path I was going on, I wasn't going to be where I needed for my fitness test and I would fail."

Air Force PT standards mandate that a male Airmen must have a waist measurement under 39 inches, anything over is considered at risk. Because of Sergeant Walker's 44-inch measurement, he would have lost all 20 points, and failed one of the four sections of the PT test. That's when Sergeant Walker decided to upgrade his workouts.

"This waist measurement was not only a failing waist measurement, it was like getting stung twice by the same bee," he said. "I would have not only failed the fit test, as the Unit Fitness Program Manager I would actually have to look into the eyes of those I was trying to motivate to pass their tests while also knowing that I couldn't."

Following the PT practice test, Sergeant Walker had several conversations with his fellow workers to discuss how they were each preparing for future fit tests. It then became clear to Sergeant Walker that he would have to increase his number of workouts each day, while also setting clear and measurable goals.

Sergeant Walker began a high protein, low-carb diet June 21, 2010. He also began working out three times a day, every day of the week. This was difficult because his civilian job with the 931st ARG only allows three fitness hours per week. This required Sergeant Walker to use 90 hours of his personal leave maintain with his workouts.

Sergeant Walker overcame these challenges. He worked-out in the morning before work, doing cardio on the elliptical and lifting light weights. His second work out of the day was during his lunch break, where he performed cardio, push ups and sit ups. He concluded his day with a third workout which included 25 to 30 minutes of cardio and lifting light weights.

Sergeant Walker has continued this routine for four months, and when he took his PT test in October, he not only passed and improved his fitness score, he had lost 23 pounds and six inches from his waist.

Sergeant Walker's success has also amazed his leadership.

"When he first came to me with [his fitness program] I was very skeptical that he'd be able to keep it up, but he's been diligent about keeping it and because of that, he's lost a lot of weight," said Lt. Col. Kerry Lehman, 931st FSS commander. "Everyone who knows what he's been doing has been really impressed because it took a lot of dedication to do it, and it shows that if you're willing to put the time into it, you can lose the weight and improve your fitness score."

With a smaller waist and a boost of self-confidence, Sergeant Walker wants to share his fitness success story to Airmen to help them realize the importance of the new Air Force Fitness standards.

"I think there are a lot of Airmen out there that are in denial, but I honestly don't think this [new fitness culture] is going away, so Airmen either need to change their mindset or it will change them," he said. "It's a lot easier to accept change and take care of yourself."

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