Fit to Fight: Staying in shape physically, mentally, spiritually

  • Published
  • By Maj. Tabetha Clark
  • 39th Comptroller Squadron commander
Are you prepared to meet today's AF challenges? Becoming fit-to-fight is not just about passing a physical training test or being just physically fit, it's also about being spiritually fit.

As Airmen, we are critical to today's military high ops tempo mission, and to meet this challenge we must be in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.

While being physically fit is certainly critical and something that is of great focus, developing mental and spiritual fitness is also vital to our wellbeing. Possessing spirit and determination is stronger and endures longer than muscle. Take me for example, I'm not a great runner and with several injuries to contend with it has not been easy. However, I haven't let my injuries get in the way of being fit. I've accomplished my goals each time and passed every timed run--from 1.5 - 3 miles. I know it was my drive, mental agility and spirit that carried me when my back and knees were in agony.

I always think of positive sayings and passages, often reciting them aloud to keep me focused and moving. I also enlist the help of those in my unit. Many times I will ask a fast runner to run beside me to give me an added push, to make me want to keep his or her pace, to hear that encouraging word from them when I begin to slow down. Of course, at the end of the run I am spent, but grateful to the person for staying with me. I figure, if they sacrifice a few minutes of their time for me during a simple run, I know they would be there when it counted most...on the battlefield. Likewise, I know I would push myself past my limits to help them in the same environment. You can't quit because you're tired or in pain when that wounded comrade needs you.

The spirit within is resilient and helps us overcome adversity and "tough spots," but we must continuously nurture it, feed it and protect it to ensure it thrives. You may find as I do, that often it's the spirit inside that gets us to the end when you have nothing left physically. So, push yourself, believe you can and have the attitude that you can accomplish whatever goal is placed upon you. When you do that, you are already a success. Look at the big picture, being fit is about more than just you; it's also about your family, friends, loved ones and comrades in arms. They depend on us. In this high ops tempo environment we live in, it is imperative we have mental and spiritual fortitude. When in a deployed environment and our comrade is down, we must be ready, willing and able to pick them up and keep moving. Olympic Track Coach, Percy Cerutty said, "You only grow as a human being if you're outside your comfort zone." Stretch yourself beyond your self imposed limits and get out of your comfort zone. As we work to get in shape or maintain our current exceptional fitness level, know it is not about passing the PT test, but rather living a healthy lifestyle and having the right attitude. Work hard to stay fit--physically, mentally and spiritually. Remember, your friends, family and comrades in arms are counting on you.