Staff Sgt. Ashlee Griffin: Progress not Perfection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenna A. Bond

When I was about 15, I had one of the darkest points of my life. I was almost 200 pounds and I started to get bullied. We moved to Germany and I realized I wasn’t happy with myself, so my step-dad asked me to go to the gym with him.”

Staff Sgt. Ashlee Griffin, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of infection control, started her fitness journey at 16 and never looked back.

“I lost about 50 pounds and then I developed an eating disorder, which led to me losing 20 more pounds,” said Griffin.

Body dysmorphia and people’s relationship with food can be a difficult topic to discuss, but she believes that talking about it is a step in the right direction.

Griffin went on to explain, “When I was anorexic, I still saw myself as 200 pound Ashlee and not the 115 pound Ashlee I was at the time. I had to find a way to help myself.”

Through her fitness journey, Griffin not only transformed her body but also her mindset.

“I learned to surround myself with people that lift me up and make me want to be a better person, such as my sweet friend at the Medical Group, Mary Garcia.”

There are various reasons why people go to the gym and some are heavier than others, but Griffin hopes to cultivate an environment where Airmen feel supported and understood.

“When I turned 21, that’s when I started to get very consistent with my lifting, where it wasn’t a punishment any more,” she said. “It wasn’t me trying to prove myself to anyone, just how to become better for myself. Going through the weight loss, the weight gain, and trying to have a good relationship with food, I always had support from my friends, so I like to be that for other people,” she said.

“That's such a big thing for me [body image issues]. People don’t talk about it enough and it’s still something I struggle with at times.”

This serves as a powerful reminder that the perception people have of themselves can be clouded by past experiences or insecurities, but when Airmen have the right kind of support system, it's easier to stay on track.

“My main priority in life is mental health, for others and myself to have a good state of mind,” said Griffin. “If there’s something I can do to better myself or someone else, I am always going to do that.”

Griffin believes being a supervisor is about having her Airmen’s back and growing together; better supervisor, better Airman.

Griffin disclosed, “My motivation comes from wanting to make young Ashlee proud of who I am now. I also think about the future when I have kids, what’s going to make them proud that I’m their mom?”

Griffin not only excels in the gym, but in everything she does. She set her sights on Senior Airman Below-the-Zone and Airman Leadership School Distinguished Graduate and through her resilience she was able to achieve them.

“It’s all about goal setting. I had my fitness goals, I had my career goals and I’m very determined.”

In the face of adversity, continuing to push toward goals can be hard, but it’s important to steer away from negative mindsets like comparison which hinder growth.

“I try to not compare myself to others and also reflect on all the progress I've made in the last 8 years of my life,” said Griffin. “I strive for progress; not perfection.”