Resolve to be FITT

Col McGregor

Col McGregor

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- New Year's resolutions have a habit of falling by the wayside, so I'm personally leery of setting resolutions that become problematic within a few weeks. A more useful approach for the new year might be to spend a little time in introspection. Just as April 15th is the deadline for filing federal taxes, January 1st is a great time for reviewing and resetting goals.

Goals are important to help you keep the trajectory of your life on course and I enjoy entering the new year with a fresh review of the progress of the previous year's goals, updating them where it makes sense, and then developing a fresh set of goals for the new year.

Resolutions, of course, are not exactly the same thing as goals. A person might resolve to be more proactive at work, whereas they might set a goal to increase their chances of being selected for advancement by spending extra time studying for their next exam and putting in hours to earn a volunteer service ribbon. Either way, putting time into thinking about ways to better yourself is never a bad thing.

Some of my goals this year include raising participation in the Air Force Marathon and improving the nutritional choices at the base. For March reservists as well as federal employees, I hope a fitness goal is in your set of resolutions, as well.

In a recent CNN article titled, Why Obesity is a National Security Threat, David Frum wrote, "The U.S. military reflects the society of which it is a part. Americans are gaining weight, and the gain is steepest among the young. Why? It's no mystery. The typical young person today spends twice as much time watching television or playing video games than engaged in physical activity. Cheap, appealing, high-calorie foods and drinks are constantly at hand. Changes in family patterns have put an end to the expectation that food be consumed at a table with people as a social event."

Whether your fitness goal is to lose ten pounds, walk a 5K, or even join Team March members next fall at the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, each of us can benefit from improvements in our nutrition and fitness levels (and in doing so, we'll be setting a good example for our children and grandchildren).

The good news is that you don't have to go it alone in your fitness goals. March FITT (Fitness and Inspiration though Teamwork) is here to help. This fall, Lt. Col. Kris Kraiger held a series of meetings with a charter group of fitness leaders at March to develop FITT from the ground up.

FITT's mission is to create a community of healthy and fit individuals through education and social networking, leading to sustainable healthy lifestyles. Specifically, they will support a mission-ready force, increasing community awareness about March Air Reserve Base and creating a fun, healthy culture of fitness on the base. FITT will be kicking off their first event on Sunday with a "Mythbusting 2011" lunch and learn seminar at the Hap Arnold Club. The next event will be held on Sunday, Jan. 23, also at the Hap Arnold Club.

I encourage you to be on the lookout for FITT events as this new group gains momentum. FITT is a social organization designed to provide information and grass roots support. For example, if one of our members decides to run their first 10K and needs run support, FITT can match them with a mentor runner and running support.

FITT is also a way for us to let the wing know about fitness events in our area and once their website is up, they will be able to get the word out rapidly through social media. It's also a way for us to leverage our wing expertise by matching nutritionists and sports medicine doctors who are already in the wing with those who need professional advice. FITT is about positive encouragement and long term healthy habits.

An article about a pilot program at Fort Leonard Wood discusses how the Army is revamping the menu at basic training to help change recruits' eating habits. According to Alan Scher Zaiger of the Associated Press, at Fort Leonard, drill sergeants have started to call out recruits for such things as not putting enough fruit on their plates.

Along with eating habits, Army leaders seek to improve the fitness levels of recruits. "About 25 percent of soldiers starting basic training arrive with little or no organized physical training, whether team sports or even a high school physical education class," Zaiger wrote.

I mention this because we are now bringing in around 45% of our Airmen with no prior service and we will need to provide them information that will make them fitness successful. The Fort Leonard recruits are now entering an environment where a "soldier athlete" initiative uses fitness training methods, "similar to those of elite athletes - including greater use of professional trainers, physical therapists, and strength and conditioning coaches."

This is the attitude and direction I would like to see reflected here at March in the new year. With the help of FITT, and your dedication we can start treating our Airmen as "Airman Athletes."