An Airman never quits: A fight to fitness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the first of a three part series of an Airman's resilincey to become fit to fight.

Tim Allen said in a movie once "never give up, never surrender." For an Airman, that statement holds true to the Air Force core values. Staff Sgt. India Smith, a 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 17 non-commissioned officer in charge of knowledge operations, embodies that famous quote from "Galaxy Quest."

Smith's story starts in December of 2013 when she first arrived here.

"In January of 2014, I failed my Air Force fitness assessment with a composite score of 15.75 percent," said Smith. "That's not a great way to begin at a new base and a new unit."

That happened to be her second failure in two years, and fifth in five years. Although she had failed in the past, she was determined not to let it end her career.

"It took all of those failures and the threat of the Air Force downsizing for me to realize that I had to change something for good," she said.

She went to the base health and wellness center to take the performance nutrition course. They made her keep a four-day food log including weekends. It took this honest analysis of her eating habits for her to realize that she had to change more than the physical component of comprehensive Airman fitness. This would take a stronger mental attitude as well. 

"Before I even submitted the log to the HAWC for evaluation, I had realized something harsh: I had no control over my eating," she continued. "This was especially hard for me to acknowledge, due to the fact that I had already struggled to lose a lot of weight before. "

With watching what she ate, Smith still needed to get into physical shape. She turned to one of her physical training leaders, who happened to be a level one, certified combat fitness instructor. With the support of her PTL and unit, she started going to combat airman fitness twice a week and eventually she was hooked.

"Next thing I knew, I was going to the class three or more days a week," she said.

When Smith started exercising more than three times week, she notice that her motivation changed.

"While there is some drive to compete with my fellow combat airmen fitness classmates, my true motivation is to see the numbers change in my little book of workouts," she said. "Whether I did one more rep, five more pounds, or finished 2 seconds quicker, I know that I am getting better, stronger, faster and more determined. I started setting goals for myself. And as I met each goal, I felt a sense of pride that I had forgotten about."

With her renewed sense of pride and determination, she wasn't just losing weight; she was making leaps and bounds that she had never before reached.

"Probably my single proudest moment in combat airman fitness to date was when I managed to run 10 sprints of 100 meters each without using my inhaler," she said.

Recently, Smith took a PT test and passed with a score of 78 percent. Her ultimate goal is to reach the excellent category with a score of 90 or above. Another one of her other goals is to complete a full "Murph" workout. The "Murph" workout includes a two-mile mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats and is named after U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005. It was his favorite workout.

Even with all of these goals set, she realizes that more work needs to be done.

"I'm still not the epitome of healthy or fit. I still can't do a pull-up, I still can't do the workout with the prescribed amount of weight, and some days it's all I can do to finish," she said. "I'm okay with being a work in progress. I'm okay with being the last person to finish the workout. Because I know that only 90 days ago, I wouldn't have even tried. Now I'm ready to take on the next 180 days one day at a time."