Success with 'man's best friend'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Max Soto
  • 22nd Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section NCOIC
In today's Air Force, it seems like trying to balance out a good workout and the regular day-to-day duties can be challenging. As a K-9 handler, our mission is to always be ready to deploy at any given moment and a big part of that is being fit to fight.

Recently I made a drastic improvement in my fitness by dropping more than 20 pounds and six and a half inches off my waist. I also shaved three minutes from my runtime, improving my overall physical training score from 77 points to 96.80.

As a security forces member I have deployed numerous times and have personally seen what determination can do if one applies it to their goals and follows through with it. I have numerous friends who have gone on deployments, increased their PT scores by 25 to 55 points and changed their lives.

On a recent deployment to a small forward operating base in Iraq, my K-9 and I were attached to a small infantry unit. Our sole purpose was to run outside the wire missions seeking weapon caches and certain individuals who were of high interest, in order to preserve the peace and create stability in that region.

A lot of these missions required long range foot patrols, carrying our gear through fields and cities. My main focus was to promote a positive Air Force image in the eyes of our fellow servicemembers, and show that we are more than capable to carry out ground operations.

The majority of the weight I lost started with simple walks or jogs on a treadmill, or around the base perimeter. I started incorporating light jogs two or three times a day, with rest days thrown in to give my body time to catch up. In the morning, before lunch and sometime before dinner, I would take 15 minutes and jog at a slow pace.

The key to losing weight for me was not so much changing anything out of my diet. In fact, I never cut anything out of it. I was incorporated or substituted certain meals with healthier ones, cut back on the portions and ensured I maintained a steady work out plan.

In the Air Force, we are provided with just about the best of everything in my opinion, and being deployed with the Army helped me realize this quickly.

Here at McConnell, we can boast about a stellar fitness center and staff completely equipped with everything you need to get fit. Overseas, I was working with hardly anything but a determined mind, one treadmill that always seemed as if it was on its last leg and a few weights.

Since I've been back, I have been able to maintain my fitness standards. Although not as easy, I still find time in my day to get to the gym. Staying physically fit is only a small portion of maintaining a healthy life style. I'm a firm believer that staying spiritually, physically and mentally fit can help us take on any challenges life can throw our way.