931st ARG Airman changes diet, exercise for PT success

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Gregory Mitchell
  • 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead crew chief
Prior to the introduction of the new Air Force physical fitness standards, Master Sgt. John Grindstaff's, 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead crew chief, attitude towards fitness standards was, "The minimum score to pass is 75. That's all I need."

Everyone in our maintenance shop ribbed him about his weight, his waist size and his propensity for racking up a profitable IOU from the snack bar. Between the oatmeal cookies and the snack cakes, the man knew pastries rather intimately.

Upon returning from a deployment in Guam last May, Sergeant Grindstaff weighed 234 pounds and sported a 40-inch waist. He consistently failed the push-up and sit-up portions of his fitness test.

His run however, was a different story. Even though I was in training for a marathon, I was impressed at how he smoked me on the track. He admitted that he started running with his neighbor, swimming at the YMCA every night and hitting the sauna afterwards.

One day, after hearing many horror stories from our active duty brothers and sisters, Sergeant Grindstaff began to question his love affair with snack cakes.

He began practicing pushups, situps and running 1.5 miles every afternoon after work. Each day he came to work with a progress report: 234, 230, 225. With support, he eliminated the multiple mid-day snacking and we started bringing our lunch instead of eating out.
The snack cakes were out and the green salad was in.

Near the end of July, Sergeant Grindstaff picked up a two- week overseas TDY. He expressed his concern about testing in August. This TDY could prove disastrous, but he vowed to exercise every day during the trip. Two weeks passed without word on his progress.

Despite his prior success, everyone in our shop expected him to return weighing 220 pounds but Sergeant Grindstaff ate conservatively -- salads and low calorie sandwiches. He ran on the treadmill at the hotel's gym. Every day, he practiced push-ups and sit-ups in his room. To maintain his motivation, he brought a scale and monitored his weight.

The day of his test, Sergeant Grindstaff weighed in at 206 pounds. He reduced his waist to 35 inches and, maxed out his points in body composition. His push-up score increased by 500 percent from a meager seven points to 35, and he performed 47 sit-ups increasing his count by 17.

By the time the run came, Sergeant Grindstaff was looking to see what he needed to make a 90. He needed to complete the run in 11:22 to get the 54 points. He ran the previous timed run at 12:30.

At 7a.m., the temperature was a comfortable 70 degrees. When Sergeant Grindstaff crossed the finish line on his final lap, the stopwatch read 10:44. He earned a whopping 56.6 points on the run and recorded a score of 92.7.

Sergeant Grindstaff focused on his goals, made no excuses and refused to complain. The positive attitude during those prior months turned his story into one of success.