22nd MDSS member improves PT score, changes life

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stacey Clouse
  • 22nd Medical Support Squadron
When I arrived at McConnell in July 2009, I weighed 228 pounds. It was the highest my weight had ever been while serving on active duty.

At 5 feet 4 inches tall, I was extremely overweight. In the past, I had never really had to stress about the physical fitness test because I had always maintained a healthy weight of 145 pounds, and my waist never exceeded 27 inches.

Of course, this was before I had my two children (born only 18 months apart). I took the saying "eating for two" seriously with both pregnancies; I gained more than 80 pounds.

After their births, I used the starvation diet to get enough weight off to pass my PT test. I really hadn't worked that hard and wasn't fit by any means. I knew I was out of shape and I did not represent my Air Force the way it should be represented. I had convinced myself that I would definitely fail the new standards for the PT test, and thought I should start prepping for a new career. I gave up completely, eating whatever I wanted while I waited until I could separate.

What changed my mind? The men and women I worked with in the 22nd Medical Group.

I know that all sounds rehearsed, but it's true. They encouraged me to not give up and didn't judge me or look down on me. I had so many people offer to help me that it was overwhelming. They cared more about my career than I did, so how could I let them down?

I now wanted to show them I could do it. I worked hard, and I knew I was on the right path because in February 2010, I was named the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's NCO of the Quarter. At this point, I had also dropped 35 pounds and nothing could crush my new spirit.

Unfortunately, my work wasn't quite enough. I took my PT test on Feb 23, 2010, and failed with a score 70.8. I let my anxiety get the best of me and I did not do well on my run. I was so ashamed because I now had to face everyone that had helped me work so hard.

For the first time in my career, I had to report to my commander. A fitness review panel was held, and my career, which I now wanted to hold on to, was in the hands of someone else.

I had to convince my commander that I would not fail again and that he should approve my reenlistment request. Lt. Col. Paul Willingham, 1st Lt. Anson Lloyd, Master Sgt. Terri Roland and my husband were my biggest supporters. They trusted in me, supported me and challenged me.

To help improve my PT score, I was given permission to attend the McConnell Boot Camp sessions held Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. It was hard, but I pushed myself every day. It paid off because on Apr. 29, 2010, just eight weeks after my last failure, I passed my PT test with an 85.5 for the old Air Force PT standards, 90.2 using the new standards.

In addition to improving my PT score, I had lost a total of 62 pounds, shaved three minutes off my run time, maxed-out on sit-ups and push-ups and taken 1.5 inches off my waist.

I remember at one point, I thought I would "die" running a mile, but now I can run long distances and I just recently completed the 2010 Air Force Marathon 10K at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio --my longest run to date.

I will continue to challenge myself by participating in a half marathon.

Since the test, I have continued my workouts with my squadron and I push any Airmen I see not trying. Fitness is now a part of my everyday routine, and it's a lifestyle change for the better.