Louisville, Tenn --
Most times I’ve come home from work so far this year, my wife asks me the same thing: “What are you doing for a workout?”
My first instinct is to tell her: “I’m taking today off, honey. I’m tired. But I’ll get back on it tomorrow.”
But my wife, knowing very well that my Air Force Physical Fitness Test is coming, isn’t much for lame excuses or my predictable cop outs. She wants me to choose how, not if, there will be exercise.
So lately I tell her that I’m running a short time on the treadmill or doing one of the half-dozen easier videos that we own – yoga, no need for any Insanity workouts so late in the day, right? – Which is good enough to get her pass and to plant me on the couch.
My test is April 27. That’s when I’ll get weighed and measured. I’ll do my best number of pushups and sit-ups in a minute. I’ll do the 1.5-mile run.
Our unit’s physical training leaders who put aside their regular duties to keep an exact account of us will do their best to encourage me, but as you probably figured, I’m not much up for the challenge of it all.
I tried to keep up my enthusiasm since last April when I scored a 95 percent.
I told Master Sgt. Jerry Harlan, the Alternate Fitness Program Manager, that this year may very well be my first score below 90. If I fall short of the commander’s one-day pass for scores rated Excellent, and if I have to retake the test in six months instead of 12, well, that’s life.
“Waist measurements are our worst offender,” said Harlan. His opinion is that Airmen don’t consider their diets when they think of the fitness test. It’s skinny people, like me, who have less to worry.
I’m still inspired by food. That’s a struggle for a lot of us. I drive toward the burger place for a brown bag full of fries on habit, so I feel for those who need to actively manage their caloric intake.
In their case, there’s safety in numbers. Some sweat it out together at the base activities building during midday. They help keep each other on track.
But I’m more in awe of my wife’s resiliency, who suffered a car wreck a couple of years ago. She sees my change as temporary. She hopes I’ll get back into it because she knows how much I once loved fitness. She was much worse off than me, and she bounced back.
Doctors thought at best that she might get around on a walker after the accident. Now, on her normal days, she takes one or two fitness classes, maybe jumping to Zumba or step, and then a walk/run as best she can – she’s come a long way.
She walked a 5K in February without stopping. With two dozen or so marathon medals in our trophy drawer, I knew she’d finish.
My life, on the other hand, slowed down much.
“I’ve retired from the marathon training and the double workouts,” I tell her, and leave it at that.
I know I’m not alone. I’m betting that a lot of Airmen close to the end of their service, maybe pushing 50 like me, start to cringe at the thought of fitness. It’s a fact of life that we change. Gardening becomes more enjoyable than a two-hour run. Watching Ninja Warrior becomes better than training like one.
Maybe if I need to buy my pants a size up it’ll spark a midlife exercise crisis, but I have my doubts.
She seems to understand my situation best by an accounting of my performance. How far do I have to run in how much time? Am I doing enough sit-ups and pushups to pass? Do I have enough time to prepare?
I tell her that I still run three miles with little effort. We’ve run marathons, so I can handle a mile-and-a-half.
I assure her that exercise is still important to me to feel well, sleep well and be ready to deploy. I just take it easier these days.
“I’m sad that we can’t run races together anymore,” she says, frustrated with our limitations.
Hmm. “We walk them,” I remind her.
“Well, you’re lucky that you’re skinny, but you’re still working out tonight,” she says.