Breaking 90%

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona -- "Lee, get off my track!" the instructor yelled. The time clock showed that 21 minutes had passed. Everyone in my flight was finished with the mile and a half run except me. I didn't finish. Before that we had been mock tested on the sit-up and push-up portion of the test. I performed six sit-ups and zero push-ups--zero! I could not believe I was that out of shape and I worried I wouldn't pass the official fitness assessment toward the end of basic training.

Throughout basic all I thought about was that dreaded test. I couldn't imagine myself doing a proper push-up, performing the minimum number of sit-ups or finishing the run in less than 20 minutes. Although I'm not religious, every night I prayed to God to give me the strength and ability to pass the test. If I passed I promised to never, ever let my physical fitness slack again. I knew I couldn't do it alone and asked the fittest girls in my flight to help me do one proper pushup. After weeks of worry and hard work I passed the test and not only did I pass, but I got a little over a 90 percent.

I couldn't believe how far I had come. Weeks earlier I was contemplating asking my family to cancel their flight plans because I wasn't sure I'd graduate. When family and friends were given permission to find their loved ones, I remember the moment my mom found me like it was yesterday. She was crying and she rarely cries. They were tears of joy, and she told me how proud she was of me.

Fast forward more than three years and that Airman, me, has kept her promise. Year after year I've scored over a 90 percent on my fitness assessment test, and intend to keep it that way. People who don't know me well or how far I've come may think it's easy or I'm just naturally athletic, but that's not the case. It takes dedication, motivation and effort to stay physically fit.

Each year I know exactly what month I'm testing in, and I begin to train specifically for the test three months in advanced. My preparation isn't just running outside every day and performing pushups and sit-ups, but also cleaning up my diet, which helps my physical performance. Recently, I've put more emphasis on strength training and lifting weights, which has helped in the push-up and sit-up portion of the test. In addition, I do cardio throughout the week.

One may think it's too much effort, but I know my body and do not want to be the "Trainee Lee" I was before. It sounds corny, but I want to stay the "Airman Lee" who makes people proud to stand behind her and to serve with her. So the next time you feel like "you can't," tell yourself "you can" and take the steps to not only meet the standards but exceed them. If I can do it, anyone can.