This blog article was written by Alexis Wade at the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio and shared for publication on Richland Source.
For members of the United States military, physical fitness is both a major personal responsibility and a cornerstone to readiness. Airmen work on their fitness in a variety of ways, all with the goal to build and sustain a resilient workplace and community.
For Master Sgt. Hayley Young, Fleet Management and Analysis with the 200th REDHORSE Squadron, staying fit to fight has taken shape in the form of a bodybuilding competition earlier this year.
“I always thought I was in shape or fit, but it was yo-yo dieting,” said Young. “I would get in shape for the summer, then let myself go, and then in January I finally decided enough of this, I am going to hire a coach to teach me to eat healthy and build muscle.”
Young hired a trainer who focused strictly on lifestyle for the first seven weeks, teaching her how to use food to fuel her body, said Young. After seven weeks, they decided she would prepare for a competition, which she completed in May.
“It was strict meals and working out more than I had ever before, but I really started to enjoy the process of seeing my body transform into what I wanted it to be, at that point it was a well-oiled machine,” said Young.
Young competed in May and is hoping to compete again, but in a different category, as she plans on shifting her focus to increasing muscle mass in the next year.
“It was a terrible mental game, at times I wanted to quit but I am now stronger because of it, and I’m looking to continue pushing myself,” said Young.
Through Young’s experiences, she has been able to impact those around her to improve their health and fitness as well.
“I had other members asking for meal plans and the workouts that I was doing, and I was able to pass on the advice I had learned,” said Young. “My goal is to help and motivate other people through my story and experiences.”
Young hopes that even if those around her don’t get involved in bodybuilding, she hopes to encourage healthy habits and an overall better understanding of the importance of fitness.
“Fitness is extremely important, and it all starts with your diet,” said Young. “If you're physically fit, your mental and emotional state are going to be stronger. It’s not just about being physically fit to fight, it's mentally being fit as well.”