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Cream of the crop: Offutt PT warriors dish out advice

Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill April 19 as part of her daily routine. AIrman Duff, an aspiring fitness competitor, attributes her physical fitness to eating healthy and regular free weight workouts at the base gym. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

An Airman runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, warms up with a set of lunges on Heritage Hill April 19 prior to a morning workout. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

An Airman warms up with a set of lunges. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- With six administrative discharges to date in 2011, physical fitness failures threaten every Offutt Airman who allows the new testing system to get the better of him.

However, some Airmen take each adjustment of the scorecards in stride. These Physical Training warriors consistently show that the test can be not only passed but result in 100-point scores.

"The American public expects us to live more disciplined and more difficult lives than the average citizen," said 1st Lt. David Hancock, a five-time perfect PT tester. "Americans are relying on us and paying us to be stronger, faster and more reliable than civilian organizations and foreign militaries."

While all Airmen are required to train to pass a PT test, Hancock recommends that they aim beyond that goal.

"I would advise people, whether passing or failing, not to train for the test but to train for the war," Hancock said. "There is no off-season. We always have to be ready for game day."

Airmen who focus on conditioning when it's easy to get away from work will benefit in the long run.

"The more you treat your preparation like the real deal, the easier it is to tell the negative voices in your head that compel you to stop to shut up when it really matters," said Maj. Ryan Wippler, whose last seven PT tests have yielded 100s.

Strength and cardiovascular training play an equal part in getting oneself ready for the PT test and beyond, said Wippler. Doing the test on a regular basis makes sure that there are no surprises on the big day.

"This is a straight-forward test to pass, because you know the answers beforehand," said Wippler. "You know exactly what numbers you need to pass or ace the test."

For those who need improvement, there's still time to turn it around.

"A failure in anything in life is a 'wake-up call' of sorts," said Maj. Christopher Bunt, who has 11 perfect 100s. "It's time to take a good look at your life, figure out what needs to be changed and what should stay. Then refocus, train with goals in mind, and be patient in your return to the test by giving yourself the time to improve."

Each person needs to set a goal for themselves, said Hancock. No-one should compare themselves to high school track stars. However, this doesn't mean that a person's goal should be easy.

"We get paid to work out three times a week for 90 minutes," Wippler said. "Laziness and half-hearted workouts which involve more mouth-moving than body-moving won't cut it."

Pushing to the absolute limit is the key to getting better, said Wippler. An ideal PT test will leave you weak, but not because of a lack of preparation. Instead, a runner should be used to using every ounce of energy to excel during each practice session and will use the same fervor during a real test.

A healthy body leads to more than just professional success, said Hancock. Physical conditioning balances a whole-person development of spirit, mind and body.

"An athletic and attractive build is actually something my wife can enjoy," said Hancock. "So long as I owe it to her and Uncle Sam, I'll see you at the field house."

For more information about fitness improvement, contact the Health and Wellness Center at (402) 294-5977.

Healthy eating tips from Maj. Ryan Wippler, chief of the 55th Medical Support Squadron diagnostic imaging element:

Remember this is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change. Once you've met your goals, do not revert to previous habits. You know where they lead you and it wasn't pretty.

Basically, if you want to lose weight, you must make your incoming calories less than your outgoing calories. To calculate this, figure out what your ideal body weight should be. I'm 72 inches with an ideal body weight of 175 lbs. Take that ideal body weight in pounds and multiply by 11 calories per pound. That is my number of calories I should eat a day to safely lose 1-2 pounds a week when I'm also exercising. Once you get to your ideal body weight, add 500 calories a day and you should maintain this weight if your activity level remains constant.

It is time to look at food labels and count those calories. There is a number of free calorie counters online. Warning: this will be eye-opening! If you log your meals and snacks, you will find that you will be less tempted to cheat, because you won't want to log that indiscretion later.

Eat breakfast. I eat a small bowl of cereal with skim milk or have a Greek yogurt and a granola bar everyday for breakfast.

Eating healthy snacks between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner will prevent you from pigging out at the major meals. Try a banana, apple, handful of raw almonds or an ounce of beef jerky.

Don't drink your calories. One liter of soda is approximately 450 calories. Multiply that by a week and that liter a day is equivalent to one pound of fat a week! Think it's time to start drinking diet soda? Alcohol is also empty calories that increase your appetite and make you eat more than you would otherwise. If you can limit your intake to weekends only and to two or three drinks a day, you will go far towards your goals.

Get rid of fatty fried foods and replace them with high protein lean meats, like baked or grilled chicken breast, fish or lean steak.

Ditch refined white carbs like potatoes, white rice and white bread and replace them with whole grains. Look for fiber, not carbs. A slice of good bread should contain at least 2 grams of fiber and be about 100 calories.

Fruits and vegetables should make up 50% of each meal. They are filling, full of fiber and low in calories.

For snacks: Dried fruits and unsalted nuts are great, flavorful, filling and healthy alternatives to potato chips and go great with sandwiches.

All restaurants are now required to post nutritional values of their foods online or in-store. Look before you leap.


The best post-workout shake is a glass of 1-2% chocolate milk. It contains just enough protein, sugar and fat to help your muscle recover. It tastes good and it is also the cheapest post workout shake on the block by a large margin.

Many diets recommend one cheat meal a week where you eat whatever you want. It actually causes you to lose more weight as your metabolism is reset and it gives you a carrot to chase each week before you completely fall off the healthy bandwagon.

The vast majority of supplements are an absolute waste of money! I've tried many of them. You may be able to squeeze out an additional rep on that last set, but it won't suck any less. If you eat red meat a few times a week, you do not need supplementation. Every other supplement is a placebo. It's all in your head. Trust me, I'm a doctor. I'm not your supplement seller who's had a one hour seminar on how to sell giant tubs of powdered snake oil and dreams to people who want to believe in a magic cure for their lack of muscle, strength, energy or over-abundance of subcutaneous fatty tissue. I'm sorry but there is no magic pill or powder. Dietary discipline and exercise is the only lasting way to health and fitness. Save your money.