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Staying fit with crossfit

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs an overhead press in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs an overhead press in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs an overhead press in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs an overhead press in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs a pull-up in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Thalia Phillips, an aviation resource manager assigned to the 139th Operations Support Staff, Missouri Air National Guard, performs a pull-up in St. Joseph, Mo., March 13, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- I wasn't always in shape. In my earlier days, I weighed much more than I do now. I didn't count calories, I didn't watch what I ate, and I definitely did not exercise. In fact, I hadn't even realized how much weight I had gained. The Air Force Fitness program had just been implemented. This includes running, pushups, and sit ups. Insert laughter. I couldn't even run one lap around the track. In fact I was so out of shape that I was forced to go the Health and Wellness Center for nutrition help.  I also had high cholesterol. At that moment, I found a fitness mentor, Lt. Harold Overton....now a lieutenant colonel. He encouraged me, pushed me way past any level of difficulty I could have accomplished on my own.  Before long, I was the fastest female in my unit, and was made a fitness monitor with Lt. Overton.

Fast forward a decade or so, insert more laughter.....and here we are. I'm now a master sergeant in the Missouri Air National Guard and I do crossfit and try to eat healthy.  I'm here to encourage each of you to push yourself, and maybe decide to try something new.  Is there a moment in your life, a moment when you finally decide it's time for a change.  Maybe your moment is right now? Deciding to change your life is a big decision. It's not easy to change bad habits, but it is possible if you are willing to just take the first step. I promise you it will be worth it. If you are reading this, you are important to us, to the unit you work in, to this base, and to our mission. We want you here. 

Two years ago, I joined a local gym that offers crossfit. I will not lie, I was afraid to try it. I was afraid I might not be able to keep up with these so called "crossfitters". Two years later, I must tell you, I love it!  If you are in the military how can you not love a fitness program that only uses acronyms?  I show up every day, knowing that I am going to be pushed to the limits for the one hour I'm in the gym (aka The Box). You can go online and check to see what the WOD (workout of the day), however....I choose not to do this! I don't want to know! I just go, show up, and go for it. There are many classes each day you can attend, so there is really no way to say you are too busy to attend, as his schedule accommodates everyone. Each class has numerous smiling faces in it, everyone is very friendly, and we all encourage each other. Our instructors teach each class which is one hour long. It includes a warm up, a skill, and the actual WOD.

Joining a crossfit gym, in retrospect, is not nearly as scary as I had thought. They explain everything, they go over each and every single movement, every lift. They even give you alternatives and modifications to the exercises in case you have a previous injury or are unable to accomplish the assigned task. I do not want to know what I need to do at the gym, I don't want to figure that all out, I just want to be told what to do, and see results. I never thought at 35 years old I would be able to do pull ups, but I can, and I do.

Here are my pro tips for crossfit:
Knee high socks may be old fashioned, but they serve a true purpose in saving shins!
Climbing the rope is not out of the question, you can do it! Be proud of that rope burn on your shin! Own it!
Wrist wraps rock!
Gloves are for wimps, calluses are awesome!
No one cares what you look like, just roll out of bed and get to the Box.
Jumping rope is a true talent; those speed ropes whoop my hinnie (you will see why when you miss a double under)
Water bottle required. Your sweat will be dropping on the floor mat, it's really gross.
No one is watching you, critiquing you. We are too busy working out to notice, we're all dying just like you!
Grunting at heavy weights? Totally normal!
Crossfit shoes? Yes, they really do help, because they are flat.