Often, we think of military men and the image that comes to mind is one of physical strength and power. And most of the time, this is the case. Take this month’s Featured Fit Dad, Dustin. Dustin is in the Air Force and is my brother-in-law. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s cared about his health and has been an active guy. But from his perspective, he could do more. So he decided to step it up a notch.
What has resulted is a rejuvinated passion for all-around health and fitness, and what’s more, passing that along to his children by leading his family through example. Dustin has some great advice for any guy – service member or not – to bust through fitness plateaus.
Here is Dustin’s story:
When did you first get into fitness?
I guess you could say I first got into fitness my freshman year of high school when I joined the cross country team. Later, I ran track and even tried out for football my senior year. However, I broke my arm in the first game of the season, and that was the end of my football days. Since high school, my fitness level has been just been good enough for the Air Force fitness standards. However, a few years ago, my fitness became much more important to me. In order to keep my fitness level up, I decided to take on difficult goals to achieve. Right now, my goal to to join the 1000lb club. The 1000lb club is made up of the total weight of bench, squats, and dead-lifts added together. Needless to say, I have a ways to go.
What activities do you do to keep fit and active?
Since I started off as a cross country runner, I like to start my day off with a run. I’m not a big fan of coffee, so I need a run in the fresh air to get my day going. In the afternoons, I lift weights at least three times a week, while mixing in some other sports like racquet ball. For weightlifting, I recently started a 5X5 program to try for that 1000lb club I talked about earlier.
What is your favorite fitness memory?
A year and a half ago, I competed (I use that term loosely) in an Olympic distance triathlon. I loved training for it. Running the foothills of Shenandoah and swimming in the lake nestled in those foothills was always refreshing. When I finally got to the race itself, I felt I had accomplished a notable feat of strength.
What is your favorite workout?
I don’t really have a favorite. I just enjoy finding ways to get outside and challenge myself. Though, if you really forced me to say something, I might have to say hiking. And, now that my children are getting a little older, it’s becoming even more fun to share those experiences with them.
In what ways do you hope to influence your children through fitness?
I love to spend time outside with my kids while hiking or playing sports. They see through example that having a healthy body is an important family value. But, a healthy body doesn’t just involve fitness, it also requires proper eating habits. And that is also something my wife and I make a priority. My kids have taken these values to heart and are pretty darn good athletes.
What words of encouragement would you have for other dads out there who want to be healthy and fit?
I’ve worked with several Air Force members helping them to pass the physical fitness standards. Most are willing to work hard. They’re willing to strain and sweat and accept some pain. However, the hardest thing to get through to those that really struggle with fitness is that you can waste all the effort you’ve put into the gym by continuing to have a bad diet. So often they’ll say, “I work out so that I can eat like this,” and then they fail their physical fitness test.
So, before you begin to put in the work, first commit to healthy eating. Be a man, take control of your body. It’s good for you to tell it no once in a while. It’s important for your kids to see that you have discipline. And then, set some goals. For years, I languished in a moderately active lifestyle. I spent time in the gym, but I didn’t get any better at anything. It was a huge waste of time. Once I set tangible goals with deadlines, like the 1000lb club or the triathlon, I finally started seeing improvement in my capability. I’m nothing special. If I can do it, then you can too!