AF motivates Airman to get, stay in shape

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elora J. Martinez
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Austin Bristow, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning apprentice with the 319th Civil Engineer Squadron, had neglected the gym for almost a year. When he tried to join the Air Force, he realized he was too heavy and needed to change his lifestyle if he wanted to become an Airman.

Looking at Bristow now, two years later and standing at 5 feet 10 inches, weighing roughly 180 pounds, it is completely unapparent he used to weigh almost 220 pounds. With motivation from his brothers and the prospects of joining the Air Force, Bristow was able to accomplish his goals to improve his fitness and lose weight.

Between his freshman and senior year of high school, Bristow gained 100 pounds through his unhealthy habit of eating fast-food and playing video games in his free time. He explained how his friends used to make fun of him for being the person to finish leftovers, but never felt like they were doing it out of spite. He saw their jokes coming from a place of love, and never thought too much about his weight.

Bristow said he didn’t realize how out of hand his health was getting until he finished high school.

“It didn’t really hit me until I was graduating senior year,” Bristow said. He hoped to join the Air Force, but was disappointed when he discovered he did not qualify to go to the Military Entrance Processing Station.

“I was packed and ready to go,” Bristow explained. “We cancelled my trip, which was kind of embarrassing. I was too heavy, so my recruiter had to send me home.”

Bristow took the defeat as a reason to kick himself into gear and focus on losing weight and getting in shape so he could enlist. He began to go to the gym multiple times a day and restricted his intake of sodas and sugary foods.

“I have three other brothers who are active-duty,” Bristow said. “If I wasn’t able to join I would feel like I was letting them down. I wanted them to be proud of me.”

After a few weeks of working hard in and out of the gym, Bristow finally was under the weight maximum for his height. He was able to successfully go to MEPS and graduate basic military training, which helped him lose even more weight.

Now, Bristow weighs about 180 pounds. He does his best to go to the gym six days a week, as well as eat healthier and cleaner. His dedication does not go unnoticed, either. He mentioned how a few of his friends and coworkers have asked to workout with him.

“They see me going to the gym and realize they should be too,” Bristow said.

Senior Airman Logan Carpenter, an alarm monitor with the 319th Security Forces Squadron and friend to Bristow, said Bristow serves as a great fitness example to other Airmen.

“Those who know Austin and what he has been through feed on his success. It’s contagious.”

Bristow said he’s proud of his transformation, and how he’s not seen as the kid who will eat everyone’s leftovers anymore.

“It’s a good feeling when people tell you you’ve come a long way, or inspired them to workout more,” he added.

Bristow is happy to be of help to his fellow Airmen, and believes anyone who wears the uniform should be doing their best to be in shape.

“I think being physically in shape is an important part of anyone’s job,” he explained. “You’re in the military, you know what you signed up for. You should be in shape. You don’t have to run an 8-minute mile and a half, but you shouldn’t be dead after a PT test.”