JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
With the beginning of the new year, many people use this opportunity as a clear slate to make positive changes. Tech. Sgt. Maurice Monroe, Air Force Manpower Analysis Agency Training Management Branch manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, has always been mission-ready, but found motivation from an unflattering photo of himself to become more physically fit.
“With the new year just starting, a lot of people make goals where they want to look a specific way, but your goals have to be realistic and attainable,” Monroe said. “You shouldn't worry about what everyone else is doing, you need to choose something that works for you. I might go to the gym six times a week, but maybe that's not feasible for you, so maybe just three times a week is okay for you, or maybe it's 45 minutes working out, playing basketball, running, cycling or playing tennis. Just being active for those 45 minutes will benefit you more than just sitting on the couch.”
Exercise is work, but it doesn’t have to be boring, Monroe said.
“When you exercise you should do something that you actually enjoy,” he said. “That's the fun part. It's an outlet, it's a release. If you enjoy running, find your playlist that makes you happy. This is your opportunity to get away.”
Monroe described what he does when he exercises.
“When I get up in the morning I do 100 pushups, 100 situps and then I have a simple breakfast, usually a banana and some juice,” he said. “At lunch, I'll try to get a good 45- to 50-minute workout at the gym, so I'll either do cardio or work a muscle group using weights. After work, I'll go to another gym on the way home and finish up with another hour session.”
Monroe also works out when he’s out with his children.
“There are some days I can't go to the gym so I take my kids to the park,” Monroe said. “We'll run or hike at the park together. They have monkey bars, so I can do pullups there or do a pushup challenge or run and play tag. You're getting a workout at the same time playing with your family.”
The Rambler Fitness Center offers competitive events and a variety of classes.
“The gym does 5K's all the time, so you can sign up for those if improving your run is a goal,” he said. “They also offer other classes like spin.”
Music often plays a part in Monroe’s workouts.
“I zone out personally,” he said. “I just turn my music up and it just depends on how I'm feeling that day. Sometimes I'll actually sing out loud because I'm in my own world in my own environment having a great time.”
Your health affects more than just you, Monroe has discovered.
“My diet has changed a lot, realizing that my parents are older and knowing high blood pressure and diabetes runs in my family,” he said. “I'm a single parent now and with that I want to be around as long as I can to take care of my kids. With me being healthy, they're going to be healthy too. We're all living a healthy lifestyle together now.”
Accountability is a key factor in keeping with goals, Monroe said.
“One of the things I picked up from working out are group exercise workouts,” he said. “It’s sort of like in basic training, where you're all lined up so everyone can see each other. This may help to motivate the person next to you to keep going, because if they see that you're still going, that may push them to keep going.
“When I conduct PT for the unit, I make sure we're in a circle to see each other so we're accountable. If you can push through it, I can push through it.”
Accountability is also key when one doesn’t feel like working out.
“There's some days I don't want to go to the gym and I'll look on my Instagram and see my friends at the gym and I'll think, 'Aw man, he's doing it, he's getting it today,’” Monroe said. “So now I have to go – it’s just having an accountability partner. You have to have somebody that has your back, that's not going to take no for an answer and no excuses and won't let you cheat your body.”
Resting is just as important as lifting weights, Monroe said.
“I learned that rest days help you to recover and build muscle and repair so you can continue to work out,” he said. “I try to get in bed by 9:30 p.m., 10 at the latest so I can get eight hours of rest. If you're not getting adequate sleep, your body can't recover and then you won't be as focused in the morning because you'll be tired.”
Monroe has achieved some key milestones during his fitness journey. He has lost 20 pounds, reduced his body fat to 8.9 percent and improved his run time by a minute and a half.
He has also improved his overall state.
“I'm happy. Exercise gets rids of a lot of stressors and puts me in a happy state. I come into work energized, motivated. I have less fatigue and am excited to come in after a good workout.”