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Face of Defense: Airman Sheds Pounds, Gains Health

By Air Force Master Sgt. Stephen Delgado
Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 15, 2009 – As last Thanksgiving passed and the leftovers were all gone, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ken Holcomb had an epiphany about his portly self.

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Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ken Holcomb takes a break while training for the Air Force Marathon. Holcomb has lost 70 pounds in his newfound commitment to health and fitness. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Timothy O’Bryan
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Nearly a year later and 70 pounds lighter, Holcomb is getting ready to run the Air Force Marathon Sept. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He plans to blog about the race along the way.

“I hadn’t failed a physical fitness test, but I wasn’t excelling. I ran a marathon in 2007, but with my job, it was getting harder to get out for regular runs,” said Holcomb, superintendent of the Air Force Media Center at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency.

“There aren’t a lot of areas around my office in Arlington to run, and it was hard to find someone to run with,” he said. “I realized that I was getting way too heavy and was not in the physical shape I wanted to be in,” Holcomb said. He decided to answer the “wake-up call” that meeting the standard wasn’t enough.

The new standards of the Air Force fitness program require airmen to test twice per year, which Holcomb thinks is a good idea. “I used to procrastinate when it came to fitness,” he said. “The new standards will help someone stay in shape as a way of life instead of just trying to pass a test.”

Holcomb said he wanted to lead by example, so he started to set short-term goals. “I had a physical fitness test coming up,” he explained, “and I wanted to do well.”

Through his “Fat Sergeant’s Blog,” the newly inspired athlete describes what has become his strict regimen of running, weightlifting and eating right.

“Vegetables and fruit are a major part of my diet,” he said. “I enjoy vegetables a lot more now than I used to.” Holcomb cut down on processed foods, simple sugars and white flour.

“I’ve learned that my body was made to process food, not to eat food that is processed,” he said.

Holcomb joined a running club to help him train and to work out with other people. He also goes to the gym with his 15-year-old son to lift weights and do strength training.

“I just celebrated my 25th anniversary in the military, so I set a trifecta of goals,” he said. By sticking with his regimen, Holcomb has reached two of his three goals: attending his 25th high school reunion weighing the same as he did when he graduated, and getting a perfect score on his physical fitness test for the first time in his career.

“I was very pleased with the time [in which] I accomplished the 1.5-mile run. I did it in 9 minutes and 27 seconds, which is a good enough time for an 18-year-old airman to get max points,” the 43-year-old noncommissioned officer said.

Holcomb’s third goal is to run and finish the 26.2-mile Air Force Marathon – although he says running marathons can be humbling.

“I’ll be running and think I’m doing well, and then a 75-year-old person will pass me. I want to be that person when I’m older,” he said. “I do take satisfaction in realizing that I’m running faster at age 43 than I did when I was 18.”

(Air Force Master Sgt. Stephen Delgado serves with the Air Force Public Affairs Agency.)

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Related Sites:
“Fat Sergeant’s Blog”

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Senior Master Sgt. Ken Holcomb does push-ups while training for the Air Force Marathon. Holcomb has lost 70 pounds in his newfound commitment to health and fitness. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Timothy O’Bryan  
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