Fitness: What not to do

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katherine Windish
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
It's common knowledge that fitness is one of the most important keys to living healthy. It's no secret that remaining in good physical shape is not only important for one's body, it's also essential to military readiness.

Though physical training is instilled into service members from the moment they join, many still make common mistakes that may seem small, but in the long run, can hinder physical fitness and negatively impact their bodies.

"There are four parts to healthy living: exercise, nutrition, rest and genetics," said Eleanora Paronuzzi-Rucker, a 31st Force Support Squadron fitness assessment cell monitor. "Three out of the four can be controlled and, if done right, can help you lead a full and healthy life."

When the FAC monitors were asked what mistakes people often make, they came up with the following eight that most people can relate to:


"We've all heard or have been guilty of saying, 'I'll start my workout regimen on Monday,'" said Tech. Sgt. Adam Salonish, a FAC monitor. "The hardest part of working out is going to the gym. Getting there is the issue. Once you get there, you're motivated."

He suggested to get a workout partner.

"Workout buddies help motivate you," he said. "If someone else is relying on you to go to the gym with them, you'll make more of an effort and be more likely to actually go."

A workout buddy should provide motivation, not distraction, to maximize each other's potential, he added.

Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker recommends working out during a lunch break or waking up earlier in the morning. Also, people may bring their children and spouses to the gym.

"Make an hour for yourself every day," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "If you don't spend an hour taking care of yourself, you won't be fit to take care of anyone else."

Crash dieting

"Many people think that by skipping meals, they're cutting calories," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "What it really does is put the body into survival mode, and it starts storing fat."

She suggested eating regularly rather than trying to skip meals.

"The only way to lose weight is to eat," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "Maintain a balanced diet with plenty of variety. Plenty of small, healthy meals throughout the day will help increase your metabolism and keep you from getting hungry."

Keep balance, variety and moderation in mind when planning meals, she said. Websites such as can provide guidance on how to eat healthfully.

High expectations

"So many people come to the gym and expect to see results in just a couple of weeks," Sergeant Salonish said. "It typically takes four to six weeks to see results with a consistent healthy diet and exercise regimen."

He said people shouldn't get discouraged by the process. Getting and staying healthy is a lifelong commitment, and it may take time to get where one needs to be.

"You just have to keep working at it," Sergeant Salonish said.

Over training

"Another way people negatively react to results that are slow in coming is to over train," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "Over training can be dangerous, and it can keep your muscles from developing."

Taking it slow is a good way to ensure the body can keep up with the training, she said. People should start with light weight training and be sure to take some rest.

"Too much weight right away can hurt the body," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "Start off small and work up to bigger weights as muscles get stronger. Also, rest days are just as important as work out days because the body uses it to allow muscles to grow."

Unprofessional advice

"Proper form is crucial to working out," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "Without proper form, you aren't getting the full benefit from the exercise, and you could seriously hurt yourself. Many people take advice from others working out at the gym who are usually not certified and give incorrect advice."

It's recommended that people get professional advice from certified specialists at the health and wellness center, the fitness assessment cell, primary care physician or a personal trainer.

Taking supplements

"Don't be fooled by the covers of muscle magazines; supplements are not good for the average person," Sergeant Salonish said. "Unless you're working out several hours a day like the paid models in those magazines, supplements are only going to give you unnecessary calories and fat that you can't burn off."

Instead of supplements, people should eat a balanced diet, he said.

The amount of protein, calories and fat in supplements and protein shakes promote bad weight gain, according to fitness officials. The amount of protein needed for a 1.5 hour workout can come from a piece of chicken.

"Eating a balanced diet will give you all the nutrients, energy and protein you need," Sergeant Salonish said.

Relying on false motivators

False motivators, like expensive equipment, shoes or clothes are motivational until the newness wears off, Sergeant Salonish said.

He suggests people save their money.

"Go to the gym, or get out and go for a run where there are fewer distractions, and you're more likely to focus," Sergeant Salonish said. "Don't waste your money on a piece of expensive equipment that will be used for a month and then collects dust."

As for new shoes and clothes, people can work out just as well without the newest styles or expensive equipment, he said.

Being ashamed

"Too many people don't want to go to the gym because they feel that they're being judged by others," Ms. Paronuzzi-Rucker said. "Whether it's for their weight, fitness level or how much they can lift, people worry that they're not as good as the other people they see at the gym and that others are judging them."

People should stop worrying about what other people will think and concentrate on what they're at the gym for, she said.

"Everyone is there for the same reason -- to get in shape," she said. "The people at the gym who are lifting heavy weights, or are running long distances on the treadmill weren't always like that. Just like you, they had to start somewhere, and they aren't going to judge you for trying."