KUWAIT — Having a healthy lifestyle is a major part of Army life; it is ingrained into the minds of Soldiers early on in their careers. However, not every Soldier prioritizes health and fitness with their everyday job.
Soldiers may begin to struggle once they leave the controlled training environment to be sent to their units. Especially as Soldiers rise through the ranks, the demands of their job can take a toll with longer work days and added stress. It becomes easier to push health and wellness to the wayside, using time, fatigue, or obligations as excuses. What many Soldiers either ignore or don’t realize is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle while balancing their work-home life is completely possible.
U.S. Army National Guard Capt. Michael Owens — assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-181st Field Artillery Regiment, 30th Troop Command — in particular, is successful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule. Owens, whose Army career spans 21 years, joined the Army National Guard in 2000. He was enlisted for 13 years before commissioning in 2014 and is now the logistics officer for the 1-181st FAR.
Owens set a personal goal to max the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), an undertaking few have achieved in the best circumstances. When Owens found out he unit was deploying, he was undaunted and determined to reach his goal. The mission would be rigorous and full of uncertainty, and still he stood committed to healthy living and his daily routine.
He awoke at 3:15 a.m., was in the gym by 4 a.m., ran three miles around 5:15 a.m., worked from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., walked three miles at 7 p.m., and was in bed by 9 p.m. He followed this routine every day except for Saturdays, which were his rest days, and Sundays, when he ran six miles. Maintaining this lifestyle helped Owens stay disciplined and motivated, so much so he achieved the lofty goal of scoring a 600 on his most recent ACFT.
To fully appreciate what Owens accomplished, he had to complete the ACFT, which consists of six events, within a 90-minute timeframe. In order to score a 600, Owens deadlifted 340 lbs. three times in a continuous motion. He threw a 10-pound ball, backwards, 12.5 meters, equal to 41 feet. He completed 60 hand-release push-ups within two minutes. He completed the sprint-drag-carry, an event comprising of a 100-meter sprint, dragging 90 pounds 50 meters, completing 50 meters of laterals, and carrying two 45lbs kettlebells 50 meters in no more than 1:33 minutes. The combined distance equates to over two football fields. He performed 20 leg tucks within two minutes. Lastly, Owens had to run two miles in 13:30 minutes or less. It took discipline and motivation to say no to one thing and yes to living a lifestyle that keeps him healthy and mission ready.
“I stay motivated because I genuinely enjoy working out and running,” Owens said, “I’ve made it into something that I have to do, not something I want to do.” Owens sees being fit and healthy as a need, something that is necessary for well-being, not a want. Through this paradigm, Soldiers can and should follow suit. Instead of adopting a healthy lifestyle as a possibility, Soldiers need to look at healthy lifestyles as a necessity for their well-being.
To learn more about the Army Combat Fitness Test, visit the ACFT microsite.