The four pillars of fitness: Key ingredient to resiliency

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Armand Fajardo
  • 62nd Comptroller Squadron superintendent
Resiliency being the buzz word in our Air Force today inspired me to write this commentary. Many articles have been written about it and it has been the focus of our Wingman Days for quite some time now. Group discussions were formed to highlight what it is and to emphasize we must be "resilient." But the question still remains, how does one become resilient?

Growing up in a third-world country and seeing the many struggles in life, I've come to realize that all the adversities I've encountered in life have made me a stronger person. They made me resilient.

From a young age, I've come to accept the fact that not everything I want in life may come to fruition. Like many, I had experienced disappointments like not being able to have that cool toy and clothes that some of my friends enjoyed, not having money to buy food for lunch while watching others eat theirs, unable to pursue the girl I like because I did not have the money to go out on a date, and many more.

But throughout all of them, I survived. I overcame them for I had something, or someone that I leaned on to keep me moving. I had my family and friends that kept me stay positive and I had many sports and religious activities that kept me busy and distracted from feeling sorry for myself.

And above all, I had faith that there's that "someone" that's watching over me who will guide me in the right way. They were part of me growing up, and it made me the "resilient" person that I am today.

It never crossed my mind that these contributing factors would be part of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness: physical, social, mental and spiritual.

One of past group discussions made me question why resiliency has become an official campaign in formal settings. I asked because I thought resiliency is actually developed overtime and part of people's "growing up process" through life experiences specifically during their formative years. I asked because I believed we don't become resilient all of a sudden after a classroom discussion of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

But then I realized, I was exposed and forced to be resilient due to the environment I grew up in. Although I did not know the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness then, I was molded and protected by these same pillars that made me what I am now over a long period of time.

The Air Force does not expect every member to become resilient overnight or through classroom briefings alone. But maybe by educating us on balancing the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and through encouragement by all leaders at all levels to establish solid pillars in everyone's life, we may all benefit from it and become more resilient in today's challenging environment.

We need to have the "someone" in our lives to keep us strong and to make us feel we're not alone. Someone who can make us smile, motivate us and maybe someone to serve as our inspiration. To be battle ready, in fighting all the difficult challenges in life, we have to be mentally healthy.

We need to keep ourselves mentally strong to help us make wise decisions and be successful. We need to be determined in finding solutions to whatever problems that may come our way. And expanding our knowledge through reading, observations or life experiences, we can sometimes find the solutions to our problems. Knowledge is power!

Physical health is another important pillar of fitness as it affects our capabilities to accomplish our daily tasks whether it's for family, work, church, etc. If we're always sick and weak, it limits our effectiveness in doing what we may be capable of accomplishing.

And of course, I'm a firm believer that somehow we need to have that spiritual strength to motivate us in believing that nothing is impossible to achieve if our minds can conceive. It does not matter what religion or belief one may have, but this pillar is an internal source of strength that may come from within someone's faith.

While resiliency is normally built over time, it's not too late to develop it now. I believe that everyone has some kind of resiliency built within but with varying degrees of strength. The Air Force is advocating the Comprehensive Airman Fitness to strengthen everyone's pillars as each of these contribute to making us resilient in dealing with the daily stressors in life.

Don't fret when you hear the words "resiliency" or "Comprehensive Airman Fitness" again. And don't look at it as just another slogan, but instead encourage ourselves and those people around us to internalize its objectives. Similarly, as leaders we owe it to ourselves, our families and coworkers to encourage our folks in balancing and creating solid pillars in our lives. The program is here to stay, and it is here to make us better!