A Call to Action

Consistent with the Fitness Mission, today we are calling on every American to commit to trying to pass the Accommodated Army Physical Fitness Assessment (AAPFA). The AAPFA is modified, civilian adapted version of the Army Physical Fitness Test that is required of every soldier at least twice per year. It mirrors similar tests required of the other US Armed Forces branches.

Why is it so important that everyone respond to this call to action? We have little choice but to ramp up the effort because of the unburdenable cost and misery that we suffer as individuals and as a nation due to largely preventable chronic diseases. Only 20% of adults in the U.S. report meeting the minimum weekly recommendations for both muscle preserving strengthening exercises, as well as aerobic conditioning. The poor and misguided attitude that getting old and frail is the inevitable consequence of aging is having devastating effects on the wellbeing and future health prospects of our young people.

Worse, we have been very bad examples for our children and grandchildren. The CDC reports that from 1980 to 2012 the incidence of obesity in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years more than quadrupled from 5% to almost 21%. This has helped to fuel another epidemic in the rise of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults.

Why a version of a military physical fitness test? Because it is an objective standard to measure current condition relative to other people the same age and sex. It establishes reasonable, time tested expectations of performance and a fairly quick and inexpensive way to measure that performance. Such standards also provide reasonable goals if one wants to work toward more than the minimum.

At its most simple, Fitness Mission is about physical and mental health. As such, we inevitably run square into why, when virtually everyone acknowledges that they should, why is it that they don’t? Sean Stephenson admonishes you to Get Off Your But. He says that there are three kinds of “buts,” and they all stink. There are But Fears, which always begin with, “But what if…But what if I fail? But what if I look bad? But what if I disappoint them?” There are But Excuses…”But I don’t have the time! But I don’t have the money (or the energy, resources, education)!” And last are what he says are probably the most crippling are the But Insecurities. They always begin with, “But I am not….But I am not tall enough! But I am not thin enough! But I am not pretty enough!” Fitness Mission is indeed about getting people off of their Buts.

This call to action forces a clear-cut, conscious decision: either to participate or not. If not, why not? For the vast majority of people who choose “why not,” it will be for one of the But Fears, Excuses, or Insecurities. Therefore, as potentially important as it is as a diagnostic indicator of current levels of physical fitness, this call is probably more important in diagnosing and illuminating negative thinking.

It is unfortunate that some people will dismiss this message as annoying, or even arrogant and obnoxious. After all, who do I think I am? Really, I’m just reminding folks of simple, inarguable facts and forcing what for some is an uncomfortably conscious decision. I’m just the messenger, not the problem. Are you in or out? If out, what fears, excuses or insecurities are so in control of your mind that you can’t muster the motivation to participate in what you know would help you, your children, your grandchildren, and your nation? If someone wants to just be mad at me for inconveniently challenging them to consciously make an uncomfortable either/or choice, I can’t do anything about it; I figure that it’s none of my business to worry about what other people think about me. After all, they are otherwise making the same either/or choice unconsciously and by default. If you listen to your ego stubbornly argue for the restrictions and limitations championed by the conventional wisdom, I guarantee that you will own those obstructions to a more fulfilled life. It really is your choice. People do not inherit bad luck or for the most part bad genes…they inherit bad habits.

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