One Airman’s road to bouncing back, getting fit

by Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“For me, failing my PT test in December may have been the best thing to ever happen to me,” said Lt. Col. Isaac Davidson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe deputy chief of USAFE services.

With help from God, friends and family he went through a two-
month long change, which led him to being the best person he’s ever been, he said.

He failed due to a waist measurement. Accepting his outcome, Davidson went on to prepare for his retest by working out that same day with a friend.

His friend heard about the test and offered him support.

“He shared his story with me one morning in the gym, rather than feel sorry for him and throw a pity-party, I asked him if he’d be willing to join me as a workout partner during the new year,” Lt. Col. Uduak Udoaka, 380th Expeditionary Mission Support Group deputy commander said through email. “He did and almost every weekday for a few months we met and worked out to some ‘crazy’ routines. They were a blend of P90X, Insanity, CrossFit and anything interesting I found on YouTube the night before.”

Another friend of Davidson’s, Master Sgt. Jamal Yussuf, services and plans readiness manager, USAFE A1 also offered help.

“We saw each other at the gym and one thing led to another, he needed the help and as a personal trainer it was easy for me to offer it,” said Yussuf. “All Airmen need help in one area or another; (we all) embrace the motto of the ‘wingman’ no matter what, we are all in this together professionally, personally or spiritually.”

This Airman with 28 years in service was ready to retest after two months — scoring a 98.7.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help I’ve received through prayer,” he said. “In my prayers I promised not to take credit for God’s work, that I would give him credit for the people he sent to help me through this, like my wife and my friends.”

Davidson feels people should take an active approach to helping others, as opposed to a passive approach.

“I think we’ve grown up in a society that feels comfortable just offering help,” Davidson said. “Just asking someone if they need help isn’t enough. Normally people aren’t going to come back to you and say ‘you asked if I needed help, well here I am.’

“In situations where we see that someone might be struggling, we need to react the same way you would if someone got injured in battle,” he said. “You don’t ask them if they need help. You react, you get them the proper care.”

Although this approach isn’t common, Davidson said he is trying to change that.

“We’re not used to that in our society, we decide ‘that’s their private life, if they want help, they can ask for help,’” he said. “We have to forget about their privacy, if they need help, they need help. Only then will people go for it, because that person who is offering their help really knows them.”

The mental, physical and social pillars of resiliency also played a role in Davidson’s life.

“I wake up at 5 (a.m.) every morning to go to the gym, in addition to working out, I am socializing with someone outside of my immediate circle, a friend who I’m working out with and we talk about things from family life to work,” said Davidson. “I also stopped having to worry, the bad news was turning into good news. I was losing weight on a consistent basis and was feeling better about myself.”

He said he couldn’t have done any of this without the support of the people in his life.

Davidson’s wife changed their diet and started cooking healthier meals, his personal trainer kept him motivated during workouts and his boss supported his need to get in shape, giving him the opportunity to inspire others, said Udoaka.
With a new outlook on a healthier lifestyle, Davidson routinely helps those around him with their fitness goals.

“I’m participating in a core group, a small group that brings people with common interests together,” he said. “I would share my experience with this group, which met once a week in the gym where we would work out, then talk about things going on in our daily lives.”

Besides meeting with a group once a week, he exercises with people in his immediate life as well.

“Lt. Col. Davidson is helpful and very engaged with his family, extended Air Force family and community as a whole,” Yussuf said. “He is engaged in the fitness part of his subordinates’ life and encourages them as he knows what it takes to come through. He passes his positive outlook and synergy to others.”

In addition to offering help to his peers and those who work for him, he offers his advice to anyone who will listen.

“Pay attention to those around you, jump into someone’s life if you see them struggle,” said Davidson. “I’ve thought about how this can be so effective and it’s because there is no criticism when you tell someone to follow you, things get done. People who were alone now have someone they know they can confide in, because they know they can trust those people who are being active in offering their help.”

With Davidson’s PCS on the horizon, he hopes to bring this mentality to his next base as well.

“I want people to know they can go to others for help, or for people to get comfortable actively offering help,” he said. “Look at me, for example … I failed my test and now I may be the best person I’ve ever been. I had so much help around me, it would be impossible not to succeed with them.”