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Ops Airman rediscovers self in Misawa fitness center

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, smiles while holding a dumbbell at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Gaining physical strength while becoming leaner and more confident aided Bailey in becoming the resilient, independent and driven Wild Weasel Airman she is today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, smiles while holding a dumbbell at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Gaining physical strength while becoming leaner and more confident aided Bailey in becoming the resilient, independent and driven Wild Weasel Airman she is today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, holds a dumbbell at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. In her adolescents Bailey used determination and drive to lose 40 pounds in 3 months by running 2 miles and performing 200 sit-ups a day, enhancing her stamina, flexibility and self-esteem. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, holds a dumbbell at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. In her adolescence, Bailey lost 40 pounds in 3 months by running 2 miles and performing 200 sit-ups a day, enhancing her stamina, flexibility and self-esteem. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, uses a cable crossover machine at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Bailey expanded her social circle by attending the PFC daily and forging a special bond between her and other gym attendees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, uses a cable crossover machine at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Bailey expanded her social circle by attending the PFC daily and forging a special bond with other gym attendees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, uses a cable crossover machine at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Prior to introducing fitness into her life Bailey felt lonely, depressed and unsure of her future, however lifting weights and pushing herself to be physically active has combatted those negative feelings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, uses a cable crossover machine at Potter Fitness Center, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2019. Prior to introducing fitness into her life Bailey felt lonely, depressed and unsure of her future. Lifting weights and pushing herself to be physically active has combatted those negative feelings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

In the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau, an American poet, said, “We cannot be our happiest without exercise, an early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

Despite location, social status, age or any other demographic classification factors, fitness is a universal instrument available to all. This endorphin-enhancing tool comes in an unlimited amount of forms ranging from a leisurely walk to extreme powerlifting.

Gaining physical strength while becoming leaner and more confident is how Senior Airman Sidnea Bailey, a 35th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, became the resilient, independent and driven Wild Weasel she is today.

“Growing up, I was obese,” she explained. “I was heavily bullied by classmates, friends and even family members. At the age of 10, I made a deliberate and life-changing decision to incorporate health and fitness into my daily life.”

Bailey said she tackled the challenge of losing weight by running two miles and doing 200 sit-ups everyday for three months.

“In about 12 weeks, I had dropped 40 pounds,” she said. “When I first chose to take my health more seriously, I did it out of spite and anger towards my bullies, but once I began doing it for me a whole new world of happiness and self-acceptance appeared.”

Bailey turned her mental strength and newfound confidence into physical strength as well.

“After the weight loss, I was one of the strongest kids in my class,” Bailey explained as her eyes lit up. “I could bench and squat the same amount, if not more than, the guys in my grade; however, it took time adjusting to my new body.”

Although Bailey remained uncomfortable in her skin and refrained from sporting form-fitting clothes after her weight loss, she did develop a new level of self love.

“Exercising made me feel like a whole new person,” she expressed proudly. “If fitness didn’t become a part of my life, I wouldn’t be standing here before you today with the skills and tools I now have. I’m sure I’d be lonely, depressed and flat out unhappy.”

Airman 1st Class William Mowery, a 35th Force Support Squadron Freedom Fitness Center manager, added how impactful exercise can be.

“Fitness is scientifically proven to not only reduces stress but also to increase one’s confidence,” explained Mowery. “Seeing your body transform over a period of time while enhancing your physical strength not only boosts your morale but better prepares you for the U.S. Air Force official PT test.”

While Bailey remained a fitness enthusiast for many years after her initial weight loss, she did face a trying time in her life, resulting in a decline of her active lifestyle.

“My father was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I arrived at Misawa AB,” she said. “In addition to coping with personal family matters, I had to also focus on in-processing at a new base. Dealing with those outside factors made it especially difficult for me to focus on my mental health, which resulted in my physical fitness taking a complete nose dive.”

Despite feeling too overwhelmed to remain active during that time, Bailey turned those nagging negative feelings into a powerful positive platform after one year.

“I had to get back to being me,” she expressed. “I couldn’t be that little girl who lacked confidence again. Reminding myself that I am one lucky Airman to be stationed overseas in this beautiful country inspired me to combat those feelings of self-doubt and get back out there.”

Bailey added Misawa AB and the local surrounding community was a perfect place for Airmen to increase their fitness abilities while building confidence, friendships and ever-lasting memories.

“This area offers a unique opportunity for self-improvement,” she said.

Mowery agreed that Misawa is a great place to get active and maintain physical fitness.

“Misawa offers a variety of fit lifestyle activities for Team Misawa members,” he explained. “We have an amazing special events coordinator who plans 5k runs, marathons, fun runs and more. Additionally we have intermural sports like basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball to name a few.”

The Potter Fitness Center also recently made upgrades to their cardio room that includes new equipment, flooring and air conditioning.

Bailey added that working out enhanced her social circle in a unique, incomparable way.

“Nothing is better than sharing your fitness journey with someone else who understands the struggle of remaining consistently dedicated to fitness,” she explained. “The connection and support I feel from my gym buddies can’t be beat.”