A glimpse into Physical Fitness - A.T.H.E.N.A.

Published on
August 16, 2021
Time to read: 
BFLF Women Veterans Program, logo looks like a stylized person saluting, and there are 4 slashes of colour on the right that look like Air Force Blue, gold, Army red, and Navy blue.
This image was captured from the Quebec Veterans Foundation website, see link below.

In early June 2021, I joined the BFLF Women Veterans Program A.T.H.E.N.A. funded by the Quebec Veterans Foundation. Completing the participants’ survey today made me think I should give you an update on my progress to date.

I’ve been a veteran for almost 9 years, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I weigh more and am less fit that I was when I served in uniform. My priorities have not been on maintaining a militarily fit body, and it shows. That being said, I’m healthy, and I’m grateful for my body, which enables me to do pretty much anything I aspire to do.

I joined the A.T.H.E.N.A. program, because I knew that having a group of accountability partners, between the staff and my sister veterans, would help motivate me to be more physically active. And it has!

Dave Morrow and Audrée Dufresne both welcomed me to the program, explaining how it worked and keeping in touch throughout. Audrée is our trainer. She starts us off with an assessment of our overall fitness and flexibility during a Zoom meeting. Then she creates custom workout plans, including the warm up and cool down sessions. She’s been great about changing things up, like removing the Yoga child pose from my routines, because, quite frankly my belly gets in the way!

As part of the program, we have access to the Dave Morrow Personal Trainer Fitness Training App, which includes all kinds of fun features that I don’t take advantage of. I do like the video explanations of each exercise in my workout routines, the voice telling me what exercise is coming up next and how much time I have left. I also love that the App tracks my progress.

Audrée also runs our weekly group session, sharing fun facts and personal updates as we get ready to meet the challenges she’s prepared for us that week. One of the best features of the group workouts is that Audrée demonstrates the exercises, including more than one way to perform most of them, so that we can select the level of difficulty that works best for us. I’ll admit, my sister veterans in the program all look like they’re in much better shape than I am! Some of them even shared that they run 5 and 10 kms, regularly!

That being said, I feel welcomed and encouraged by my sister veterans, Audrée and Dave. Dave taught one of our group classes when Audree wasn’t available – she was on military training – and couldn’t join us that week. Dave did a great job of explaining different levels of difficulty too.

I haven’t lost weight since I joined the A.T.H.E.N.A. program, and I’m OK with that. What has changed is my overall fitness. In just 10 weeks, I’ve gone from walking once or twice a week, for 30 to 45 minutes, to regularly completing 50 to 60 minute workouts, and doing other physical activities like walks and gardening.

I’ve completed 30 cardio sessions and several other workouts. I’ve gone from not being able to do more than a couple of half knee push-ups, to regularly pumping off 20 or more half knee push-ups.

What’s a half knee push-up you ask? It’s doing push-ups from the knees and only going halfway down before going back up again. Why am I doing them that way instead of going all the way down to the ground and back up? For the same reason that I avoid the yoga position called the child pose. My belly gets in the way! And that’s OK. I can feel my body becoming more toned and I have more energy.

It’s unlikely that I’ll drop all of the weight I’ve put on since I became a veteran. And I’m OK with that too. I’m grateful that I’m becoming more fit, and that I’m healthy. I feel like I’ve got lots of energy, and I’m getting most of the things on my to do list done. I’d probably do even better, if I wasn’t interested in doing so many things!

Happily, I’m following my own advice and getting help from others to do some of the things I don’t like to do, or that I’m not great at doing. Now, the question is, do I sign up for the paid program with Dave and Audrée when my 3 months on the A.T.H.E.N.A. program are over? Or do I pick a fitness program closer to home, so I can attend in person, assuming pandemic conditions allow for that?

I’ve learned that I’m more likely to be fit with accountability partners, so I do plan on investing in some sort of workout program moving into the Fall.

As an aside, if you’re a woman veteran in Canada (you don’t have to be in Quebec) consider signing up for the A.T.H.E.N.A. program, funded by the Quebec Veterans Foundation, it’s a lot of fun and it works!

Quebec Veterans Foundation

PS: After publishing this post, I received fabulous news! I'm able to stick with the program for the full 6 months originally envisioned for participants. Even though I joined late. I also learned a couple of spots have opened up for new participants