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Spouse of deployed Citizen Airman loses weight, gains confidence

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Luke Johnson
  • 943rd Rescue Group Public Affairs
After suffering a sprained ankle and enduring several surgeries related to her continuing battle with weight, the wife of an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer decided to make a drastic change during her husband's most recent overseas deployment.

"I needed to get healthy and make a change," said Kimberly Rush, wife of Maj. Andrew Rush of the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pa., and mother of a daughter, 9. "I was scared that life was going on without me, and that (her husband and daughter) were fine without me, but I wanted to be around and participating."

The native of Forest Hill, Md., had battled with weight throughout her life, but felt powerless to change. Prior to her husband of 14 years departing, she told him about a health program she was going to try in his absence. She told him she was going to start the program during his deployment, but left out specific details of the weight-loss program.

"I was a food addict. I used food during his deployments to console myself," she said. "When you're a single parent during a deployment, there (are) a lot of stressors. I ate to deal with the stress. Food has always been consoling for me."

The biggest challenge for her, she said, was not succumbing to a negative, self-defeating thought process.

"I had to end the dialogue in my mind that I can't do this (because) I've done other things and I've failed," she said. "I was afraid to disappoint my husband. I told him I was going to do this and I wanted to follow through."

Her commitment to the program paid off and she was able to see astounding results, losing 82 pounds. She kept her success secret from her husband, staying off-camera during online video chats they did with their daughter. She wanted to surprise her husband upon his return from deployment last January.

"We didn't have that big moment of realization that I had changed my body 'til we had gotten into the hangar because it was so cold outside."

Once the weight came off, not only did she look better, she had gained a new confidence and strengthened her relationship with her husband.

"It's been a big change physically and she has been a lot more motivated since she has lost the weight," he said.

Mrs. Rush echoed her husband's sentiments on her newfound confidence.

"He's never known his wife to be this confident, motivated, thin and healthy," she said.

With her success with the health program, she became an independent health consultant to help others who have struggled with weight. One of her clients is a reservist who has lost 50 pounds and passed his physical fitness test.

Prior to the drastic change in his wife, the major experienced some of the same weight issues as his wife. He would work out for a while, see results and go back to his former diet habits.

"I was inching up there so I started working out and eating better and lost 45 pounds, and with her following the new health program it gives me extra incentive to stay on track," he said.
Now that both have committed to a healthy lifestyle, they are setting a better example for their daughter, a competitive gymnast.

"We've always taught her to eat right and exercise but we didn't do it ourselves," she said. "Now, we are actually the embodiment of what we tell her and living it as well."

The newly adopted healthy lifestyle has helped the Rushes deal with life's unexpected surprises.

"We've seen so many positive changes in our lives all because I was willing to say, 'I'm ready to do this' and make a lifestyle change," she said.

The couple has learned that to implement positive changes requires actions that connect to an end goal.

"A wish is just a wish and you have to have action and recognizing your current situation whether is an addiction to food, a toxic environment or stress," said Mrs. Rush. "To move forward from your current situation, you've got to develop a plan. Then you'll be able to deal with your issues."

She said adopting a healthier lifestyle has improved her outlook and made her a better person.

"As military spouses we always do for others and not for ourselves, and this was a time for me to do something for myself to make me a better wife and mother," said Mrs. Rush.

Her husband said it can be a challenge for reservists to follow a healthy lifestyle, but it's important for them to maintain fitness as a daily routine.

"It's important to be honest where you are physical fitness-wise and make it a habit that you are staying in shape," he said. "If you make it a part of your life you will not have to worry about it as much."

According to Mrs. Rush, staying healthy requires commitment, family support and realizing that you've only one life to live, also you've got to take advantage of each opportunity that presents itself.

"You only have one body and you don't get a second chance. You've got to take care of it," she said.