Aviators' Thoughts

My job search and business aviation as seen on AviationWeek

Your Job or Your Health, In Aviation It Matters!

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As I reached the dreaded “middle age” I began to notice some changes to my body an health that began to worry me. It also didn’t help that my family had a history of heart disease including “sudden death”.  I did make some changes thanks to my wife, but it really took a good scare to get me on the right path….

A few years ago,  I saw me AME and he took my blood pressure, which had been steadily rising due to age, but my first scan was an eye opener. I barely had a blood pressure under the limit to keep my medical and therefore my job. I also started having headaches, fatigue and just not feeling well. My doctor told me simply it was time to either take drugs or make a change in my life. I chose the latter.

There is nothing like having your career in jeopardy to get your motivated. I immediately joined my local gym and began a cardio regimen. It wasn’t easy and the work/life balance of flying often makes exercise secondary but I stuck with it. Yes, I started out with a trainer, but I didn’t need him. When you see the surgery scar on your fathers chest from his heart attack it makes you think every day.

After 4 months and lots of cardio, I had lost 2o lbs. Did I need to lose it…YES! My blood pressure slowly started to go down, but I also had to change the way I eat. I stopped eating the famous “machine cuisine” the many pilots eat. I CUT OUT SODA…period. I cant tell you how much of a difference this made and slowly but surely things got better.

Now after 2 years and 4 months, Im in the best shape of my life and with the support of my wife (who has always eaten healthy) and further healthy eating Im 44 years old with a six pack for the first time in my life, my blood pressure is normal and I feel and look great. Im also still flying and much less fatigued.

So how does this apply to the pilot. Well for that First Class Medical is only good for 6 moths when you are over age 40 and you MUST have a physical exam. There are a HOST of things that can cause you to lose that medical including diabetes, hypertension and other conditions that can come from obesity or unhealthy eating, never mind the stress of flying so taking care of yourself is VITAL.  I don’t just go to my AME. I also have blood tests and regular physical to avoid that scar that my father “earned”

Pilots have tremendously stressful jobs, often on the road for weeks a time with irregular sleep times, even in the best of jobs. We can take our health for granted, but in the end its really all we have. No one said staying in shape was easy. It takes work like anything else and if you are looking for a quick fix, you’ve come to the wrong place. Also, as you get older your priorities in your career might change. It is really worth it to be on the road for months at a time if its going to at the price of your health? We all like money, we all like our careers, but I would rather be flying healthy and productive that having money and remembering the “old days”.

Everyone can find their way to be healthy, we just have to remember that our health puts our job on the line every 6 months.


Written by tdwnds1

June 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

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