Senior Airman Crystal Hendrix.

Senior Airman Crystal Hendrix. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

Senior Airman Crystal Hendrix may have the key to functional weight loss: a dedicated regimen of circuit training and a four-month deployment to a country that can feel like one of the hottest places on Earth.

The 23-year-old went to Kuwait a year ago. She returned four months later weighing about 145 pounds, 40 pounds less than when she left. Now she’s working to keep the excess weight off. She figures her ideal weight would be about 135 pounds.

Stars and Stripes sat down with the Grant City, Ill., native recently at the RAF Mildenhall fitness center front desk to talk about life overseas, fast food and toning muscle.

Losing 40 pounds in four months is no small task. What was the key for you?

A combination of endurance training, staying very busy and eating right.

Being in a desert environment must have helped?

It helped a lot. Not just being in the desert, but being deployed. You either work or work out, and I would often volunteer for extra work just to keep busy, to stay out and be active.

You will always remember shedding those pounds during your time in the desert. What other memories did you take away from that deployment?

The highlight for me was meeting all the new people. There were several of us who would meet on the racquetball court to work out, and a couple also lost 40 to 50 pounds.

You’ve lost a lot of weight, but there are still so many overweight and obese people both in the U.S. and in the U.K. What gives?

It’s fast food. Look what we have here on base. You’ve got to avoid the grease. And people don’t get out and exercise enough.

What can people do to exercise more?

I do push ups, squat and lunges right in my room. You can do a full abs workout just laying on your bed watching TV.

And eating healthier?

You can eat healthy; it’s a bit more work, but you have to choose to do it. For lunch, I’ll have some tuna and fruit.

Do you miss your time in the desert?

I do in some ways. I felt like I made a difference there. I got to work with people and help them one-on-one. In the desert is where people see Services shine at its best.

How long have you been in the Air Force?

This is my fourth year and my second duty station, but I am about to leave here to go to Italy.

So you want to stay in for a full 20 years?

I do plan on staying in. To other people it might not seem like much in Services, but we do work our butts off and we get to help a lot of people.

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