U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bonnie McKinley Airman Saves Career through Yoga
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By Staff Sgt. Kevin Nichols U.S. Central Command Air Forces News Team BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Jan. 11, 2006 - If a picture can say a thousand words, Staff Sgt. Bonnie McKinley's picture of herself would tell you of a time when she, at 5-foot-4-inches and 25 years old, weighed 215 pounds, putting her at risk of a heart attack or stroke. Not to mention, her Air Force career was in jeopardy. She did something about it. She signed up for yoga. When the Air Force mandated that she increase her exercise routine, she decided to try yoga because it had always interested her. [caption id="attachment_3184" align="alignleft" width="304"] U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bonnie McKinley leads a yoga class during a break in her 15-hour shift at the Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The 5-foot-4-inch respiratory therapist with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group weighs 140 pounds. But, a few years ago, she weighed 215 pounds. She attributes her weight loss and fitness increase to the practice of yoga and a healthy diet. She is deployed from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung[/caption] "I fell in love with it from the beginning," said McKinley, a respiratory therapist at the Air Force Theater Hospital here. Now 75 pounds lighter, she helps patients in the intensive care unit breathe a little easier. She loved yoga so much that she stuck with it and received a teaching license. Now, in a little room outside the hospital, she teaches medics and others here willing to give yoga a try."I fell in love with it from the beginning," said McKinley, a respiratory therapist at the Air Force Theater Hospital here. "(Before the room was here) we'd get together and talk about exercising -- how difficult it was to get to sometimes after work," said McKinley who is deployed from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. McKinley decided to multipurpose a tent used for watching movies. She sent out an e-mail to see if anyone was interested in learning yoga and got a great response. Her "fat picture," as she calls it, has become a centerpiece of her life now. It is a constant reminder of what she has lost and what she has gained. "Have you seen my fat picture?" she asks co-workers. "I never want to be that unhealthy again." Not only has she lost the weight, but she can now run six miles and teach an hour of yoga afterward.