TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, OK -- An Air Force reservist at Tinker AFB is taking the charge to be "Fit to Fight" seriously. Master Sgt. Matt Thomas, a jet engine mechanic for the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, has used the program to get himself not only fit, but also into outstanding health as well.

In 14 months, Sergeant Thomas has increased his overall fitness score from 43 to 98.89. In the process, he lost 122 pounds and shaved 13.5 inches off his abdominal circumference.

Plagued with high blood pressure, back and foot problems and being 100 pounds overweight, Sergeant Thomas took the initiative and worked out a solution. The beginning came with his resolve a year ago to make a change, initiating a self-help program that included radical life changes in exercise and diet.

"Exercise is the main ingredient to losing the weight and getting back into a healthy routine quickly," he says.

To get into shape, Sergeant Thomas applied the discipline, motivation and hard work characteristic of his performance as a professional Airman. He began working out tenaciously, running four to five miles, five times per week.

Not liking to do static exercise machines, he found running was the best all-around exercise that would lean him down while enhancing his endurance in the other areas of exercise and fitness.

The running clearly paid off for Sergeant Thomas, who cut a full third off his time, from a 15:40 mile to just over 10 minutes and he recently ran the Wildcatter Run 10K in under 40 minutes.

Strengthening his abs with the running helped in another aspect of the "Fit to Fight" regimen as well: his crunch count more than doubled, from only 19 in May 2005 to 42 in September.

In addition to the running, Sergeant Thomas increased his ability to lose weight and exercise with a radical change in diet, from standard western fast food-style fare to a healthier mixture minus the fried, rich and sugary foods. Instead of soft drinks, he now drinks a calorie-free drink.

When asked about the best part of losing the weight, Sergeant Thomas replies, "My wife can finally put her arms around me. If that isn't motivation, what is?"

Photo: Master Sgt. Matt Thomas runs in a 10K. Sergeant Thomas, a jet engine mechanic for the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, OK, lost 122 pounds and shaved 13.5 inches off his abdominal circumference in 14 months. U.S. Air Force photo.