What’s the first thing to go when you PCS? Donations? Household goods? Your car? If you’re like me, the answer to that question is your health and fitness. Stress takes over, you stop hitting the gym, you turn to junk, and use every bit of energy on the move, leaving little for yourself.

We, military spouses, are excellent at putting everything before our needs — especially in times of stress — so how do we take control?

Meet Maria 

“Exercise will relieve your stress, provide mood-boosting endorphins and offer you release,” shares Maria Diaz, the Installation Fitness Coordinator for USAG Wiesbaden, Germany.

Maria has helped thousands of military personnel, civilians, and family members stay fit and healthy through sports nutrition, personal training, and group fitness classes including spin, Zumba and military elite programs. She has worked in the fitness and personal training arena since 1999 and is passionate about her work.

She sat down with me to recommend exercises and eating tips to help stay strong and sane during your PCS.

Maria Diaz - Multiplicity
Photo credit: Elaine Wright (Army Wife), Elaine Wright Photography, “Multiplicity,” modeled by Maria Diaz

No Equipment? No Problem.

So the movers have come, your car is gone, or you’re stuck in a hotel – either way, your normal routine has flown out the window. The PCS period lasts for a few months from start to finish, and you can take control of your PCS through simple choices.

 Maria understands that times get challenging, but believes that “You can squeeze exercise into every day, and bodyweight exercises are a great way to stay in shape without utilizing equipment.”

She recommends these five simple bodyweight exercises that can go with you anywhere:

  1. Planks
  2. Squats
  3.  Lunges
  4.  Pushups
  5. Crunches

Want an extra boost? Maria suggests adding these elements, that you probably have easy access to, to your workout:

  • Water Bottles: Fill them and do enough reps, and you’ll feel the extra resistance.
  • Paper Plates: Place them under your feet for sliding action during mountain climbers.
  • Chair: This can be used for arm dips and leg kickbacks.

Fueling Yourself

“One or two bad days of eating won’t sabotage you, but as soon as you have the opportunity to get back on track, do it. Don’t wait until Monday,” she encourages.

Maria recommends:

  1. Water – Make this your primary beverage and stay away from sodas and sugary drinks. For a boost, add fruit to your water.
  2. Grains – Stick to whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta.
  3. Snacks – It is important to fuel your metabolism by eating every 2-3 hours so that it doesn’t kick into starvation mode and slow down.
  4. Fruits & Vegetables – Fruits offer a healthy substitute for sweets, and vegetables fulfill your need to crunch.
  5. Gum – If you find yourself stress eating, opt for gum instead. The chewing can be very satisfying and can reduce the urge to snack on junk.

Find Your Motivation

Maria describes exercise as a “productive outlet” that can lead to setting a strong example for someone else, such as a child, or friend who needs a workout, buddy.

She adds, “As women we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. So many times we want to help others, but we won’t ask for it for ourselves. We should not be afraid to ask for help with ‘keep me on track,’ or ‘keep me accountable.’”

Maria reminds that “You can make excuses all day long not to do something. But we can do that with anything in life — you can make excuses not to succeed at anything. You have to make a choice every time you put something in your mouth and every time you decide to exercise. Every day is a new chance to have a good day.”


Jackie Toops Head ShotA self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops chronicles her experiences in Europe through American eyes. Born in Florida and stationed in Germany, the mother of two enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Currently she is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and a recurring on-air guest with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen traversing Europe with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.



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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

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