Making healthier life choices
While living overseas has its ups and downs, the experience can definitely create an upswing to the waistline. Stresses of military life + rich European foods = a health risk to both our well-being and our national security. A September 2013 Department of Defense study detailed how obesity and tobacco use among military servicemembers and beneficiaries cost taxpayers more than $3 billion a year in health-care expenses. A leading cause of servicemembers involuntarily separating is also failure of physical fitness exams. And, more than a quarter of new recruit applicants are turned away because of excessive weight or body fat.
The Office of Military Community and Family Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense has designed a program called the Healthy Base Initiative that provides tools to encourage military families to make better health and life choices about good nutrition, active lifestyles and tobacco-free living. Here are some highlights to help inspire better choices in your household.
You’ll find nutritional tips in your local DECA commissary that are based on nutritional information from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
When creating meals, choose from:
- Lean meats, poultry, eggs and fish; alternative proteins, like beans and nuts.
- Colorful vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fat-free or low-fat dairy options.
- Trans fat-free foods and those with low saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar.
Visit the Healthy Living tab at the Commissaries.com website to evaluate food choices, learn how to enhance your commissary experience and improve the nutritional value of your meals.
Staying active isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise helps you cope with stress by triggering your brain to release dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. You’ll also increase energy and elevate your metabolism for hours after exercise. Strive for 150 minutes per week of moderate (or 90 minutes of vigorous) exercise that incorporates a combination of flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic activities. Here are tips to maintain motivation:
- Know what you’re working with - Get your body fat measured, figure out your basal metabolic rate and take a look at your running gait at an on-base Health and Wellness Center. Their team of experts can help you set goals based on your needs. Those who qualify can also have free sessions with a Health & Wellness Coach through Military OneSource. See contacts below.
- Write down goals – Each small goal achieved will keep your plan engaged. Start slowly with both goals and exercise ambitions for less burnout and chance for injury.
- Get the right equipment – a new pair of good quality, comfortable shoes and some comfortable, moisture-wicking exercise apparel will help you feel good and improve your range of motion.
- Make a schedule – Figure out the best days and times to work out; break down workouts into shorter sessions to help you fit the time into your daily routine. Then, plan your meals. Having healthy foods on hand will keep you on track and prevent snacking.
- Find a workout buddy – Those reluctant to exercise may be more motivated and accountable to the plan with a partner.
- Choose fun activities – Try a group exercise class, dancing, swimming or a sport you enjoy.
- Reward met goals – When you meet a goal, find low-cost rewards that inspire: a new hairstyle, pair of sunglasses, a massage, or a new workout song list for your MP3 player.
- Hire a trainer – Sometimes you need a mentor. Several trainers are available for one-hour sessions at your installation’s fitness center. Ask the front desk for assistance and fees.
Quitting a tobacco addiction can be very difficult. You don’t have to go through it alone. There are free resources and military-based programs to help you find the way to quit that is right for you. To get started, visit www.youcanquit2.org, http://smokefree.gov and www.cdc.gov/tobacco.
Just a few small changes can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being.
- Air Force Fit Family
- Army Health Command
- Healthy Base Initiative
- Military Health System
- Military OneSource Health & Wellness Coaching
- Operation Live Well