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Counting calories: one couple's journey to healthy living

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg enjoys lifting weights during his workout sessions.  In addition to going to the gym, Stuehrenberg maintains his weight by monitoring his calorie intake.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg enjoys lifting weights during his workout sessions. In addition to going to the gym, Stuehrenberg maintains his weight by monitoring his calorie intake. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg utilizes the fitness center to work on his powerlifting ability.  In addition to going to the gym, Stuehrenberg cooks his meals at home and calculates the nutritional value.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg utilizes the fitness center to work on his powerlifting ability. In addition to going to the gym, Stuehrenberg cooks his meals at home and calculates the nutritional value. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg kneads whole-wheat pizza dough, smoothing out imperfections.  Stuehrenberg cooks meals for him and his family, in order to know what’s going into his body.  Counting calories and monitoring nutritional value helped him and his wife lose weight and become healthy.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg kneads whole-wheat pizza dough, smoothing out imperfections. Stuehrenberg cooks meals for him and his family, in order to know what’s going into his body. Counting calories and monitoring nutritional value helped him and his wife lose weight and become healthy. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg tosses pizza dough, in order to maintain its moisture and keep the crust softer.  Stuehrenberg uses a wheat-based flower so the pizza will be healthier and have fewer calories.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg tosses pizza dough, in order to maintain its moisture and keep the crust softer. Stuehrenberg uses a wheat-based flower so the pizza will be healthier and have fewer calories. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg calculates how many calories are going to be his dinner.  “It’s important to count calories and know how much you’re eating.”  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg calculates how many calories are going to be his dinner. “It’s important to count calories and know how much you’re eating.” Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg weighs chicken before adding it to his pizza.  “It’s important to count calories and know how much you’re eating.”  As a result, Stuehrenberg and his wife have lost weight and become healthier.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg weighs chicken before adding it to his pizza. “It’s important to count calories and know how much you’re eating.” As a result, Stuehrenberg and his wife have lost weight and become healthier. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg and his wife, Lisa adds toppings to their pizza.  Since they have started counting calories and monitoring their portions, Scott and Lisa have lost a total of 90 pounds.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg and his wife, Lisa adds toppings to their pizza. Since they have started counting calories and monitoring their portions, Scott and Lisa have lost a total of 90 pounds. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Lisa Stuehrenberg adds toppings to the homemade, wheat pizza.  Stuehrenberg and her husband monitor their calories and make all their meals at home.  She has lost 45 pounds since she began to watch what she ate.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations key spouse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Lisa Stuehrenberg adds toppings to the homemade, wheat pizza. Stuehrenberg and her husband monitor their calories and make all their meals at home. She has lost 45 pounds since she began to watch what she ate. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations key spouse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg slices his homemade, wheat pizza.  Stuehrenberg uses a wheat-based flower so the pizza will be healthier and have fewer calories.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg slices his homemade, wheat pizza. Stuehrenberg uses a wheat-based flower so the pizza will be healthier and have fewer calories. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg and his wife, enjoy the wheat pizza they made from scratch at home.  Since they have started counting calories and monitoring their portions, Scott and Lisa have lost a total of 90 pounds.  Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)
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Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg and his wife, enjoy the wheat pizza they made from scratch at home. Since they have started counting calories and monitoring their portions, Scott and Lisa have lost a total of 90 pounds. Stuehrenberg is a 618th Air and Space Operations global operations manager. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- When Master Sgt. Scott Stuehrenberg transitioned from being an active flyer to an office worker, he packed on an extra 15 pounds, which led to failing the waist measurement portion of the physical fitness test. Instead of blaming the test's standards for his failure, he looked at himself and realized he needed to make changes to his lifestyle.

"Failing my waist measurement on my physical training test started me on a quest to not only lose the weight and get a thinner waist, but to change my thought pattern on how I looked at the PT test," said Scott, a Global Operations Manager with the 618th Air Operations Center (TACC). "Up to that point, I had looked at it in a negative light, because I'm a thick person, and my waist has always been thicker than most people who are the same height."

When he decided to make a change, he sought out the Health Promotion Flight. With their help, he tailored what he wanted to do, which was lose weight and maintain the muscle mass he had already achieved through powerlifting. He did this by monitoring everything he ate.

Scott said, "There is a great app for counting calories that allows you to completely customize everything within the app--what you're eating, how many calories are in it, fat content, etc.--so I was able to really track absolutely everything that I ate. Before, I would cook my own food, but I wasn't counting my calories. I didn't know how many calories I should or shouldn't be eating."

His wife, Lisa, a TACC Key Spouse, said she gained a lot of weight when she moved in with Scott, because she was eating the same portions as he was. When her husband decided it was time to get healthy, Lisa wanted to do it, too.

"I gained probably 40 pounds within the first year of our relationship," she said. "That led to a few health concerns for me. I was tired a lot; I didn't have a lot of energy. The job that I worked at required me to stand on my feet all day, and that became a little difficult to do. Because of a previous issue, I couldn't workout; I couldn't run or even walk without having a problem. So we had to think of something different to do for me. So, we focused on portion control and diet."

Kathy Steinbrecher, Health Promotion Flight Dietitian, said a nutritious diet is key to leading a healthy life.

"A poor diet isn't going to yield a healthy person," Steinbrecher said. "A healthy diet has several advantages including a longer and healthier life and an overall sense of well-being. If a person doesn't exceed their nutrient requirements, and has a fitness plan, they can lose and maintain their weight."

When Lisa and Scott began monitoring everything they were eating, they began to lose weight. Lisa lost 45 pounds, while Scott dropped from 250 to 218 pounds. They have been able to maintain this weight for more than a year.

Lisa said, "It opened our eyes to what we were really putting in our bodies. Until you start counting your calories, and realizing how much you're eating versus how much you should be eating, you're just spinning your wheels. You really need to know what your maximum calorie count is. I have relatives who go to the gym every day and they aren't losing any weight, but yet they are having these big portions when they go out to dinner every night. That's why you aren't losing the weight."

Scott said support from his wife has really motivated him, and it has brought them closer together. He also encourages young married servicemembers to work together with their spouse to get healthy.

"We're a great team," he said. "She's my best supporter, and it makes our marriage more sound. So many people don't have that backing. It is so important, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Fitness is as much part of your duty day as work is, so having a spouse who is completely behind you is imperative. I know people in the military who needed to change, but their family was not going to make changes to their own eating habits. And you can't have both foods in the house. There is no magic pill. If you're a family, you have to be on the same page."

showcase airman

Capt. Timothy Vojak
375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
Flight Nurse Examiner

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