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Focus equally on working out and eating right

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Adam Page
  • 375th Medical Support Squadron
As the Flight Chief of Nutritional Medicine, I am often asked questions relating to weight loss, healthy diets, fad diets and general nutrition. Additionally, as the UFPM for my squadron, I also receive many questions related to fitness. It's a natural fit, nutrition and fitness, but not many people really put forth equal effort to both. Sure, you may exercise three times per week for 60 minutes, but are you throwing all that hard work away at your next meal? Nutrition plays such an important role that you should be putting forth as much effort into eating well as you put into exercising. If your goal is to lose weight you must focus equally on working out and eating right.

My personal experience with weight loss/weight maintenance started over a year ago when I needed knee surgery. As the squadron's UFPM, I saw the results of many people on medical profiles. Some people gained 20, 30, even 40 pounds within two to four months! This often resulted in failures on their next PT test. When asked what happened, their response was usually "I was put on profile, and I couldn't work out, so I gained all this weight..."

I was determined not to let this happen to me.

First, I had to determine what I was eating, so keeping a journal was important. You will be amazed at all the little things you eat in a day that can be the hidden source of many calories. Keeping a journal and making yourself write down everything that goes into your mouth will create awareness and give you control. Forcing yourself to write down items before you eat them also gives you an opportunity to make a decision: eat it or pass. The journal will be the tell-all guide to where you need to make changes and will serve as your road map to success, so be accurate and intentional.

Second, I changed the way I associated with food. I was a comfort eater; I ate to feel good and to enjoy the food out there to be eaten. This can lead to overeating. I had to change focus; now I look to food as the vehicle to give me the energy to get through the day. Again, it's important to identify your relationship to food and answering this question, "Why am I eating this?"

To "diet" or not to "diet," that is the question. The reason most "diets" fail is because of food omissions, so don't "diet." I used my food journal to find the foods that were high in calories and those I ate too much of. It was easy to see them! The goal and what I did was to not omit anything from my eating pattern, after all, variety is the spice of life.

Keeping all the foods currently in your pattern, but just limiting the not so good choices will not feel like a dreaded "diet" and will help foster success. If you find your daily intake is not balanced among the food groups, you will have a few more changes to make, but don't just add them to you daily intake, replace the "junk" with the good. But remember since all foods have calories, you can still overeat on so-called "diet food," so portion control is the key.

So, what about my success? Two knee surgeries later and over a year not running I have not gained a single pound. In fact, by modifying my eating habits through limiting my comfort foods, exercising portion control and following the exercise prescription given to me by the HAWC, I have lost 30 pounds and three inches off my waist. All this was accomplished by simple changes to my eating habits and my association with food.

Go make a change. For your lifestyle change, call the HAWC today at 256-7139.