Make health and wellness priority

  • Published
  • By Maj. Lisa Tauai
  • Health Promotion Flight commander
With the beginning of the New Year and the kick-off of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Body Mass Index Challenge, now is a perfect time to get serious about your overall health and wellness. All of us realize what we should change in order to improve our diet and fitness level, but until we decide to make health and wellness a priority in our lives, we will not meet our 2009 nutrition, fitness and weight loss goals and resolutions we have set out to achieve. The purpose of this article is to convince our Ramstein population why health and wellness should be one of the most important priorities of our lives. After all, if our health fails, how can we take care of others? The Ramstein Health and Wellness Center team has formulated three primary reasons why health and wellness should be a priority. 

Reason # 3
: Losing weight and inches around the waistline does not take as much effort as you think. By better controlling portion sizes consumed (attempting to keep portion sizes the equivalent to the size of the palm of your hand), limiting intake of high calorie foods, snacks and beverages (*one regular soda a day equates to approximately 20 extra pounds of fat a year), eating at least three meals per day (always include breakfast) and eating slower (25-30 minutes for meals while chewing foods 10-20 times per bite), a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day is created which leads to a 1-2 pound weight loss per week. Research studies prove the best way to keep weight off in the long term is to adopt healthy eating and fitness behaviors and lose weight gradually. 

Reason #2: Adopting the principles outlined in reason #3 coupled with simply moving the body more, decrease the risk of numerous health problems. With 66 percent of America's population being categorized as overweight or obese, about 45 percent of our Air Force population with BMIs of greater than 25 (overweight) and about 12 percent with BMIs of greater than 30 (obese), long-term health problems are on the rise. In fact, for every one inch increase in abdominal circumference, blood pressure increases by 10 percent, blood cholesterol increases by 8 percent, low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) increases by 15 percent and blood fats (triglycerides) increase by 18 percent--all leading to serious chronic health risks over time, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Reason #1: $300,000 for the first place winner, $200,000 for the second place winner or $100,000 for the third place winner is up for grabs for the USAFE wings with the most improved BMI averages. If Ramstein were to win this challenge, the funds will be utilized to benefit the health, wellness and fitness needs of our population.
The Ramstein HAWC offers several classes and programs to assist our members with their health and wellness and weight loss endeavors. Our services are available for all ID card holders. Some of our most popular weight loss programs and services are: 

· "At Risk" class: This class is offered to members with a physical fitness score of 75-79.9 and/or a BMI of 30 or higher. The next classes are scheduled Feb. 10 and 24 at 3 p.m. in the HAWC. To sign up, contact your unit fitness program manager. 

· Basic Weight Loss Class: This class is for those interested in weight loss and/or weight maintenance. The class teaches basic nutrition and fitness principles to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

· The LEARN Program for Weight Management: This program focuses on lifestyle changes and healthy behaviors leading to weight loss over the long-term. This hands-on program spans over 12 sessions. 

· Walk-Away-the-Pounds Group: Once spring is finally here, the HAWC team leads a three-time-per-week walk group to increase physical fitness levels. 

For more information on the programs and services the HAWK offers and upcoming events planned in response to the USAFE commander's BMI Challenge, contact the Ramstein HAWC at 480-4292 or log onto

*1 can of soda=approximately 180 calories; 180 calories x 365 days per year = 65,700 calories. 65,700 calories/3,500 calories = 18.7 pounds (20 rounded up). Note: 3,500 calories=1 pound of fat