ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The importance of activity, nutrition and sleep were emphasized during APG's Army Performance Triad celebration May 7 at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center. The Performance Triad is a pilot program launched by the Office of the Army Surgeon General and Army Medicine.

During opening remarks, APG Performance Triad Action Officer 1st Lt. Joanna Moore, from Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic said the vision of the Army Performance Triad Healthy Base initiative is to promote health and wellness for Soldiers, Family members, retirees, Department of Defensw civilians, and contractors on APG. The goal is to maintain a Ready and Resilient workforce.

The Performance Triad program complements the DoD's Operation Live Well campaign, the Army's Ready & Resilient Campaign, R2C, and the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program.

The event's guest speaker Maj. Gen. Dean Sienko, commander of the U.S. Army Public Health Command, said the Performance Triad initiative is necessary. The bottom line is to keep people healthy, he said.

"The Army Surgeon General, my boss Lt. Gen. [Patricia D.] Horoho is trying to transform a healthcare system to a system for health," he said.

Sienko said health is a national security concern, with more than 70 percent of the country's 17- to 24-year-olds ineligible for military service, due to the worsening obesity crises.

"We live in a world today that doesn't support fitness," he said.

Adding that he is working on getting more sleep, a critical layer of the triad, Sienko asked senior noncommissioned officers to make sure their Soldiers are getting a good night's sleep.

"When you have a good night's sleep you think clearly," he said. "You have more energy."

Sienko said exercise is like a "wonder drug" because it can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, increases energy, improves heart health, reduces body weight, improves flexibility and much more.

He encouraged listeners to eat more fresh foods, chew slowly, dine with Family members and maintain a balanced diet and suggested they visit the Army Wellness Center, located on the third floor of KUSAHC, to learn how to develop good sleep, nutrition and exercise habits.

"I have personally benefited from the Army Wellness Center and the things I have learned there," he said.

Slim-Down Challenge Winners

After Sienko's speech, the winners of the APG Slim-Down Challenge were announced. The 12-week weight loss challenge was sponsored by KUSAHC, the Community Health Promotion Council and AWC. It ran from Jan. 13 to April 11.

Eight teams participated: the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; KUSAHC; U.S. Army Research, Development, Engineering Command; APG Garrison (comprised of garrison employees and several smaller units); 20th CBRNE Command; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense; USAPHC; and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR). Participants numbered 113 installation-wide and winners were determined by the percentage of overall weight lost.

Team KUSAHC received first place with 11 participants for a total of 164.3 pounds lost and a 7.25 percent of overall total weight loss. The team received a trophy.

The first place individual winner was Staff Sgt. Hippolyte Tavares, a lab technician from KUSAHC who lost 44.4 pounds and 17.49 percent of his total weight. Tavares won a two-star note and coin from Sienko, a trophy, a KUSAHC coin, a certificate, a t-shirt, and a fruit basket.

Tavares said he adopted a vegan, low carbohydrate diet and increased his exercise routine. Between cycling, running and walking with a 75-pound ruck sack, he averages about 160 miles a week.

Tavares said he wanted to make a drastic change to improve his health and to win a bet placed by a friend. He saidan added bonus is that he no longer has to take blood pressure medication and that his new long-term goal is to lose a total of 70 pounds.

"Everything goes back to the Soldier's Creed; being disciplined and staying physically and mentally tough. It is all about changing the mentality," he said.

Sean Buck, a senior operations research analyst from the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, lost 38.2 pounds and 15.19 percent of his total weight.

Buck said his success is due to tracking his eating and workout habits in a journal. He received a two-star note, a KUSAHC coin, a certificate, a t-shirt, and a fruit basket.

"I made healthier food decisions and made the effort to be consistently active," he said, adding that an added bonus is that he has more energy.

"I am able to play with my kids much more as a result of my weight loss," he said. "Keeping up with my 4-year-old daughter Riley and 2- year-old son Logan takes a lot of energy, something that was exhausting for me in the past."

Sean Wilhelm a functional technology specialist from Child, Youth and School Services lost 25.6 pounds and 13.54 percent of his total weight. Wilhem said controlling his food portions and increasing exercise helped him lose the weight. He said he exercised with a co-worker during lunch breaks and was able to increase his endurance. He also received a two-star note, a KUSAHC coin, a certificate, a t-shirt, and a fruit basket.

"I knew I needed to be healthier, I want to be there for my daughter, who has special needs," he said, noting he plans to continue losing weight with his wife, who has lost more than 30 pounds.

"It really helps when your spouse wants to do the same thing," he said.

Fourth place went to Lorus Miller, a deputy command radiation safety officer from USAPHC who lost 32.4 pounds and 11.73 percent of his total weight. He received a certificate, and a t-shirt.

Miller said he wanted to change his habits to help motivate his son, who wanted to join the Army, but needed to get in shape. They eliminated junk food and worked out together, focusing on burning 12,000 calories per day. His son is now in boot camp. Miller now is helping his wife get in shape.

"I recommend making a commitment and sticking to your plan," he said. "Consistency is key."

Mary Billiet from RDECOM who lost 20 pounds and 11.73 percent of her total weight, won fifth place.

She received a certificate, and a t-shirt. Billet said she enjoyed participating in the challenge with her friends and co-workers.

"Having to weigh-in made me pay more attention; it helped motivate me," she said. "Now I have more energy and wear smaller clothes."

Performance Triad activities

The day's activities included a 5K Run and 2 mile walk and a health fair, featuring information on sleep, activity and nutrition. There was also an "APG Healthy Kids Kickoff" in the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation for preschool-aged children who enrolled in the Child Development Center and Family Child Care program.

During the "Healthy Kids Kickoff" Soldiers, Freestate ChalleNGe Academy cadets and staff from the AWC lead the children in various activities, including an obstacle course, dancing, and the game "Red Light, Green Light." Sue Singh, a community health nurse from KUSAHC and Anne Healy, CareFirst Representative for BlueCross/Blue Shield talked to the children about nutrition using the United States Department of Agriculture My Plate program. This program uses a plate to illustrate different food groups and portion size.

"It was a blast," said Lauren Lynch a health educator with AWC, who led the obstacle course exercise. "The children kept running around in circles, they have a lot of energy."

KUSAHC Commander Lt. Col. David Zinnante said he would like to see a continuing partnership with APG's Child, Youth and School Services.

"I enjoyed all of today's events, but seeing the Healthy Kids event resonated the most - professionally and personally," said Zinnante. "As a society, we have to do a better job of educating children to make healthier choices. It is easier to instill healthy habits in children than it is to break those unhealthy habits 20 years later. [KUSAHC] will continue to partner with the CDC and CYSS to ensure we get it right at APG. Today was just the beginning."

Zinnante congratulated the KUSAHC team for losing the most weight in the Slim- Down Challenge.

"The Performance Triad is based on three simple components (sleep, activity, and nutrition) that can truly improve lives if implemented appropriately," he said. "I have challenged everyone at [KUSAHC] to set the example of what right looks like and I am impressed with the early results. When you have staff members losing 40 plus pounds, you know the message was received and understood."