By Mr. Stephen Baack (IMCOM)June 30, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany (June 30, 2014) -- The ongoing effort to promote the importance of health to the success of the Army Team took a step forward this month as U.S. Army installations worldwide kicked off the Performance Triad initiative.
The Performance Triad addresses the importance of sleep, activity and nutrition, and Army Medicine has established an online resource library that includes tracking tools for all three areas. The platform is part of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign, also known as R2C.
The Army-wide Performance Triad kickoff has also incorporated the Performance Triad 26-Week Health Challenge. Although the challenge has already started, it's not too late to join in at the Performance Triad Facebook page and follow along (see "Related Links" section).
U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach hosted its coinciding kickoff June 4 inside The Exchange at Urlas, during which members of the Katterbach Army Health Clinic joined members from the Army Wellness Center Bavaria in Vilseck to offer their expertise and resources on site.
"We're really focusing on patient-centered medical care, and so with that we want our patients to be the drivers of their health care," said Elizabeth Schuster-Shoaf, the public health nurse for Katterbach Army Health Clinic. "So, we're trying to make people more engaged and more involved in their wellness."
ASSESSING YOUR HEALTH
Schuster-Shoaf, who was on hand during the day to give attendees tips and feedback on their health, said she wants people to change their thinking about health and wellness.
People in the west are living longer than ever thanks to advances in medical technology, but that means they are also managing chronic conditions longer, she said.
"You can have diabetes and you can manage it for 20 years -- and medication does it -- but eventually it has more complications," she said.
"I always tell people to look at their risk factors," said Schuster-Shoaf. "You have modifiable and non-modifiable. Genetics, ethnicity, family history -- we can't change that. But it's the lifestyle choices that we can. Those are our modifiable risk factors."
For the kickoff event at The Exchange, the hosts from Katterbach Army Health Clinic and Army Wellness Center Bavaria had no shortage of posters, pamphlets and printouts filled with health tips. The onsite experts also measured their body-mass indexes and blood pressure.
Not only is blood pressure an important factor in tracking one's health, Schuster-Shoaf said the blood-pressure machine was an attention-getter and helped health specialists start a dialogue with visitors.
"It's just a way for us to interact more with people and say, 'Wow. Is this your blood pressure? That might be a little high. When's the last time you had that checked?'" she said. "Or, a lot of times when we're interacting with community members, we find out things like, 'I have been really dizzy lately,' because, honestly, when you have an ambulatory care center like we do, people typically only go to the doctor why? When they have something wrong. People don't take the initiative to be involved in their health and wellness and get yearly screenings. So, it's just another opportunity to say, 'Hey, you should start investing in yourself now instead of waiting until there's a problem."
And while the body-mass index, or BMI, is not as precise as other, more comprehensive body-composition measuring tools, Schuster-Shoaf said a quick look at your BMI is a "great way to look at your health risks," like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. From this, she said a person can then examine actions to modify these health risks -- with help from the Performance Triad.
THE ARMY WELLNESS CENTER
The Performance Triad is one tool that can help people get started on, or continue, their road to a healthier life. Still another is the Army Wellness Center Bavaria, the services of which are available to Soldiers, their family members and civilians attached to the garrison.
"There's a big problem with obesity in the United States, and it's very important that Soldiers be in shape -- especially now when their career depends on it," said Heidi Eshleman, health technician at the Army Wellness Center Bavaria. "You can't have one without the other. You can't be in good shape and be healthy without sleep and activity and nutrition. The Wellness Center does metabolic testing and fitness testing, which helps with the nutrition and activity part."
The Wellness Center Bavaria, which serves Grafenwoehr, Ansbach and Hohenfels, helps guests address all three components of the Performance Triad.
Health technicians there ask guests about eating and exercise habits, and they provide nutrition education that includes how to read food labels, portion control and how many calories they need to consume every day to lose weight, said Eshleman. Personnel also do fitness testing, a sleep class and outreach, talking about the dangers of supplements, for example.
People visit the center for varying reasons, she added. Sometimes units come to the center during weekly training, as well as those on the weight-control program. Eshleman said Soldiers, family members and civilians also visit for no other reason than to simply improve their health.
MAKING A CHANGE
Quick fixes are tempting when it comes to improving one's health, but it is a lifelong effort, Schuster-Shoaf said, which can be difficult for people to accept.
"We're a society that wants results now, but that's not how health is, unfortunately," Schuster-Shoaf said. "When we're young we think, 'That's never going to happen to me,' but when the problems hit, sometimes it's hard to erase some of that. So, it's important to start taking care of yourself now.
"When beach season comes," she continued, "I'm out there running a little harder like everyone else, but it's something that you've got to do lifelong."
Schuster-Shoaf said making that lifelong change across the Army is about changing the culture.
"If you look at children, children learn from their parents. So, if we can start the thinking now in our Soldiers and their spouses, then hopefully that will beget a change that will happen with our children."
Along with the resources through the Army Wellness Center Bavaria and the Performance Triad, Schuster-Shoaf said she offers outreach and classes to the USAG Ansbach community.
"We're always trying to get out into the community because we want to let people know that if they have a question about public health, there are resources available," she said. "We like to promote the services through public health. You want us to come to the FRG and do a wellness talk? Hey, you let us know what you're interested in. We'll be happy to do it."
She added: "We want everyone in the Army Family to be well."
To learn more, call the U.S. Army Health Clinic Katterbach at 09802-83-3398 or (DSN) 467-3398, or the Bavaria MEDDAC Army Wellness Center at 09662-83-4795 or (DSN) 476-3398. To learn more about the Performance Triad and the 26-Week Health Challenge, see the "Related Links" section to the right of this story.