FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Jan. 4, 2016) -- Another new year is about to begin and resolutions are being made.Is going on a diet, losing weight and being healthier at the top of your list again or for the first time?Tripler Army Medical Center's [TAMC's] Capt. William Conkright, chief, Nutrition Outpatient Clinic, offers some advice and tips on how to make improving your health a successful journey.Conkright is a model of what he teaches beneficiaries who seek his assistance. He is an exercise enthusiast who sets realistic expectations to maintain a healthy lifestyle; incorporating a healthy balance of fitness and nutrition.His commitment to his health and well-being has paid off.He often receives a perfect score on the Army physical fitness test, or APFT, and represented TAMC at the 31st annual Army Ten-Miler race in Washington, D.C., completing the race in under an hour.What Conkright does to keep fit and maintain his health is no secret.His habits follow closely with the components of the Army's Performance Triad: sleep, activity and nutrition."I make sure I have a consistent well-balanced lifestyle, not just a healthy diet. I eat plenty of vegetables, alongside proportional amounts of protein and carbohydrates to fuel and recover from activity. I exercise smartly, sleep at least seven to eight hours each day and manage my stress," Conkright said.He admits that he is not perfect but instead, "I stick to a healthy, consistent eating habit about 80 percent of the time. I allow myself 'outside the norm' behavior about 20 percent of the time, such as on special occasions like birthdays," Conkright said.Changes in diet require consistency and setting specific goals to maximize benefits and to help manage expectations.Those changes should be made with one or two, small, specific, sustainable changes - succeeding at those changes - then making another one or two small specific changes.For example, don't say "I want to lose weight," instead say, "I want to lose 25 pounds in six months, losing two pounds per week" and make adjustments so the goals remain relevant and attainable, which should produce positive results.
"Diet affects a wide range of health-related measures. Most people don't realize that their diet can affect everything from joint pain, to sinuses, to skin clarity, to mental clarity and so much more," Conkright said. "It's also one of the most powerful prevention measures against most common diseases. There is a reason many of our chronic diseases are known as a 'disease of western civilization' and it has a lot to do with diet."There are a million ways to approach health and fitness; an individual needs to figure out what works best for them.But Conkright stresses that you shouldn't fixate solely on numbers, like calorie counting.Instead make sure the calories you are counting are from nutrient dense foods, which assist the body in processing the calories consumed, otherwise you may deprive yourself of vital nutrients.If you are not sure where to start, Tripler's Nutrition Outpatient Clinic can help you do the figuring.Dietitians in the clinic offer beneficiaries the tools to help them develop an individualized plan and even incorporate fitness objectives into the plan.