ARLINGTON, Va. - Summer is a time for soaking up the sun, taking vacations and getting fit.

As the warm days wind down, so has Warrior Care and Transition's 26 Week Health Challenge, but Clinical Action Officer Lt. Col. Annie Cichocki says the healthy habits adopted by challenge participants are here to stay.

"Making lifestyle changes are easier if you're accountable to a team," said Cichocki.

The 26 Week Health Challenge is an initiative created by the Office of the Surgeon General, and is a component of the Performance Triad or P3, which promotes sleep, nutrition and physical activity.
Cichocki led the effort within WCT. "I wanted to initiate a worksite wellness program and thought that the challenge would be a great tool to solicit long-term behavior change towards healthy lifestyle."

Those committed to the program took part in weekly challenges to win prizes and office bragging rights. In addition, every two weeks a 'traveling trophy' was awarded to the team that improved its overall health the most over that time period.

"Although we didn't tally tangible results such as weight and changes in body composition, there
were certainly some visible successes with each week's challenge," Cichocki said. "I see staff members continue to make their 10,000-15,000 steps a day. Some are more cognizant of how much sleep they are getting and practice sleep hygiene. Some still report weight loss and continue to make way towards their weight goals."

One of those success stories comes from the Deputy Chief of Staff for Warrior Care and Transition, Col. Matthew St Laurent.

"I personally lost 15 pounds during the challenge and definitely sleep more at night," St Laurent said. "I feel better physically and mentally. It is amazing what a little extra sleep can do for your work productivity."

For those looking forward to more of that team-based support, Cichocki says a new challenge will start in early 2018.

To read more about MEDCOM's Performance Triad, click here.