By Maria YagerJune 7, 2018
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Army spouse Leah Hernandez seemed to be at an impasse. She attended a gym, exercised regularly, watched what she ate, drank plenty of water, but for some reason she could not seem to lose any weight. Frustrated, she turned to the staff at the Fort Campbell Army Wellness Center to see what more she could do.
"The Army Wellness Center offers standardized primary prevention programs for our Soldiers and retirees, their family members and Department of the Army civilians. We are trying to help our population lead healthy lifestyles by teaching people how to make healthy lifestyle changes and healthy habits when it comes to stress, physical fitness and nutrition," said Jheri Weidensall, Army Wellness Center program lead. "We focus on that holistic approach to health. We want to get ahead of the game -- so we don't offer medical treatment here -- we try and prevent chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, from occurring."
The Army Wellness Center staff spoke with Hernandez about her diet and exercise regimen and recommended their metabolic testing, body composition testing and some Health and Wellness classes to start.
"We also do metabolic testing where we are able to test an individual's resting metabolic rate -- what this is how many calories you are burning completely at rest. Based on that test and the amount of physical activity a person does, we are able to give calorie recommendation," said Weidensall. Rather than a ballpark figure most diet plans provide, the Army Wellness Center is able to give beneficiaries a personalized caloric profile.
For Hernandez, the results came as a surprise.
"The main thing I learned was that I just needed to eat more. I wasn't eating enough. I really thought that I was eating enough food, eating clean, doing what I was supposed to be doing following nutrition guidelines, getting fruits and veggies in, but it just wasn't enough of it," said Hernandez.
On the recommendation of her Army Wellness Center health educator, based on her resting metabolic rate and activity level, Hernandez increased her daily caloric intake to 1,900 calories a day and began to see the weight come off. Hernandez attended the center's Upping your Metabolism and Fueling for Health classes and learned more about portion sizes and eating a healthful balanced diet to fuel her body and reach her goals.
"I think everybody should go through a nutrition class. Having the education on what you're supposed to eat changes what it is you do eat. It gives you a good sense of what you should be eating and what you shouldn't be eating," said Hernandez. "The portions I was eating at home were too small and the portions I was eating when I went out were too big. The visual examples they showed in the class really helped me to get an idea of how big my portions should be."
Hernandez, a wife and mother, has lost about 20 pounds since using the services provided by the Army Wellness Center combined with her eating and exercise routine. "My fitness level has improved a lot. I feel stronger. My energy level is way different. I feel like I can get up in the morning and I'm not super tired during the day," she said. Hernandez now visits the center at least once a month to use its BodPod, which provides a more accurate view of her progress than checking her weight on a scale.
"The scale does not always tell you everything. It just gives you a number. Our BodPod gives us a break down of your body composition and breaks down the number for you so you can see how much muscle you have and how much fat you have. It will help you on your journey to whatever your goals are," said Weidensall, explaining that it doesn't necessarily have to be weight loss, some users are trying to gain muscle weight, while others may be trying to maintain. "We don't want to lose all of our muscle weight. We want to target losing fat. This machine will help you determine which type of weight you're losing or gaining. We also recommend coming back every month that way you can easily track your changes and see your progress over time because it's very easy to change your composition in a month."
Other services offered by the Army Wellness Center include exercise prescription, stress management, improving sleep habits and individual health coaching. They can assist beneficiaries on any number of personal wellness goals including, improved fitness tests, increasing muscle mass, weight loss, better sleep and more. The health educators are also available to go mobile, taking their class to units on post and family readiness groups.
"Coming to the Army Wellness Center helped me see what I was missing, where I was and where I wanted to be," said Hernandez.