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Shaping of the Force: Better Bodies, Better Life

The Joint Base Andrews, Md., Health and Wellness Center watches out for Airmen's well-being by offering the intertactive bi-monthly course, Better bodies, better lives.The course aims to help Airmen make healthy diet choices. The HAWC offers a variety of physical and mental health courses. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tristin English) (U.S. Air Force graphic/ Ms. Amber J. Russell)

The Joint Base Andrews, Md., Health and Wellness Center watches out for Airmen's well-being by offering the intertactive bi-monthly course, Better bodies, better lives.The course aims to help Airmen make healthy diet choices. The HAWC offers a variety of physical and mental health courses. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tristin English) (U.S. Air Force graphic/ Ms. Amber J. Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS Md. -- He breaks 90 degrees at the elbow, making each push-up count; every gut-wrenching sit-up gets him closer to completion. For him, the hard part is over. He dons his headphones, relaxes his shoulders and sets his eyes on the horizon to finish the mile-and-half run in plenty of time to receive an excellent on his fit-to-fight test.

This image of a prepared Airman taking on a physical training test is not always the case. And while the Air Force is committed to shaping its force by meeting the maximum number of personnel authorized by Congress, the Joint Base Andrews' Health and Wellness Center is committed to helping fuel the fight in Airmen who fail or are struggling with the abdominal circumference component of the fitness assessment.

Mari Lou Castro, HAWC dietician, guides the in-depth nutrition and weight-loss education program, Better Bodies, Better Life, held at the HAWC bi-monthly on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., to promote high-performance in fitness testing.

"Active duty members can receive one-on-one counseling for genuine information to help them come up with a strategy for weight control," Castro said.

One Airman at the course held on Feb. 19 was candid about taking this specialized counseling.

"I got injured in a car accident; I have a plate on my knee and I can't run anymore" Tech. Sgt. Quincy Martin, Air Force Medical Operations Agency biomedical equipment technician, stated. "It's been life changing."

Martin said following the accident, he restructured his diet and exercise regimen.

Because Martin already had a strategy for weight control, Castro said his input was instrumental for the discussion that day.

"You have to take your height, weight, gender and age into consideration to find your caloric intake level," Castro said.

Castro referenced the American Dietetic Association's 1200, 1500 and 1800-calorie meal plans for weight loss and control. Each plan allows for a ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats to total 100 percent daily intake of nutrients. She said what is eaten directly effects energy and fitness levels.

The attendees received 5-day menus to accompany the plans.

"It's not just about counting calories," Castro added. "The best strategy is mindful eating and planning your meals."

During the course, Airmen shared their success secrets and setbacks.

Keeping fresh fruit readily available and eating smaller portions when eating out are some strategies Martin said worked for him; but skipping out on breakfast and having late dinners are things he must be more mindful about.

Active duty military members interested in taking the course can sign up here, however unit fitness program managers will need to provide the member with an unsatisfactory PT score with an Air Force form 108 with Commander's approval.