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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2012

HAWC to offer new weight management program

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Active-duty members, dependents, retirees and civilians who wish to achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle will soon have access to a systematic, holistic program that can help them attain their goals.

"Better Body. Better Life," the Air Force Weight Management Program, will be offered at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Health and Wellness Center starting next month. The first session is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Jan. 18.

A five-week program consisting of five color-coded modules, "Better Body. Better Life" will take the place of the HAWC's Nutrition/Fitness 101, offering participants a more sweeping approach to weight management and achieving a healthy lifestyle.

"It's more comprehensive and interactive," Barbara Swanson, HAWC registered dietitian, said. "It's a real lifestyle overhaul. It's 1½ hours per module, so you're really getting 7½ hours of learning, plus ongoing support."

Classroom discussions and hands-on activities will provide participants with general information on nutrition and help them change their behaviors and embark on an exercise program.

The modules, called BodMods, will focus on "Better Nutrition," "Better Carbs," "Better Choices," "Better Planning" and "Better Traction."

Swanson said the program is fluid and allows participants to enter at any time since each module stands independently. It targets Airmen who fail their fitness test due to their abdominal circumference, but is open to everyone.

In addition to attending each module, participants will be weighed at the beginning and end of the program to see their progress, she said.

In the first module, "Better Nutrition," participants will learn about portion sizes, calories, recognizing hunger signs and recognizing nutrient-dense foods as opposed to calorie-dense foods, Swanson said.

"You want foods with nutrition density, not calorie density," she said.

The first four modules will contain components addressing nutrition, behavioral change and physical activity. Nutrition topics range from nutrient-dense foods and portion sizes to sugar, fats and meal planning, while the behavioral change component will address issues like hunger, stress and sleep.

Swanson said the program will dispel some myths, like carbohydrates are bad.

"Carbs are necessary for brain function," she said, "but some are healing and some are destructive."

Physical activity is an important component of the program because exercise enables the body to burn fat and helps people maintain a healthy weight.

"We store fat, but we don't move as much as primitive man did," Swanson said. "We've become fat-storing machines."

The final module, "Better Traction," strictly addresses behavioral changes such as relapses and plateaus.

"We talk about what's going on in the brain that causes a relapse and other changes," Swanson said. "That's where the rubber meets the road."

In addition to Swanson, program facilitators will include Tech. Sgt. Helen Schlemper, HAWC NCO in charge, and Keith Prince, HAWC Health Promotions Flight commander.

Swanson said the program "respects adult learners."

"The modules address real challenges on a practical level," she said.

For more information, call 652-2300, or sign up for a class by going to