By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — For anyone looking to get into better shape and is more than 18 years old, the Health and Wellness Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, is starting its Group Lifestyle Balance classes Jan. 3 at 5 p.m., and Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. to help develop healthy habits to start the new year.
The classes run for the course of one year, beginning with weekly sessions for the first 12 weeks, transitions to twice monthly for the next two months, and then phases into monthly support sessions for the remainder of the year.
Dana Johnson, health promotion educator at the HAWC, said the series targets people who are overweight, but includes people who are pre-diabetic, have high blood pressure and large waist measurements as well.
“Our goal is weight loss and diabetes prevention,” said Johnson. “We are trying to get people out of faddish diets and also to teach them how to be healthier and happy about it.”
There are multiple components to each class. They start with weigh-ins, then have an educational piece related to nutrition, and a question and answer time. Each class includes physical activity as well, Johnson said. For example, she has a circuit class where members complete various exercises.
Most classes are held at the HAWC, but occasionally students leave and go to places outside of the classroom to gain firsthand experience related to the food they eat.
“I try to get my students out more,” Johnson said. “We go to the commissary, food court, McDonalds here on base or do some of our workouts outside.”
Students keep food logs so instructors can look them over and give tips about alternative healthier ways to eat. Not all healthy food is gross, bland or rabbit food, Johnson said. As a matter of fact, something she regularly hears from students is how they are surprised they can eat food they actually like.
The classes are designed to make lifestyle changes fun. Along the way, class members do food tasting in the HAWC kitchen, sample healthy food purchased in the commissary or participate in meal makeovers.
“We make things a little different,” Johnson said, “We make it how they want, but healthier.”
The course is set up to bring about small, steady lifestyle changes.
“We teach that you do not have to change everything overnight,” said Johnson. “Small changes help them maintain (weight) loss. I tell them if they are looking for a quick fix, they are in the wrong class.”
The group aspect of the class is important. She said class members often get together to exercise outside of class and sometimes does things like participate in 5K runs. The group support is helpful in maintaining healthy habits.
“We work on the emotional and social aspects as well,” Johnson said. “We work on how to cope on a bad day, how to deal with stress and things that trigger your want to eat.”
Those interested in attaining a balance between healthy food choices and physical activity can enroll by contacting the HAWC at 719-556-4292, option 3 or 4, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.