Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

Nutrition a key part of improving fitness

By Scott Prater

Schriever Sentinel

January always seems to be a busy month at the local gymnasium. Fresh off New Year’s resolutions, people hit the gym with unprecedented vigor. Deciding that this is the year they’ll finally meet their fitness goals, they’ll stride up to treadmills, elliptical machines and weight benches full of energy and enthusiasm.

By mid February, however, most gyms have returned to their normal activity. And many of those formerly determined resolvers are left battered and sore, and no closer to achieving their fitness goals.

“It’s really kind of depressing to see,” said Patti Eafrati, Schriever fitness assistant. “Most of those folks don’t realize that with a little education and discipline, they’d be well on their way to accomplishing their fitness goals.”

Ms. Eafrati says the biggest mistake people make stems from their over excitement. They set unrealistic goals, develop negative attitudes about muscle soreness, don’t drink enough water to stay properly hydrated and continue to consume unhealthy foods.

Master Sgt. Todd Terrell, 50th Operations Support Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Jimmy Rogers, 50th Space Communications Squadron, are fine examples of Airmen who faced daunting fitness challenges, sought help from the right sources and amazed their families, friends and fellow Airmen through their accomplishments. Their journeys can serve as motivation for people who have made the popular New Year’s resolution.

Sergeant Terrell said he failed his first Air Force fitness assessment under the new standards back in October. Faced with a back injury that limited the types of exercises he could perform, he tested waist measurement only. The standard is 37 inches, but he measured 39 inches and weighed in at 209 pounds.

“That put me in the poor category,” he said. “I always thought I ate right, looked at labels, checked calories and avoided saturated fats, but it wasn’t enough.”

Ms. Eafrati said that Sergeant Terrell was distraught when he approached her about dieting advice.

“I was worried he might fail his next test simply because he was limited as to what exercises he could perform,” she said. “I gave him a diet plan, told him he had to follow it religiously, and he figured out his own exercise plan.”

Basically, he ate oatmeal for breakfast, egg whites and fruit for snacks, and grilled chicken and steamed broccoli for lunch and dinner. At the gym, he walked on the stair stepper and elliptical machines and lifted weights that did not require a bend at the waist.

Ms. Eafrati noticed Sergeant Terrell’s flight suit looked a little baggier after the first two weeks.

After six weeks he took another AF fitness assessment and scored 100 percent, dropping 25 pounds and nearly five inches off his waist.

Sergeant Rogers said nonchalance and over confidence led to his poor performance on the new AF fitness assessment standards.

“I failed my test mainly due to my waist measurement (40.5 inches), but my overall fitness level was also poor,” he said. “I only managed 40 sit ups and my run was 12 minutes, 34 seconds. My cumulative was like 72.5, but the waist measurement was an automatic failure.”

Put on mandatory fitness improvement by his squadron, Sergeant Rogers exercised for an hour every morning and made some improvement but hit a plateau.

After inquiring at the fitness center, he eventually obtained a nutrition plan similar to Sergeant Terrell’s, one that reduced sodium, fat and processed foods from his diet.

“I ate six times a day to increase my metabolism and it worked,” Sergeant Rogers said. “I scored a 92.5 on my next test, dropped four inches of my waist, maxed out the sit ups with 55 and cut two minutes off my run.”

Ms. Eafrati wasn’t surprised to learn of the transformation.

“Whatever the fitness goal, first and foremost, people, need to look at nutrition and what they put into their bodies,” she said. “They need to evaluate their entire daily eating routine. That includes reading labels and being educated about what is nutritious and what is not. It’s not difficult. There are plenty of sources of information on nutrition, from books to websites and fitness centers.”

For information on nutrition and exercise contact the Schriever Health and Wellness Center at 567-4292 or the fitness center at 567-6628.

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