By Scott Prater
Schriever’s Health and Wellness Center is taking its show on the road.
Not literally, of course, but in an effort to build awareness about the programs and services offered by the HAWC, Health Education Manager Tara Wafel is leading a program called WIP, which will appear at squadrons on base beginning this month.
“WIP stands for Wellness Improvement Plan,” Ms. Wafel said. “It’s a four-week lifestyle change program. It’s shorter because people tend to commit to shorter programs as opposed to long ones.”
Julie Anderson, Peterson Air Force Base HAWC dietitian, Susan Heuser former health educator at Peterson, Chris Woodruff, health fitness specialist here and at Peterson, and Ms. Wafel designed the program and put it through its paces during a pilot program this past October.
The new wellness course includes a nutrition portion, a physical fitness portion and tobacco cessation portion. During the pilot program conducted with a Peterson AFB squadron, typical participants lost an average of five pounds over the four-week time frame.
“Basically it’s difficult to get people into the HAWC,” Ms. Wafel said. “Typically, when people come in it’s because they failed a “PT” test or they need to be put on a nutrition plan. Our once-a-week weight management and smoking cessation classes have been sparsely attended. This way, with this program, we go to them. Squadron leaders contact us to set up scheduled time, then we start the four-week program when it’s most convenient for them. We realize many squadrons have members working crew or shift work and we’ll work to accommodate those schedules.”
Program facilitators Ms. Wafel, Mr. Woodruff and Staff Sgt. Ronneisha Sargent will teach the WIP classes, which begin with a pre-program evaluation. Participants are asked to fill in a short form that includes information on their current fitness level, how often they perform strength training, how many fruits and vegetables they eat each day, how often they eat fast food, water consumption and tobacco use.
Facilitators cover nutrition first, then move into fitness and finish with the tobacco cessation.
“Our nutritionist will offer suggestions for planning meals, healthy cooking options, and calorie tracking, for instance,” Ms. Wafel said. “We’ll also evaluate and discuss the squadron’s snack bar area and provide some recommendations for healthier snacks.”
Mr. Woodruff figures the WIP will help provide some motivation for members as they consider their fitness goals and standards.
“It gets people out and moving,” he said. “When it comes to exercise, we know people tend to put it off. With the WIP, were giving members the tools they need to get going now. “
The WIP team begins the fitness portion of the program by meeting with a squadron’s unit fitness program monitors and physical training leaders. They’ll then cover a variety of fitness topics with the entire squadron, providing practical and everyday useful advice and suggestions.
“We’ll show people how important it is to find the right shoe for them and how to warm up for exercise correctly,” Mr. Woodruff said. “Then we’ll take them through exercises, show them how they can even get a good work out in the office for example.”
The program wraps up with tobacco cessation information, but WIP facilitators say they’ll be flexible with each squadron. If tobacco use is not an issue, then the program can be flexible about the length and depth of this portion.
Ms. Wafel said the program wraps with a post evaluation, where participants report on their achievement and squadron leaders learn how they compare to other squadrons.
“Our plan even calls for us to do a six-month evaluation,” she said. “We want to see if squadrons have managed to maintain their program goals, see if they have improved fitness readiness rates, and see if the behavior changes they’ve made have stuck.”