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Experts promote diet, exercise to reach, maintain healthy weight

A man stands on an advanced scale with a woman watching over his shoulder.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Kendra Hill, Robins Health Promotions dietician with the 78th Medical Group, performs an In-Body body analysis on Airman 1st Class Blake Freedman, 78th MDG Public Health technician, at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Jan. 7, 2021. The analysis helped him develop a baseline for his weight management plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rodney Speed)

A man and woman are sitting in an office reading the same sheet of paper.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Airman 1st Class Blake Freedman, 78th Medical Group Public Health technician, and Kendra Hill, Robins Health Promotions dietician with the 78th MDG, review the results of Freedman’s body analysis at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Jan. 7, 2021. The analysis was performed with an In-Body analysis machine to determine a baseline for his weight management plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rodney Speed)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

As many people begin chasing the age-old New Year’s resolution of losing weight, Robins Air Force Base Health Promotions experts are letting people know they’re with them every step of the way.

January is National Healthy Weight Month.

While the journey to reaching and maintaining the ideal weight isn’t often easy, the Health Promotions team offers classes and programs to help people achieve their goals through the right combination of diet and exercise.

Kendra Hill, a registered dietitian with Robins Health Promotions, said healthy weight can be interpreted in many different ways.

“The Body Mass Index is a calculation used to determine if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese,” she said. “However, it does not take into consideration an individual’s muscle mass, fat mass or body frame. For example, the calculation for BMI may state that you are overweight, but if you have a large percentage of muscle mass, this would be inaccurate.”

Hill said the In-Body Analysis, offered in her office, can help in determining a person’s baseline and establishing a plan to reach the individual’s weight goals.

In addition, Hill offers a performance nutrition class, which is a general nutrition class for those interested in achieving a healthy weight or achieving other fitness and nutrition goals.

As far as diet goes, Hill said people should aim for at least three servings of non-starchy vegetables, two servings of fruit, choose lean/plant-based proteins, and consume whole grains to include 100% whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, quinoa, instead of refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, and choose lean/plant-based protein.

Hill said people should limit sugar and sweetened beverages to avoid extra calories and limit processed foods, such as cakes, cookies, chips, crackers and fried foods, which are empty- calorie foods with little to no nutritional benefit.

Finally, Hill said people should avoid fad diets, which may help a person lose weight quickly, but are unsustainable.

Nutrition is only one ingredient in the recipe for maintaining a healthy weight though.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a person should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity per week, spread throughout the week, exercising for at least a 10 minute interval each time.

The CDC also recommended to include at least two days a week of strength training, working all muscle groups.

Kevin Fallon, Health Promotions coordinator at Robins, went further to explain how to exercise to stay healthy.

“Always start off exercising with a proper warm up,” he said. “This will get the body ready for a more vigorous workout. I suggest walking at a faster than normal walking speed for about five to 10 minutes. After that, then they should be ready for their workout.”

Fallon said whether you choose running, speed walking, elliptical or swimming, the workout should be intense enough to reach your target heart rate range.

As you wind down, Fallon said the person should cool down by walking for about five to 10 minutes at a slow pace to allow both breathing and heart rate to return to normal.

People should follow the cool down with stretching, holding each stretch without bouncing for 30 seconds, Fallon said.

In addition to one-on-one personal training and group-based fitness training, Fallon teaches Physical Training Leader- Part A for those who want to lead squadron fitness and a running clinic to help people reduce their running time.

“Reaching your healthy weight can be a challenging task,” he said. “It is best to talk with a professional to point you in the right direction and make sure that you are doing what needs to be done from a healthy standpoint.”

Fallon said Airmen need to realize that they did not gain weight in one week, so they should not expect to lose their weight in one week.

“The rule of thumb is to lose one to two pounds per week, with a combination of diet and exercise,” he said.

Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is important for children and adults, Hill said.

“Healthy weight can reflect on your health status down the road,” she said. “If you are overweight or obese, this can put you at risk for several chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and more. This is especially true if you have a family history of certain chronic illnesses.”

Other factors, in addition to diet and exercise, play a role in maintaining a healthy weight, as well.

“Everyone is different and may need to do things differently to achieve a healthy weight,” Hill said. “It is important to make sure you are getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order to make the rest of your day productive.”

All active-duty military, beneficiaries and Defense Department civilians are eligible for base Health Promotions classes and services.