DVIDS – News – Fueling Body to Optimize Performance important component of Total Force Fitness


By Jean Clavette Graves

BJACH Public Affairs Officer

FORT POLK, La. — Nutritional and physical fitness go hand in hand. For optimal performance, Soldiers must have the strength, stamina and conditioning necessary to succeed on and off the battlefield. The total force fitness domain looks at a Soldiers ability to physically accomplish the mission without injury and to sustain performance through appropriate quantities and quality of food, beverages and supplements.

1st Lt. Rebecca Prince, chief of nutrition care division and a registered dietician for Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital said that nutritional fitness is the foundation for physical fitness, health and longevity.

Prince said learning to eat healthy is not complicated, understanding the basics is all it takes to experience the benefits of proper nutrition.

“Nutrition helps reduce the risk of chronic illnesses,” she said. “If you want to live a long and prosperous life, while continuing to enjoy an active lifestyle as you age, proper nutrition will help you get there.”

She said a good nutritional foundation is one of the most important things a person can do for themselves.

“We experience nutrition every single day of our lives,” she said. “Food and water are basic human needs, understanding the importance of our choices will ultimately allow us to live long and healthy lives.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher Gadson a nutrition care specialist at BJACH works closely with dieticians to assist patients and Soldiers with their individual nutritional needs.

“My job is understanding how to fuel for performance, supplementation, and assisting patients with nutrient timing,” said Gadson. “The best way to maintain nutritional fitness is to understand what your body needs.”

He said food fuels performance and the right “fuel” helps you perform at your best. A good diet isn’t just healthy and nutritious, it must be sustainable.

Gadson said understanding your nutritional needs in relation to your physical goals is an important first step towards fitness and weight management.

“Regardless of your objectives sitting down with a dietician can be very productive,” he explained. “The dietician will help you calculate your micro and macro nutrients, give you advice on supplements and help you figure out how to cut carbs, fat and sugar in your meals.”

Staff Sgt. James Mattson, as an occupational therapy specialist and certified occupational therapy assistant said he helps patients develop, recover, improve and maintain skills necessary for daily living and working.

“Physical fitness is absolutely necessary for all human beings and very important to me personally,” he said. “I like to say, motion is the lotion; as you move your body you burn calories, your joints loosen up, your muscles including your brain get moving. Physical fitness keeps all of your internal systems running smoothly.”

Mattson said physical fitness is more than your body mass index, run time, or how many push-ups you can do. To optimize your physical fitness you need strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance all working together. He explained that each element of the total force fitness ideology is important and they are all interrelated.

“Fitness is a very important part of my life. It is the most under used stress regulation and reduction method available,” he said. “I’ve learned that if you get a good night sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy breakfast each day, you can face anything in life.”

Mattson said fitness and nutrition have helped him through difficult times in his life. He said prioritizing fitness in your own life is the only way to make it a habit.

“There is a high prevalence of healthy activities for Soldiers at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk,” he said. “There is a lot opportunity to form holistic and healthy habits for Soldiers here.”

Mattson said setting aside time for healthful habits is good start to achieve physical and nutritional goals. He said, positive sleep habits, a nutritious diet and daily physical activity will enhance overall well-being.

The Fort Polk Army Wellness Center offers a variety of free classes and prevention services to promote a healthy lifestyle and improved health and wellness for Soldiers, Department of the Army civilian employees, Family members and retirees.

Eric Middleton, supervisory health educator with the AWC, said there are a lot of facets to nutritional and physical fitness.

“You are what you eat. If you make poor nutritional choices it will affect your performance,” he said. “We try to teach our clients to prep nutritionally, create healthier options for themselves which in turn builds a framework for success. Providing higher quality fuel for the body will enhance cognitive, spiritual and physical performance.”

Middleton said the Army Wellness Center provides a comprehensive approach to overall health and fitness. He said his staff offers classes on stress management, nutrition education, sleep hygiene and a performance optimization curriculum.

“We look at individuals on a holistic spectrum,” he explained. “We talk to clients individually and help them make small changes to achieve their goals. We are able to use scientific measurements to let the client know where they currently are and help them make choices to achieve their goals.”

He said that unlike dieticians the staff at the Army Wellness Center are exercise scientists.

“We take a comprehensive approach to address a client’s needs,” he said. “We look at all aspects of an individual’s behaviors, nutrition, stress, fitness and overall well-being. We help our clients see the impact of their choices on a physical, cognitive and performance level with a variety of different factors.”

He said they don’t direct clients what to do, they help them identify small changes that will facilitate the achievement of their goals. Clients are able to pick and choose what will works for them and sit-down with staff members every 30 days to reassess and make adjustments to benefit their overall health.

“Taking care of yourself and putting yourself first is important,” he said. “If you don’t invest time in your health now, you’ll be force to invest for your health later on in life.”

Middleton encourages everyone to invest a little bit of time in their health each day. He recommends eating right and exercising daily as the first step to optimal health and performance.

Editor’s note: To learn more about Total Force Fitness visit https://www.health.mil/News/In-the-Spotlight/Total-Force-Fitness. To schedule an appointment at the Army Wellness Center call 337-531-3055. BJACH Dieticians are available to all Tricare beneficiaries, ask your primary care manager for more information and for a referral.

Date Taken: 01.08.2021
Date Posted: 01.08.2021 13:18
Story ID: 386602
Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

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