U.S. Army pilot program initiatives promote health of force, families

Story by David Vergun, Army News Service
The U.S. Army's Performance Triad focuses on nutrition, sleep and activity -- all essential for improving the health, readiness and resilience of the Army family. (DOD graphic by Peggy Frierson)

The U.S. Army’s Performance Triad focuses on nutrition, sleep and activity — all essential for improving the health, readiness and resilience of the Army family. (DOD graphic by Peggy Frierson)

Fitness is getting a boost at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., with some new initiatives that promise better health and performance.

The Army’s first Performance Triad pilot course is in its second week at JBLM, and a new wellness center opens next month at Jensen Family Health and Fitness Center.

The Performance Triad and the wellness center actually go hand-in-hand, said Teresa Bruder, a registered nurse and the center’s director. The triad’s focus on nutrition, sleep and activity are also the focus of the professionals who work at the wellness center and the Jensen facility.

The wellness center is staffed with personal fitness trainers, health educators and technicians, exercise physiologists and nurses. Although the center officially opens next month, some staff members are already working with Soldiers and family members.

Among these is Lynn Larson, a registered nurse. When she took the job, she said she realized that if she could share her own story of fitness success with Soldiers, it would make her that much more effective.

So over the course of two years, she changed her eating habits and began an exercise program, losing 70 pounds in the process, with a goal of losing 40 more.

She and her boyfriend modified a treadmill to fit under her office workstation. When she’s doing paperwork, she walks on the treadmill. At first, she said it took some getting used to. But after a while, she could type on her computer without any problems and could focus on her work even better than before.

Lynn Larson, who works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's wellness center, provides a healthy sampling of nutritious food, which helps people wanting to lose weight. She shares recipes with Soldiers and family members. (DOD photo by David Vergun)

Lynn Larson, who works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s wellness center, provides a healthy sampling of nutritious food, which helps people wanting to lose weight. She shares recipes with Soldiers and family members. (DOD photo by David Vergun)

As to her eating habits, she said she still eats until she’s full but she substituted unhealthy foods with healthier choices, including a good variety of nuts, fruits and vegetables and lean cuts of meat. In the process, she’s come up with her own recipes, which she said she shares with Soldiers and family members, who in turn often come back to share their own.

Beside her desk is a refrigerator with plastic containers of healthy food, which she offers to patients in sample sizes to show that eating healthy can also mean eating enjoyably.

Changing Lives

Small changes in diet and exercise are often all it takes, she said, for Soldiers to lose weight and increase their fitness levels.

Larson gets emotional when she recalls the Soldiers she’s helped turn around. Spc. Brandee Wastun is one such Soldier.

Wastun, an intelligence analyst, was set to get a promotion to sergeant after passing the Army Physical Fitness Test. Then, she was transferred to another unit and was required to take the test again just two weeks later, she said. This time, she failed the weight requirement, coming in at 192 pounds.

“I was devastated,” she said. Larson recalls that Wastun was in tears when she came to see her.

Wastun was already on a good exercise program, Larson said, “so we looked at her diet and made a few adjustments with healthier food; not a starvation diet or anything faddish or foolish.”

Right away, Wastun started losing weight dropping 21 pounds. Now she’s on the road to 140, her “dream” weight.

Spc. Brandee Wastun, an intelligence analyst, shows a bar graph of weight loss provided by her nurse, Lynn Larson, who works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s wellness center. Larson gives Soldiers like Wastun nutritional advice that helps them shed pounds. (DOD photo by David Vergun)

Spc. Brandee Wastun, an intelligence analyst, shows a bar graph of weight loss provided by her nurse, Lynn Larson, who works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s wellness center. Larson gives Soldiers like Wastun nutritional advice that helps them shed pounds. (DOD photo by David Vergun)

“Passing tape” this time put Wastun back into the zone for promotion, but it would first require approval from her commander and her first sergeant, who she described as “pretty tough, no-nonsense Soldiers.”

But she said she thinks they saw how determined and motivated she was, in addition to the visible results of her effort, so she got their nod and is now back in the running for sergeant, hoping to pin it on soon.

“Getting flagged for promotion was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she admitted, “and seeing Nurse Larson of course.”

Instead of crying and thinking “poor me, I now want to maintain my lifestyle and continue to feel good about myself, promotion or not.”

Learn more about the Performance Triad at http://www.army.mil/standto/archive_2013-03-12/.

 

  • Michelle murray

    Hello.. I need urgent information regarding a soldier.. Name of Ssgt Wayne K Menendez… Does this soldier exist? Suposively serving at Sandad Air Base. garmsir Camp… I need to know urgently if he is a real soldier as i may have been scammed by someone using his photo. If you know please help me.