Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Military spouse Stacy Secrest said she battled with her weight for several years. She said she would try a “crash” diet, lose 15 pounds and then gain it right back. Then, not only would she gain it back, she said, she would gain even more. Something had to change.

“Being overweight and depressed and everything that goes along with being unhealthy, it isn’t good and it isn’t good for my family,” Secrest said.

Then, she said she visited the Army Wellness Center, began the initial process and by learning about proper nutrition, ways to exercise and the importance of rest, she has lost 70 pounds in two years.

“By following proper nutrition and getting my body to where it needs to be, it is making me a happier person and therefore making my family happier, too,” Secrest said.

While Secrest has been able to keep the 70 pounds off, she said her progress began to slow down.

“I got stuck and just couldn’t do it anymore and thought ‘what can I do?’” Secrest said. “I’m going back to nutrition.”

That’s when Secrest said she learned about another resource on Fort Leavenworth — Munson Army Health Center’s Fit for Performance classes. She attended her third of four sessions Jan. 7.

According to the class description provided by MAHC, Fit for Performance is a “scientifically based lifestyle and behavior modification program designed to help soldiers, Army beneficiaries, and (Department of the Army) civilians lose weight, improve military readiness and job performance, and lower his or her risk of weight-related diseases.”

The program, taught by Marcy Sedwick, MAHC registered and licensed dietitian, involves four one-hour sessions from 3-4 p.m. every Tuesday.

“(The program) has you think about what foods you can eat. It helps you self-monitor and assess your own health habits,” Sedwick said. “It helps you be in contact with a professional, and it helps you sustain these habits for the long haul and not for a short period of time.”

Each class focuses on a different topic. Session one focuses on the steps to weight loss success.

“Session one is about getting organized, setting up a weight loss goal and figuring out their homework like a food diary,” Sedwick said. “We try to get them to set up some SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals in session No. 1.”

Sedwick said participants are also given an action plan sheet, which helps patients target nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress management.

“A patient can pick one thing, several things or all things,” Sedwick said.

Session two focuses on supportive environments.

“We talk about wherever you are hanging out, wherever you are sleeping, working, playing, you need to be able to pick healthy things,” Sedwick said. “Whether you’re traveling, at a restaurant, at home, you’re going to be exposed to a lot of food and a lot of calories. It is important to know healthy options and unhealthy options.”

Session three focuses on the psychological side of weight loss.

“That talks about mindful eating versus mindless eating and getting involved with assessing your hunger. How hungry are you?” Sedwick asked. “Mindful eating is only at the table. … Get your five senses involved and give yourself permission to eat that delicious food.”

Session four focuses on managing stress.

“People can do some emotional eating so it is about treating those instances with healthy, coping mechanisms and not food,” Sedwick said. “Self-help would be our hobbies, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises or yoga — things that can manage your stress.”

Secrest, who has attended the first three sessions, said she has learned a lot about menu planning and how practicing proper nutrition is beneficial in many situations.

“I have children that are underweight with me being overweight,” Secrest said. “By having the balanced diet, it has helped my children gain weight and helped me lose weight, so it truly is the right thing.”

The Fit for Performance classes are free and open to all MAHC beneficiaries who are 18 or older. For active-duty soldiers who are on the weight-control program or the Army Body Composition Program, the program fulfills his or her required appointment with a dietitian. To make an appointment, call the MAHC appointment line at 684-6250.

“I’ve done it,” Secrest said. “I’m a success story, and I’m going to stay a success story.”

Registered Dietician Marcy Sedwick listens to Sgt. David Heng, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention), talk about powerlifting as Fit for Performance participants share some ways that they are physically active during session one of the weight management and lifestyle change program Jan. 7 at Munson Army Health Center. The four-session Fit for Performance program includes methodology, tips and support on weight loss success in session one, creating supportive environments in session two, analyzing overeating and mindless eating in session three, and managing stress in session four. The classes are offered from 3-4 p.m. Tuesdays each month. Call 684-6250 to sign up for the sessions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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