Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Munson Army Health Center has a team of subject matter experts ready and available to all MAHC beneficiaries who want help reaching their health and weight-loss goals with the 12-month Wellness for Life program.
“Wellness for Life is a research-based program to help you achieve weight loss in a safe, but effective manner,” according to a program description provided by MAHC. “Here at Munson Army Health Center, we are interested in the whole person and how body systems affect one another. We are committed to helping you take control of your health by providing the services for making long-term changes that improve your overall health.”
The program, which is now in its second year, begins with a group orientation every fourth Wednesday and Thursday of the month.
“We like them to get started with this group orientation class,” said Marcy Sedwick, MAHC registered and licensed dietitian. “It is really about learning what services we have and you thinking about what areas you are ready to commit to and sign up for and use those services.
“It is a collaborative, multi-discipline effort,” she said. “Everybody needs something different, so that’s half the battle is knowing what you need.”
The orientation includes briefings about seven different services provided at MAHC and those services’ role in the program.
Primary care providers
In the provider portion of the orientation, Hannah Dickins, MAHC primary care provider, spoke to participants about obesity, saying that in the Department of Defense alone, 61-83 percent of beneficiaries are considered overweight with a body mass index of 25-29.9 or obese with a BMI of 30 or higher.
“Studies have shown that the higher the number, the more problems we are most likely to have occur,” Dickins said.
Some of the health problems obese people are at risk for include sleep apnea, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and several types of cancer.
“There is good news,” Dickins said. “Research also shows that with a 12-month program (like Wellness for Life) of trying to get these goals in place, you will be able to achieve a wellness for life, a better quality of life.”
Lynne Sepulvado, population health nurse, said her main WFL responsibility is to be there for weigh-ins or to discuss diet and exercise routines.
“We can do a quick weigh-in or we can sit and discuss what you are eating, what kind of exercise you’re doing,” Sepulvado said. “I can be your cheerleader.”
Program participant Barb Eikmeier said she was interested in the population health portion.
“It is for accountability,” Eikmeier said. “I know that I always do better when I have somebody watching.”
Dr. Hodges Glenn, integrated behavioral health consultant, said his role is motivational interviewing with three words in mind — thoughts, feelings and actions.
“They govern everything that we do as humans,” Glenn said. “How you think about it, how you feel and then, consequently, how you act. Many times, I’ve heard people in leadership roles or parental roles — it is not what you say but it is what you do.
“With this process, people get stuck and getting stuck is the difficult part because stuck includes these unhealthy behaviors,” he said. “Many times, it is attached to unhealthy thought, dysfunctional thought, and many times there are all sorts of lifestyles or triggers or events that have helped compound it.”
Glenn said motivational interviewing is designed to combat those triggers.
“It is designed to get people to do what they really want to do in the first place, and to get them feeling good about what it is they want to do, feeling empowered and saying, ‘OK, I recognize the problems,’” he said.
Eikmeier said she appreciates Glenn’s portion, too.
“I have done weight loss programs before, but I always go back to the same weight after a period of time, and so I think that I probably need to go a little deeper into why this is happening,” she said. “Why do I have bad eating habits? I think he can help me find some insight on that.”
Army Wellness Center
The Army Wellness Center offers advanced testing equipment including fitness testing, biofeedback and a bod pod, which calculates a patient’s percentage of body fat. The center also has resources to help with weight management, stress and fitness.
Weight-loss medications are an option for the program, but there are conditions. Patients must be in the program for three months before starting weight-loss medications; however, patients must pay for it out of their own pocket. TRICARE will not pay for weight-loss medication until a patient is consistently in the program for six months.
For those who want to try weight-loss medications, Dr. Marketa Lanier, clinical pharmacist, said she can discuss which medications are appropriate for each patient and realistic expectations.
“We’d discuss how much weight are you expected to lose on them so you don’t end up disappointed,” Lanier said.
When it comes to diet, Sedwick said it is important to stay within the five food groups — vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy.
“We have to eat every day, so it is really important to know the healthy foods that should be on your plate and know what you can be eating,” Sedwick said.
Vegetables should be the biggest portion of a meal, she said.
“Homework in here is to keep a food diary to know how many calories you’re eating,” Sedwick said. “Tracking calories is very helpful.”
The key, Sedwick said, is to set up a realistic weight loss goal of 5-10 percent of a patient’s current body weight.
To help patients stay on track, Sedwick also teaches a Fit for Performance class from 3-4 p.m. every Tuesday, which is a four-class series with a different topic every week. For more information, visit https://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/community/2020/01/09/fit-for-performance-focuses-on-nutrition/.
The final portion of the program is physical therapy, which helps patients maintain strength or treat injuries that might occur.
“Our role in this is if you’re having pain — low back pain, foot pain, shoulder pain — and can’t get back to physical activity,” said Courtney Williams, physical therapist. “You do not need to see your provider to come see us.”
Program participant Debbie Lohman said the orientation was informative.
“I had no idea what (MAHC) even offered, so I thought it was great,” Lohman said. “It is wonderful that they’re doing a full package. They all seem very knowledgeable and wanting to help everyone.”
The next Wellness for Life Program orientation is at 1 p.m. Feb. 26 on the first floor of MAHC. For more information or to sign up, call 684-6250.