BMI Challenge: A beginning to a better lifestyle

by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness
Ramstein Public Affairs

With the Air Force’s changes to the physical training program, the 435th Air Base Wing has also been promoting the “Fit to Fight” attitude.

Ending in late June, the Body Mass Index Challenge brought not only awareness to servicemembers, but four people were awarded for losing the most body mass throughout the wing.

There were two winners, an enlisted member and an officer, and a second and third place winner, said Maj. Lisa Tauai, Health Promotion Flight commander.

For one winner, staying constant was a difficult part of the challenge.

“The hardest part was definitely being consistent and not giving up,” said Airman 1st Class Yelizaveta Sessom, 435th Services Squadron fitness apprentice. “There were days when I felt like not doing anything. I couldn’t break my routine because I knew I would regret it, plus I wasn’t going to waste all the hard work I had put in.”

For another winner, staying committed to the program was difficult.

“Making a commitment and sticking to it was the challenge for me,” said Maj. Mark Kromer, 435th Medical Group general surgeon, who lost 20 pounds and had a 2.79 point drop in his BMI. “While it was tough, the outcomes really paid off.”

For many, their decision to join the competition was fueled by one thing – motivation.

“I had a couple of weddings to go to back home, so I bought pants two sizes too small,” Major Kromer said. “It really showed me what I was working toward.”
Although motivation was a great factor in losing the weight, desire to change everyday habits added to the winners’ success.

“I had to change my eating habits, cut out soda and chips and replace it with juices and fruits,” said Airman Sessom, who achieved a 16.4 pound weight loss with a 2.57 point reduction in her BMI. “As far as working out, I had to do a lot of cardio not just occasional pedaling on the bike.”

While the purpose of the challenge was to get military members to lead a healthy life, it also gave many people knowledge about nutrition and exercise they did not know.

 “Although BMI is not the ideal assessment tool when used alone, it is very valuable in combination with other assessment tools to learn our members’ degree of future chronic disease risk,” Major Tauai said. “High risk members can then be assisted in an effort to potentially prevent the occurrence of chronic diseases in the future.

The BMI Challenge undoubtedly made our members more aware of what lifestyle modifications are required to achieve weight loss and a reduction in their BMI.

Now that the challenge is over, the hardest part for the competitors will be to keep up the routine of a healthy lifestyle.

“Staying fit over the long term takes dedication and discipline,” Major Tauai said. “In order to remain fit to fight, adopting a healthy lifestyle that encompasses good nutrition, regular exercise and a tobacco-free lifestyle must be made a priority.

If these are made personal priorities, staying fit now and long into the future become much easier to obtain.”