LRMC shapes up in Leaner LRMC Challenge

by Chuck Roberts
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

Capt. Tobin Rader logged more than 1 million steps as a participant in the Leaner LRMC Challenge. As the overall points winner, however, his walk to work is now only a mere 50 paces — the distance from the commander’s parking space to his office door.

Priority access to the commander’s parking space for a month is one of the prizes awarded to Rader, an executive officer who dropped 9 pounds and 4 inches from his waistline during the 10-week challenge. He also received a $10 gift card to the LRMC Dining Facility, a free day off and a fitness watch to help keep track of his future healthy lifestyle progress.

Other outstanding achievers were individual weight loss winner Sgt. 1st Class Alicia Persondek, who lost 10 percent of her body weight, and The Swole Factory placing first among 26 teams for weight loss and points. Team Swole, comprising Sgt. Joshua Urtz, Pfc. Zachary Panchella and Spc. Fernando Reza, lost 5.2 percent of their body weight and averaged 464.7 points per member.

They were among 109 fellow LRMC staffers who successfully completed the challenge and lost more than 200 inches from their waistline and a collective 450 pounds, about the equivalence of a tiger, a Shetland pony, large ape or adult green sea turtle.  Everyone who showed improvement received a day off and a fitness watch.

Shedding pounds and inches weren’t the only health benefits accomplished by the staff. Daily averages and overall totals for all participants included:

• Sleep:  7.1 hours daily — 34,720 total
• Minutes of exercise: 40.5 minutes — 199,237 total
• Daily servings of fruits and veggies: 5.4 servings — 26,674 total
• Daily servings of 8-ounce glasses of water: 7.8 glasses — 38,378 total

Compared with a self-assessment survey taken by participants before Leaner LRMC kicked off, the two most disparate categories were for sleep and exercise. Participants estimated they averaged 9.3 hours of sleep each night compared with their actual 7.1, and they also overestimated their minutes of daily exercise, guessing 56.9 versus an actual 40.5.

The 10-week challenge focused on improving the nutrition, activity and sleep habits of LRMC staffers and their family members. In addition to weight loss, challengers also accrued performance points for activities, such as attending classes and cooking demonstrations, participating in the Color Me Green 5K Run, tracking their Performance Triad habits, and undergoing metabolic testing at the Army Wellness Center.

The LRMC Dining Facility also introduced an “Under 500” meal to highlight healthier choices at lunch and dinner and offered a healthy vending machine that provided soup, salads, sandwiches, yogurt and other healthier options 24 hours a day.

Rader said the timing of the Leaner LRMC Challenge came at the right moment in his life.
“Being new to the LRMC family and promising myself a great 2014, I decided to get involved in any activities that sparked my interest,” he said. “I was totally shocked to win. I thought for sure I was in the running but never thought I would end up winning. Persistence pays off!”

The timing was also right for Persondek who had slowly packed on 15 extra pounds the past 2 ½ years and knew it was time to “get back to being healthy.” She said she likes the feel of being 15 pounds lighter and intends to keep it that way.

“Everything is easier; physical training is easier, lifting things is easier, playing, shopping is easier,” Persondek said. “I feel better, look better. It was worth the time spent on it … I learned a lot about myself, my body, things that work and things that don’t work. I know I can continue, because I choose to make it a priority for me.”

It was also a step in the right direction for Panchella, who said he benefitted from the team aspect of the challenge.

“Winning the challenge is one of the best things that has happened thus far in my short Army career,” he said. “I have fantastic NCO leadership in Sergeant Urtz, and he reassured me several times that if you work hard enough toward any goal in the Army, you will surely be rewarded for the hard work. This victory is a testament to that statement. It will surely play a role in my future success and has helped establish a foundation of hard work for future challenges that are placed before me.”

To learn more about the Performance Triad and tips on improving your nutrition, sleep and healthy activities, visit