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Weeklong program enhances healthy living

The week of events kicks off Monday

Madigan Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Published: 12:00PM May 29th, 2014

We’ve all said it before. “This year, I’m going to live a healthier life.” We make activity calendars, download fitness apps on our phones, or print pages of recipes we found on Pintrest all with the goal to make “2014 the year I become a better me.”

And then, the inevitable happens. Life gets in the way. The daily grind of work responsibilities, family duties or hitting all of the Seattle hot spots with our battle buddies slowly creeps in and the all-too-familiar phrase, “I’ll start on Monday,” gets put on auto-play. There isn’t a chisel strong enough to chip out time in the schedule to hit the gym or go to the farmers market for fresh kale and strawberries.

Even the really physically active people find themselves stuck in a rut. Between yoga class and 5k runs, bike-to-works and jogging with Fluffy to the dog park, the idea of setting aside time for quality, healthy sleep sounds like a nightmare — there’s so many awesome boot camps and Zumba classes offered in the late evenings.

No matter how many diets we try, or how many gym memberships we buy (and then cancel and then buy again), being healthy is a lifestyle change. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s not guaranteed because we make a new year’s resolution and most of us don’t even know where to begin. As a military community, the constant changes we face – whether it is an upcoming PCS or preparing the unit for a deployment – the list of factors that block us from living healthy lifestyles is sometimes longer than a Commissary receipt on payday.

As the number of patients seen at military treatment facilities across the country started to rise due to issues related to sedentary lifestyles, poor diets and stress caused by fatigue, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army Surgeon General, made it her top priority to transform Army Medicine from a healthcare system to a System for Health that focuses on proactive, preventive treatment plans.

Medical providers are identifying unhealthy patterns and addressing health issues before they become health problems.

Enter the Performance Triad, a three-pronged program that focuses on the importance of sleep, nutrition and activity. While it may seem like common sense that these three factors play a critical role in maintaining a healthy life, how they affect the Army family in particular may not be as apparent.

On average, patients interact with their healthcare provider for about 100 minutes annually (20 minutes five times a year). The rest of the time is normal life, where health really happens for Soldiers, families Retirees and Army Civilians.

The decisions made before and after those 100 minutes determine how ready the troops are, how well little Junior performs at school, or how much work will get done at the office. The Performance Triad aims to fill those remaining 525,500 minutes with healthy options that keep the Army family comprehensively fit — physically, mentally and emotionally.

For some, a program centered on sleep discipline might sound really weird – for others, maybe a dream come true.

The Performance Triad emphasizes the importance of quality sleep and offers tips to maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern. Simple things like lighting control, temperature and noise can work wonders for a person wanting quality sleep. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on a fancy mattress, adjusting habits like eating a light snack before bedtime or moving the TV out of the room can increase a person’s sleep quality.

According to sleep expert, Col. William Frey, even doing something as facing the alarm clock away from you can increase your sleep quality. Anxiety builds and people tend to wake up in the middle of the night to see how much time they have left before they need to prepare for the day.

The Nutrition program of the Performance Triad encourages leaders to live and promote healthy eating habits. Having a healthy diet improves endurance and stamina and is an important attribute of a ready and resilient force.

The body mass index has increased over time among both recruits and Soldiers in operational units. The obesity rate among adult Army family members is 32.5% and has become a growing cause for health issues requiring medical attention.

In Army children, that number varies between 8.5% and 14%. Healthy eating plays a key factor in a person’s performance and appearance.

The Performance Triad offers tips on viewing food as part of a person’s physical conditioning. Just as people plan their workouts, vacations or wardrobe for the week, so too should they plan their meals.

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skim and low fat dairy and lean protein is just one way of maintaining a healthy diet and achieving weight and fitness goals.

At Madigan, implementing the Performance Triad provides an opportunity to educate, engage and inspire the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community to be proactive about healthy lifestyles. One of the main goals is to partner with unit and team leaders to develop mindsets and behaviors that encourage subordinates to optimize their personal health, performance and resilience. People think, feel and perform better when their bodies are well nourished, rested and healthy.

Understanding and encouraging this idea will enable leaders to maintain a force ready and capable to answer the nation’s call, not to mention increase team cohesion and unit morale.

The Armywide Performance Triad Kickoff week is June 2 to 6 with a number of guest speakers, displays and information on the Madigan Medical Mall ground floor.

Throughout the year, Madigan will be sponsoring special events, programs and educational classes that support the Performance Triad. Some events include a team competition centered on the number of steps taken per day, cooking classes demonstrating nutrition recipes on a budget and a “selfie” challenge anytime you notice a Performance Triad program — sleep, nutrition and activity — being implemented.

While the goal of the Performance Triad is to create healthy lifestyles that result in a ready force, the program is not military-personnel specific. Part of creating that ready force is focusing on family health to support and encourage the troops.

Whether you’re a Crossfit rookie with a goal of doing a single handstand push-up, a Starbucks connoisseur intent on ordering only skinny vanilla lattes with no whip, or a recovering 2 a.m. Call of Duty camper, the Performance Triad can provide you with tips, activity plans and overall support to get you and the Army family living healthy lives.