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A Fit/Strong Weight Management Course is available to active duty military members on the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the Nutrition Outpatient Conference room at Walter Reed Bethesda.
"It is to educate our active duty in proper nutrition and fitness behaviors so they can be mission capable and ready at all times," explained Navy Lt. Nelson Guadalupe, chief, Outpatient Clinical Nutrition Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), and coordinator for the course.
As an instructor of the nutrition portion of the course, he believes it is tailored for those service members who may have failed a PT (physical training) test and would like to fulfill the requirement for nutrition and exercise education to better their PT scores.
Travis Combest, an exercise physiologist at WRNMMC, teaches the fitness portion of the course, focusing on ways service members can improve their PT times and scores, as well as their readiness posture.
"The key to a healthy lifestyle is finding balance — balanced eating and working out effectively," Combest said. He explained an effective physical activity program includes a "dynamic" warm-up, cardiovascular training, a cool-down, muscular strength/endurance training, and flexibility training.
Examples of a dynamic warm-up include walking, a light jog, high knees and butt kicks. Cardiovascular training can include running, biking, swimming and aerobic activity. Examples of cool-down include a slow jog, walking and low level aerobic activity. Weight work, push-ups and sit-ups are examples of muscular strength/endurance training and stretching improves flexibility.
Combest said training for cardiovascular endurance should be three to five days per week for 30 to 60 minutes per session at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Training for muscular strength and endurance should be at least two days per week for a minimum of 20 minutes for eight to 10 major muscle groups performing two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions per exercise. Stretching should be performed after warming up and working out. There should be one stretch for each major muscle group, and the stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds so that there is mild tension, but not pain.
In order to have a successful physical activity program, Combest said, "Keep it positive, motivating, and set realistic and attainable goals. Try to find something you get a passion for and that will motivate you to continue."
Guadalupe explained the performance benefits of good nutrition include enhanced ability to training and performance; improved concentration; increased energy level; increased endurance; shortened recovery time; and an overall general good feeling. He added key points for good nutrition is to "keep your total body fueled with a mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat each day for optimal performance, focusing on fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals."
It’s also important to keep hydrated, especially with water, before, during and after activity, Guadalupe said.
"The class is just a stepping stone," Guadalupe said. "It is a multi-dimensional environment in which the service member can learn a lot of new things in the class to help with their fitness and nutrition."
Spc. Jacob Owens attended the class to improve his overall fitness after rehabilitating from injuries he suffered last year in Afghanistan. He broke the femur bone in his left leg and the orbital bone in his right eye, and suffered a pulmonary embolism in his lungs. "Most of that has healed, but I picked up a lot of weight due to the medication," he explained. "Now I’m working into getting back into shape [with] "a good strategy for getting my weight down."
Sgt. Rodolfo Bonilla said he came to the class to learn more about nutrition and how he can improve his eating practices. "I’ve had a lot of questions about what’s good, what’s bad, what’s recommended as opposed to what you see on television, and what I can change and improve," he explained.
Spc. Lindsey Powers explained she works out regularly and wants to "get to the next level" in her fitness by improving her nutrition. "I’m hoping to figure out strategies for getting beyond the plateau I’ve been on the last few months and continue to build my fitness level so that I’m at a point I’m physically happy with my body."
A referral is not necessary to attend the course, but interested participants should call Outpatient Nutrition Services at 301-295-4065 to sign up to attend. The class is also available for units by calling Outpatient Nutrition Services, or emailing Robin Revell at