An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Fitness program changes civilian’s life

  • Published
  • By Steve Thurow
  • 311th Human Systems Wing
Diana Harmon was startled awake by her cat standing on her chest, pawing at her face. The cat was trying to get Ms. Harmon to breathe.

Weighing 270 pounds she suffered from sleep apnea and not wanting to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, she sought alternative means. She went to the Brooks Health and Wellness Center for help.

Civilian Health Promotion Service Coordinator Diana Gonzales started seeing Ms. Harmon and after initial assessments, a fitness program was mapped out.

Ms. Harmon wasn't thrown into an aerobics class and left to suffer until her goals were met. It was determined that a healthy start for her to would involve seven minutes of cardio-vascular exercise on a stationary bike. That's less time than all the commercials that appear during a half-hour TV show.

Ms. Harmon has made exceptional progress over the past two years. She has dropped 115 pounds, is down to a size 10 and does up to an hour and a half on an elliptical trainer. Now she wants to work out, even needs to workout. If she has had a bad day she'll get a babysitter so she can go to the gym. Two years ago her children couldn't get their arms around her to give her a hug. Today her 15 year old son gives her hugs and tells her that she's little. That makes Harmon feel great.

By using all of the resources available to her at the HAWC, Ms. Harmon learned that there are four dimensions of human wellness: physical, emotional, social and spiritual. When you're healthy in all four areas, you're a healthy person.

"It's a relationship that help keeps you motivated and a group that's there to encourage you when you don't feel like going in to workout. You don't have to do it alone," said Ms. Harmon.

She learned that important lesson after two months of working out. When Ms. Harmon was depressed, food was her companion. After the initial two months she experienced emptiness from the loss of that companion. She spent the next three months fighting the addiction and turned to scrapbooking to occupy the time, time she spent eating in front of the TV.

It was a better approach than dieting.

"Diet is a four letter word," said Ms. Gonzales. "Diets starve the body. When the body is starving it saves every calorie that it can as fat."

That ties in with a January announcement by the Federal Trade Commission that the commission was fining four diet pill companies $25 million for false advertising claims. Fad diets drop large amounts of weight, but without lifestyle changes the weight will not stay off.

Ms. Gonzalez said that by following a fitness program, it's reasonable to lose one to two pounds a week and be able to keep it off.