FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas (Sept. 24, 2020) — Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, stay-at-home orders and closed gyms have contributed to unhealthy habits that for some people have led to what’s become known as the “COVID-15” — unwanted weight gain.
The Army Wellness Center and Munson Army Health Center have resources to help get people back on track.
“Being out of routine as well as not having some of our normal support systems in place, whether it be our co-workers supporting our healthy lifestyle, the gyms, some of our friends and family at the gyms that keep us on track and keep us motivated, I think has played a part in the COVID-15,” said Tessa Brophy, Army Wellness Center director. “We already struggle as a society to be active and hit some of those recommendations for activities and nutrition, so it’s important to get back on track with your activity levels and your nutrition, not only to support your overall health and well-being, but as a military member or someone supporting the military —that’s our fight.”
Marcy Sedwick, registered and licensed dietitian at Munson Army Health Center, said the pandemic caused stress and anxiety, which led many people to stress eat and snack more.
According to a survey taken by Food Insight, one in three people reported snacking more, 33 percent reported snacking more when bored or not hungry, and 32 percent reported eating more snacks when alone.
Sedwick said there are several ways to combat the urge to snack.
“We want people to think about hunger and fullness level and use the skills that our bodies already have,” Sedwick said. “It’s about mindful eating verses mindless eating and engaging your five senses.”
As various organizations on post begin to reopen, the AWC and MAHC are beginning to reopen services to help patrons to get back on track.
AWC offers metabolic assessment and body composition, individual stress management sessions, health coaching, and several health education classes, including upping metabolism, meals in minutes, fueling for health, staying fit home and away, healthy sleep habits and more.
As patrons return, Brophy said, AWC is encouraging them to take it slow.
“Something that we are really emphasizing for military and civilians is slowly, safely and progressively getting back into exercise because our bodies may have been more sedentary over the last six months,” Brophy said. “We’re encouraging people to come set up exercise programs with our health educators so that our health educators can assess their current fitness level and then help them build a solid foundation again before they get back into the swing of things with their physical fitness.”
To set up an appointment, call (913) 758-3403. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, certain parts of the appointments will be virtual.
While AWC has resources to assess physical needs, MAHC has the resources to take care of nutrition and mental health needs with the Wellness for Life program.
“Wellness for Life is a research-based program to help you achieve weight loss in a safe, but effective manner,” according to a program description provided by MAHC. “Here at Munson Army Health Center, we are interested in the whole person and how body systems affect one another. We are committed to helping you take control of your health by providing the services for making long-term changes that improve your overall health.”
The program, which incorporates the AWC with nutrition, physical therapy, psychology, pharmacy, nursing and primary care providers, is a 12-month program that starts with an orientation offered every fourth Wednesday and Thursday of the month.
Hannah Dickins, MAHC primary care provider, said there is room for growth in each area of the program.
“There are a lot of things that the pandemic has shown where we are weak as an American society,” Dickins said. “There is a lot that we need to learn and expand on in our education, how to cook, how to cook healthy meals, right portion control and then how to manage our anxiety and stress (in a healthy way).”
Sedwick said the program is meant to focus on the journey.
“Enjoy the journey,” Sedwick said. “People can get down if they have to lose weight, but it’s an opportunity to focus on a healthier lifestyle and have more energy and just enjoy that new habit, that new routine. Think about the fact that you’re upgrading your health and give yourself some time to make these changes happen.”
Because of COVID-19, in-person classes are limited to eight participants, and one-on-one appointments are offered both in-person and virtually throughout the course of the program.
The next orientation is 1-2 p.m. Oct. 21 and noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 22 at MAHC. To register, call 684-6250.