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Health promotion makes healthy choices easier

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chance D. Nardone
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Assessing an entire wing’s physical health and implementing evidence-based programs to influence healthy lifestyle change is a difficult task for one office.

This is the unique challenge for Anna Ojczyk, the health promotion program coordinator for the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.

As the sole member of the health promotion office, Ojczyk does her best to educate, assist and prevent any adverse outcomes in the wing’s physical readiness caused by nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and tobacco and nicotine products.

One evidence-based program Ojczyk started at Grand Forks Air Force Base is a nutrition focused commissary tour for first-term airmen who are fresh out of basic training and technical school.

“I wanted to give the young airmen the opportunity to actually walk through the commissary and talk about affordable ways to eat healthy,” Ojczyk said. “They’re in the store picking up fruit and vegetables; we’re talking about choosing lean meats, how to make a baked potato in the microwave, how to choose your fruit, compare prices, and how to read nutrition labels.”

Not all of her programs are focused on groups; the health promotion office also provides more individual care. The InBody 570 Body Composition Analyzer affords airmen the ability to assess their current body composition.

“The InBody helps give you a good idea of where your body is at,” Ojczyk said. “I have people who come trying to lose weight, people who are trying to gain muscle and people with all sorts of different goals.”

The body composition tool is a much better indicator of where a person’s body is at compared to a scale said frequent InBody user, Capt. Cody Cheyne, a bioenvironmental engineer with the 319th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron.

“At one point, I was using the InBody once a week,” Cheyne said. “It’s a tool that gives you a good idea of how your workouts are working for you and allows you to create a plan for yourself.”

Once a user steps off the InBody, it provides an overall body composition analysis printout that includes a person’s weight broken into total water weight, dry lean mass and body fat mass. The InBody also provides a muscle-fat analysis, obesity analysis, a segmental lean analysis, along with a few other areas to give users a good baseline of where their physical health stands.

A healthy diet paired with a fitness goal is a good start to increasing overall physical fitness, but lack of sleep is another area people may need help with at times.

Ojczyk said the 319th Civil Engineering Squadron fire department, reached out to her for help in improving their sleep deprivation countermeasures.

“These sleep guidelines ensure members are given enough time for quality sleep the next day if they, for instance, had to fight a fire all night,” Ojczyk said.

While fire-fighters may encounter fire sites with toxic smoke, and fumes, Ojczyk and the health promotion office have their own harmful carcinogens to combat.

“I provide tobacco cessation services, mostly linking people with resources,” Ojczyk said. “If people call me and say they want to quit using tobacco, vaping or nicotine products, I can link them to the resources available to them.”

Cessation isn’t all about the nicotine user, it’s also about eliminating second-hand smoke exposure. The health promotion office along with Col. Timothy Curry, the commander of the 319th RW, ensure Grand

Forks AFB remains a tobacco-free installation by prohibiting tobacco use, in all but designated tobacco areas.

Making impactful health changes within an entire base population – tobacco usage, nutritional diets, physical fitness and sleeping patterns – is no small task.

Ojczyk said while she’s just one person, she’s willing to help point people in the right direction for the help they need.

“The overarching goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Ojczyk said. “We know that behavior change doesn’t just happen with knowledge, you need to have the skills and the ability as well as an environment.”

Grand Forks AFB is continuously committed to improving the physical environment for airmen in hopes the healthy choice is the easy choice. The above information includes only a few examples of how the health promotion office can and has had an impact. Airmen, civilian employees, supervisors, senior leaders and commanders with questions on how the health promotion office can assist, an individual or workplace, should reach out to the health promotion office at 701-747-5918 or through the Grand Forks AFB health promotion Facebook page.