HAWC offers health, life improvement classes

  • Published
  • By Brian Schroeder
  • Tinker Public Affairs
At the stroke of midnight Jan. 1, 2011, kisses were exchanged, "Auld Lang Syne" was sung and many New Year's resolutions were made. The temperature outside is now warmer, people are whistling different tunes and the hasty goals made during a chilly night in January are almost six months old.

If you are struggling to find motivation to continue the fad diet you began Jan. 2, find the right workout program that suits your needs or you are tired of continually quitting a quit-smoking program, the Tinker Health and Wellness Center has free health promotion courses to assist active duty military, military beneficiaries and Department of Defense civilians in achieving their personal health goals.

Karen Blackwell, 72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Health and Wellness Center chief of health promotion, said health promotion includes cancer prevention and stress management, but the three main focus elements of the Tinker HAWC are tobacco, nutrition and promoting physical fitness. She added classes are tailored to meet the goals of the individuals enrolled in the course, not the course instructors setting goals for the course participants.

"Let's say that someone comes into a nutrition or basic weight loss class they are going to let us know what their goals are and we are going to help them develop a plan in order to reach those goals," Ms. Blackwell said. "The same thing if they needed the fitness classes, it might be a basic running class or a sit-up and push-up improvement clinic, but we will get the information from the individuals of what they want to achieve and get them on the right path to meet their goals."

The HAWC health professional staff includes a registered dietitian and an exercise physiologist and health educators to provide tobacco cessation counseling. Ms. Blackwell said behavior modification is the first thing addressed, followed by setting up an action plan to change current habits. She added changing behavior in small increments is much easier than trying to change more than one thing at a time.

"I have staff that are very passionate about what they do and they really put a lot into their programs so that they can make a difference with individuals," she said. "That's why when we have the successes of people coming back and saying they have been through a class and lost 40 pounds, or they've quit smoking.

"If you do something enough times over and over it becomes a habit. The first sign is recognizing it," Ms. Blackwell added. "If I feel like I am frustrated and I either skip my workouts or I eat high sugar, high fat foods because I'm upset or if I go smoke a cigarette because I'm having a bad day, we know you are using that as a crutch to deal with stress."

Air Force Health Promotions has made their focus community and unit based, not just classroom instruction. Ms. Blackwell said the HAWC would hold classes at the unit, or help them look at their surroundings to see if the unit fosters a healthy environment, helps promote physical activity and offers healthy options for nutrition.

"We take a look at the whole community -- community nutrition, community physical activity - and that's really what our role is," she added.

Units or individuals can view a complete calendar of courses and events or register on the Tinker HAWC Facebook page, which was rated "Outstanding" by the Air Force Medical Services. The Tinker HAWC has also been asked to assist other base HAWC programs in registering an informational page on Facebook.

"It doesn't matter if you're interested in fitness, nutrition, stress or whatever it is, we try to put a couple of posts a week on Facebook," Ms. Blackwell said. "We don't use our Facebook to just let you know what classes are available. There are several links to many different federal agencies that provide health promotion programs. "

Most classes are offered once a month. Slim Time is a weight loss support group that meets once a week, and Ms. Blackwell said the class not only has personal accountability, there is a new topic regarding weight loss discussed each week. As a whole, the Slim Time class lost 520.6 pounds last year.

Tobacco cessation courses are offered twice a month and include counseling and access to a quit smoking hotline sponsored by the American Lung Association. Military personnel and Department of Defense civilians are eligible for free prescriptions for quit-smoking medication. DOD civilians must get their prescription from their provider, then the prescription can be filled free of charge on base.

"For me, personally, I feel we save a life every time we get somebody to quit smoking or quit using tobacco," Ms. Blackwell said. "This program is the one my heart is closest to because I've had so many individuals I've worked with that have died of disease related to cigarette smoking."

For more information on HAWC courses, visit their Facebook page or call 734-5505 for enrollment.