Commentary | Sept. 3, 2021

Don’t Let COVID “weight” you down

By Tim Merrell and Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) Staff 

The U.S. Coast Guard Health Promotions has teamed up with the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University to bring you a series of articles to help Coast Guard members focus on health and learn more about how to take a comprehensive approach to shedding unwanted pounds.

There are many factors affecting health and weight. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and other lifestyle habits all play a part. Yet improving wellbeing and losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. And, using a Health Road Map will help you chart your course towards optimal health, performance, and weight. As you navigate through this challenging pandemic, life may seem uncertain and difficult to control. But with a strong mindset and a good plan, you can take control of your health and meet your weight goals. This informative and interactive series of articles is about YOU. Your map. Your health. Your weight. 

Road Map graphicWhat’s your destination? 
The first step is to start with the end in mind: What exactly do you want to achieve? This is your destination. Once you know your destination, mapping your course will get you there. Take a few minutes to explore and write down your end point. An example may be: 

“By October I am 10 pounds lighter with my body fat in Coast Guard compliance; I am exercising and active at least four days per week; I eat fast and convenience foods infrequently and meal prep two days per week. My sleep routine is consistent and I manage stress with deep breathing exercises.”

In order to arrive at your destination, it is crucial to have a realistic plan and set succinct goals. A popular goal-setting method is the “SMART” goal technique, which meets these criteria:

  • Specific – Be very clear about what you will achieve.                
  • Measurable - Quantify your goals to monitor your progress.
  • Achievable or Action-oriented – Make sure your goal is reasonable and action-oriented.     
  • Relevant - Align your goals with your values and be sure they are realistic.      
  • Time-sensitive – Assign your goals a completion time.       

Use these resources to aid you in setting SMART goals:

Here is an example of SMART Goals based on the destination:     SMART Goal Graphic

  • Specific – “I will shop for groceries Saturday morning and meal prep on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.” Or “I will lose weight and decrease my body fat.”
  • Measurable – “I will prep food for lunch and dinner for three days including a protein, vegetable, and whole grain.” Or “I will lose one to two pounds per week according to my bathroom scale.”
  • Achievable – “I will keep my schedule free on Sunday and Wednesday - the days I will meal prep.” Or “One to two pounds a week of weight loss is achievable.”
  • Relevant – “Meal prepping will enhance my overall health.” Or “Losing weight will help            to advance my career in the Coast Guard.”
  • Time – “I will meal prep for two hours on Sunday and 90 minutes on Wednesday.” Or “I will achieve a 10 pound weight loss by my October weigh-in.”               

Make a Plan
After you write out your SMART Goals, develop a plan for this week. Below is an example of a plan:       

  • I will contact a CG-SUPRT Health Coach at 1-855-247-8778 to help me with my goals. 
  • I will track everything I eat for the next five days to assess my intake and improvements I can make using My Fitness Pal. 
  • I will walk 30 minutes every other day in my neighborhood after dinner.
  • I will review the HPRC-online.org and OPSS.org websites for resources to help me meet my goals.     

These are examples. It’s important for you to develop your own plan according to your Health Road Map. In the coming weeks, this series of articles will also help you on your health and weight loss journey.