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HAWC fitness programs help reduce winter weight

Hanscom AFB -- It's February. It's cold. The holiday lull at work no longer lingers and 12-hour or more days may have begun for some. Routine has returned and suddenly that New Year's resolution, declared so boldly and confidently New Year's Day, to finally get fit after almost two months of holiday feasting isn't holding as well as it was during the first half of January.

William Carpenter, Health and Wellness Center health program manager said, "We get a flux of people the first six weeks of the year." After those weeks, attention to fitness wanes.

As those pivotal weeks approach now in February, Mr. Carpenter offered tips to help servicemembers continue to make fitness a top priority among the many demands of their busy lives.

Mr. Carpenter said that for some people fitness takes a back seat to the other commitments in life, such as children, family and school. When people complete a day of work and return home, he said, changing again and heading out to the gym is the last thing on their minds.

"What they don't realize is it takes more than six weeks to get what they want," he said, "whether that is weight-loss or better cardio-vascular health."

Mr. Carpenter said four factors directly contribute to someone's ability to maintain their fitness programs: trying new things, finding a friend with whom to workout, starting any program slowly and periodical rewards.

When it comes to trying new things, he said, "The same routine is boring for everyone; keep it fresh."

He recommended incorporating intramural sports because their competitive nature is a good release. "They're another way to get out and get active."

Unit physical training, where attendance isn't necessarily limited to that particular unit, and the Air Force Materiel Command walking program were two suggestions to maintain moderation within fitness programs.

The second of his four factors was finding a workout companion. Support is key to staying motivated about an exercise program, he said.

That social aspect of exercising and developing a healthy lifestyle helps because "Your mind's not thinking about how bad the workout hurts, but how you're spending time with friends," he said. "Without support [networks], people stop after six to eight weeks." That would explain the scarcity of New Year's fitness resolutions during the month of February.

While some may use workout companions to take their minds off the challenge of getting into a program, some are so intense about getting into shape quickly that they burn themselves out, Mr. Carpenter said.

Starting slowly, he said, helps beginners because their bodies are not accustomed to the strain of exercise and it allows them to have workout longevity. "The new year is a chance to start new,"he said, but rather than trying to cram total-body fitness into six weeks, it may take six months.

Finally, give yourself rewards when you reach goals, small and large. Mr. Carpenter suggests holding off on seeing a new movie until some fitness goals are reached. "It puts meaning and value into the work you do."

In addition to making these fitness-improving decisions, servicemembers can take advantage of many programs offered by the fitness center and the HAWC.

The Fitness and Sports Center has trained personnel to work one on one with members; they can help to familiarize people with the machines, whether for beginners or those who haven't been to the gym in a while, said Mr. Carpenter.

The HAWC can compliment fitness programs with individually catered programs to stimulate weight loss and gain, toning up and increasing cardiovascular health.
For more information about the Fitness and Sports Center call (781) 377-3639 and for the HAWC dial (781) 377-6560.