Wellness Wednesday: Ring in the New Year holistically with Total Force Fitness

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Total Force Fitness (TFF) is a way to promote and maintain the fitness of the U.S. Armed Forces. The TFF framework is made up of eight related domains of fitness: physical, nutritional, mental, behavioral, social, spiritual, and medical and dental.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to start making small changes to improve your own health, fitness, and mission readiness. HPRC (the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, the Consortium for Health and Military Performance) uses the TFF framework to provide the knowledge and expertise to guide you towards your goals.

Start by setting goals

The first thing to do is set your goals for the year. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Action-oriented, Relevant, and Time-sensitive—or SMART—will help keep you on track throughout the year. Use HPRC’s SMART goals worksheet to keep yourself organized. Most people make new year resolutions, but they don’t break them down into simple, manageable pieces or develop habits that allow them to follow through on those resolutions. As you develop your new goals, structure them within your schedule to create habits that maintain your new routines.

TFF goals to reach for

Weight management and weight loss are common goals for the new year. The method sounds simple: “Burn more calories than you consume.” But it isn’t quite that easy because weight management also involves many other factors, some you can control and others you can’t.

Two factors you can control are the types and amounts of food you eat. Getting underway, travel, and training might limit your ability to choose the foods you want. Maybe the available options are limited or you’re on a different schedule. The eating pattern you like might not be appropriate some of the time, such as when the demands of high-intensity training or a mission mean your weight-loss eating style can result in underfueling, or when injury or health issues require special nutrient demands. Choosing different types of foods or eating patterns can help you succeed in managing your weight.

Logging your meals will help you keep track of your calories in and calories out. HPRC’s tips to help you maintain your weight during the holiday season will serve you well throughout the following year too. Explore HPRC’s website for more information on weight management, mindful eating, and proper hydration too help your weight goals.

If you’re considering weight-loss supplements, you might like to know there’s no evidence they actually work, and they’re not a good substitute for healthy eating habits. In addition, many contain potentially risky stimulants. Visit Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) for more information on dietary supplements.

Physical fitness
Staying in shape year-round can help you maintain readiness, improve immune function, and keep you injury-free. Once you develop your fitness-based SMART goals, create your workout plan. A block-periodized workout plan can keep you organized and making progress for a few months at a time. For the weeks or months you are underway, you’ll need to get creative with your plan: Use more bodyweight exercises, high-intensity interval training, and other types of limited-equipment exercise. Staying in shape while you’re at sea can be tough, but don’t let it get in the way of your year-long fitness goals.

Get good enough sleep
Recovery is just as important as activity and nutrition goals. Sleep allows your body to recover after physical training and acts as a reset button for your brain for your mental fitness. Good sleep hygiene is important to support good-quality sleep every night. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol a few hours before bedtime. Eliminate screen time in bed—the blue light from electronic devices has been shown to interfere with sleep. Create a dark, quiet environment to sleep in. If you’re in barracks or live on a cutter, wear earplugs and a sleep mask to help you sleep. Strive to improve your sleep quality (for both you and your partner, when you’re home) with these sleep and stress tips and resources.

Tie it together with social support
Social support helps improve and maintain all areas of TFF and comes in many forms. Your family, friends, co-workers, and community can support you emotionally by expressing empathy, care, and love. Their support also can come in the form of useful advice or help with tasks. They keep you accountable for your decisions and actions and can pick you up when you’re low.

As you make your new resolutions, goals, and habits this year, keep TFF in mind. You need proper nutrition, enough sleep and exercise, and the support of your friends and family to reach your goals. To learn more about TFF and how it applies to other areas of your health and performance, visit HPRC at hprc-online.org. You’ll find resources there to help improve your fitness and maintain mission and family readiness. You’ll also find HPRC’s Ask the Expert feature, where you can anonymously submit your TFF question and get an evidence-based response from an expert in about a week.

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