MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - -- Americans pour billions of dollars each year into an industry focused on helping people slim down and shape up. That said, why is it a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports 65 percent of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese?
For Marines, recruit training is the ultimate health program. Marines continue to use the exercises learned there in their everyday workout routines.
However, sometimes Marines get injured and are unable to conduct regular PT with their unit. Other times, Marines stray from their normal PT schedule. One of the tools available to help Marines get back on track is Semper Fit’s Fueled to Fight program at the French Creek Fitness Center.
The program’s mission is to provide active duty Marines and sailors with a tailored nutrition and exercise program with the purpose of enhancing their physical performance and state of readiness.
“My goal is to educate as many people as I can about how to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Christopher Halagarda, the Fueled to Fight dietician and a nationally registered dietician.
Whether participating in a remedial physical training program or merely seeking some self-improvement, Fueled to Fight is open to all Marines and sailors on base.
“Out in town, a session with a personal trainer could run between $50-70, and a session with a personal counselor could range between $125-150,” said Halagarda. “This service is offered free of charge.”
Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Morelli, a field artillery cannoneer with 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, got started with the program after undergoing surgery on his hand.
“I wasn’t able to PT with the battalion in the morning, so I began going to the gym to exercise,” said Morelli. “Each time I went, I would always see a bunch of instructors helping other Marines with their workout. Eventually I just asked them what the deal was.”
Before coming in for an initial assessment, clients should bring with them a food diary, which charts their food and liquid intake for the three days prior to the appointment.
“Knowing a person’s eating habits and exactly what goes into their body will help in recommending a specific diet for each individual person,” said Halagarda.
One of the tools used to give clients a good idea about what foods they should include in their daily diet is The Bull’s-Eye Food Guide.
“It’s something that I learned about in college,” said Halagarda. “Unlike the food pyramid, this system explains and emphasizes the importance of portion control.”
The ideal foods are in the green area, or bull’s-eye, according to Halagarda. This is where people should be aiming for. Foods in the yellow area are ok, and food intake from the outermost red area should be no more than 10 percent of a person’s diet.
Foods in the green include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Foods in the yellow include white rice, yogurt and chicken. Foods in the red include hot dogs, cookies and potato chips.
To keep members in the program working hard, Halagarda offers motivational items such as T-shirts, backpacks and Propel fitness water.
“Getting in shape is a slow process that doesn’t happen overnight,” said Halagarda. “Sometimes an incentive here or there is exactly the kind of motivation a person needs to stay on track.”
When it comes right down to it, there’s only one person responsible for living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“The burden of keeping up with the training ultimately lies on the shoulders of the client,” said Halagarda. “I am simply here to help.”
After only 13 weeks in the program, Morelli has already dropped shown improvement.
“I’m eating healthier, running faster and getting stronger,” said Morelli. “I am phenomenally impressed with the results so far. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was a waste of time.”
For more information on Fueled to Fight or how to make an appointment, call (910) 451-0471.