GRAND FORKS AIR BASE, ND —
Assessing the physical health of an entire wing and implementing evidence-based programs to influence healthy lifestyle change is a difficult task for an office.
This is the unique challenge for Anna Ojczyk, health promotion program coordinator for the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.
As the sole member of the Health Promotion Office, Ojczyk does her best to educate, assist and prevent any negative outcomes in wing physical readiness caused by nutrition, physical activity, sleep and tobacco and nicotine products .
One evidence-based program Ojczyk started at Grand Forks Air Force Base is a nutrition-focused commissary tour for first-term Airmen who have just finished basic training and technical school.
“I wanted to give young airmen an opportunity to actually walk through the commissary and talk about affordable ways to eat healthy,” Ojczyk said. “I’m in the shop picking up fruit and vegetables; we’re talking about choosing lean meats, how to microwave a baked potato, how to choose fruit, comparing prices, and how to read nutrition labels.
Not all of its programs are group-focused; the health promotion office also provides more individualized care. The InBody 570 body composition analyzer gives aviators the ability to evaluate their current body composition.
“InBody helps give you a good idea of where your body is,” Ojczyk said. “I have people who come in trying to lose weight, people who are trying to gain muscle, and people with all kinds of different goals.”
The body composition tool is a much better indicator of where a person’s body is than a scale, said frequent InBody user Captain Cody Cheyne, a bioenvironmental engineer with the 319th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron.
“At one point, I was using InBody once a week,” Cheyne said. “It’s a tool that gives you a good idea of how your workouts are working for you and lets you create a plan for yourself.”
Once a user steps off InBody, it provides a printout of overall body composition analysis that includes a person’s weight broken down into total water weight, lean dry mass, and body fat mass. InBody also provides muscle fat analysis, obesity analysis, segmental lean analysis, along with a few other areas to give users a good baseline of their physical health.
A healthy diet coupled with a fitness goal is a good start to increasing overall fitness, but lack of sleep is another area where people might need some help sometimes.
Ojczyk said firefighters from the 319th Civil Engineering Squadron asked her for help in improving their sleep deprivation countermeasures.
“These sleep guidelines ensure that members have enough time to get quality sleep the next day if, for example, they have to fight a fire all night,” Ojczyk said.
While firefighters may encounter outbreaks with toxic smoke and fumes, Ojczyk and the Health Promotion Office have their own harmful carcinogens to battle.
“I provide smoking cessation services, mostly by connecting people with resources,” Ojczyk said. “If people call me and say they want to stop using tobacco, vaping or nicotine products, I can connect them to the resources available to them.”
Cessation not only affects the nicotine user, but also the elimination of exposure to secondhand smoke. The health promotion office together with Colonel Timothy Curry, commander of the 319th RW, assure Grand
Forks AFB remains a tobacco-free installation by banning the use of tobacco, in all but designated tobacco areas.
Making impactful health changes within an entire core population — tobacco use, nutritional diets, physical fitness, and sleep patterns — is no small task.
Ojczyk said that while she is just one person, she is willing to help point people in the right direction for the help they need.
“The overall goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Ojczyk said. “We know that behavior change doesn’t just come with knowledge, you need to have the skills and capabilities, as well as an environment.”
Grand Forks AFB is continually striving to improve the physical environment for Airmen in the hope that the healthy choice is the easy choice. The information above includes just a few examples of how the Office of Health Promotion can and has had an impact. Airmen, civilian employees, supervisors, senior leaders, and commanders with questions about how the Office of Health Promotion can assist an individual or a workplace should contact the Office of Health Promotion at 701-747- 5918 or via the Grand Forks AFB Health Promotion Facebook page.