What to expect when you choose the Army Wellness Center

Olivia Phillips RDN, ACSM-CPT, a health educator at the Stuttgart Army Wellness Center, discusses health with a client.

Story by Paul Hughes
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

The biggest worry I had prior to visiting to the Army Wellness Center was, “how am I going to get through my morning without coffee?”

I wasn’t too worried about the results, nor the fact that I am beginning a fitness journey, just that I had to fast the morning of my appointment. Turns out, a morning without coffee wasn’t too bad thanks to the team at the AWC.

I attended the AWC to get advice from professionals, and to find out where I am starting from on my journey. I signed up for the “Bod Pod” and metabolic testing. This is essentially the AWC’s baseline service, so if you book an appointment at the Army Wellness Center, here’s what you can expect:

  1. You will be sent a form in advance of your appointment, it is important to answer it accurately
    1. The form contains questions about your wellness, your stress levels and your levels of activity. Being truthful and accurate here is important, as the data will be used to calculate your calorie intake needed to hit your fitness goals.
  2. When you attend your appointment, you will need to fast the morning of your test
    1. No coffee, not really any water even, as it can mess with your results – do what I did and take one of the earliest spots.
  3. When you arrive, things move quickly – you will start with a blood pressure test, then step into the bod pod
    1. You will need to strip down to a pair of lycra style sports shorts, for men, or some kind of form fitting lycra-style garment for ladies, then you don a really nice swim cap-like hat. Next you step into the pod, which kind of feels like you are stepping into Mork’s spaceship from ABC 1970s comedy Mork and Mindy, before the machine measures your body composition, i.e, your fat mass and your muscle mass.
  4. Now it’s time for your Metabolic test
    1. This is a very enlightening exam. You will lay on a bed for around 15 minutes, with a huge space suit sized mask placed over your face. You are instructed to relax and breathe normally while the machine measures how much oxygen is in your expired breath. From this, the machine can calculate how many calories in a day your body burns prior to any exercise. It figures out the calories you need to breath, blink and pump blood around your body.
  5. Your AWC guide will now go over your results and talk to you about health goals before agreeing a way forward.
    1. This is a vital step – you now know what your body burns energy wise per day, now when you add your activity to it, you will be able to compare your caloric intake, vs what your body is burning daily. You can use that information to work toward your goals. The AWC team will also advise you on how important sleep and reducing stress are to your wellness goals.

While I learned that I am not in great shape, things could definitely be worse. I did, however end up with one clear goal – to reduce my weight from 185lbs to 155lbs. I am currently 23.4% body fat, (anything over 20% fat is considered excess) and the data showed I need to reduce my fat mass from 44lbs, to 35lbs.

The great thing about this testing is that through my consultation, I know that I need to maintain my current activity levels, but reduce my calorie intake to 2499 calories per day in order to lose 1.5lbs per week. If I am consistent, and without too many drastic changes, I can get to my desired weight in 5 months. Also an added bonus is that this program is entirely free to eligible service members and dependents. Something that could cost up to $5000 on the economy!

And that’s really it, if you are struggling to make tape, working out but never losing weight, concerned that you are gaining weight, this is the place to start. The AWC is here to help you on your journey, contact them today to make an appointment.