Army Guard officer drops 35 pounds, touts the value of sleep

U.S. Army Medical Command
Story by Valecia Dunbar

Date: 11.12.2013
Posted: 11.12.2013 16:25
News ID: 116614
Army Guard officer drops 35 pounds, touts the value of Sleep

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Maj. Constance Adger is an Active Guard Reserve officer currently working in health services human resource management at Army Medical Command headquarters, Fort Sam Houston. Now 35 pounds lighter, standing at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds, she is an active example of how Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep (ANS) can make a huge difference in your daily mindset and physical performance.

“On Jan. 5, 2013, my weight was 223 pounds and my size large uniform was tight,” said Adger.

I was a former high school and college basketball and track athlete. I had always been slim and very fit.” Throughout her adult life, she had considered herself a very active person who enjoyed the outdoors.

However, these habits soon began to change after she adopted a 13-month-old son in 2006 and became a single-parent Soldier while stationed at Fort Meade, Md. The support of family helped her to maintain a regimen, but they began to notice her diet changing to accommodate quick and fast foods. “Chicken nuggets and tater tots” began to replace prepared meals.

Adger lost that support when she was reassigned to California, and by the time she arrived at Fort Sam Houston in 2012 she had gained nearly 45 pounds. “I couldn’t get a rhythm going to get myself back out there,” she said.

Over the course of her 19-year Army career, life’s challenges had taken a physical toll. In Jan. 2013, a visit to her primary care doctor rung in the wake-up call that it was time to get serious about her mental and physical performance. “I weighed in at the heaviest I’ve ever been,” said Adger. She had just turned 50 and set that number as her goal to get close to her initial enlistment weight of 160 lbs and put her back into a loose fitting, size medium uniform by Dec. 31.

A few days later, she received an email about the Performance Triad work group headed by Maj. Ricky Mitchell. His excitement and enthusiasm motivated Adger to attend the first Fit to Win/Performance Triad work group meeting in January. The guest speaker that made the biggest difference, she says, was Col. Steve Lewis, the Performance Triad Task Force Sleep Lead.

“Col. Lewis' lecture open to my eyes to just how much sleep I was actually getting and how it was effecting my overall health, he also gave suggestions on getting better sleep,” said Adger. “I have liked other guest speakers as well, but Col. Lewis has the most influence for change.”

“What we know for sure is poor sleep is often times due to poor environment and poor habits,” said Lewis. “She had described a problem with a lot of external noises that woke her throughout the night, a varied sleep routine, and a habit of not devoting sufficient time in bed.” Lewis reinforced ways to anchor Adger’s sleep habits and change the sleeping environment to achieve optimal sleep. One recommendation was to buy a fan to cool the bedroom and to drown out external noise coming from nearby trains that were disrupting Adger’s sleep. Lewis also recommended a sleep app for people that have trouble sleeping or have bad sleep habits.

When we reprioritize the importance of sleep, the second and third order benefits are tremendous. “When we start getting good sleep, we wake up refreshed and you’re ready to take on the day, said Lewis. “Now she has the energy and will power to do the activity and continue to get fit and lose the weight.”

On Oct. 29, 10 months after attending her first Performance Triad meeting, Adger wore a new uniform to work. It was a size medium jacket and medium pants. The last time she wore a medium uniform was 2008. Her current weight is 188 pounds with 15 pounds to go before reaching her goal.

Adger continues to attend the monthly work group meetings and shares her new routine to encourage everyone to adopt the principles of the Performance Triad. She now represents the personal mantra that is attached to her email signature line: ‘Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.’ – Maya Angelou.

The Performance Triad is the Army surgeon general's initiative and vision to improve the health of Soldiers and Civilians to optimize performance and improve resilience through changes in behaviors and attitudes related to Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep.

Work out at the gym 3 times a week during my lunch period.
-Run 15 minutes on the treadmill and climb 15 minutes, 10 minutes on weights.
-Participate in water aerobics on Fridays at the gym.
-Walk three to four miles every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Adger changed her eating habits and that of her son's.
-No more late night snacking, fast foods, processed foods.
-Fresh produce only and healthy snacks.
-Adger now eats from 10-inch plates instead of 12-inch plates.
-Purchased a good mattress
-Find the right pillow; a medium, hypoallergenic pillow was the right fit for Adger
-Bought a fan to create ‘soft noise’ to drown out external noises