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Airman teaches fitness during YR event

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lowery (left), a fuels cell specialist from the 911th Air Lift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Penn., uses a scale to check weight and body mass index measurements for Tech. Sgt. Jacobson Lautaro from the 482nd Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., during a Yellow Ribbon event in Houston March 19, 2016. Lowery uses his education and background in physical therapy to provide wellness and fitness advice to attendees. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota)

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lowrey (left), a fuels cell specialist from the 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Penn., uses a scale to check weight and body mass index measurements for Tech. Sgt. Jacobson Lautaro from the 482nd Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., during a Yellow Ribbon event in Houston March 19, 2016. Lower uses his education and background in physical therapy to provide wellness and fitness advice to attendees. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota)

HOUSTON, Texas -- Citizen Airmen often bring different skill-sets to the table, but one Airman used his specialized expertise to go even further by helping returning and deploying Airmen as they journey into a healthier lifestyle.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lowery, a fuels cell specialist from the 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, stepped out of his traditional role and provided health and fitness management skills to Airmen and their loved ones during more than 20 Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events over the last three years.

“I started doing this to help Airmen struggling with their [physical fitness] tests and later for family members who were staying behind and wanted to get healthy while their Airmen were deployed,” said Lowery. “The [Yellow Ribbon] events give me an opportunity to provide attendees with the basics about health management and wellness.”
Yellow Ribbon was developed to provide pre- and post-deployment Airmen and their loved ones with resources and training in a variety of locations throughout the United States.

During the training events, Lowery brings with him a scale that provides printed data used to give attendees a starting point towards their wellness journey.

“The scale gives people their body mass index and also provides goals for those who are not in range,” Lowery said March 19 during a Yellow Ribbon gathering in Houston. “This gives people a basic starting point and really puts an individuals health into a perspective they can understand.

“Most people know if they are overweight, but they really don't know how much they need to lose or how to lose it,” added Lowery.
“The information provided really brought things into perspective,” said Staff Sgt. Ira Matthew, 916th Operational Support Squadron combat crew communications technician from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. “It really provides a lot of information not seen on your average scale that relates to my overall fitness that I was not aware of.”

In addition to the weight and BMI measurements, participants are able to go to Lowery’ fitness session to learn more about health and the fundamentals of setting realistic wellness goals.

“The first thing you need on any health or fitness journey is motivation; each individual has to find what motivates them to be healthy,” explained Lowery. “You need to create measurable and realistic goals when it comes to personal fitness.

“Its not about losing 150 pounds; you have to start with goals that are attainable such as losing one to 10 pounds,” said Lowery.
During his Houston session, Lowery had people write out their goals to determine if they were measurable and to ensure they were practical for each individuals needs.
“I really enjoyed writing out my goals to see if they were realistic,” said Master Sgt. Jonna Sullivan, 434th Operational Support Squadron office management specialist from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind. “It helped me focus on goals that are actually accomplishable.”

Lowery, who is schedule to complete his doctoral May 6, 2016 in physical therapy from Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, said that there is a lot of bad health and fitness advice that needs to be avoided.

“Its easy to get caught up in all the fad diets and reality television shows that show people losing unreasonable amounts of weight, but doing such is not sustainable and can be unsafe,” he said. “If you have a big goal, go to a health care professional so you are getting safe and effective advice.”

Lowery also discussed time management, and how it can affect members who are deployed and their family members at home.
“Time is one of the biggest reasons people chose not to exercise or quit exercising after beginning an exercise program,” said Lowery. “If you find yourself not having enough time for an hour-long workout then do short intervals of training or try high intensity workouts with less breaks in between.”

As Lowery wrapped up his session he reminded people the importance of consistency and small changes.

“You really have to dedicate your life to wellness; it’s about eating things that are better for you forever, then exercising a little more every day until you reach your goals,” he said. “Fitness isn't a one time thing, its about making small tiny changes you can do forever; small manageable changes over a long period of time.”

Yellow Ribbon events are for service members who have deployed for more than 90 days but exclude deployments for training. For more information about the program and upcoming events contact your unit's Yellow Ribbon representative.

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