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Face of Defense: Air Force Senior NCO Maintains Healthy Lifestyle

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman 60th Air Mobility Wing

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TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 21, 2015 — Many airmen have fitness goals they want to achieve. For some, that goal is scoring a 90 or better on the Air Force fitness assessment, while for others, simply passing the test is acceptable.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Claus Peris, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance unit superintendent, from Kailua, Hawaii, wanted to do more than simply score in the 90s on the annual fitness test. He wanted to improve his overall fitness level.

His journey started on March 18 with a bod pod assessment at the Travis Health and Wellness Center here. The bod pod is a machine that measures individual body mass and volume. The system provides users with 98 percent accuracy readings in several categories including percent body fat, lean muscle mass and weight.

"I wanted to establish a baseline and utilize the information to give myself some goals to meet," Peris said.

Peris learned after the two-minute bod pod test that his body consisted of 47 percent fat and 53 percent lean muscle.

Making Healthy Changes

He said he was a little shocked the fat percentage was so high. It was time to make some changes. Peris said he dedicated himself to an intense exercise program with strength training as its foundation and ran twice a week.

He also sought exercise advice from Air Force 1st Lt. Mike DeWitt, 60th AMXS aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge and a former fullback on the U.S. Air Force Academy football team.

"Senior Master Sergeant Peris mentioned that he wanted to change his workout routine," DeWitt said. "He was running five-to-six days a week for a few miles each time and wasn't seeing any results. I told him some resistance training may be the key, along with dieting, and that he was welcome to join me for workouts."

Peris accepted DeWitt's offer, and soon the two were working out together using the same base workout that DeWitt performed while he was at the Air Force Academy -- focusing on lifts that engage the entire body, rather than isolating one muscle group, DeWitt said.

"Using more than one muscle group at the same time burns more calories than isolation and ultimately maximizes your time in the gym," he said.

When Peris wasn't lifting weights, he was staying active by walking, running or playing soccer.

Changing Diet

He said he also changed his diet.

"I switched to a low carb diet focusing on unprocessed proteins, whole fruit and vegetables for my carbs, healthy fats and minimized processed carbs," he said. "Portion control was also helpful in reaching my goals."

On April 17, only 33 days since his first bod pod assessment, Peris returned for another.

When the test was over, he learned he lost eight pounds, dropped 13 percent body fat and gained 25 pounds of lean muscle.

Those results impressed Julie Stout, an exercise physiologist with the 60th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and fitness program manager for the Travis HAWC. "I was shocked he dropped 13 percent body fat in one month," Stout said. "I've never seen that kind of result."

Gaining 25 pounds of muscle mass in such a short period of time is equally impressive, Stout said. When people gain muscle mass, they burn more calories at rest, she said.

"Peris's resting metabolic rate went up by 235 calories per day," Stout said. "That gain in muscle is very significant. His results are exceptional."

Surpassing Expectations

DeWitt said he shares Stout's enthusiasm.

"Peris surpassed my expectations by far," he said. "I wasn't sure if he would continue to lift with me after the first week, but he stuck with it and even helped me improve. I now have a consistent workout partner to push me. Seeing his transformation has been a pretty cool experience."

Even Peris was surprised by the outcome of his second bod pod assessment. "I did not expect to see such rapid improvement, and I'm extremely happy with the results," he said.

The senior NCO said he plans to continue with his fitness program with the goal of getting in even better shape.

"It's not easy to sacrifice a night eating out and drinking for a less delicious, healthy meal or skipping a lunch break to go sweat in the gym," DeWitt said. "Once people realize they are ready for change and they commit to a program, they can achieve their goals."