Fargo VA Health Care System
Warriors for Wellness
Twenty-four Veterans from the Fargo VA Health Care System participated as a team in the PACE Challenge this spring, calling themselves the Warriors for Wellness. They competed against 29 other VA teams nationwide, placing fifth overall, with one participant taking first place for Most Physically Active Veteran nationwide.
The PACE challenge stands for Physical Activity and Conscious Eating and was designed to help Veterans reach health goals. The competition focused on pushing participants to make healthy lifestyle changes.
To participate in the eight-week PACE challenge, Veterans had to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day at least five days per week. Participants tracked their activity to earn points and could earn bonus points by adding healthy eating goals, such as drinking water instead of sugary drinks and eating smaller portions. Most Veterans reported weight loss and an increase in physical activity. Physical activity can help decrease the risk of developing depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and some kinds of cancer.
For one Veteran the PACE Challenge was life-changing. Michael Newton, who earned the most points on the Warriors for Wellness team and took first place for Most Physically Active Veteran nationwide, was motivated to get the exercise and physical activity he needed.
“I changed my diet, I checked my portion sizes all the time, and gave up soda totally,” Michael said.
He said he was constantly on the go, out with his kids more, playing football and golf, and walking. After noticing how much he sat at work, he realized he could still do his job while moving more. By pacing while he worked, he was able to walk 20,000 to 30,000 steps each day.
While the PACE Challenge may be over, the effects of the challenge are still with Michael. His commitment to health didn’t just help him earn awards – he was able to decrease his body mass index by five percent, gain more energy, and is now able to keep up with his kids.
“My life is changed,” Michael said. “Now I can get out there and just do it.”
Michael Newton with Bonnie Odermann, Fargo VA HCS Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Manager. Michael earned the most points on the Warriors for Wellness team which earned him a Fitbit and took first place for Most Physically Active Veteran nationwide.