As a journalist, my work depends on mounds of research. I have been kicking myself repeatedly lately for not doing my homework on ways to improve my health.

With the hustle and bustle of a Soldier’s life, I had the misconception that the physical readiness training we conduct daily evened out with my indulgences when it came to food. After doing the math, I discovered that someone with my height, weight and age can only burn about 400 calories in an hour of cardio during morning PRT. That calorie deficit pales in comparison to a burger, fries and soda that can cost you more than 900 calories.

This is where my use of the pilot Performance Triad came in handy. One of the primary focuses of the program is on the importance of nutrition and Army leaders are stressing the use of portion control.

The United States Department of Agriculture provides a website,, which gives information on calorie management, nutritional education and even tips on budgeting for healthier eating habits.

This site has led me to a big decision that will impact my Family as well.

A rule for my healthier life is that I will only give my Family fast food once a week. After looking at the new menus at fast food restaurants, I have discovered that my children are eating about 590 calories in one sitting. The average adult should be taking in about 1,500 calories a day.  My children were consuming one third of an adult’s caloric intake in one meal.

While this may seem like a harsh or extreme step, I looked at the correlation between fast food and obesity before coming to this decision. According to a research study by professors at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, individuals who ate fast food two or more times a week gained about 10 more pounds in comparison to those who had fast food less than once per week. This was based on a 15-year study.

With a Family history of diabetes, I have decided that sacrificing fast food is worth never having to give my child an insulin shot.

Following my own advice is the hardest part of every decision I have made. If you work normal hours, you may get home at 5:30 p.m. or even 7 p.m. depending on traffic, errands or late work days. This makes your resolve waver a bit when faced with children who are hungry and you are exhausted from a long day. So here are some tips to follow that have helped me this week.

Stack your snacks —Prepare for days when you don’t get breaks by keeping nuts, whole grain bars or oatmeal in your desk drawer.

Pack the fridge — If you are lucky enough to have a break room with a fridge, buy three or four, low-calorie microwaveable meals as a backup when you crave fast food.

Prepare for temptation — Share your goals with the office. Someone may think twice before offering you cookies.

Prep your meals — Make a healthy food plan for the week on Friday. This gives you Saturday and Sunday to cut, cook and store your meals for those days you get home late and need the meal done quickly for the Family.

Limit slip-ups —Eating an ice cream bar or piece of candy should not be considered a failure and perfection is impossible. Eating healthy is a commitment to a longer and healthier life and these choices should be a life-long endeavor, not a crash diet.

The last encouragi

ng tip I have is to ask a friend to join you. Having a friend to trade recipes with can make all the difference. Once you focus on your daily eating habits, weight loss and energy boosts follow close behind. It is great when someone notices your weight loss. But the real difference is when your body drops the toxic pounds that you have accumulated over the years.

(Editor’s note: For more on Sgt. Amanda Tucker’s Performance Triad journey, see next week’s