Breaking the habit

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: This commentary is the third in a summer-long series highlighting the progress of Senior Airman Shane Dunaway in his quest to become Team Andersen's "Biggest Loser." To send words of encouragement or for information on his workout methods and diet, contact him via email at

As I reflect back on this weight loss journey that unofficially began almost four months ago, I've been thinking about tips, ideas and suggestions I can give to others who may be struggling to overcome obesity.

If you've ever had to sit through a class at the Health and Wellness Center relating to healthy living, you know the feeling of dread inside as you're told that you'll have to wave goodbye to most of the unhealthy habits if you want to wave goodbye to the excess pounds.

How do you make those changes when you've become so accustomed to eating unhealthy foods and living an unhealthy lifestyle for so long? I'm not going to lie to you, it's a tough journey and it doesn't happen overnight. As I progress through this Biggest Loser competition, I press forward on that journey every day and continue to make strides.

When I first started my weight loss endeavors, I focused on the portion control aspect of controlling food intake. As we all know, food isn't always measured out into the correct portion size.

At the suggestion of a mentor within my office, I bought a food scale. It was $50 well spent. I use mine to measure out items like cereal, pasta and cashews and place the individual servings in re-sealable sandwich bags. Though some people may think it's not worth the money or time to use a food scale, here's my reasoning.

How many do you know someone who, during the course of the work day, goes through an entire container of cashews or a large bag of potato chips? Each container of cashews or large bag of potato chips contains about nine servings. At about 150 calories a serving, you could down well over half your recommended calories for the day.
I know this well because six months ago, that was my routine. When I shopped for groceries, I was notorious for loading up the cart with cheese puffs, canned pasta products, four 12-packs of soda and almost anything I could put in a deep fryer.

My habits have changed significantly. If you see me in the commissary, chances are you'll see some multi-grain pasta, light wheat bread, a lean cut of beef, frozen chicken breasts, fat-free milk, and bottled water in my cart. For snacks, I'm a big fan of peanut butter, string cheese, whole pickles, low-fat ice cream sandwiches or a serving of turkey pepperoni slices. I'm not perfect by any means and I do eat other foods, but only if it fits into the daily 1500-1800 calorie window I've set for myself, except for on my designated cheat day.

In order to prepare for the upcoming Biggest Loser challenge July 10, I've ramped up my protein intake since it'll be a strength challenge. After finishing in the second place group in the first challenge, I've got a burning desire to finish first. As long as I'm on a team that's giving 100 percent effort, I won't care where I place because if we're all losing, then we're winning.