April 14, 2023

How to Operationalize an H2F Program – Part 3: Beyond Physical Readiness

By Joe Cruz, 2F Program Director 1/1 ABCT, 1st Armored Division

This is the third article in our three-part series on How to Operationalize an H2F Program. Click here to catch up on Part 1 – Initiating Change, and Part 2 – Foundational Systems. A huge “THANKS” to Joe Cruz for sharing his experience and wisdom. We hope you find this series helpful. 

Improving Mental and Spiritual Readiness 

Another key component in operationalizing H2F is considering elements of human performance and wellbeing that had previously been overlooked or underserved. One of these is the cognitive domain. The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) doesn’t fall within our mandate, as it’s a unit responsibility. But we are responsible for ensuring our soldiers can successfully navigate it because they are strong enough, fit enough, and powerful enough to execute the demands of the ACFT. It isn’t just physically demanding, but also mentally and emotionally taxing. That’s why we started incorporating cognitive performance skills into our training sessions.

We put a soldier in a situation where they’re performing a high-intensity activity that elevates their heart rate. Then they have to come in, look at a board, and remember specific details about it. As stress begins to build, their ability to focus and recall information decreases. But as we progressively integrate that particular kind of strategy into their training and they begin to execute it more and more over time, they adapt and improve. Now, their cognitive skills are sharper through periods of high-intensity activity. The goal for us is to stress them at the highest possible physical level and get them to maintain their cognitive acuity. This not only prepares them to pass the ACFT, but also increases their readiness for deployment. 

We’re addressing the spiritual domain of H2F too. Our team came up with the idea for a gathering we called Grill and Chill. We looked at the Bible and saw that whether it was with thousands of people or small groups, the way that Jesus built relationships was by breaking bread. So we decided to hold an event where people could come together, share a meal, have some fun, and get spiritual input in a non-threatening way. This comes from our chaplain, who provided the funds for the food and speaks for about half an hour at the start of the event. Then we all eat and go off to throw footballs, play cornhole, and listen to music. It started off small but now that people have told their friends how much fun they had, it’s growing quickly, and we’re going to host a Grill and Chill every quarter. 

Targeting Nutrition and Sleep

Nutritional readiness is another H2F domain we’re doubling down on. We’re getting ready to start a pilot with Notemeal. Our dieticians can consider likes, dislikes, needs, and allergies to develop individualized plans both for soldiers who are on and off base. Then they will integrate these plans with the dining hall menus, allowing soldiers to log into an app and see what the best food choices are for them. As Notemeal integrates with Smartabase, we’ll be able to track nutrition data alongside body weight and composition metrics that bridge the gap between the nutrition and physical domains. 

Smartabase is also enabling us to pay greater attention to the sleep domain of H2F. It’s one of the areas that’s covered in our AM wellness check questionnaire, which provides soldiers’ subjective appraisal of their sleep quality and how well rested or fatigued they feel. We can also feed data from the Oura Ring, ReadiBand, and other wearables into the central Smartabase hub so we have objective sleep information that the mental readiness staff can track. Bringing together soldiers’ data from every H2F domain increases the positive impact of the human performance program, improves the level of service we provide to soldiers and the commanders who lead them, and enables us to achieve unit readiness and training objectives.

Read the Full Series: How to Operationalize an H2F Program

We hope you found some inspiration and tips in this series on operationalizing an H2F program, authored by Joe Cruz, 2F Program Director 1/1 ABCT, 1st Armored Division. Below are links to read the full series.

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