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Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.


A stepmother can significantly impact her stepchildren’s lives. Understanding her role in the family is an important first step.

It can be challenging to explain and understand a stepmother’s responsibilities when a new stepfamily is formed, but there are ways to support her “new” parenting role. Stepfamilies form when a child’s mother or father marries someone after his or her relationship with the child’s other parent has ended.

It’s important for stepmothers to build strong relationships with their stepchildren, but this sometimes can be tricky. A stepmother often has to strike a balance between bonding with her stepchildren while also respecting the limitations of not being a biological parent, especially when her stepchildren’s other parent remains active in their lives. Stepmothers sometimes can feel confused about what their roles should be, and this can lead to insecurity. Stepmoms also might feel they’re expected to do many household and childcare tasks even though they’re not considered parents. It can be hard for a stepmother to see her spouse’s involvement with the children—playing a role she’s unable to play—and continued contact with the children’s other parent too. And stepchildren can feel unsure about how their stepmother will fit into their lives.

Still, when stepfamilies live together at least half-time, stepmothers tend to be happier in their marriages and closer to their stepchildren. Successful stepmothers develop a parental mindset and work to define their roles in their new families. In addition, communication that focuses on strong listening skills and avoids criticism or contempt can help a stepmother and her spouse agree on her role and how they’ll support each other as parents and partners.

Write your way to well-being

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Learn how writing can help you ward off depression and enhance well-being.

If you find it difficult to share when you’re feeling down or anxious about something in your life, writing can help you make sense of an experience on your own. It isn’t easy to reach out when you’re going through tough times. You might prefer keeping struggles private or feel that there isn’t anyone you can turn to who might really understand.

Writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings can be an effective tool to help you process your stressful events. Writing can help you direct attention to causes of distress and raise awareness of the impact they have on you—emotional, behavioral, or physiological. By helping you express emotions you might want to suppress or avoid, the process can put distance between you and your thoughts, giving you an opportunity to evaluate or restructure your story.

Writing also can help reduce depressive symptoms, improve immune function, and enhance well-being. It can help ease the transition for veterans returning home and experiencing reintegration problems, and it might increase marital satisfaction for Warfighters returning home after high combat exposure.

So how do you do it? When you’re feeling stressed or anxious or just struggling to make sense of something, find 15–20 minutes to write. Include your take on the situation at hand. Reflect on how it’s impacting you and what you’re doing to get by. Use writing as a space to say what you can’t say to anyone else. The format doesn’t matter—on a piece of paper, inside a journal, or in a digital document. While writing, you might notice that you’ve developed a different perspective on events. You might identify a silver lining to a difficult experience. You might highlight effective and ineffective ways you’re coping, helping you take further action to seek help or use those strategies in the future. Sometimes it helps to do this over 3 or 4 consecutive days.

And remember: If you’re continually struggling or feeling more distressed even after writing, consider seeking help through a mental health professional or other resource.

Become a seafood lover!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Learn how seafood can be a healthy add-on to your diet—whether you catch it yourself, buy it from the commissary, or order it at your dining hall or favorite restaurant.

Seafood is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients that can boost your heart health and performance. It also might reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and even depression.

Aim for two 4-oz servings each week. It can be as easy as opening a can of tuna, sardines, or salmon or thawing a bag of shrimp or fillets. Select fresh when possible, but frozen and canned varieties are often cheaper and more convenient. By varying your choices, you can fit seafood in your budget and find new kinds to enjoy. Remember: If it’s already in your pantry or freezer, chances are you’ll eat it more often!

  • Choose from several varieties. These include fish fillets, shellfish (such as crab, shrimp, and lobster), oysters, mussels, and clams. Fatty fish—rich in omega-3s that boost heart health—include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. Select shrimp or a mild-tasting fish such as tilapia or flounder if you’re eating seafood for the first time. In addition, young children and women who are pregnant or nursing should consume fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
  • Make it lean. Grill, broil, or bake your seafood instead of breading and frying it. Experiment with different spices and herbs too.
  • Cook once and eat twice. Use leftovers to top salads, fill tacos, or toss with whole-wheat pasta. Here are a few quick recipes: Add one cup of fresh or frozen corn to your favorite seafood chowder for an easy meal. Or mix one egg, 2½ cups prepared mashed potatoes, 1 Tbsp parsley (chopped), and ½ cup green onions (chopped). Add 14½ oz canned salmon (drained and flaked). Hint: Use a fork to crush the salmon bones for an extra boost of calcium! Mold into 8 patties, dip in bread crumbs or panko, and cook in a nonstick pan until golden.

Mixing supplements and medications

Is there any harm in taking dietary supplements if you use medications?

Dietary supplements and medications (prescription or over-the-counter) can be a risky combination. That’s because many dietary supplement ingredients, especially herbs and botanicals, can interact with drugs (such as ones to treat blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety) or even other dietary supplements. Interactions between drugs and supplements can result in either an increase or decrease in the effectiveness of your medications. In other words, you could be getting too much or too little of the medications that you need, which can be dangerous to your health. If you’re taking or plan to take a dietary supplement, inform your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe to use with your medications.

Learn more about how supplements can change the effectiveness of your medications and know when drug-supplement interactions are especially important by using this interactive web resource from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). And for information about many known interactions between dietary supplement ingredients and medications, as well as other dietary supplement ingredients, visit the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD).

Total fitness fights depression

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
Learn how your total fitness approach to fighting depression can help you optimize your performance and give your best to the force.

Depression can impact your mood and performance, preventing you from doing your best at work, on a mission, and at home. A total fitness approach—including physical activity, proper nutrition, positive relationships with others, and mind-body skills—to overcoming depression can reduce feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness and lack of motivation or energy, so you can perform well on your mission.

It’s estimated that about 12% of deployed military personnel and 13% of those previously deployed meet the criteria for depression. And many more service members struggle with bouts of misery or restlessness. A total force fitness approach can help. Read more...

Football season fitness

Football season is well underway. Make sure your healthy habits don’t take a hit on the weekends.

Brisk fall weather means it’s the perfect time to hit the couch for a weekend of watching football. But don’t let all the hard work and smart decisions you’ve made during the week go to waste. Avoid weekend binging and (too much) lazing by staying active during commercial breaks and making healthy choices when it comes to snacks.

The average football game consists of about 11 minutes of actual play—so you’re watching huddles, replays, and commercials in-between. Use that downtime to your advantage, call an audible, and get moving during time-outs!

  • Complete a quick DIY workout during commercial breaks.
  • Go for a jog around your neighborhood during halftime.
  • Remember to make healthy food choices too.

Check out A Football Fan’s Guide to Food and Fitness for ways to stay healthy and active during football season.

Adult-sibling relationships

Sibling relationships are bound to change over time, especially during adulthood. A supportive relationship with your brother or sister is good for your emotional health. Learn more.

Siblings provide companionship throughout your life if you maintain a connection, especially during your deployment. If you have a brother or sister, your relationship with your sibling(s) can be supportive and satisfying as you age.

Sibling connections are unique in that they often are your longest, enduring relationships. Sibling ties also are involuntary: You don’t get to choose your brothers or sisters. And as a child, whether or not you realized it, your siblings influenced how you socialized with others, your vocabulary, and how you managed conflict.

As you grow older, sibling relationships can change along with the life events you experience. Particularly between the ages of 18 and 25, when siblings often move away from home, the involuntary nature of the relationship shifts to one that might be worthwhile. Older siblings who move away might leave their younger siblings feeling a sense of loss in their absence, perhaps as they head off to boot camp or basic training. It’s normal for these close-knit connections to dip in early adulthood as you live on your own, start a career, and form new relationships.

Yet most sibling relationships stabilize into adulthood—and that’s good for your health! A supportive, affectionate relationship with your sibling can boost happiness and self-esteem and decrease loneliness. It can protect you from developing depression during stressful life events too.

No matter how far apart you live from your sisters or brothers, a strong sibling relationship is still possible. So, stay in touch with your siblings during your deployment and otherwise.

The benefits of positive emotions

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Learn about the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that small doses of positive emotions can bring to your life.

Many people believe that positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude, and happiness are luxuries without purpose. Sure, they make you feel good, but what else do they do for you? You can probably already identify ways in which negative emotions serve a purpose in your life. Anxiety drives you to prepare. Embarrassment can lead you to self-reflect. Guilt can enable you to apologize and make amends. But what purpose do positive emotions serve?

Positive emotions can help you be more creative. If you’ve ever been stuck trying to solve a problem for a long time, positive emotions can help you get outside the box and think more creatively about how to come up with a solution. Think about the last time you felt fear. What happened? Your heart rate sped up, maybe you even sweated, and you felt flustered. Positive emotions can also help bring your body back down to baseline more quickly after experiencing the physical impact of negative emotions. Finally, positive emotions put money in your stress-coping bank. If you find ways to experience a little goodness each day, you will be able to remain more robust in the face of challenges when they do arise.

Positive emotions don't just make you feel good: They’re good for relationships, can lead to success, and build your resilience over time. Think about what brings you feelings of love, joy, and contentment. Is it spending a few uninterrupted minutes with your kid playing on the floor? Sharing a funny video with a teammate over morning coffee? Taking a walk after dinner with your spouse? You have a busy life and lots to juggle. How often do you let opportunities to feel happy fall to the bottom of your priority list? Since the bad in your life can often outweigh the good, make sure you seek out opportunities to savor positive emotions.

Eating abroad

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Food safety, Travel
Learn how to practice food safety and avoid illness—whether you’re preparing for an overseas deployment, PCS move, humanitarian aid mission, or vacation.

Eating in an unfamiliar culture can be adventurous but sometimes daunting, especially if you’re unprepared. You’ll find foods that are surprisingly familiar, such as sauces, soups, and pastas. However, the spices might be different. You’ll also find foods that are quite different from your usual fare. Keep familiar favorites in your meal plan while you enjoy the variety of special foods each culture has to offer.

You might have concerns about food and beverage safety in some locations, so heed the training you receive for specific areas. To maintain operational readiness and prevent gastrointestinal distress, pay close attention to what you eat and drink. You’re at risk of foodborne illnesses if you consume food or drinks containing certain bacteria, parasites, viruses, and toxins. Still, there are ways to stay well.

  • Eat only cooked produce that’s served hot. Wash all fruits with treated water and peel them yourself. Avoid salads, raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized juices.
  • Eat thoroughly cooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Avoid foods served from food carts unless they’re cooked in front of you.
  • Enjoy pasteurized dairy products and hard cheeses. Avoid soft cheeses and unpasteurized yogurt.
  • Choose foods with little moisture, such as bread and crackers. Packaged dry foods are generally considered safe.
  • Drink beverages that are bottled and sealed. Check the seals because some merchants might fill empty bottles with tap water and reseal the caps with glue. Boil tap water for at least 3 minutes before making tea or coffee. And serve it steaming hot. Avoid ice too.

There might be times when you’re an invited guest, so you’ll be expected to eat what’s served. Be mindful of local eating customs, so that you’re respectful and safe while enjoying your meal.

By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to thrive in your new locale and return home with great eating adventures to tell.

Are you sold on your supplement?

Should you take advice from people selling dietary supplement products?

When it comes to the topic of dietary supplements, a good rule of thumb is not to believe everything you hear or read from someone trying to sell you a product. Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) recently received Ask the Expert questions about products that were recommended by staff at stores, whether or not they were safe to take, and whether they would cause a positive result on a urinalysis test. In fact, two products were “high risk.”

If you’re considering a dietary supplement product, be sure to consult your healthcare provider first. Service dietitians can be another good resource to determine if you really need to supplement your diet. It’s important to know how to spot potential high-risk supplements. Find out too if there is reliable scientific evidence that the ingredients in a product actually work. For more information, OPSS has a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) section with subcategories about general and miscellaneous topics, dietary supplement ingredients, performance, and weight loss. Or, to watch some videos or short PSAs, click on “Tools for Warfighters,” and then the “Video” tab.

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