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News | Feb. 27, 2018

DLA Troop Support customer liaison takes charge of her heart health

By Michael Tuttle DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

February is American Heart Month. After seeing family members deal with heart related problems and other medical issues, DLA Troop Support employee Beatrice Ross made the choice to get heart healthy.

Members of Beatrice Ross’ family were gathered in Texas when they sat down for breakfast one morning. But along with the pancakes, eggs and sausage, everyone else at the table was organizing the pills they were taking for high blood pressure, heart disease and other medical issues.

Ross wasn’t on any medications. But she was 50 pounds overweight and considered obese.

Besides suggesting she lose weight, her doctor said she was healthy. However, her mother died at 63 due to heart failure. And she was aware of the risk for heart disease among African Americans.

“I knew if I kept going like I was, I wasn’t going to be healthy,” she said. “I thought ‘let me do something before the doctor restricts my diet and before I end up on some kind of medication.’”

Ross has worked at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support for 38 years. She first worked in the summer and during spring breaks while attending Drexel University full time as part of the Federal Junior Fellowship program.

She’s now a Customer Support Liaison for the Army and Marine Corps in the Customer Operations Directorate.

A year ago, Ross said it took a lot longer for her to get dressed for work. She didn’t feel comfortable in her clothing and in her skin. She huffed and puffed up the stairs to her office on the third floor when she was not taking the elevator.  

As the wife of a pastor and a minister herself, she often appears at public events on the weekends. At times, she was less confident because of her weight.

“I had to get some things under control,” she said.

Ross saw some friends posting on Facebook about a fitness program at a local gym. She followed their progress in the “lose 20 pounds in six weeks” program, and thought that was the healthy jumpstart she needed.

When she walked into a gym last March, she thought she was going to die after a few jumping jacks. She wasn’t sure how to get off the floor when attempting burpees. She went to the coach-led, group workouts five times a week and the total body workouts got easier.

“After a couple weeks I was into it, just pushing myself and setting goals,” she said. “And I was talking to myself all the time, ‘don’t quit, don’t quit.’”

In the beginning, Ross did modified, lower intensity exercises. She’s progressed from those green and red zone exercises into the black zone, the highest level, including full burpees from the floor.

“I would tell my husband he has to see me in the gym picking up these weights,” she said.

After the first six-week program, Ross lost 17.5 pounds and five percent body fat. She lost more weight during a second six-week program. She was down 40 pounds, but has gained a few pounds of muscle.

The people in her workout group motivated each other, Ross said. She also posted her progress on Facebook, which helped keep her accountable and even inspired others to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Phyllis Parker has worked with Ross for more than 10 years and said she’s proud of Ross’ transformation. Parker said she doesn’t see Ross grab the doughnuts, bagels and bread available in their work area.

“Staying away from that table was quite a milestone for me,” Ross said. “I knew that when I was hungry, it was easy to get something there every day.”

Ross now also avoids fried food and eats more fruits, vegetables and grilled foods.

Parker also noted that Ross now climbs the steps to their third floor office daily.

“She definitely has more energy,” Parker said.

Ross said her increased energy has made her more forward thinking at work and eager to take on more challenging assignments.

“I’m finding out through this journey that there’s still more in me, greater things to do, more to give,” she said. “When I walk out of here someday, I want to say I left it all on the (Naval Support Activity Philadelphia) compound, including the pounds.”

Ross didn’t play many sports before, but she said she’s now found the athlete in her. Running is Ross’ next challenge. She started training in January for a 5K run, a 5 miler and possibly the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia in May.