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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
Vets Tone Up and Lose Fat through MOVE!
By Todd Goodman
Tuesday, August 20, 2019When Veterans at the Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center want to lose weight, they get moving through the MOVE! program, which covers different topics on healthy eating, behavior modification, and physical activity.
MOVE! has several components, including a health teaching kitchen, support groups, weekly class series, telehealth options, walking groups, and more. All are designed to bring Veteran health to the forefront.
“It’s really rewarding when the Veteran tells me, ‘I feel better and I have more energy,’” said Jordyn Forsyth, MOVE! weight management coordinator. “They show up to class and seem happier with themselves. I love it when they lose weight, but when I can see the outcomes in their energy levels or mood and can see that it’s improving their quality of life, that’s when I know I’m really making a difference. The weight outcomes are great, but the real outcome is they are improving their overall health through the program.”
More than 4,000 Veterans come through the program each year. At the end of the main courses, Veterans are asked to do a survey to see if they have made changes and how successful they were. This feedback helps staff plan the program.
“I think it’s a good program for empowering Veterans to take control of health and equips them with the skills needed to not only treat but also prevent several chronic diseases,” said Forsyth.
Army Veteran Warren Faubion, 65, chose MOVE! for that very reason—he didn’t want to be on medication for cholesterol and high blood pressure. He completed the 16-week program and lost 15 pounds.
“We met once a week and covered everything from exercise to counting calories,” said Faubion. “You learn to read food labels and they give you a pedometer so you can track your movement. It helps motivate you. I forced myself through the pain of a hip injury to walk again and choose the natural path. It gave me a much more active lifestyle. As you get older, you get stuck in your ways and don’t move around as much. So, I am immensely thankful to the program for getting me moving again.”
In addition to the 16-week program, Faubion also completed MOVE! Chef and a gardening class. He credits the cooking class with giving him the best nugget of information.
“The pearl I took from that class was the green smoothie,” he said. “The recipe was simple and got rid of my cravings for processed foods. I lost 16 pounds and much of my arthritic pain disappeared. I have not missed a day of the smoothies since taking that class. I didn’t change my diet and it required no effort other than making that smoothie. My stomach feels tight and my energy has increased. It was effortless. MOVE! has been lifesaving for me.”
Weight loss isn’t easy and results vary, but 25% of people who participate in MOVE! lose at least five percent of their total body weight.
“Five percent is the goal is to improve health outcomes for obesity,” said Forsyth. “It’s been shown to improve heart health and extend life span. Some Vets come in and want to lose 100 or 200 pounds, but just focusing on that first 5-10% is where we get started. I do have people who end up losing 100 pounds, but it takes a little longer than 16 weeks.”
There are many options within the program that Veterans may find appealing. Patients interested in losing weight and enrolling in the MOVE! program can call Forsyth at (713) 791-1414 ext. 26166 to get started.
“If it weren’t for the MOVE! program, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Faubion. “Jordyn got me moving again. She gave me an alternative … I don’t take blood pressure or cholesterol meds and I was on the path of needing them. The program changed my life and put a smile on my face.”