Air Force Veteran Patsy Cowan is cheerful these days all due to a personal goal she set out to accomplish and with the help of a VA program, she did it. She can smile with pride or cry tears of joy, if she likes, because her difficult task is now complete.
Two years ago Patsy weighed 325. Today she's 185 pounds.
Patsy tried a number of methods to help her lose weight. Some things worked briefly and some didn't work at all. Tired of the many different weight loss program and diets, she joined MOVE!, a weight management program available at VA North Texas Health Care System.
MOVE! is a program designed by VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP) to help Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health. MOVE! emphasizes health and well-being, not appearance. It focuses on assisting Veterans to set achievable goals and on making healthy lifestyle changes, rather than dieting.
"MOVE! helped me set goals and become more accountable for the choices I made and for that – I am grateful," Patsy said. "As I became increasingly aware of my food choices and daily activities and altered them based on what I ate or did, I started seeing the results."
Although MOVE! is a national program, there are some unique features about what's offered at VA North Texas. The program here offers group classes and individual sessions which take place at the Dallas, Bonham and Fort Worth campuses. Group classes are also available remotely via telehealth at the Tyler clinic. What's more, Veterans have the option of enrolling in TELEMOVE! for 82 days, where they can participate from the comfort of their homes. Veterans who participate in group classes or TELEMOVE! receive pedometers, which enable them to track their physical activity by counting the number of daily steps they take. At each session, participants weigh in to track their progress. Patients participating in the home TELEMOVE! program are provided with a digital scale and a device called Health Buddy, which sends them daily messages.
Nicole Senecal, MOVE! coordinator for VA North Texas, said the program not only helps Veterans experience weight loss, but also gives them a sense of empowerment over their health. "When Veterans are able to actively participate in making positive lifestyle changes, then that makes the program worthwhile," Nicole said. "The significant improvements we see in overall health are a win-win for both the Veteran and the program."
Oftentimes, Veterans with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other diseases can achieve improvements with their conditions with decreased requirements for medications. MOVE! is also helpful for improving quality of life. Patsy knows all too well how the program helped her in tremendous ways.
"I used to ride an electric wheelchair at Dallas VA," Patsy said. "I can now walk."
Patsy has many to thank for her great success. "I give credit first and foremost to God. I cannot imagine doing this without Him," she said. Patsy also attributes her success to her family, friends and the VA North Texas MOVE! staff for their ongoing support and encouragement.
"Nothing makes my day more than when one of the Veterans who has participated in MOVE! stops me in the hall or comes by the office just to say 'Thanks' or when they tell how much of a real impact the program has made on their life," Nicole said. "Knowing that the MOVE! program is helping Veterans is very rewarding."
Enrollment in MOVE! is easy. You can fill out a MOVE! questionnaire form in person at Dallas VAMC or online at http://www.move.va.gov/move23/register.asp. When you complete the form in person, pick it up and drop it off at the MOVE! office in the Clinical Addition, Room 1B222. When you complete the questionnaire online, you will receive a retrieval code at the end. Your VA North Texas MOVE! coordinator needs the code to have access to your questionnaire. You can either call (214) 857-0094 with your code or mail your completed paper questionnaire and code to:
VA North Texas Health Care System
Attn: MOVE Coordinator (120)
4500 South Lancaster Rd
Dallas, TX 75216
Since the program began, more than 6,100 Veterans have participated. Become a part of that number today. For more information about the MOVE! Program at VA North Texas, contact Nicole Senecal at (800)849-3597 ext. 70094 or (214) 857-0094.