Gary Russell, a Veteran enrolled in the Milwaukee, Wis., VA had a goal to lose weight; he just didn’t quite have a plan. That changed when he enrolled in VA’s TeleMOVE! Home Telehealth weight management program two years ago.

Since then, Gary has lost almost 70 pounds! Gary weighed 458 pounds before having gastric bypass surgery in 1999 at an outside hospital. He lost more than 200 pounds, and weighed about 220 pounds until 2004. Then, his weight began to increase, topping out at 292 lbs in 2011. Gary wanted to take the weight off again and took advantage of the TeleMOVE! program at that time.

The TeleMOVE! program includes daily weight monitoring and education from a Health Buddy, a small piece of digital equipment attached to his phone line. Veterans enrolled in TeleMOVE! also receive a scale, a MOVE handbook/reference materials, an exercise DVD and pedometer to use in their weight loss efforts. A dietitian or nurse Care Coordinator is available by phone for questions and guidance.

At the time Gary enrolled in the TeleMOVE! program, he was working long hours as a shipping supervisor. He consulted with his primary care clinic dietitian to get started with his weight loss efforts, but his work schedule did not allow him to take time off for weekly MOVE! weight management group classes. TeleMOVE!, the at-home weight management program, allowed him to receive educational messages at home at a time more convenient for his schedule. Gary made changes in his eating habits such as eating leaner meats, more poultry, more fruit and vegetables, and reducing his portion sizes. He did not do much dedicated exercise at first, but eventually he began walking two miles several times weekly and using his exercise bike.

Gary feels the TeleMOVE! daily messages were helpful and the program kept him accountable because it asks for daily weights. Since Gary retired, he joined the YMCA where he does water aerobics and other exercise classes at least three times weekly. In the spring he added five to eight mile bicycle rides several times each week. We applaud Gary in his efforts to get back down to and maintain a healthy weight!

If you have a goal to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle, VA is here to help. The MOVE! and TeleMOVE! weight management programs are available at your local VA medical center, and are accessible to Veterans enrolled in VA’s system. Ask to meet with a dietitian or to get enrolled in these programs at your next Primary Care visit, or call your local VA today.

Author Bios:

Anne Koth, RD/CD, MA, is a clinical dietitian at Zablocki VAMC in Milwaukee and a Veteran of the US Navy Reserve. Becky Paskievich, RD, LD is a clinical dietitian at the Lexington VA Medical Center.

Share this story

Published on Aug. 20, 2013

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 77


  1. Jason Thatcher September 1, 2013 at 4:45 am

    This looks like such a great program, I’m glad it’s worked for Gary so well!

  2. Dr. Sri S. Sriskanda August 23, 2013 at 8:09 am

    That is really cool. I think about that everyday.

  3. Tom August 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I run a local martial arts school and a lot of our members come to us with weight loss being their #1 goal.

    I would be more then happy to provide any VA member free counseling, meal planning, fitness training, martial arts training, etc.

    Feel free to contact me.

    I will contact my local VA in wilkes barre and the office of veterans affairs in scranton and see what I can do to get the ball rolling locallly.

  4. charisse August 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I would like to learn more about telemove program. I already have a health buddy set up. I ask my doctors in my last health care system before I switch to VA about getting lapband surgery since nothing else has worked to lose and keep of weight and I cant afford gym and cant go down to VA weekly for classes. I need to lose the weight in hopes of finding work and be able to work. Been unemployed for over 2yrs now due to medical issues. HELP!!

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • During Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September, the American Red Cross emphasizes the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those with sickle cell disease – the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S.

  • CaringBridge, a free online tool to communicate health news to family and friends, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

  • Shahpur Pazhman flew Black Hawk missions in 27 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, resupplying and relocating Afghan ground forces and evacuating casualties to safety. Thanks to Bridge My Return, he's back in the air.