Florida Veterans achieve weight loss and overall health goals with VA’s MOVE! Program
Thousands of Veterans enrolled for care with the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System are shedding the pounds and improving their health through the MOVE! program – VA’s premiere evidence-based weight loss program.
MOVE!’s core ideas — encouraging healthy eating behavior and increasing physical activity are easy to follow and based on the latest in nutrition science. With the help of MOVE! facilitators, Veterans learn how to reduce health risks, prevent or reverse certain diseases, improve their quality of life, and even live longer.
“Once I retired I said to myself, you know what? It’s time to take care of me, and I’m going to call my doctor. I called her and said I want to get into the MOVE! program. It started January 9 of this past year,” explained Air Force Veteran Annaliese Smith.
“It was time to do something because I was extremely overweight. I was up to 277.7 pounds, which is outrageous. So far I’ve lost 90.2 pounds as of today,” she said.
The MOVE! Program is designed for both men and women and for Veterans of all ability levels.
“The programs that the VA is giving us are indispensable. This is a great program for people. I think more people should come to this program because, with the addition of the fitness, exercise and lifestyle changes towards eating right, you can get off a lot of the medications that you’re currently on and really get yourself in a much better position and a much healthier lifestyle to enjoy not just the length of your life, but the quality of your life as well,” said Air Force Veteran Shawn Tabb.
The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s MOVE! program aligns with the current whole health model approach. The bold redesign focuses on empowering and supporting Veterans to take charge of their health and well-being.
Program facilitator and registered dietitian P.J. Pivec emphasizes the importance of MOVE!’s overall goal.
“The goal of the MOVE! program is to create a positive environment to create a lifestyle change for Veterans. Of course, we do focus on weight and a lot of people are obsessed with the number on the scale, but we do so much more than that. We focus on healthy sustainable lifestyle where people are eating better, they’re exercising and living a healthier life,” Pivec said.
The program’s group sessions prove to have the greatest evidence for success and are the most common way Veterans stay motivated. Time-limited, clinician -led groups meet regularly and follow a structured format for weight loss and healthy living.
“The MOVE! program helped me to move, helped me to lose weight, and helped with my energy level. I really trust this program. Initially, I didn’t want to start it, but since I have gotten into it, it has really helped me,” said Army Veteran Michael Crosby. “I think this program is one of the best things the VA has going,” he said.
For many, support from family members or friends is an important part of achieving weight management goals. With the MOVE! Program, Veterans not only receive support from their loved ones, but from staff as well.
“I love PJ. If I ever have any problems, he spends time with me. He can also help you one on one, and help you with making your goal weight. I couldn’t do this without him. He is very helpful. Getting the help from PJ, the class atmosphere and the support from your peers makes your goals more achievable, said Army Veteran Albert Huth.
To learn how MOVE! can help you achieve your weight loss and overall health related goals, please visit: www.move.va.gov.
About the author: Melanie Thomas is a public affairs specialist for VA’s Bay Pines VA Health Care System. Bay Pines is one of the nation’s leading VA health care systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing high quality care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization operates nine facilities to include the medical center located in Bay Pines and clinics located throughout a 10-county area in southwest Florida.