Mobile app Helps Veteran Drop Weight and Live Healthily

Holding a white mobile phone.

​U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Dalton readily admits one of his biggest limitations while trying to lose weight was himself. An avid cook, Dalton faced a fourth hip surgery, growing concerns about his glucose levels and caregiving for his 80-year-old mother who needs insulin twice a day.

"I don't want to have to do that myself someday. That was my biggest inspiration," he said.

In May 2015, Dalton's primary care doctor at the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center in southern Michigan encouraged him to participate in MOVE!, VA's in person weight management program. Having tried MOVE! once before without lasting success, Dalton was ready to try again and was excited to discover the MOVE! Coach app.

"My smartphone is always with me, making it easy to use MOVE! Coach to write down what I'm eating, while I'm eating," Dalton said.

MOVE! Coach's easy-to-use, self-guided program provides Dalton and other Veterans with everything they need to help set and track their diet, physical activity and weight goals. For a total of 19 weeks, MOVE! Coach walks Veterans through a series of self-management guides.

Dalton says he uses the app throughout each day to help keep him on track. By following MOVE! Coach over the course of a few months he has dropped more than 60 pounds, going from almost 250 pounds down to around 183 pounds.

"The results have been staggering," he noted.

But, it's not just weight loss results. Dalton's health has dramatically improved. He's attributed a shorter recovery time from his latest hip surgery to carrying around less weight and lower blood sugar results.

"Through MOVE! Coach I have gotten my blood sugar down to normal," he said. "The only way to do that was to get my weight down and watch what I eat."

And for Dalton, an enthusiastic cook who spends his free time working at a local theater cooking for rock-and-roll bands when they come through Chicago, getting a handle on meals was crucial to his weight loss and health improvements.

"I specialize in affordable home cooking, mostly for bands from the 60's like The Buckinghams and Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Sam Lee," he said, boasting that "Sam Lee said I made the best bread pudding he's ever had."

When asked what advice he would give to Veterans thinking about using MOVE! Coach, Dalton emphasizes that the app is a tool—one of many available for Veterans.

"When you combine the app with the MOVE! program and your primary care—and if you're lucky enough to be near a VAMC with a fitness center—all of that comes together to make a successful program. But the tools are right there on the app," he said.

As part of his care, he also used VA Telehealth Services to communicate with a VA dietitian, who is a specialist about 90 miles away. The dietitian helps him balance building muscle without gaining weight.

He wants Veterans to know that "the number one goal here is your health. Losing weight will make a big difference. For anyone wanting to use the app, self-monitoring is essential."

He adds, "I strongly encourage anyone to follow along with the self-management guides. They might sound silly, but it's sound advice and keeps you motivated."


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