MOVE Program Helps Veteran Lose 35 Pounds - Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System


MOVE Program Helps Veteran Lose 35 Pounds

A Veteran and VA Dietician

VA Dietician Melinda Smiley (left) discusses VA's MOVE Program with Vietnam Veteran Joe Dunbar.

By Nathan Schaeffer
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vietnam Veteran Joe Dunbar said he never chose to sign up for the MOVE program, VA’s national weight management program, which seeks to help Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health.

“I didn’t decide, my wife decided for me,” said Dunbar, who lives in Bixby.  “She’s been trying to lose weight for 20 or 30 years.  In retrospect, she said I would never join her, so it was much harder for her to eat a certain way when I wasn’t eating a certain way.”

In January, when he and his wife began attending MOVE group classes at the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, Dunbar weighed 243 pounds.  At first, he was skeptical about the program, which is led by VA Dietician Melinda Smiley.

“The funny thing is when I filled out the initial survey, the data came back and Melinda said I needed counseling because I didn’t have the right attitude,” he said with a laugh.  “I just came along for the ride and wasn’t expecting anything.”

But then Dunbar began to put into practice what he learned from MOVE group classes and individual counseling sessions with Smiley.  On August 30, Dunbar stepped onto a scale at the Tulsa Clinic and Smiley recorded his weight - 208 - a 35 pound drop since he started the MOVE program.

Dunbar said the most important thing he learned from the MOVE program and Smiley was an awareness of what he was eating.

“If you go to Lowe’s or Wal-Mart and just throw everything in a cart without looking at the price, you’re going to be surprised at the check-out,” said Smiley.  “Most people think that they don’t eat that much, but when they really see what they’re doing, it’s a big surprise and he definitely saw it and made the change and he’s been able to maintain that.”

Dunbar now reads food nutrition labels at the grocery store and before eating out at restaurants and also uses a diet log to track what he eats each day.

“We don’t buy anything at the grocery store without reading the label or looking at the salt content,” he said.  “If you want to be healthy, you just can’t eat what you use to eat and I’m comfortable with that now.  I have had no urge to change the way I’m eating in the eight months I’ve been on the MOVE program.”

One of the drawbacks of losing weight was that his pants no longer fit him, but Dunbar was more than happy to buy new clothes.

“In the last three months, I’ve given away or (sold) all my 40s (size pants) and I’m back to 38s and I can almost get into some 36s,” said Dunbar.  “There’s a grin on your face when that happens.”

If you’re enrolled with the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center and want to learn more about our MOVE program, please contact Melinda Smiley at 918-628-2509.  The MOVE program is open to all Veterans who receive their care through VA.


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