United States Department of Veterans Affairs
 Health Care
California Veteran Loses 200 Pounds in VA's MOVE! Program
Roger Beasing, standing in front of VA Eureka Veterans Clinic
Veteran Roger Beasing, who lost over 200 pounds in the VA MOVE! Program, is enjoying his new healthy, lean life.

California Veteran Roger Beasing made a commitment to lose weight. That was 200 pounds ago. When he went to the Eureka VA Outpatient Clinic, he weighed 425 pounds and knew he needed to lose weight.

"I had a desire to live, and to live a life of quality. My heart was in jeopardy from obesity. After I began to lose weight, I found out about my irregular heartbeat and my need for a pacemaker. I knew then that I was fighting for my life."

Roger signed up for the VA's MOVE! program which is tailored to meet the individual needs of each veteran. MOVE! provides guidance on nutrition and physical activity and allows Veterans to set their own pace through goal setting and a stepped level approach. Leah King, a VA registered dietitian, told Roger, "You can do this. Anybody can do this. You just need commitment and focus." Roger made important changes in his diet. "I cut out fast food and kept sugar intake to an absolute minimum. I ate way too much of both before I started losing weight. I significantly increased my fruit and vegetable intake and decreased the portion size."

Having lost weight several time before and always gained it back, he was determined to complete the program. Roger admits, "It was last-chance-time, no messing it up. I was determined to eat healthy. I now have my sleep apnea under control and have resources and support."

"Hunger is the Feeling of Me Losing Weight"

"Hunger is my friend," Roger says. "It's the feeling of me losing weight. However, extreme hunger is not recommended. Fruit or a little protein, such as a couple slices of lean deli meat, can take the edge off and tide you over."

For folks who need to lose a lot of weight, he advises, "Use whatever resources are available to you. You don't know it all. But do know this is your battle. You must help yourself - no one can do it for you. Use your knowledge and resources to find out what works for you within a framework of healthy foods and a plan for the long term when you've reached your goal weight."

Dietitian King knows that old habits of eating large portions are hard to break. "A lot of sugar and fast foods are hard to resist. You need will power and an enormous desire to succeed. Roger had that."

Roger remembers dealing with impulse control, when you really want to eat something that you know is "off" your diet and eating plan. "I reminded myself of how hard I have worked to accomplish my goals, and how counterproductive these things are. The few moments of ‘pleasure' rarely offset the damage done."

VA registered dietitian Leah King (left) and Veteran Roger Beasing (right)
Veteran Roger Beasing checks in on a regular basis with Leah King, VA registered dietitian, who helped him lose over 200 pounds in the VA MOVE! Program.

"I Now Have a Chance for a Quality Life"

Hundreds of Veterans like Roger are enrolled in the national VA MOVE! program designed to help veterans lose weight, keep it off, and improve their health through lifestyle changes.

He plans to maintain his new healthy weight by doing what he has done the last few months. "I must keep my sugar intake as low as possible and stay away from the fast food and large portions." Leah King also points out that regular exercise is a must. And, Roger adds, "Exercise helps me keep my head in the game."

Roger has high praise for Leah King and the program: "MOVE! is a key component to keeping myself on the right track. Ms. King's knowledge and support have been of great value to me. Her spirit and positive approach are inspiring and genuine."

Carol Ceresa, Clinical Nutrition Section Chief at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, notes that, "Roger's progress is a remarkable story which depicts the possibilities, without surgery, for a new and healthier life." The Eureka Outpatient Clinic is one of four outpatient clinics of the San Francisco Medical Center.

The MOVE! health care team at your local VA medical center will provide you with support and follow-up. Veterans who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for a number of health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, sleep apnea and gallstones.

Now that he has almost reached his goal weight, Roger says, "I feel proud. I feel grateful to all those who have helped me get through some difficult times. I feel I now have a chance at a quality life for my remaining years. I am fortunate!"

Related site: MOVE!

By Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer