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Vet who lost 230 pounds has ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner

Man on scale with a woman dietitian

Dietitian Leah King and Roger Beasing

Credits VA’s MOVE! Program with Saving his Life

Roger Beasing has about 230 reasons to be very thankful.

That’s how many pounds he has lost since joining VA’s MOVE! program.

“The day I showed up at the VA's door it saved my life. And that's no exaggeration.”

You don’t want to hear about this when you are looking forward to all those goodies on the Thanksgiving Day table. Well, Roger will be going back for seconds, too. But with a new approach you’ll find helpful.

When we first introduced you to Roger, he had made a serious commitment to lose weight. “I had a desire to live, and to live a life of quality.”

He wasn’t going to do that at 425 pounds.

“Believe you still have the discipline and perseverance that served you well in your term of duty to your country.”

— Veteran Roger Beasing

Roger signed up for 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.”

Last Chance Time

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.”

In that first story on Roger in February of 2010, we reported that he had lost 200 pounds. He has now lost another 30 pounds.

How is he doing that?

“I control my sugar and fat intake. Sodium, also. I'm slowly expanding my available menu, working toward a healthier diet.

“I'm including fish regularly now, an important addition.”

Leah King also points out that regular exercise is a must. And, Roger adds, "Exercise helps me keep my head in the game. I walk early in the morning 5-6 times a week and exercise 4-5 times a week, including once a week in the pool. “I've added more strength exercises and the rowing machine.”

And how is he going to deal with all that food on Thanksgiving Day?

“A reasonable helping of whatever I like. And maybe even a small second helping of my favorites…and a sliver of pumpkin pie.

“Because I normally restrict the amount of food I eat, sudden overindulgence on a large scale can wreak havoc on my digestive system.”

What advice does he have for his fellow Vets?

Just Take it Easy

“Take the time to eat slowly, enjoying each bite. This will allow the ‘full feeling’ to happen before overeating. Eating faster doesn't make it taste better.

“It’s a special meal. Enjoy yourself. Just take it easy. Most of all, it is a day to appreciate all that we have and all those who are important to us.”

Roger is still in the MOVE! program and attends both group sessions and individual sessions with Leah King on a monthly basis at the Eureka VA Outpatient Clinic. He now keeps a daily food log which King reviews, offering suggestions, and praise.

Have you lost weight and then put it back on? Roger: been there, done that.

“Twice before, I had lost 160 pounds, only to gain it back, and more, because I had returned to my old poor habits.”

How did he get to 425 pounds?

“I vainly thought I was somehow immune to the problems caused by morbid obesity. I wasn't. I was out of energy by noon, resulting in the ‘sit and eat’ portion of my day. I didn't eat tons of food, but I ate the wrong foods at the wrong times of day, with no physical activity.

“The biggest reason? I had given up. I ate what I wanted when I wanted. And what I wanted was full of heavy sugar, fat or sodium.”

Believe in Yourself

One of the things VA’s MOVE! program taught Roger was, “Hunger is my friend. 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.”

Roger’s Thanksgiving wish for those Veterans who keep putting on weight is this:

“Believe you can change, and still enjoy eating just as much as ever. Believe you still have the discipline and perseverance that served you well in your term of duty to your country. Believe that support and guidance are available every step of the way.

“Believe that those who love you want you to live a long and healthy life, for your sake, and theirs. Believe in yourself.”