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Veteran loses 140 pounds with VA TeleMOVE! program

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Many Veterans are working to improve their health and well-being. For those wanting to make healthy lifestyle changes, VA’s TeleMOVE! program is ready to help Veterans manage their weight, eat wisely and be more physically active. TeleMOVE! care coordinators partner with Veterans to create personalized, monitored health and weight management plans.

Navy Combat Veteran Reid Kochel began TeleMOVE! at the suggestion of his care team at Black Hills VA. Since starting the program, he has lost over 140 pounds.

TeleMOVE!

The TeleMOVE! program within the Remote Patient Monitoring-Home Telehealth program (RPM-HT) matches Veterans with a VA care coordinator for guidance and accountability. It also provides Veterans with at-home health monitoring technologies, such as activity trackers and scales. The 90-day weight management program focuses on making healthy behavior changes to reach health and weight-loss goals. These may relate to a range of health concerns, including diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.

Kochel met his care coordinator Melissa Treinen during the initial TeleMOVE! home telehealth assessment. Treinen is a registered dietitian and national board-certified health and wellness coach. The pair developed goals and a care plan tailored to Kochel’s needs.

“One thing I like about the TeleMOVE! program is being able to build a rapport with the Veterans I’m working with so they feel comfortable sharing any challenges that may come along with weight management,” Treinen said.

Kochel’s story

During a checkup, Kochel learned that his weight was significantly impacting his health. His VA provider encouraged him to join a weight-loss program.

Though he began losing weight through a popular non-VA weight loss program, he gained it back when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. After consulting with his VA care team, he decided to join the TeleMOVE! program to learn useful strategies for developing lasting habits.

Kochel said the remote aspect of the program was a big driving factor for him to join.

“I didn’t like the idea of having to travel to meetings. It takes up a lot of extra time and money. Melissa mentioned the TeleMOVE! program and I thought, ‘Well I’ll try that.’ Once I got my scale and started writing everything down, I noticed the pounds coming off,” Kochel said.

Kochel attributes the majority of his weight loss to monitoring and tracking his food intake. He said that when he began to lose weight, he noticed he could do more things. For example, he no longer needs oxygen to walk around and he can once again bend over to pick things up or tie his shoes. “There’s a lot of benefits to losing weight. You feel better and you have a more positive attitude towards life because you can do things,” he added.

140 pounds down

Since beginning the program in spring 2022, Kochel has lost 140 pounds and is still working toward his goals. He is currently on his sixth 90-day TeleMOVE! program and plans to take part in five or six more cycles. His goal is to get back to his weight when he served in the Navy. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

Kochel has found the monthly conversations with his care coordinator have helped him stay motivated and accountable. He has enjoyed being able to discuss his weight and ask questions of someone knowledgeable about nutrition.

“They definitely have a positive effect with their advice. It does help with accountability, too, because you have somebody other than yourself to answer to. They always have encouraging remarks,” Kochel said.

Treinen has a message for any Veteran looking to make a change toward a healthier lifestyle: “Take it one step at a time. You’ll have a care coordinator to support you along the way.”

To learn more about the program, speak with your VA primary care provider or visit the MOVE! Weight Management Program page.

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