Veterans Administration Medical Center, 1101 Veterans Dr., Lexington, KY 40536, (859) 233-4511
Christina McGlothlin-Boggs, a family nurse practitioner at Lexingtons Veterans Administration Medical Center, is passionate about improving the well-being of her patients. So she volunteers some extra time each week to run CHEFS (the Controlled Healthy Eating Forever Society), a weight-loss support group for veterans and their families.
CHEFS incorporates three elements that have been proven to help people lose weight and keep it off: food diaries, exercise, and group support. Participants keep track of what they eat and how much physical activity they get and attend weekly meetings, where they report on how theyre doing and get advice and encouragement from one another. Each meeting may also include an educational or motivational presentation, after which the members set short-term goals to be worked on for the next time.
Many veterans who seek help at a VA medical center have chronic diseases; face financial difficulty; or use wheelchairs, canes, walkers, or other aids to get around. Such problems can be seen as reasons not to start or stick to a weight-loss regimen. But CHEFS takes a no excuses approach, Christina says.
You can always do better than what you are currently doing, she explains. You can move your body through space despite physical problems. You can choose better foods despite budget concerns. You can choose to eat less. You can choose to take care of yourself regardless of where you live, where you work, what diseases you have.
By emphasizing that theres no quick fix to the problem of obesity, the CHEFS project has seen some newcomers drop out after realizing the commitment involved. But Christina takes her own inspiration from another kind of storylike the one about the faithful member who has stuck with the program for more than three years, lost more than 50 pounds, rediscovered the pleasures of canoeing, and thrown away his diabetes medication.