Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
A New Outlook on Life
Meet Gary Maples, a 59-year-old U.S. Army Veteran who served in Vietnam. Born in Idaho, Gary now lives in Windsor, Missouri. Gary lost his eyesight in 2009 because of a rare illness. He had always been active and maintained a healthy weight, but found himself depressed and doubting his life had a purpose. He began to eat more than usual to cope with his sadness, and became inactive. He gained 40 pounds, making his breathing problems and depression worse. Gary went to Hines VA Hospital’s Center for the Blind in the Chicago area, where he learned how to be independent again. It helped improve his outlook and gave him hope.
In 2012, Gary signed up for the MOVE! Weight Loss Program. This VA program helps Veterans learn the healthy way to lose weight and to keep it off. Gary continued working on weight loss after completing MOVE! He is now back to his ideal body weight. Gary hopes his story will inspire other Veterans with weight problems to strive for a healthier weight.
Gary started by making little changes, such as eating smaller portions during meals. In the MOVE! Program, he learned how to make healthier food choices, to measure portions and to count calories. He says, “I used to be a big meat eater. I started to eat more broiled fish. I still eat red meat sometimes, but have smaller portions.” Instead of snacking on high sugar foods, Gary now enjoys fresh fruit and vegetable trays. He adds, “Those things fill you up and taste good!”
Gary also stresses the importance of being active. He now enjoys taking 15 to 20 minute walks several times a day with his fiancée, Connie. If the weather is bad, he walks up and down the steps in his home. Through healthier eating and physical activity, Gary lost the 40 pounds he gained after he lost his sight. His health has improved and he has a new outlook on life.
Gary’s advice to other Veterans struggling with their weight is “never give up.” He says, “Don’t ever cut yourself short, no matter how hard it seems at first. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to live a longer and healthier life. Remember your basic training. It was hard at first, but you got through it. You can do this too!”
Brought to you by the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program