Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
On the MOVE! to a Better Me
Weight loss surgery no longer needed after success with VA MOVE! Program
United States Coast Guard Veteran Ashley Fleming struggled to maintain a healthy weight throughout her life. Ultimately, she was medically discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard because of the additional weight she gained during her pregnancy. Devastated that her military career was over, Fleming decided to turn her unfortunate circumstances into something positive by getting a degree in physical education.
However, even after earning her degree, and being trained in nutrition and fitness, she still was not successful in her attempts to lose weight. Desperate for something that would work ― and weighing close to 300 pounds ― Fleming told her primary care provider that she wanted to have bariatric surgery.
To qualify for bariatric surgery, Fleming was required to enroll in Truman VA’s MOVE! Weight Management Program. Through her participation in the program, such as keeping food journals and receiving support from her classmates, Fleming noticed her extra weight was slowly coming off. Her initial successes motivated her, and she became more interested in how to change her diet and increase exercise.
“I wanted my story to be that I lost the weight myself and not because I had surgery,” said Fleming.
After completing the MOVE! Program and losing 30 pounds, Fleming decided that she no longer wanted to pursue bariatric surgery.
“I’ve now lost a total of 60 pounds and decreased my pants size from a 28 to an 18,” said Fleming. “I’m finally beginning to feel comfortable with who I am.”
Fleming said she has been using makeup and wore shorts this past summer — things she hasn’t done in a long time. She also used to avoid having her picture taken with her children because she was embarrassed with her appearance. Now she takes pictures with them and feels proud.
“Bariatric surgery is not for everyone,” said Fleming. “The procedure not only changes you physically, but also requires a lifelong commitment that not everyone can make. With the MOVE! Program, I realized I can lose weight, avoid surgical recovery and achieve comparable results. I’m definitely on the move to a better me.”