MOON ed & mary jo 5

USFHP Member Series: The Moons MOVE! into Action

Couple sheds 170 pounds in Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan Weight Loss Program

When retired U.S. Navy Chief Ed Moon and his wife Mary Jo attended their first Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan-sponsored MOVE! class in September 2014, they had no idea their decision to take control of their health would lead to more than 150 pounds of collective weight loss and a step toward healthy living.

Ed Moon, a Navy veteran with 20 years of service, has been a US Family Health Plan member since 2011. He had visited the doctor multiple times after his weight had climbed to 310 pounds and was experiencing back and joint pain, sleep apnea and difficulty walking. Mary Jo Moon avoided the doctor altogether after her weight reached 258 pounds, though she feared the possibility of a stroke, a heart attack or developing diabetes. But she knew her family had to make a change.

Fortuitously, the couple received a brochure in the mail advertising MOVE!, a weight management program designed by the Veterans Affairs National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention to improve veterans’ health nationwide.

Ed and Mary Jo Moon, before and after their impressive initial weight loss.

Ed and Mary Jo Moon, before their weight loss journey began, and after. Image Credit: Courtesy of Johns Hopkins.

The program features weekly classes and recommends a variety of individualized behavioral and lifestyle changes so participants can lose weight and keep it off. What the Moons did not realize at that time was that, as at-risk US Family Health Plan members, they had been specifically profiled for the program.

“When we first received the brochure, we didn’t know that this amazing program would allow us to work toward our goals and establish a routine to lose weight and exercise,” Ed Moon says.

On Sept. 4, 2014, the Moons attended their first class and met Rachelle Cannon, M.S., C.W.H.C, a U.S. Family Health Plan health coach and their future weight loss mentor.

“The importance of the MOVE! Program is to encourage participants to express their ideas, to explore evidence-based health practices that the educator shares from the curriculum, to consider new ways of approaching and/or viewing nutrition, exercise, and the power of the mind, to ask questions, and most importantly, to meet other people who experience similar challenges,” Cannon says.

Cannon, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, brought a “perky” energy to the program that then Moons said was crucial to their weight loss journey. Since the Moons’ first MOVE! class, they have lost a combined total of more than 170 pounds and have kept it off.

“Rachelle was a catalyst,” Mary Jo Moon says. “Her advice and suggestions were the foundation on which we built our food and exercise habits. The program introduced us to the concept of food tracking and using a pedometer to help set exercise goals and track success. My favorite part was the 80-20 rule of eating: eat well 80 percent of the time and forgive yourself for the 20 percent you don’t.”

Ed and Mary Jo share a healthy snack with MOVE! coach Rachelle Cannon (center).

Ed and Mary Jo share a healthy snack with MOVE! coach Rachelle Cannon (center).  Image Credit: Courtesy of Johns Hopkins.

In addition to eating well, the Moons have surprised even themselves by developing a fondness for walking and running. They ran their first 5K on New Year’s Day 2015 and have since done a 4-mile walk or run each weekend, with Mary Jo tacking on a monthly 5k-run. This was a dramatic improvement from the days before they joined the MOVE! program, when on a trip to Virginia Beach, they struggled to navigate the boardwalk.

“From our hotel we could see the King Neptune statue,” Ed Moon recalls. “I thought it was really close, but when we started walking there, it was so grueling that we almost had to take a taxi back. A year later we walked the entire length of the boardwalk and waved at Neptune as we went by. And we’re going to continue to see how far we can go each time we visit. I haven’t had to pay for a single cab yet.”

The Moons attribute their achievements on the boardwalk and on the scale to the valued, specialized care they receive through Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plan—a plan on which they’ve come to rely.

“I would be crushed if US Family Health Plan were not in the military healthcare system. This has been great for us and for our health,” Ed Moon says. “I’m getting ready to retire. We’re considering staying in this area, because of the care. There are cheaper and maybe more comfortable places to live, but I would like to stay in the coverage area of the US Family Health Plan.”

US Family Health Plan provides the TRICARE Prime benefit through six non-profit regional health care provider organizations that serve military families and retirees with quality coordinated care and best-in-class patient satisfaction.