When the Flagstaff school district opened a Vera on-site clinic for its staff, Principal Frank Garcia thought it sounded like a cool idea. In particular, Frank was interested in health coaching. Diabetes was common in his family and he knew that his weight made him all the more likely to follow in their footsteps. So, he made an appointment.

A lofty goal

“I went to Vera and started meeting with Karleen, the health coach, and we started working on some different things and came up with a plan for reaching my goals. And I had a pretty lofty goal — it was to lose 50 pounds,” remembers Frank.

The process started slowly. First, they started with exercise. Working with Karleen to figure out how to best fit his workout into his busy day, Frank started going to the gym in the morning before school. “I’m up in the gym about 6:30 or 7 am for 30 to 45 minutes and go through my workout, and then I’m back home getting showered and ready for work. That has fit pretty nicely into my life,” says Frank.

One step at a time

Once the workout was established, Karleen and Frank pivoted to develop a better sleep schedule to account for Frank’s earlier mornings. After better sleep came better nutrition aided by making behavior changes, like staying away from snacks, and counting calories using a Fitbit.

As Frank recalls, “We set exercise goals, we set nutrition goals, we set sleep goals, all of those things to try and make this a successful experience, because most people give up at one point or another because it’s hard. It turned out actually not to be so hard.”

Big results

Less than a year after his first visit Frank had lost over 40 pounds. But he’s done more than just lose weight. With regular health coaching sessions at Vera, Frank has also learned about proper nutrition, taken control of his diet, and implemented a regular fitness program to kick off his day. “People will say that it’s nice to have a workout partner when you work out. I don’t have a workout partner, but this has been something that’s helped keep me on track,” says Frank. “I think what it does is it brings a level of accountability.”

“People need to decide what they really want. I’m not getting any younger and it’s not getting any easier. I knew what I needed to do, I just didn’t want to do it.”  Frank Garcia, Vera patient in Flagstaff

On top of nearly reaching his weight loss goal, Frank is also excited about the other positive health outcome’s he’s seen. “I’ve probably decreased my risk factors for getting diabetes tremendously. But the thing that’s been most startling is how much less things hurt. My knees, ankles, and back, all of those things had been creaky and achy. Now they aren’t anymore. I feel better now than I have in a very long time,” beams Frank.


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