At a time when many people were struggling with weight management in the midst of a global pandemic — roughly 42% of U.S. adults reported undesired weight gain — one woman decided to begin a journey to better health. Morgan Dennehy, of Columbia, Missouri, had been working from home, where food, snacks and the temptation to bake cupcakes were just a short walk away.
“My desk is literally in my kitchen,” she said. “I can see food 24/7 because I don’t leave the house.”
Before Morgan realized it, she was over 300 pounds. Doctors warned her she was at-risk of a stroke if she didn’t change her lifestyle. And like millions of Americans that go undiagnosed, she was a type 2 diabetic and had no idea.
“I was terrified,” she said, “and I knew, if I don’t start changing something, I’m not going to live to see 50.”
Morgan’s family has a history of diabetes and hypertension — and she saw firsthand how devastating it can be. Determined to not go down the same path, Morgan turned to Real Appeal — a personalized, interactive online weight loss program through UnitedHealthcare.
“The first step is knowing that you are where you are, but you don’t have to stay there,” Morgan said.
Real Appeal provides simple steps and a year of personalized support to help motivate people, like Morgan, to create healthier habits, get active and meet weight loss targets.
Through the help of personal coaches and convenient tracking tools, Real Appeal helped Morgan stay motivated and adopt healthier behaviors, like incorporating daily physical activity and making more nutritious choices to support her weight loss goals. She now reads food labels to understand the calorie intake and discovered how meal prepping can help her incorporate healthier options on a daily basis.
“There's a difference when you walk out the door, even if it's just to go for a walk, knowing that your body is behaving differently. You're shaped differently. You're moving differently and you're breathing differently,” Morgan said. “Your heart's not pounding in your ears.”
Real Appeal takes an individualized approach to help members like Morgan. Some of the offerings include:
- Support from an online coach who leads group sessions and helps you set goals
- Digital tools to track food, activity and weight loss progress
- A Success Kit that includes fitness guides and DVDs, a recipe book and a scale
“UnitedHealthcare is committed to finding new approaches to help people reduce their risk for weight-related health conditions — such as heart disease and diabetes — and offers Real Appeal to members in an effort to tackle these conditions,” said Gloria Sargent, the executive director of UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual for Missouri and Central/Southern Illinois. “It’s great to see the impact it can make in someone’s life.”
Since beginning Real Appeal last year, Morgan has lost more than 34 pounds. In addition, she’s been able to reduce her back pain and lower her blood pressure. Morgan said simply put, the program has changed her life. She feels healthier and more confident.
“None of my clothes fit,” Morgan said. “My shoes don't even fit. It's like there's a whole new world out there and you feel it for the first time.”