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Robert R. Cawley, D.O.

Dover, NH 03802

Education & Training

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Turning Lives Around: Personalized Weight Management

Jack M. admits he was overwhelmed as his weight neared 300 pounds. He was suffering from sleep apnea and then he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

But, like a lot of people, Jack’s life was hectic. He didn’t see how he could fit in exercising and a lifestyle change. He and his wife have five children. He is a fifth-grade teacher, works part-time on weekends for a wedding company, coaches soccer and is a college and career leader in his local community.

Then came the day he realized he couldn’t do otherwise. “It was time to make a change,” says the 36-year-old. “I had to do something because I was really stressed and I didn’t feel good.”

Dr. Gary Usher, of Coastal Neurology Services, recommended Jack join the new pilot Weight Management Program at The Works Family Health and Fitness Center, a department of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. It was just the impetus Jack needed.

Jack had begun changing his diet because of the diabetes diagnosis, but he needed more direction. That’s where his Works team came in - Brooke Gowdy-Johnson, a Registered Dietitian, and Katie Downer, his health coach. “It’s a lot of learning,” Jack says. “They taught me how to eat high-fiber, low-calorie foods and how to incorporate cardio and strength training into my routine.”

The key to a personalized weight loss plan is individualized advice on nutrition, exercise and developing lifelong behaviors for weight loss and improved wellness.

“We realized we had a unique opportunity to integrate our nutrition counseling services, our exercise programs, our health coaches and our state-of-the-art facility,” says Samantha Merchant, assistant executive director at The Works. “We knew it had to be customized to work.”

Jack says the customization and multi-accountability factor worked. “I was accountable to my spouse, to Brooke, to Katie and my doctors,” he says. “Knowing six people were checking in with me, made a difference. Not to mention that my students were watching me and they were seeing a difference.”

Nine months into the program Jack’s sugar level was down from 296 to 105. He had cut his diabetes medication from four pills a day to two. His weight had dropped more than 60 pounds.

“It was tricky at first fitting in the exercise,” Jack says. “But you just get in there and you can’t stop going.” Jack’s favorite time to exercise at The Works is in the evening, after his kids are finished their homework and they are getting ready for bed.

But as Jack’s physician, Dr. William Hassett, notes, “It has everything to do with Jack. He was very motivated.”

Jack agrees. “A lot of it is just personal responsibility. Do you really want to change your lifestyle? If you’re not happy with where you are, you have to put in the work.”

To be eligible for the program, an individual has to have a BMI of 30 or greater or a waist circumference of 35 inches or more for women; 40 inches or more for men. You may be referred through your provider or download a referral form at

Learn more about The Works Family Health & Fitness Center's Weight Management Program