After Struggling to Get Healthy, This DotRx Coach Now Helps Others

Annette BartleyAs soon as Annette Bartley heard about the opportunity to become a DotRx  coach, she knew that it was something she wanted to do. Bartley, a Codman patient , knew that as someone who struggled to get healthy and succeed with lifestyle changes, she wanted to help others do the same.

Bartley was one of the first  coaches , in Codman’s DotRx healthy prescription program and loves it. DotRx is a no-cost, prescription-based program for Dorchester residents who are patients at Codman. With the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ma and our community partners The Daily Table, Healthworks, Outdoors Rx and the Dorchester YMCA, our providers write “prescriptions with the goal to connect families to experiences that promote healthier lives, including opportunities to eat healthy, get outside, and be active. A key component to the program is that patients are connected with a  peer coach – a resident from our community   who can help them eat healthier and engage in more activity – outdoors and indoors.

Bartley, now in her second year, finds helping families rewarding and fun. She recollected that her first DotRx  family was introduced to the program by their Codman provider.  prescribed DotRx because their 12-year-old was struggling with weight issues.  Bartley reached out to the family and met them at Franklin Park for a walk, through the Outdoors Rx program.

While the youth was reluctant at first, Bartley stressed “try everything once and see if you like it,” and the boy ended up having a good time while he got some exercise. Another day they went to the Roxbury Y so the mom could take a Zumba class and the son could play basketball.

She has inspired several families with her gentle but persistent outreach, and keeps up with them by texting frequently, asking them to shoot a quick picture of them being active or enjoying a healthy meal, and generally giving support and advice. She also shares her own journey with DotRx patients, texting back photos of herself being active.

She reads a lot of health information and talks with friends who are fitness enthusiasts. “Even though we are not experts in everything, people see that you lost weight and will do the same things you did,” Annette says.

At one point, in her life, Bartley struggled to lose weight.  As a high school swimmer, getting to the YMCA to swim for exercise was a natural step. However, when swimming alone wasn’t accomplishing what she wanted, she knew she needed to add something new to her fitness routine. She realized it was challenging to step into the gym and to try something new, but she put herself out there and encourages DotRx families to do the same.

When it comes to healthy eating, Annette sings the praises of The Daily Table, a low-cost grocery store in Codman’s Health and Wellness Center at 450 Washington St. Dorchester, whose mission is to sell healthy and tasty food at fast food prices.

“You can have a ‘hungry horror’ day and go into Daily Table and grab a quick, healthy, and affordable snack. How much damage can you do at Daily Table? Most of their products are healthy,” she says. She gives clients tips based on her own experience there, such as going in at night and buying two salads – one for dinner and one for lunch the next day.

When she talks about exercise, she talks about the Dorchester YMCA pool for families, and was thrilled to see one client who had a particularly difficult time because of pain and inflammation do well in the pool. “She couldn’t believe what she could do in the water that she couldn’t do on land — squats, kicks, jumping jacks.” She also talks about the benefits of working out at healthworks Fitness at 450 Washington Street.  Annette stressed that having a  coach is what got this particular client to try the pool in the first place.

Bartley, like the other DotRx coaches, has a full-time job. She knows the challenges of making time for a healthy lifestyle when your schedule is tight. She has had a lot of success with the clients she has worked in the program, and loves being able to work with members of her community and show them the resources they have here in the neighborhood.