Weighty Conversations You’re Probably Not Having

January 31, 2008 at 12:35 am 1 comment

In my last post, I discussed my phobia about getting on the scale with a new doc even though I’ve lost 114 pounds. That longstanding worry will probably abate over time as I adjust to the “new me” whose weight is within normal ranges.

There’s another issue related to weight and doctors, though, that was highlighted in the latest article from the LEAN PLATE CLUB. The thrust of the article is that doctors and patients have trouble talking about weight. It’s true. When I was fat, I rarely had a doctor talk to me directly about my weight, and when they did, they merely told me I needed to lose some. That was it.

I’m very disappointed about having to change doctors because my last one, Dr. Adams, really engaged with me about my lifestyle change. First, Dr. Adams was fit and healthy (at least outwardly) herself. Second, she actually talked to me about how I’d lost so much weight, what I did for exercise, what I ate. She discussed it with me in depth, even calling in her nursing assistant to tell her what I’d accomplished. She ordered additional tests for me so I could better gauge how healthy I was. She truly cared about what I’d done.

Maybe that doesn’t surprise you, but it sure surprised me. The doctor I had before Dr. Adams barely acknowledged what I’d done. She was a lovely lady and seemed to be more than competent. But, other than saying “good job” when she saw I’d lost a few pounds since the last visit, she never said anything else about my weight loss. She didn’t ask me what I was doing, didn’t check to make sure I was doing it safely and healthfully. She was just not that interested. In my experience, she is the rule; Dr. Adams is the exception.

Part of this is due to our health care system. Doctors are time-crunched before they even see their first patient. They have to maximize the ten minutes they have with us by focusing on critical issues.

Part of it, I suspect, is also due to the fact that so many people are overweight and out of shape. It’s frustrating for doctors. As the LEAN PLATE CLUB article relates, they “…can simply feel exasperated at the yo-yo dieting that is frequently the norm among their patients.” The doctor quoted in the article described “… how he lost his temper with a 39-year-old man. The man had shed 18 pounds — and normalized his blood pressure — only to regain all the weight a few months later.” This doctor sees several patients with weight-related complications, so it’s discouraging for him.

The result?  Some doctors just don’t talk about it. Others try a “tough love” approach that doesn’t seem to work either, at least according to members of the LEAN PLATE CLUB. Tough love probably wouldn’t have worked for me either. What would have worked? Well, as the article says, “… an honest discussion between doctor and patient that acknowledges the struggles — as well as the rewards — of shedding pounds” would have been great.

Now, though, that I’m not reluctant to talk about it, I’d like to find another doctor like Dr. Adams… one who lives what she preaches and can help me do even better with my lifestyle change. I’m still looking.


Entry filed under: about me, doctors. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mike  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Having the pleasure of knowing you personally makes your incredible story that much more special! Your dedication is very inspiring! I know how hard it is to lose 20 pounds, let alone 6 times that, and I am a man with a good deal of muscle to help burn fat. You’re an amazing lady, and kudos to you for sharing your fantastic story with the world!


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