An Almost-Positive “Weight Management” Experience

So I had to visit a doctor a couple of weeks ago, the pain in my left knee having become nearly unbearable; a thousand years ago I had arthroscopic surgery on it after a car accident and now have arthritis in it. Anyway, since I am relatively not-too-old, the options for a knee replacement are basically nill. Not because the doctor won’t do it, but because the chances of it being successful in the long-term are poor. I could get it done and would need another one before I retired, and would probably outlive that one also. 

And then there’s the whole weight thing. 

I’d need to lose some in order to even become a candidate for such surgery. I of course knew that and had not considered a knee replacement. At all. (I got a cortisone shot and, other than twinges when the weather is damp, I’m doing fabulously)

I had a referral to my insurance’s “weight management” orientation, where they talk to you about the various options for weight loss support offered by the carrier. I went and of course the young woman who did the introduction was quite fit.

Not the best way to have open minds in the room. But I digress. On to the doctor, who did most of the presentation.

He too was fit, but in his opening comments talked about how he had been struggling with weight since he was a child. He mentioned that he had found a way to drop some of that weight over the last couple of years, and had many in the room on the edge of their seats, hoping for a miracle answer. He shared that he had completed one of the programs about which he was going to talk with us and also that he had one other thing that helped him tremendously. 

It turned out that talking to rooms full of people anxious to lose weight helped him more than anything else. He said it was because not only were the pitfalls of the various plans and whatnot in his head but they were constantly coming out of his mouth. I guess it was a true example of “physician, heal thyself,” but my first mind suggested in its sly fashion that he got inspiration to succeed because of dealing with so many who struggled. It’s cruel but true in some cases. There was someone in the room who was desiring a second bariatric procedure because they had gained all the weight back (and more) from the last one.

If you see someone torture themselves like that, it might just dissuade you from going down the same path. Just sayin’.

Anyway, doctor dude was very honest. He said that none of the so-called weight management options would take weight off and keep it off.

I love honesty.

He went on to talk about how “treating” weight issues was like “treating” a symptom. He used a fever as an example:

If you present with a fever, a doctor might tell you he can cure it. He tells you to take this magical elixir known as Tylenol. And you do, and your fever is gone. 

But then it comes back. You take more Tylenol. It goes away. And on and on.

Note the “cure” is not permanent. And that’s because the fever is a symptom of something else. 

For those who “fight” with weight, the “fight” is a symptom of something else; it might be heredity, hormones/hormone imbalances, self-image issues, depression, abuse, you name it. The doctor went on to ask how many of us were investing in ourselves. Not like, how many of us were getting regular mani/pedi’s but how many of us were paying attention to proper rest cycles, were not overdoing things in general, stuff like that.

His equation was no time=no health. If we take time to be healthy, something else has to be taken out of our day. We can’t add time.

Aside: I didn’t believe this doctor had ever struggled with his weight. Until I caught sight of his name badge that is. Obviously he had not had the photo taken recently; the guy on the badge was him, but a much heavier him.

So after hearing him, I knew that none of the options, however great they seemed, would be right for me to consider as an option to either lose weight or to improve health. Here’s why:

The doctor mentioned the sure-fire combination of things that lead to success with any life-changing program of action (weight loss, weight gain, smoking cessation, etc.). The primary thing is to not make the change in isolation. He said that people who have something going on in their lives that bother them (like being overweight, drug or alcohol addicted, etc.) often exist in isolation. So each of these programs has a support group and it was important to go. The support group is a major step in forming your success team. He then gave the three keys to a good team:

  1. Make sure the people on your team have the same goals. If you are looking to quit smoking, be around others who are trying to quit. You can have someone who already quit on your sideline, but he/she is not currently experiencing the same emotions, thoughts, cravings and so on as you and can’t be on the team.
  2. The people on your team need to be sincere. You all should be working toward your own goals in an honest and forthright way.
  3. You must like the other people on your team.

The doctor admitted that while he did one of the programs he was telling us about, he did not do well because he only had one of the three elements listed above. All the people were there with the same goal. He didn’t communicate much with them and didn’t seem to like them much so it wasn’t a good team for him.

And therein lies my dilemma. The last thing I’d want to do is go to a group. Not because I would worry about what to say, or how to say it, or what others would say. I’m just not into the group thing. I don’t do well in groups. I often say that if I had satellite, I would do well as a hermit on a deserted island. 

So, you may be wondering aloud, where is the “almost-positive” part of this experience? 

The doctor was late getting to us because he had been giving a presentation to other doctors about how to work with their patients regarding weight management. The primary thing he told them is to not shake their fingers at patients and tell them that losing weight will cure their ills, or that they will die earlier if they don’t lose weight. He informed them that there are NO studies that have proven people are less healthy or will die sooner if they are “overweight.” He said there are plenty of so-called “fit” people who are in very poor health.

So there you have it. A doctor who championed not the “thin” but the real.

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2 thoughts on “An Almost-Positive “Weight Management” Experience

  1. My muscular cousin was ordered to lose 20 pounds before he could have back surgery. From what I’ve observed, no matter what your weight, unless you are very thin, you are told to lose weight. It becomes kind of academic after a while and isn’t helping people who need surgery.

    • That is true; the purpose of telling folks to lose weight in the case of impending surgery is to ideally lose fat so as to make it easier for the surgeon to address the health issue without having fatty organs that would make recovery slow. It is when doctors use the “lose weight” card as a weapon/cure for every ill that is a problem.

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