I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk, Inc. to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
I remember when I got my first job with benefits and had to select a healthcare provider. I browsed through the many names and selected someone based on location and the school they attended. I went to these appointments with no questions or goals in mind other than to check the box in my planner. In my mind, it was what responsible adults were doing and I wanted to be seen as such. I did not realize that these appointments were more for than checking a box until I got older and my body started to change.
I should state that I hate going to the doctor. As a child it was the needles but as an adult, it was stepping on the scale. I was always the skinny one in high school and most of college but like most moms after birthing kids our bodies changed and then throw breast cancer into the mix. I convinced myself that I could go back if I wanted to and used the “busyness” as an excuse for why it never happened.
Our bodies are changing and often we don’t pay attention or ignore it until someone else mentions it. The weight discussion is often very uncomfortable especially with those that we should be discussing it with.
I am partnering with Med-IQ to expand awareness that obesity is a chronic disease and you should not be ashamed or afraid to seek medical help. Med-IQ is an organization that works with both patients and medical professionals. They make better healthcare possible by offering continuing education to healthcare providers and provide tools to improve communication about diseases and treatment.
Obesity is a disease!
Med-IQ conducted a survey that revealed that 44% of people who think their weight is bad for their health fear being judged by their medical provider due to not losing weight or meeting a weight loss goal and this often keeps them from scheduling appointments. It is so important that we change our viewpoint and conversation about obesity. Genetic risk factors play a role in your overall weight and size which ultimately play a huge role in your body’s metabolism.
Obesity is not simply about a number on a scale or a body mass index (BMI) score. Obesity, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a chronic disease in which extra energy in the body gets stored as fat and harms a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, misinformation about obesity—and the people who have obesity—is widely pervasive in our culture. To change this, we must know the basics of overweight and obesity so we can have positive discussions with healthcare
Setting Realistic Health Goals
It is very easy to say that you want to lose 30 pounds by a certain date but not always as easy to put that to action or very healthy. Proper weight management does not happen overnight and an ideal goal is to lose 5% to 10% of your body weight according to Donna Ryan, MD: President of World Obesity Federation . Process oriented goals help you focus on behaviors and actions and not just the end result. Ideally you want this to be a lifestyle change and not a temporary fix.
Start with your “WHY” and work back to the how. With a clear picture of your motivation, you will not let setbacks stop you from pressing forward. Working back allows you to create smaller goals that are easier to reward yourself with as you progress to the end goal.
Set realistic goals according to your lifestyle and current level of activity. If you are mainly sedentary, planning to run a marathon next week is not realistic you can however set a goal to walk three times per week for 30 minutes.
Following the “SMART” approach to setting and achieving realistic goals:
- Specific—state exactly what you will do and when you will do it
- Measurable—decide how you will measure progress toward achieving your goal
- Attainable—break goals into smaller daily or weekly tasks
- Relevant—find out what is most important for you, not anyone else
- Time-limited—have a realistic deadline
Here are the expert-recommended ways to identify a provider who will be a good partner for weight management:
- Shows interest in your history of weight gain/weight loss and remains part of your journey, even if not directly providing care for weight management
- Takes time to listen to your story
- Provides or refers you to comprehensive care that includes the options of psychological counseling, approaches to dietary and lifestyle modification, and medical or surgical treatments
In addition, I urge to you to consider these five steps in your process as they have been very beneficial to me.
- Do the Research. The first doctor you select doesn’t have to be the last doctor. Ask for recommendations from friends or in social media groups. Read reviews and schedule time to interview the provider.
- Be Honest. It is important that you let your provider know what you need and ask lots of questions. Ask about specialties or areas of interest.
- Love Language. The goal is not to fall in love with your healthcare provider but you want to make certain that you are both speaking the same language. Do you believe in alternative medicine? How do you feel about oral medication?
- Logistics. If going to the office seems like a chore then you might want to see if there are other locations.
- Trust Your Gut: If you don’t feel like you can discuss everything with your provider then you don’t have the right one.
Be Part of the Conversation
You are not your disease. “People-first language” is important when describing chronic conditions especially when we have been educated on the negative affects it brings otherwise. People with chronic diseases, including obesity, should not be described as victims or as “struggling” or “suffering” from the condition. This language is emotional and suggests a sense of helplessness. The Obesity Action Coalition provides access to community support and resources.
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete.
Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help develop future educational initiatives.
Once you've completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.
* Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
You can further join in the conversation and ask questions during the scheduled Facebook live chat on Wednesday, September 30th at 6:00PM ET.