It's Not About the Weight
Managing weight can seem like an insurmountable challenge. In my medical practice here at Parker Place, I work with many teens and tweens who feel they are struggling with their weight. After having listened to them share how their weight has affected their activities and their emotional health I find myself coming back to two main themes in these conversations. I’m sharing them with the hope that this per can make a difference in their struggle.
The first idea is this: It isn’t about the weight. We all know that at a doctor’s appointment we will have our height and weight measured. That being said, doctors tend to focus – too much at times – on numbers. (We can’t help it, it’s how we were trained to think and to practice!) But at Parker Place, while I might track your height and weight, I don’t focus on the numbers in our conversations because they are just one small thing among many to measure. I prefer to measure successes in reaching healthy goals that are set in collaboration with each patient at each appointment.
In fact, I tell all my patients how important it is to forget the scale, and instead to think about ways they can incorporate healthy habits into their lives. That’s because, if you make positive changes in your nutrition, your exercise, your sleep and your stress management, the numbers on the scale will naturally move in the direction you want. It may not happen right away, but that takes me to the next big concept: Forming healthy habits that will last is a process.
I’m not here to just tell you what to do to be healthier or lose weight. Nor am I here to give you a quick fix for weight loss. I’m here to work with you and support your behavior change. I spend hours each week asking kids what changes they think they can make in their lives that will improve their health. Sure, I share some knowledge I’ve gained over the years about nutrition and exercise and sleep, but that knowledge is only meant to frame a discussion about patient-driven goals, realistic goals, that they feel will help them feel and live better. I believe that getting my patients on board with taking control of their own health, and then empowering them – and their families - with tools and resources to help them along the way, is the best way to support their success, both short-term and long-term. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Each time I meet with a patient and their family we talk about their goals: how they managed to meet them, what barriers arose since our last visit, how they can overcome them, and what additional goals we can set to help them continue to improve their health. “This is a judgement free zone,” I always say. I’m not here to scold my patients for not reaching the goals that were set, but I am here to congratulate them when they succeed, and help them come up with new ideas to continue their journey to wellness.