Monday, July 4, 2011

Is It Hypocritical?

When you are looking to get health advice from someone, is it important to you that they are physically fit themselves?  I asked myself this question when watching Dr. Oz last week and Dr. Andrew Weil was on.  He's more known for alternative medicine but he talked about how he wasn't feeling good in his younger years and lost weight and implied that he did it and maintained it.  He didn't maintain it into his later life though because he probably has about 20-30 lbs to lose to be at what other doctors would tell a patient is a healthy weight for someone his size.  You also have Dr. Phil who wrote a weight loss book back in 2004 and while not heavy, I don't know you would call him at his ideal weight by health standards.  I am not calling these guys out, they just happen to be on that day and it got me thinking.  I found myself having a hard time taking what Dr. Weil said seriously even though I knew what he was saying was correct.  I would have a hard time being told that I needed to lose weight as well if my doctor (who is thin as a rail and has no idea what the obese go through which means she blames everything from a cold to a hang nail on being fat) was fat themselves.

From more well known people like them to your own personal physician or dietitian,  do you think that people who give health advice for you to follow should be physically fit themselves?  If so, does it make you feel like "if they can't follow their own advice, how am I supposed to?" Or do you use it as motivation to be the exception?  OR, do you feel that a heavier doctor can understand your plight and concerns with weight and you can more easily relate to them because they know how hard it is?

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  1. Just came across you from PW's site. Congrats on the weight loss!

    I have often struggled with this question, which is why I felt compelled to offer my 2 cents. I had a doctor tell me when I was a teen that I was a little overweight (I was considerably thinner then than now!). I was extremely resentful because she was on the heavy side herself - if I was a "little" overweight, then she was "definitely" overweight. How dare she criticize when she can't even take care of herself? I have loathed going to the doctor ever since, out of fear of a weight conversation, even though I've had numerous other doctors since then who have NEVER mentioned it.

    I've learned that leading by example is a powerful guide for others. Unfortunately, if you're a doctor who wants to lecture others on their weight, you are going to need to be in shape, too. My ideal doctor would be someone who is average -- not thin to the point that I feel discouraged, but not too overweight that I feel it's hypocritical. Maybe that's unfair, but hey if doctors don't agree, no big deal; I'm sure there are other patients who will come to you, I will just find someone else!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Rachel! I think many people have had your experience or some just don't go at all out of fear of having the weight talk. (A family member of mine who rarely goes but should always says "why bother going, I KNOW what they're going to say! Lose weight!") I think there are so many different schools of thought that doctors come from these days on weight that you could go to 5 different doctors and get 5 different suggestions on how to handle it if you ask or you might have 1 bring it up themselves where the other 4 don't.

  3. I think I subscribe more to the theory that someone can be fat, but still healthy. Maybe not optimally healthy (obviously), but if they are working their own program, and it's effective, then can can give advice from an honest point of view. And the reverse is true as well--thin doesn't necessarily equate to optimal health. We never really know what's going on behind the curtain in someone's life and the physical picture alone isn't enough. Someone may look at my 300+ lbs and scoff at anything being remotely healthy. But I know that with my healthy lifestyle efforts, I no longer need to take blood pressure medication because it is now at a great level and has maintained such for over a year. Looking at me no one would guess such a thing, but I know how I've changed my eating and exercising, so although I'm a loooooong way from my goal, I've made tremendous strides already. So I would assume that can be true for a doctor who's overweight...if they are really living their advice and making their own personal strides, then there is integrity there. Probably more than anything though, is I don't look to anyone as inspiration necessarily. I listen to these wonderful stories and read some pretty amazing books/articles, and feel genuine happiness for the successes I read about. But I know any inspiration needs to come from inside me and not from another person. So I'm always open to taking advice, listening to tips and strategies, but I also know that I need to tweak things to work for the best for me in the end.

  4. Hummm, you know, I've never really thought about it that much. But, now that it's been mentioned...

    First I LOVE my doctor. He's Canadian and trained a lot differently than most American doctors. He is great at looking at WHOLE health as opposed to strictly weight issues. He's been my doctor a LONG time and knows my complete history and my struggles. I hope he never retires. He, himself, has put on a few pounds in recent years and understands the effect balance of life, work, etc can have. He encourages without lecturing. Gives guidance without being overbearing. BEST doctor I've ever had and didn't even change when our insurance wouldn't cover him-lol!!

    Second, once I started thinking about it I realized a couple of things...I have a hard time with anything Dr. Phil says-lol especially where weight loss is concerned...that's not where his credentials are. Dr. Oz...meh, whatever...he has solid advice when I've heard it. Dr. Weil...I've listened to alot of what he has to say, but I've dismissed a bit too and I've never really thought about why that is...but, now that you've mentioned it...hey, it very well could be because yes, when I look at him I see someone who could be healthier. I don't think I see it as hypocrisy, but I do tend to take every piece of information on its own merit. I don't have any one person that I "follow" or look to for advice on my health. Not even my own beloved doctor-lol! Good information and bad information comes from everywhere. Jillian Michaels is a great personal trainer, but her advice on "supplements" and other weight loss products turned her into a hack. So I ignore that part and follow the good advice. What it boils down to for me, is that all those people have a motive outside of MY personal health...I'm going to be thinking about this for awhile-lol!!

  5. I couldn't have said it better than dalbador. There are overweight people who are healthy and thin people who are unhealthy. The "You can't judge a book by it's cover" really works here. My sister is rail thin but eats like crap and never exercises. I, on the other hand am overweight but I eat well and exercise daily. I think if you looked at our insides you would see that I am the healthier one of the two. My doctor doesn't have to be then or fat or in between, rather, one with good sense, practices and advice. I also prefer to have a doctor who understands the new "fat fit model".

  6. I think it depends on where the person is now, for me. I see lots of SP friends who have a long way to go, but I do heed their advice because they (you) are traveling determinedly toward their goals and have gathered valuable insight along the way. For someone like me, with an enormous amount of weight to lose, I would be far more inclined to accept advice from someone still 100 pounds from goal who has lost over 100 pounds than I would someone who has never been overweight a day in their lives. They simply cannot relate to my experience, nor I theirs.

    That said, I would not accept financial or investing advice from someone who was bankrupt. Someone who was once bankrupt but is now financially secure? Them I'd listen to for sure.

    I guess the bottom line for me is not where they are right now but what they've overcome and how diligently and consistently they are achieving their goals now. Oh, and how they got there. If the person who lost weight did it with surgeries and the financially successful person inherited it all, I'd have to think again.

  7. Thanks for your opinions everyone! It's always interesting to see all sides.

    Missy- AMEN to the last thought on your response.

  8. I've been fat my whole life and growing up I had a fat doc. It never bothered me until I was in high school when she started commenting on my weight. This was a woman who wheeled herself around the office on a wheely stool. I don't know if I was embarrassed or what, but I remember thinking, "how can you talk about ME, when you won't even walk around your office?" After high school , I never went back to her. My doc now is super thin and fit. Triathlons and the whole nine. I don't aspire to be like her, but I'm a whole lot more comfortable talking to he about my weight problems.

  9. I guess it depends on the doctor him/herself. What it boils down to is that I want to be able to talk openly to my Dr., not just about weight but about the whole package. If I have that I don't think I care a lot about what the package looks like, and if I don't have that it still doesn't matter.

    Dr. Phil gives me the heebie jeebies, and I've never listened to any of the other tv docs so I can't speak to that.

    I do know that I'd rather listen to someone who has real life experience rather than just theoretical. I'd rather listen to a Dr. who is a little overweight, but maintaining through healthy habits than a Dr. who eats crap but has a freak metabolism.

  10. It's not hypocritical IMO yet at the same time I understand what you mean. I switched endocrinologists last year because: 1) He's overweight and deals with diabetics all the time. You'd think that dealing with diabetics on a daily basis would make you want to take care of yourself but he was at least 60 pounds overweight and gains more weight each year. 2) When he would do my blood tests he only checked 2 things and nothing else unless I asked him to. So, I felt like he was just doing the bare minimum. I like him a lot as a person but I just felt like I needed a doctor who was more proactive with my health. Yet, now the doctor I have acts like I'm lazy and am not trying to lose weight. She is small and thin. It's like she is always judging me. The doc I had in Colorado was a much better doctor all the way around but he was always running a minimum of 2 hours late. He was thin but never judged me.

    So, it depends on the doctor and the situation I guess. :)

    By the way, a big CONGRATS on the weight loss!!! You are doing fantastic!!

  11. I think that it's true you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover... but then again we do it all the time!
    I remember a story of an overweight lady trying to get a job teaching a fitness class, she was denied because it was presumed that no one would want to take her class because of her weight. How can she help me reach my goals when she's not at hers?
    I think we tend to try to hold healthcare professionals to higher standards because they are telling us what to do and so by golly they should be the model we look to. I know people in healthcare that do unhealthy things, like smoking or being overweight. As we all know.. it's easy to talk the talk... walking the walk is another thing altogether!
    Hopefully we can get to a place where we can take the advice we know is good for us without judging the person that's giving it to us based on their size

  12. Interesting discussion!! I'd like to add that, for me, it also depends on what kind of doctor you are visiting.
    My primary care doctor is a tall, thin guy, no nonsense. I suspect he may just be built that way, but he *looks* healthy, too. You know, skin, eyes - you can sort of tell. But I agree with dalbador1 totally - one doesn't know for sure who is actually healthier.
    I wanted to add that I was followed by the Head doctor of the Liver Center at one of our leading hospitals in Boston for a time. He is just a big, big man. One of those dudes who is 6'5", very heavy frame - definitely overweight - just big in every way. He had a big personality, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, he had a HUGE BRAIN! He's a recognized expert among experts in his field - and that's ALL I cared about! Well, that and he was super kind.

    OK, so I guess I have a couple rules: The doctor MUST be kind and compassionate. I need to feel like s/he is really listening and responding to issues, not just giving me the elevator speech on things. My primary care doc fits that bill, in a dry way - but he listens and gives sound advise. For my specialty doctors, and I just have one currently, they need to be top-notch. Next, I *try* to find out how their "bedside manner" is. Sometimes there are real tools at the top of the doctor food chain. I went to the Head guy for orthopedic surgury for my knees - I wasn't LOOKING for surgury, another orthopedist (who was an alarmist) sent me there. This guy proceeded to treat me like such crap, used an accusatory tone and blamed the condition of my bones on me. Really?? I am supposed to pay you how much for you to tell me I suck? GAH! Any doctor who has me fighting to hold it together till I get to my car is immediately FIRED, and I sing my experiences like a bird! That guy still riles me up...
    Anyway, I guess my opinion is that I want a highly qualified, compassionate doctor. I am not concerned about their size per se, and do not use that as my indicator as to whether I will follow their advise or not.
    Great topic!!!

  13. Okay, so my hubby hasn't jumped on my healthy living bandwagon like yours has. He is a little overweight and for the most part still says he's happy where he is at. I encourage him that if he IS unhappy, then he should do something about it and I will HELP him get there. So now that I have that said, my husband's doctor is considerably overweight. Much more than my hubby. And he has joked about it by saying that if his doctor ever loses weight then it is time to find a new one! He likes that he doesn't have to get a "you're fat and that's why you have a headache, backache, pinkeye, etc" lecture every visit.

    So how do I think about it? I tend to think that if it was good, sound advice that used common sense, the package it was delivered in wouldn't matter. That's what I like to think anyways...I can't think of a specific since I pretty don't listen to any of the conventional weight loss bull crud anyways. :-) I like to just subscribe to the theory that you eat less and move more...seems to work most of the time but that concept doesn't make people $$$$. ( think I'm jaded much????) LOL

  14. My current doc is about average for weight. And while he doesn't read me a riot act or anything about my weight he has reminded at checkups that while I do not have issues now with blood pressure etc, it is a matter of time. So he is glad to see me losing weight.

    That being said, I had been to see a different doc a number of years ago - and at the time while I was over weight I was not as overweight as I am now, the doc was very over weight. I was asking her about me and a healthy weight. When she told me I was fine I never really believed her. I knew I was overweight - I was around 160/1701 at the time - and at 4 foot 9 that is noticeably overweight.

    At the time I wondered if she said I was fine as she was so overweight - now I wonder if she said I was fine as my blood pressure etc are all good.

  15. I just came across your blog and am loving it! I totally agree where you are coming from with dr's who blame a hangnail on your weight. It is a horrible feeling.

  16. Thanks so much Katie! Always nice to see someone else likes what they see! Looking forward to more comments!

  17. A heavier doctor can understand your plight and concerns with weight and you can more easily relate to them because they know how hard it is.--My choice
    What popped into my head while reading this was a doctor's visit a few years back (another area and a different hospital) that I had scheduled (rare for me) for an ear infection. Back story: I've had ear infections (according to my mom) since I was about 2 years old. During the preliminary question form, I had checked Yes to smoking (about a pack-ish at the time...I've been quit 3 years the end of March 2012). The doctor refused to even CHECK in my ears since "Smoking is the cause of the ear infection and will continue as long as you continue." Ummmmm....sooooooooo I started before I turned 2?!?! Then, he informed me he was prescribing a couple meds for allergies. I tried to explain when they had started, but he cut me off and asked "Is that all? I have other patients to see." I was so angry, I left and vowed never to return to see him. We've since moved and I found two doctors (one a general doc and one an orthopedic surgeon {long story}) that I like and trust.
    Ummmm....I think that the reason it popped into my head was the fact that his theory was that my habit caused everything that was wrong with me. While I do agree that it didn't help and probably hindered a lot, sorry....a loooooong history prior to the start refutes that theory. Oh! I've been quit now for about 3 1/2 years and guess what? I still get ear infections. Idiot!


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