This blog is an accounting of my personal journey to find fitness. All the content on this blog should be read as a biographical piece of literature, not a medical resource. I am a physician, but I am in no way giving medical advice or establishing doctor patient relationships with my readers. I am simply keeping a diary. If you are starting a diet or exercise program or require medical evaluation or advice, please see your own family physician.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This is a Rant. Sorry.

As a physician I deal with people wanting to lose weight every single day. I counsel them on diet and exercise. I try to be empathetic. I try to listen and give them practical and reasonable advice.

It is a double edged sword for me. I am overweight. For some patients, this decreases my credibility. They think I'm telling them to do things I don't do. At times in my life, that's been correct. But not now.

For others, it increases my credibility. They know I struggle. They know I don't want to exercise sometimes. They know I enjoy food. They know I have genetics stacked against me. They see me doing things, it makes them realize they can too.

Here's the deal: There is no magic pill. There's not. There is no magic program. There is no magic surgery. There's not. I'm a freaking doctor and if there were, I'd be the first to get it. Hell, I'd probably get it free because the drug companies would be sampling it. I've had surgeons offer to do surgery on me and waive their fee. There is no easy answer. There's just not.

I have been reading some blogs lately by people who've either had gastric surgery, especially the lap band, or are considering it. I'm not saying the surgery is wrong or bad or people shouldn't do it. But it isn't an easier or faster way out. It's not. I've had patients have the surgery and lose weight. They exercise. They eat healthy foods. I've had others lose weight and gain it all back. ALL. OF. IT. I have patients have the surgery and lose only 15-20 pounds. Are you freaking kidding me?

I have a patient who had the surgery. She weighed over 300 pounds. She's lost 150. She was beautiful before, she is now. She has hanging fat everywhere. She hates her body. She's developed nearly an addiction to exercise, in a bad way. She's developed practically an eating disorder because she eats very little. She is depressed and miserable. Still. She like so many others thought all their problems would be solved by losing weight. Their life would be changed. They would be happy.

Here's the deal: Losing weight will not make you happy. You make you happy. Should we lose weight and be healthy? ABSOLUTELY. Will it answer all your problems? No. Not if you don't do the emotional work. Read the blogs of the most successful losers. You'll see.

I just can't read anymore blogs of people with the lap band who write they did well because they only had chicken nuggets for lunch. Or they only ate a mini snickers for snack instead of the whole one they used to. Or they ate a small blizzard for dinner and was only 300 calories. OMG. I just can't.

Or they go through the cost physically and financially to have the surgery, but they just can't find time or get motivated to spend 30 freaking minutes to exercise.

Really, you don't have time? I'm so tired of this excuse. I can't take it anymore. I work 40+hours a week. I run my own business. I serve on the board of a hospital. I have 3 kids and a dog and a gecko and a turtle and a house and a yard. We have tae kwon do and football and band and boy scouts and soon girl scouts and 3 kids in 3 different schools. Now talk to me about time. Everyone has time. It's just how you choose to use it. I literally have to sit down and each week figure out when I can work out, when I can go to the gym. And then I do it. Nearly every day. For nearly 5 months now. (cool huh?)

And if one more person tells me that they bought those Shaper Shoes so that will help them, I might lose it for sure. OMG. Just wearing those shoes does not equal exercise. It doesn't. Unless you are wearing them to exercise. In which case, good luck. I hope you don't fall and break your ankle.

I am empathetic to people. I am. For goodness sake, I am just beginning here. I've only lost 30 of the 100 I need to lose. I have a long way to go. I'm an expert on the facts on how to lose weight and healthy diet, lifestyle, and obesity related diseases. I'm not an expert in losing weight. There are many people who've done much more than me in this area. I'm just really having a hard time with the excuses. All day long they're there.

And I guess since I've tried really hard to recognize the rationalizations on why losing weight is too hard when I use them on myself, I see them that much more now in others. The excuses. The "reasons" why right now isn't a good time. It's too stressful. I have too much going on. I'll start as soon as this project is done. As soon as the kids are in school. As soon as we sell this house. I'll start right after vacation. After my birthday, I want to enjoy my party. After my daughter's wedding. Later. Later. Later.

Here's what I know for sure: It will never be simple. It will never be easy. There will never be the perfect time. There will always be something stressful. There will always be another celebration. There will always be something because the only thing stopping you is YOU. Until you get YOU out of the way and change your attitude and thinking, it's not gonna happen.

No one can do it for you.

I'm sorry for sounding "mean". I know that has been a topic around here and I don't want to offend anyone. But, sometimes I feel like this is the blind leading the blind on these blogs. Sometimes people need to hear the truth. I know I did. I still do sometimes. You can't always say, "Don't beat yourself up. You're doing your best. Those slip ups are in the past." That's just enabling sometimes.

So, I want to challenge all my wonderful and helpful followers to feel free to kick me in the pants if you start seeing any of those rationalizations or excuses come through on my blog. I'm working really hard on getting those things out of my self-talk and vocabulary for good. I am unbelievably thankful for finding this blogging world where people know, really, really know what I've been through and am going through and are where I want to be.

But, even with all your help and support, I'm the one who has lost 30 pounds. I'm the one that dragged my wheezing ass up the stairs to bike and lift weights this morning when I really, really was tired and still feel a little sick. When all the excuses that rushed in on me this morning hit me, I pushed them out. I said no. It is incredibly empowering.

No one can do this for me. No matter how much they care about me.

Have you gotten YOU out of the way yet?


  1. I might be in love !! You are going to get blasted, but how nice to have an educated person back up my thoughts ~!!! Duck, cover, and hold on.. Stand your ground, and I will kick anyones ass verbally that complains !!!! THANKS

  2. Wow.......what a freakin' awesome post!!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! As I was reading, I kept saying "yes!" and "YES" again and again. Thank you for putting it to words for everyone!

  3. I love this post and I am going to have to thank Allan for sending me over here. I am working on getting me out of the way. Thank you so much..

  4. BEST. POST. EVER. I am on that wagon sister. I was the king of "monday, I will start" "well it is the holidays" "I am working full time, going t school full time and am a full time husband and father, I don't need another thing to deal with". I had them all. Oh to get that time I squandered back though.That was great doc, I truly believe you are correct. I specifically asked to be blasted in my first post of the blog experience. Don't tell me it's ok, you will ge them next time. Tell me to suck it up and STOP!! Got me all fired up doc, thanks!

  5. I love this post, and every single you said was so true. SO true. From beginning to end.

    And if you see me start to throw rationalizations out for eating like shit and skipping the exercise, PLEASE would you kick my ass as well?

    I totally feel your point about the mental aspects of weight loss particularly strongly, especially because of my, um, "past memories" post that I shared yesterday. But that post of mine is EXACTLY what you're talking about: unless you can deal with the mental issues, this chronic battle with food and obesity isn't going to be won. You HAVE to dig down, deep, if you want to make real change.

    Thanks for this. You're wonderful, by the way.

  6. I am working on finding my motivation. Because I keep saying I doing this for one reason or another. But I just keep falling. I am down 50+, but I need to figure out my real motivation.

    I am so dealing with mental side this time, and well this is what is in my way currently. I am at a stall and trying to get moving in the right direction.

    Thank you for the post.

  7. very good post and very true.
    And I did buy some kind of "shaper" shoes, but I bought them because they were the only shoes in the store that didn't make my heels hurt. I do exercise in them, and they've strengthened my bad ankle to where it doesn't try to twist all the time anymore. So they aren't all bad, they aren't the answer to exercise, but they aren't bad either.

  8. "I have been reading some blogs lately by people who've either had gastric surgery, especially the lap band, or are considering it. I'm not saying the surgery is wrong or bad or people shouldn't do it. But it isn't an easier or faster way out. It's not."
    I'm one of those people - Lap Band - and I have to say: "Amen!"
    It's NOT. It's the hardest thing I've ever done BY FAR. I wish everyone would realize it's a big decision not to be taken lightly. If you are not going to do the work and work the band, it will not work for you.
    I've been slacking lately and you just gave me the kick in the butt I needed.

  9. Hey Doc-I found your post through a lapband blog :O) I read your post twice, bc as a lap bander myself, I can get a little worked up if I perceive someone is blasting WLS. But, I don't think that is what you are saying. I agree that in some cases, blogs...about any topic...can be the blind leading the blind. I do know for fact that not all of them are like that of course. What I can say about surgery though is that it IS easier and it IS faster...but that doesnt make the weight loss EASY or FAST. Does that make sense? I totally agree with you that it all boils down to the person. For me, the band is and was a tool that gave me "time" to figure out a better way to live. It keeps me from going crazy foodwise...it does regulate me.

    I wish you luck on your journey!


  10. If I had just lost my eyesight, I'd turn to someone who had been blind longer than I had to better get a grip on how I was supposed to deal.

    I'm just sayin'...

  11. Thank you for this post. You said what I have been thinking. I have left so many comments saying, "Think Nike. Just Do It." I am doing it for my health, as anyone who has read my blog can see. And I am doing it for me.

    Nuff said.

  12. HELL YES. Thank you for your post. As long as posts are honest, and people are not blowing sunshine up others' bums, it is all good in my book. Rock on, good luck, and thanks.


  13. Excellent post.

    I don't think you're being mean at all. I've seen mean out here in the blogosphere and you are not it.

  14. I think anyone that's been working the weight loss for any length of time can totally understand and relate to what you're saying.

    They ask, how did you do it?! When I tell them how, I ate less, cut out most processed foods and exercised an hour a day, they are suddenly not interested. Cracks me up every time. They want that magic pill...alas...it doesn't exist. :)

    Great post!

  15. I like your approach, and obviously many others do, too.

    Will you ever write a similar post to your fellow doctors? My doc has never, ever mentioned healthy eating and exercise. When *I* brought it up, he basically blew it off. I think he is either afraid to confront patients, or more likely works within his domain, medicine, and doesn't want to deal with the messiness of patients actually having to be disciplined. I think we need more docs like you.

  16. Great post. I am a lap band patient, and I am not angry about what you've said at all. You're correct on all counts on the facts.
    The only place I might differ with you is on your potential 'prejudice' against WLS. WLS is an individual decision and it certainly isn't a one size fits all solution.
    However: it has provided me (a person who is highly educated, a healthcare professional, disciplined and motivated in all areas of my life-- including exercise and fitness and nutrition) with the CONSISTENT extra help I needed to be able to get back on the success track. Being under a year out of surgery, I can't say that I won't ever gain the weight back.
    However: I can tell you that this is the longest that I've been consistently losing weight EVER, and it is gentle and healthy (about 1/2 pound per week.) I can't say I'll never gain it back, but that at this rate of loss, I'll solidify my new and improved habits over time and really will have a FIGHTING CHANCE of reaching my goal weight (at the very least, a healthy BMI range.) And, I'll have a chance to keep the weight off b/c I'll have a weight loss team on my side in a more permanent and inescapable way (i.e. a responsible band patient must see her surgeon at least once per year for life. This is great b/c it is yet another built in insurance mechanism that will help me stay 'honest.' You know we weight issue folks have problems with denial.)
    Maybe you don't need that and can be eternally grateful you won't have to have gastric surgery-- but I certainly hope that you are not discouraging your patients from using a tool that MIGHT help them if they think it through.
    Would you deny a diabetic insulin? A cancer patient chemo? A depressed patient psychotherapy?
    Are any of the above CURE ALLS? NO. But they are tools that help with health.
    I hope this makes sense and wish you the best of success in your journey.

  17. I don't think you're being mean or offensive, I think you are speaking the truth! Great post!!

  18. Amen! Preach sister. I just plain ole' stopped blogging about my "slip ups" because I couldn't take the "don't beat yourself up" comments. Yes, while I agree I shouldn't drown my sorrows in a bag of oreos, or berrate myself, I too feel like sometimes this blog community can be enabling. I think by default though. We all just want to be supportive no matter what, and sometiems people don't know how to do that. I think this post was fan-freekin-tastic! We're all a bunch of big people with food issues/daddy issues etc...and if we don't deal with the issues, WLC, calorie counting...nothing will work. Call it like it is! Loved it

  19. You are correct that "only you can make you happy"! I was happy before. I didn't know what I was missing and at 32 years old and after having 3 kids, I thought weight gain was just part of aging. I was selling myself short, but I didn't suffer from a body image crisis or difficult depression.

    Now I feel better, but I am still happy. You are right, there is no easy way to lose weight and keep it off. It takes a wholistic lifestyle change. And I have had to deal with some emotional issues that I had denied to myself that led to my weight gain.

  20. Thank-you, thank-you for ranting in a knowledgeable and informed way about what we all must do. The truth. Not folk knowledge. Thanks for joining the blog world. Your voice is needed and welcomed. Michele

  21. AMEN. Thank you for saying all of this. I was agreeing with you all the way and then when I got to the shoes I about lost it - you have my undying devotion now!!!

  22. I love that I found your blog for this post. Because it's awesome. There are so many crazy ideas out there and most of them are all about how not to do the work it takes to get healthy. It's sad. Everyone wants a quick fix but there isn't one!

    Good luck on your own weight loss journey! :)

  23. I recently found your blog, and I love your common sense approach, and your "get honest" viewpoint. I gave you a blog award! http://donuttherapy.blogspot.com/2010/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

    Thanks for the words of wisdom!

  24. I love most of what you've said in this post... I never know what to comment when people blog about their slip ups, but I am not making excuses for myself anymore. My weight has made my health decline to the point of disablity and I am never going back there... I do have a lapband but my food choices must remain healthy and I increase my exercise as I lost weight and can do more. I have lost over 74 pounds and my band has helped me to continue to lose weight, but my food choices and increased activity level are what has helped the band work for me. I highly recommend WLS to help cronically obese people to lose weight but it is not a magic wand and even though it helps keep you from overeating in most cases...it is important to work on our mental issues with food as well. It is important to work on all areas of health and weight loss doesn't cure self esteem issues that's for sure. I am happy that I had a gastric band installed but it is not for everyone and it is not the easy way out. Good Luck with your future weight loss, it sounds like you are doing really well. *Maria*-blogger from "This one time at BAND Camp..." Check out my blog at mybigfatbandgeeklife.blogspot.com

  25. Freakin awesome! If I didn't have the laptop on my legs, I'd stand and give you an ovation. I've chosen not to read the negative post you mentioned in a later blog as I just know it would piss me off. Sorry, not sure if it's ok to say 'piss me off' to you as we don't know each other yet.

    OK, NO, I just put the laptop down, and got up and clapped. You go girl.

    So well said, well written, well meant. So true....so very true.


  26. I am a lap-banded blogger and also came across your post through another blog. I was expecting this post to be inflamatory, but I agree with so much of what you said.

    I am just about 2 years post-op, have been just under my goal for several months, and have to agree with Amy (earlier poster and friend) that the band does make weight loss easier and faster if you are committed to making it work. I've gone from being obese to my ideal BMI range and am in the best shape of my life.

    I don't think that weight loss alone can make someone happier, but for me, the changes over the past two years have improved my quality of life immeasurably. I am comfortable; my feet don't hurt and I can wear heels again; I actually like how I look; I can shop anywhere; and I even have room to spare on an airplane. Each of those things and so many more bring me joy and spare me from petty indignities that used to make me feel bad. It's nice to finally be free from the fat prison. I am so grateful for my band and all it has helped me to do. -- But you're right, I didn't get here by eating cr@p or not going to the gym.

    Congratulations on your success. I hope that your blog gives you as much support and encouragement as mine has me, and wish you all the best.


  27. There's something in the air. I had just this rant/comment out of my mouth twice in the last week. People keep thinking there's a magic bullet, magic pill, magic surgery, magic mantra. There isn't. There's insight and hard work and learning and more hard work and self-discovery and self-control and more hard work and establishing new habits, which is more hard work.

    It's not easy. But I am way happier in thIS no longer obese body than I was 300 lbs. Way happier. I can move. I can shop freely. I can sit comfortably in any car. I can walk without feeling like dying.

    I am still overweight and I have oodles of hanging gross skin, but I am freer in my body than I have been since my twenties. And I'm 51.

    The hard work is sooo worth it.

    The rants will continue, cause people don't wanna accept the reality.

  28. I agree with most of what you posted but don't discount the useful tool that surgery can be for those who take it seriously and use it properly. I'm 2 years and 7 months out from gastric bypass and I'm maintaining my weight at a little over 10 pounds below my goal weight. I lost in excess of 180. I'm not sure I could have done that without the discipline that the surgery helped me achieve. Yes. My mind was in the game first but surgery speeded things along so that I didn't become frustrated or discouraged. Of course, the weight didn't just fall off either. It was a time-consuming process and I will always have to stick to my plan.

  29. Amazing post! It's all true!


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