Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well-Meaning Advice

In 2006, I suffered my third ruptured disk. I won't go through the details. Suffice to say it was one of the most painful experiences of my life and certainly one of the most fear-inducing. You just don't know if it will ever sort itself out or if you'll be living in pain for the rest of your life.

Once the pain was pretty much gone, I set out to find an acupuncturist to help me manage the situation. My beloved acupuncturist in Montreal had given me the name of a few Toronto acupuncturists that she recommended and one of them had his office very close to my home. I booked an appointment.

The acupuncturist was a lithe, handsome Japanese man. He spent a long time with me at each appointment and seemed genuinely concerned with helping me. But to my mind, he made a huge mistake. The first thing he commented upon when we met was my weight. I definitely had to lose weight in his opinion. Period. My hackles went up immediately and stayed up. I did not go to him for long.

Did I need to lose weight? Well, duh. Yes of course I did. Was I morbidly obese? No, nor have I ever been, but yes, I was "overweight". But how did this obviously naturally slim man get off telling me what to do? I am quite sure that this man has never had nor will he ever have an issue with his weight. We all know people like that and let me tell you, no matter how well-meaning they are, they have absolutely no right to lecture me or anyone else on weight control.

About a month after the disc episode, I met my yoga teacher. During our first lesson, I threw down the gauntlet and told her that I was willing to do the work, but I wanted to get the weight thing out of the way immediately. I knew I was overweight and she didn't need to remind me. Her reaction was swift and comforting. She had no intention of shaming me. She was there to help me to help myself. Three years plus later, we're still working together.

Which leads me to recommend you read this article about doctors and the advice they should (or should not) give to their overweight patients.

Personally, I agree with the doctor in the article. The vast majority of overweight people feel enough shame already. I really don't think badgering them will help any. In the end, we make up our own minds and the trigger for the "big decision" can come from anywhere and not necessarily from the "experts". If the doctors had that much power to change our minds, there would be a lot fewer smokers in the world too!

Writing this post has been helpful to me personally. I know that there are people I love whom I lecture about weight loss. I have literally said, "it's because I love you". Well, I'm going to try and rein myself in. Love or no love, threats or no threats, we all come (or never come) to that turning point on our own.


  1. I certainly agree with you. At no time has anything anyone has said to me made me feel like it time to lose weight.

    I have always have the "click" moment. It doesn't always last but I am still trying.

  2. I NEVER remark on people's weight unless they bring it up first. I never responded positively to other people when they tried to "help" me out of my morbid obesity.

    My doctors were almost to the extreme the other way though. They hardly said anything.