“Unplanned” Changes

The receptionist at the doctor’s office instructed me to arrive 15 minutes early so that I could fill in the new patient paperwork. After filling out my contact and insurance information, I came to the medical history section. The very first question on this medical questionnaire: Have you had any unplanned changes in your weight?

The first question wasn’t about a family history of heart disease. It wasn’t about diabetes. It wasn’t about pulmonary dysfunction. It wasn’t about inexplicable pain or even cancer. The question this medical office chose to put at the top of their form was about any unplanned changes in my weight.

I was dumbfounded. What did they mean by “unplanned?” Unplanned suggests that there was a plan to begin with and that I could control that plan. If I had not engaged in any of the “correct” activities to control my weight, they wouldn’t worry about it – it’s explainable. I didn’t do what I was “supposed” to do. However, if I did engage in all the appropriate actions to control my weight but it changed anyway, there must be something wrong with me.

It was a startling realization: the medical establishment itself – an institution to which we are taught to look for help in creating and maintaining our health – contributes to and perpetuates these skewed ideas which fundamentally create the problems so many people have with their weight.

The pain afflicting so many people is not the weight itself. That pain afflicting so many of us is the idea that if we are not in control of our weight, something is “wrong” with us.

The current weight-loss paradigm teaches that all you need to do to control your weight is eat the “right” food and exercise in the “right” way. If you are not the size you “should” or want to be, something is “wrong” with you. If you are not doing the “right” things to control your weight, you are unmotivated and undisciplined. Therefore, something is wrong with you mentally or emotionally. Or, if you are indeed eating the “right” food and exercising in the “right” way and still not getting results, something must be wrong with you physically. So naturally doctors will put this at the top of their medical questionnaire so they can test your thyroid and other biological functions.

The entire diet and exercise model suggests there is something wrong with you – and yet no one questions the validity of the model. Everyone focuses on discovering that “right” diet or “right” exercise program in hopes that they will no longer be “wrong.”  A staggering 97% of all people who lose weight through diet and exercise regain the weight within five years.[1] This model has a 3% success rate and still the belief is that the problem lies with the person, not the paradigm.

The conventional diet and exercise idea itself is the source of the pain so many people experience with their weight. When we can recognize that we are “right” just the way we are, we can accept ourselves regardless of the number on the scale. When we accept ourselves, we start to make choices based on internal guidance and congruency, rather than on attempting to achieve a result. When we remember that we are right just the way we are, we can surrender the result. And when we surrender the result, we are more likely to find it.

[1] www.mirasol.net/eating-disorders/information/eating-disorder-statistics.php