I never thought I'd ever get to say this, but my doctor is the best. Because of the rollercoaster of my feels last week, I decided to get a check-up about my cholesterol levels and see what my doctor thought I should do. Now -- I recognize that the medical industry has a profound bias against fatness and weight, and pathologizes fat people. It uses weight loss as a panacea to many problems that have little if any proven cause to weight.
However: my doctor has never been like that.
Perhaps it's living in the Bay Area. Maybe it's the beginning of a sea change for medical professionals. I don't know exactly, but I do know that my doctor has always been super down to earth and pretty laid back, so I felt like I could trust him with this.
I should say that back in 2014, I got a test as part of routine screening that showed very elevated cholesterol. My doctor suggested a heart scan as a baseline to see if any arterial plaque was sticking. I got it done in between my miscarriage and my next pregnancy. The results were 0, which is the best result to get. My doctor wasn't surprised -- as it turns out, estrogen prevents plaque from sticking to the arteries, so he doesn't think we should be concerned until I hit menopause.
When I went in to check in this week, he was surprised to see me and reiterated that cholesterol wasn't really an issue. Then he dug deeper and asked that if it wasn't going to impact my health, why did I care?
I explained how I had a freakout the week before because I haven't lost the post-partum weight and I feel like I "should" lose it, and that diet culture had finally gotten to me, again. (ARGH! I know. I KNOW. I shouldn't have let it but holy shit, it's an insidious fucker, isn't it?)
My doctor took this all calmly in stride, and then without skipping a beat said, "Your weight is not a problem. You could live to be 90 at this weight. If you want to change it for yourself, fine. I can't recommend anything, because all diets fail. You know that already. You can make some changes if you'd like to, but only ones you like and will stick with -- that's what makes them sustainable."
My eyes were super wide, but I was nodding along.
"Basically, you need to eat well, move your body, sleep enough, and be happy. That's what I can recommend. And honestly, drastic changes to your life will not make you happy. You should try to love yourself instead."
I felt (a) amazed, and pleased, and (b) dumb, because I know this stuff already, and you'd think that I wouldn't need to hear it from a male figure of authority. But in a weird way, I see my doctor more as my peer in my health plan, not an authority figure. He's just someone who knows more science in his field of expertise than I do.
I know my body best, and a lot of what he was saying is true: diets haven't worked for me in the past, because I love not dieting. I like navigating the world without having to think about food and eating every damn second. I enjoy eating a wide variety of things, but counting calories, or not eating certain stuff, or tracking what and how much and how often? NO THANKS.
When I went over how I meal plan and prep, how I exercise and how much, how I sleep -- all of it, he stopped me. And he said...
I've literally never had my doctor or a medical person ever say something so amazing to me ever. I was bowled over. Honestly, I teared up a little bit. Because how fucking validating and affirming! How empowering and enlivening!
To have my doctor celebrate me and everything I'm doing and not weigh me and trust me and think I'm awesome and perfect just as I am?
WHAT? I'm still agog even days later.
Before you ask, unfortunately he's not accepting new patients. I called and asked after I got multiple requests for his info via social media. But don't be afraid to ask the same of your own doctors. By demanding more from our health care professionals, we can get them to turn this around. He's always been this chill, but a couple years ago he was definitely a little more on the side of weight loss.
So: people can change. Going to the doctor doesn't have to suck. See your doctor as one peer in your medical plan, if you can. Fire them if you can or must. I did this with a perinatologist I didn't like, and found a much better one that I came to trust implicitly. I know I have a lot of privilege here. I know we're not always given options. But where you can find the option, take it. Advocate for yourself where you can.
We all deserve to be told that we're beautiful and there's nothing wrong with us when there isn't. We all deserve care -- of our bodies and souls. Let's get it.