Your Doctor: Get The Right Help Losing Weight


Your doctor can help you acheive your weight loss goals.

Don't roll the die on your health. Talk to your doctor before starting your diet.

In Part I of our series “Real Help With Weight Loss”, we mentioned 5 keys to success in losing weight. The first key is to make an appointment with your doctor and talk to him or her about your plans. Sure, you may already know you’re overweight, but does that mean you should immediately start an exercise routine or sign up for a new diet plan? No! Today, we delve into the reasons why working with your physician is critically important for long-term progress losing weight and then keeping it off.



If you’re ready to lose weight it’s important to have the best support possible. You’ll want people in your corner you can talk to. You’ll want to know where to turn if things don’t begin to improve, or even get worse. Also critical is to know some of the things you specifically need to do and others you should avoid. A good physician could be your best friend to get started on the path toward a healthier and happier lifestyle. If you don’t have a doctor you can call your own, maybe it’s high time you did.


Ask friends or check online to find a doctor.

Your doctor knows your medical history. That

Why talk to the doctor first? Chances are you’re already overweight and aren’t in the best shape. If you’ve been seeing a physician for any length of time, he already knows your medical history. He has a record of your illness and ailments. He’s charted your weight and other health factors over the years. He knows what medicines you’re taking. He knows if you’re allergic to specific foods. In short, he has all the information he needs to tell you if the type of weight loss program you’re planning to use is appropriate for you, or if it’s likely to make matters worse.


Talk to your doctor before you go on a diet.

Your doctor may want to run a variety of tests, including blood work.

Here’s the concern: Some medications or certain physical conditions (especially heart conditions) may dictate how you go about dieting. People with heart conditions may need to avoid strenuous activity or gradually work their way to a more active lifestyle. Some types of activity may even be inappropriate, causing more harm than good. Some medications may also have certain side effects, especially if combined with certain foods or supplements. And people intolerant to certain foods may need to avoid the foods or supplements recommended for a particular diet. This might be particularly true if you find you suffer from a gluten intolerance. Reviewing your specific history and weight loss goals with your doctor should therefore be your first priority as you go to make changes.


Are you obese, overweight or in a “normal” range?


Surprisingly, your weight alone won’t give you that answer. What physicians consider more important is your body mass index or BMI (as it’s commonly referred). Your BMI takes both weight and height in consideration and is considered a greater predictor of potential health risks—meaning those with a higher BMI have potentially greater risks.


BMI falls into 3 basic ranges.

Are you at risk? Your BMI may tell you.

The simple chart to the right offers generally accepted guidelines for BMI. You’ll note that a person with a high BMI—that is a BMI over 30 is generally considered obese. One shouldn’t assume everyone with a high BMI faces the same risks or that if you have a high BMI you’re already suffering from some serious ailment. One also shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that a low BMI predicts good health as some “thinner” people may still be at risk if, say, their overall physical activity levels are low, they smoke or do drugs, or they inherit the wrong genes. This number is therefore only one tool used to help your physician decide what additional steps might be appropriate for you.


Calculating your body mass index.

You can calculate BMI on your own, but it may be easier to use an online calculator.

Don’t want to wait for a doctor’s appointment to find out your BMI? Then calculate it yourself. To see how, check the formula on the left. You’ll need a tape measure to record your height, a scale to measure your weight and a calculator to put the numbers together. (Or if you’d prefer, you could use one of several online calculators like this one at to do the math for you.)


Another factor your physician considers important is the size (i.e. circumference) of your waist. Why? Fat that accumulates around your waist, which is commonly called “belly fat”, poses a greater risk to health than fat that accumulates on your hips or thighs. Men with waists more than 40 inches and women with waists more than 35 inches are considered more at risk. Some of the risks to be concerned about are heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. (Source: FamilyDoctor.Org)


What other things will your doctor be looking at?


Is your doctor listening to you?

When you schedule an exam, be sure to tell the receptionist the reason for your visit. You'll want enough time to ask questions and seek advice.

He’ll want to check your blood cholesterol and triglycerides, your heart rate and blood pressure and get a feeling for your general health. He may also want to check your thyroid to make sure it’s functioning properly.


The thyroid produces hormones that help manage your metabolism. When the thyroid works properly, your body will do a better job processing food. Unfortunately, it appears as many as 1 out of 10 men and 1 out of 5 woman may suffer from thyroid dysfunction. If you’re constantly tired and achy, you suffer from dry hair and dry skin, have nails that are always chipping or cracked, you often feel cold, depressed or bloated, and you’re overweight, then you may have a problem with your thyroid. To find out for sure, you’re doctor will need to run a blood test. (Source:


It’s Time To Talk


Most people should be eating more veggies and less sugar or simple carbs.

Ask your doctor what foods you should eat and which ones to avoid.

As you talk to your doctor about plans for losing weight and getting healthy, be prepared to discuss  your current diet and eating habits, your overall level of physical activity, and what kinds of changes you’re ready and willing to start making. Then be sure to quiz him.


Ask the following:


• What resources, brochures, etc. he recommends for someone in your situation.

• For a copy of the results of any tests he takes.

• What limitations, if any, he feels are appropriate for exercise or physical activity?

• What types of dieting you should avoid.

• What types of food you should avoid.

• What types of food or diet plans he recommends for someone like you.

• How many calories a day are appropriate for you.

• Whether the prescription strength of any current medications may need adjusting if and when you lose weight.

• Whether any of your medications may be partially responsible for your current weight gain.

• Whether you could benefit from weight loss medication or surgery, what risks would be involved, and are either of these options the best course at this stage.

• Whether you might benefit from physical or nutritional therapy and if so whether your health plan covers that (you may also need to check with your insurance company to be certain).


Starting down the path to a healthy lifestyle isn’t about losing a few pounds only to gain them back in a few weeks or months. It’s about taking the steps to ensure your health is at its best over the long haul. As you go to improve your lifestyle, start with the person who knows the most about your health and has the experience to guide you. Talk to your doctor first.


In our next segment, Critical Connection: Sleep and Weight Loss, we’ll talk about sleep and why getting enough of it turns out to be critical for those looking to lose weight and lead healthier lives. Stay tuned, there’s much more to come.


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