Three years ago, I made a decision that significantly improved my health and well-being: I stopped getting weighed at the doctor. It was just a few months after I’d begun intuitive eating coaching and a regular fitness routine, and I suspected my weight had actually dropped a bit. But the scale had been played such a huge, damaging role in my life up until that point, influencing my every decision and triggering any number of harmful behaviors. Tossing my bedroom scale had changed everything for the better, so when I came in for my annual check-up, I was legitimately terrified of what might happen if I stepped on my doctor’s. I asked him, tentatively, if I could just turn around when he weighed me so I wouldn’t see the number. He paused, then replied: “You know, I don’t have to weigh you at all, right?”
In a word: no. I did not know this, and judging by the stunned looks on people’s faces when I told them, nobody else did either. In the years since, I’ve talked a lot about this topic with my own doctor and others, learning a lot more about the subject on the way. Yes, weight bias is real, and a huge problem in the medical field. But there’s also a lot of worry and unanswered questions on the patient side. The only remedy for that is to ask.
To that end, I spoke with Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer, MD, an OB-GYN, and Dr. Michael Lief, MD, a primary care internist — just to clear a few things up. This year, I began getting weighed at the doctor again (though I still don’t look at the number myself). I’m glad! For me, personally, getting a little more relaxed with the scale is a sign of the progress I’ve made. But I never would have gotten to this point had I not first stepped off the scale, and started asking questions. If you give yours a chance, you might be surprised at the answers you get. Read on to learn more.