A friend of my recommended the BMI episode of the Maintenance Phase podcast yesterday.
Spoiler Alert: I loved it and subscribed to the show immediately and started working my way through their back catalog.
But one of the most mind-blowing things I took away from the show wasn’t really about BMI. It was actually just a casual thing one of hosts mentioned: That they ask their doctor not to weigh them at their visits.
WHAT??? THIS IS AN OPTION???
I have not looked at the scale for years. I make it obvious that I’m not looking and I usually kinda laugh and say, “Please don’t tell me what it says,” like I’m making a joke out of it but it never occurred to me to ask that they not do it.
Here’s the thing: If they are concerned about my weight? They can tell by looking at me that my BMI would hit one of those “overweight” categories. And since I would push back on anyone that gave “weight” as the only metric they were using to evaluate my health, why does it matter if they take it? I have no health concerns where sudden increases or decreases might indicate anything bigger but even then…there would also be other metrics to use.
Most people who are concerned about weight will say they’re concerned about cardiovascular disease. But you know what? No doctor ever diagnosed cardiovascular disease with just your weight. There’s an assortment of other tests that get used because they actually measure the health of your cardiovascular system.
I mean…why have I been letting them weigh me all of these years? Me not getting weight would have definitely avoided the time I went to the doctor for my ear ache and the stand-in (my doc had no appointments that day) was all, “Well…I notice here you’ve gain some significant weight.”
I did at least give him an evil look and say, “Good thing I’m only here about my ear.”
But he would have never jumped to that conversation if they hadn’t just entered in my weight from that day. He would have – I would hope – simply talked about my earache/infection.
But what do I say if they challenge me about that? I actually have kind of a specific response I could use but I’m going to write a more generic one here in case anyone needs a starting off point to try this for their own healthcare. “I’m currently trying to reshape the way I look at my health and I’d like to do that without considering my weight as an important factor. If the doctor thinks that metric is important in the future? Then we can reevaluate if we need.”
If they push back too much, then you might be seeing the red flags of weight bias which is scarily common and 100% impacts the health of patients who may be judged harshly against that bias. If we do not feel like we’re being seen as a whole human with many health factors, we are much less likely to seek medical treatment.
So, welcome to my new world where my doctor will no longer have a weight marker for me at visits! I AM HIGH ON BODY AUTONOMY AND PERSONAL HEALTH ADVOCACY!