You know what it’s like when you’ve been overweight for years. So many things tried. Still each year the extra pounds creep on. Diets may work for a while, but then don’t.
So people who love you want you to lose weight. Going to the first appointment with a new diet specialist is so confronting. It’s hard to explain what it’s like going to talk to a diet specialist. The sense that struggling as hard as you can, straining with every fibre of your being to lose weight, hasn’t worked. People who find it easy to lose weight are convinced you just don’t try. That is so false.
(Then there are the questions about what you’re eating. Ugh. Going through all the food groups. Why??? When I had been to dietitians before, I knew the information and it had not worked. The lecture on being resistant, on being in denial, when you say diets don’t work. Struggling to hide my distress.) If you have been through the overweight journey you know exactly what I am talking about.
The selection of clothes to go to the appointment. Not what was fashionable but what would weigh the least when you got on the scales. And I hated being weighed. Surely the doctor was experienced enough to reasonably estimate my weight. So for any appointment I went in dreading the weigh in, and that set me off on the wrong footing to really receive what the nutritionist said.
I had been told Dr Cabot was good. I thought it was probably going to be more of the same but I thought I’d try. Also I decided that if she said weight gain was a matter of calories in, calories out and handed me the standard diet sheet I would politely thank her, say that did not work for me and leave. You see, I had not seen her youtube video. Then I worried about whether the chairs would be wide enough. Maybe I should drop in, saying I was going to confirm the appointment and, if the chairs were too narrow, I could cancel.
I did not have the time to call in there in advance. When I got there the receptionist didn’t seem to notice that I was overweight at all. She was friendly and chatty but none of the chat invited a long response on my part. Skilled in keeping conversations friendly but short. The waiting room was set up like a lounge room with sofas and chairs around the walls. Whew……..I could fit into the chairs. I picked up a magazine and and as I did I noticed the toddler in the corner just getting a little restless. Coincidentally, the receptionist left her desk and started straightening up the waiting room. She straightened the magazines and then moved over and tidied the children’s corner. As she picked up a scattered toy the child noticed and reached out for it. Without paying any attention to the toddler she automatically just gave it to her, finished doing the tidying and went back to her desk. The toddler settled and the mother visibly relaxed. When the mother could no longer see her face I saw the receptionist had a happy smile on her face. I knew she had intended to tactfully settle down he child in a way that was respectful to the mother.
Then Dr Cabot walked through the waiting room. She smiled at all the patients. Yes, she actually smiled! So while Dr Cabot was smiling at people her eyes , in a very friendly way, darted over them. So fast that until I had seen her do it a few times I did not realise that was what she was doing. I’m pretty sure that each time she went through the room she ensured that waiting patients were comfortable and whether any needed her urgent attention.
The little toddler looked up at Dr Cabot with big eyes and a tense expression. I think the mother had pointed out the doctor. When Dr Cabot saw the little toddler look up, she stopped her brisk walk. Her whole body relaxed. She gave an extra special gentle smile to the little one who solemnly stared at her then slowly and and shyly returned the smile , relaxed, then abruptly lost interest and went back to playing. And only then did Dr Cabot turn and walk into her consulting room.
Now when I was a child, all doctors and medical receptionists managed the mood in the waiting room. It was more than just a smile and a welcome. It was seeing how the patient felt and responding in a supportive manner.
When I saw that Dr Cabot and her medical receptionist cared about how people felt in the waiting room, I wasn’t so apprehensive about the consultation.
I walked in and she asked how she could help me. Good, there was no sign of the standard diet handout on her desk. I said I wanted to work on my weight. She looked in the direction of the scales and said “Well, we’ll just . . . “ I looked darkly in the direction of the scales. I think I must’ve had my usual look of horror on my face. She turned back to her desk and said “we’ll just go through a few things. Tell me about yourself, tell me about a memory you enjoy thinking about. ” She did not weigh me and I nearly collapsed with relief. Oh, I thought, she cares how patients feel about being weighed. She knows that if they’re upset at the beginning of the consultation it affects how they react throughout the whole consultation. She then proceeded to give me a really thorough physical.
I was impressed.
She chatted to me and found out that I got a job that I wanted so I must be really proud about that. I was puzzled. I said I suppose so. And then she made a side comment about possible sensitivities to various foods – she was spot-on. Then the conversation changed back to various things I done during my life and even the school prize I got when I was a child. She said, “You must’ve been proud about that too!” “I suppose so”, I said, thinking this is not a diet consultation, when is she going to tell me my diet mistakes? Then she made another comment about an approach to losing weight and so it went. Most of the time was spent talking about what she regarded as my achievements in life.
When she made a comment about diet, she wrote it down on a notepad with a flourish and, at the end, she gave me all the notes she made about her recommendations. She didn’t once give me information that I already knew. Everything she said to me was new to me.
I left the consultation thinking “Well, that was nice but it wasn’t a real diet consultation.” Hey, I actually feel happy at the end of a diet appointment.
I started to lose weight.
And I realized that Dr Cabot saw I had low diet self esteem, so she paired every suggestion she made with a time in my life when I was successful 😀
You see, I am metabolically weight loss resistant. Unlike those lucky people with the gift of metabolism where they can eat anything and never put on weight, I was at the very end of the queue – that gift diminished then ran out before it was my turn. Dr Cabot and her wonderful team, including Margaret Jasinska, have completely changed the way I think about losing weight.
I am now normal weight. It has taken 10 years. I have maintained my weight for one year. It has been slow and difficult. It was a huge learning curve, but I was learning from people who keep at the cutting edge of research. My body told me I was on the right track. The change from lifetime obese to seeing small changes was wonderful.
Oh, and the naysayers. . . Anyone who’s been on the weight loss journey knows all about them. Huh! So they thought I should lose weight more quickly. Well, they didn’t know my medical history, they didn’t know my current health issues. Their opinion was not evidence based. So just can it, mate!
A very happy client, NSW