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Healthy Weight Center

Is Only My Weight Causing These Symptoms?

12/15/2009

Question:

Is it possible for a fat person to have anything else wrong with them? I am an overweight lady in my late 50s. I almost never go to the doctor any more because the ONLY thing my doctor ever says to me is that I have to lose weight. I have been fat all my life and have been trying to lose weight since before i started grade school (my mother had me on my first weight loss diet when I was 4). I have lost weight, but have always gained it back, and then some. I am just too exhausted from fighting with my weight to keep focusing on that as the exclusive focus of EVERYTHING having to do with my "health" any more. But no matter what I go to my doctor for, I just get chewed out for not losing weight.

 I have been having some very scary symptoms for at least 5 or 6 years now - extreme shortness of breath, and legs and ankles that are so swollen that I can barely get shoes on my feet any more. I am becoming increasingly disabled by whatever is wrong with me. I have been to the doctor several times, and all they`ve ever said is, "You need to lose weight." Isn`t it possible that they should even TEST me for something else? Or is the ONLY POSSIBLE thing wrong with a fat person that they need to lose weight? I see lots of people who are bigger than I am and/or older than I am who don`t seem nearly as disabled as I am. Isn`t it possible that there is something ELSE other than my weight wrong with me?

I weigh about 250 lbs, but a lot of that 250 lbs I think is water weight, since I started having the grotesque swelling in my legs. Before that I only weighed about 190 lbs. Thanks for any insight.

Answer:

I can understand your frustration. Weight, of course, is important to your overall health, however, it is not the only thing that can cause problems. If you are experiencing "some very scary symptoms", then you should see a doctor as soon as possible for help in diagnosing and treating the problem. The symptoms you describe can be aggravated by being overweight, but being overweight may not be the only cause.

If you are "getting chewed out" by your doctor and do not feel comfortable speaking with him/her about these issues, then it may be time for a change. Consider finding a doctor that you can talk with comfortably and will respect your feelings about weight. In the meantime, do not stress about being overweight.  Instead, try adopting a new value system and focus on a better lifestyle. This helps avoid the feelings of disappointment, frustration, etc. from lapse and relapses. In other words, the emphasis is not to follow a specific diet, but to follow the "nondiet approach" which focuses on wellness rather than weight loss.

According to the Healthy Weight Journal publication Health Risks of Weight Loss, most treatment programs that use the nondiet approach focus on three factors: feeling good about oneself, eating well in a natural, relaxed way, and being comfortably active. The nondiet advocates helping people learn hunger awareness, how to respond to internal signals, self-discovery (not willpower), self esteem, diversity and accepting people as they are (not judging), and getting on with one's life, not waiting to be thin.

In the book You Count, Calories Don't by Linda Omichinski, RD, key differences between diet and nondiet thinking are described. For example: a dieter's goal is weight loss, a nondieter's goal is to develop confidence in his/her ability to make choices for better health. For more information on the nondiet, you may enjoy reading Omichinski's book or Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD.

A Registered Dietitian can help too. To find a Dietitian in your area, refer to the American Dietetic Association's website below.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck to you.

Related Resources:

American Dietetic Association

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Response by:

Jane   Korsberg, MS, RD, LD Jane Korsberg, MS, RD, LD
Senior Instructor of Nutrition
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University