The Story Behind the Scale

Dietetic Internship Rotation #1: Tufts Weight and Wellness Center (WWC)
The WWC offers weight loss treatment for people with obesity through medical weight loss programs or bariatric surgery.
Sept 7-18th.  *A Brief Recap*
What is it like to be obese, and morbidly obese?
I gained perspectives after my first rotation in the Tufts WWC.  Fortunately this knowledge has challenged my thinking and even changed my views.  (See blog post from September 8th).  I would like to share the thoughts scampering about in my head so that I can document these trite reflections.

I Witnessed: Tufts WWC Immersion Day.  Immersion Day is an introductory class for obese patients seeking bariatric surgery.  From 9am-4pm I sat with 7 other obese patients and discussed the risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery and gastric band surgery.
Lesson: First, I learned a lot about bariatric surgery.  The clinicians kept saying, "Surgery is just a tool for you to use.  It's all about diet, behavior and exercise!"  I agree.  This 3-pronged triangle should be the aim for everyone.  Second, I learned about support.  These 7 obese individuals were supporting each other as they sought out a drastic solution for their weight.  They were learning together, sharing confessions and offering suggestions.  At the end of the day there was a special cohort in the room.  I was priviledged to be among them.

I Attempted: Partial Meal Replacement Diet.  Yes, I put myself on a meal replacement diet for one week.  During rotation I attending several nutrition education classes for the medical weight loss patients.  These patients were seeking to lose weight by substituting 2 of their meals with high protein shakes or bars.  I wanted to try it too.  But after 3 days,  I failed.
Lesson: Weight loss is hard!  Human beings love food, and any sort of diet proves difficult.  The meal replacement diet was challenging because it took time to plan each meal and grocery shop for the high protein bars.  Also, I got hungry for real food.  But my failure made me respect the WWC patients' motivation and discipline.  Changing habits, new behaviors.  Wow, this is the hard stuff.

I Listened: HOWL Seminar, "Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss".  I attended a seminar at Tufts Medical Center about plastic surgery after weight loss.  Commonly, individuals will lose 100+ pounds and their skin cannot recover elasticity.  The skin hangs, and people may need the skin removed.  The talk was frank, the images were stark, and my mind was churning with disbelief, shock, and amazement.
Lesson: weight remains a lifetime issue.  There are new challenges every day, even after a successful bariatric surgery or weight loss.  In reality, the perseverance required for bariatric surgery and obesity can apply to all weight loss situations.  My respect for these patients rises yet another notch.  I could use a dose of this type of commitment!

Takeaway points.
Obesity weight loss is not about losing the pounds so much as reducing risk of chronic disease.  Dropping BMI points, increasing exercise, shrinking body measurements, and changing eating behaviors are all valid ways to increase quality of life.
I've realized how harsh I can be in judging people by their weight or appearance.  Every person faces the same personal struggles of balanced food intake, mindful behavior, and active living.  We are all seeking healthy and happy lives.
The WWC taught me that it's not the number on the scale or the pants size that matters, so much as the story behind each person.


Anonymous said...

Hey Rachael!! I had no idea you are at Tufts! That is awesome!! I love the blog-- can't wait to read more! What inspired you to start it?

Rachel said...

thanks Nicole! My cousin gave me the idea in the spring, and I finally got around to it. I wanted a way to practice writing and to get better at social media. enjoying it, but I have a lot to learn!

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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