Preoccupation with numbers

Spent several hours in the car with one of my client yesterday. We have worked together for a number of years – he was an original side gig that started several years ago. On the way to San Francisco our conversation was dominated by the business at hand. On the way home, though, it was more free-ranging on a variety of topics.

Somehow or another, it turned to my recent health and wellness pursuits, also known as diet and exercise. My client, A, noted at the beginning of the year ago that I am looking fitter and trimmer, and since I was wearing a sleeveless dress yesterday sans jacket in the car, he too commented (very positively and complimentarily) on my arms looking more firm and toned. And me being me, I briefly wondered what they looked like this time last year that he would notice a difference. But then I stuffed that bad boy thought down and just graciously accepted the kind words.

A is aware of my recent successes with the diabetes medications and has been super encouraging and supportive of my exercise habits. He’s a pretty direct guy and not always the most diplomatic, so rather than saying “dropping some weight is a healthy alternative” he might say something like “you would be so much hotter if you lost 20 lbs.” I know because he has told me stories of getting in trouble with female friends and girlfriends in the past for providing an honest answer when they were seeking more positive affirmations from him. I am not one to fish for compliments; if I want an opinion I simply ask for it. But our discussion turned to obsession with the scale and  numbers – the woman he just stopped dating freaked out every single day over the the slightest uptick in the scale. It was a turn-off for him.

He went on to say that one of the things he genuinely likes about me is that I am not pretty girl high maintenance. I burst out laughing when he said it, because it could be construed as offensive by someone else, especially one of his lady friends. He had the good grace to be embarrassed by the very unthinking, unguarded comment and tried to apologize, which I simply waved off and said I would store that as my nuclear option for someday when I really wanted my way on something.

But it did open up an interesting discussion about appearances, attractiveness, and obsession with numbers.

The recent dating partner that is no longer part of his world was described as numbers-obsessed. The scale. The calories consumed, calories burned. BMI. I was telling him of my recent foray with food and calorie counting and he was genuinely horrified at the idea, stating openly that he hoped I was not turning into a “normal” woman who become obsessed with food and dieting. Again, I had to laugh. I guess being happily married makes me a not pretty and okay-to-be-heavier woman in his book. As I said, sometimes he is not the most diplomatic in his thoughts.

He chastised me for being negative. I countered with the his obvious attraction  to high-maintenance, not that bright pretties obsessed with being slim and svelte. All in good fun.

Talking about it, he says I’m far more comfortable to hang out with because while I am pursuing specific objectives with my regular exercise and cleaning up the diet endeavors, I never speak about measurements, BMI, weight gain/loss. If anything, I am the anti-diet numbers woman and he finds that interesting and refreshing. I joked that he thought that my being married I could let myself go as much as I wanted because M thinks I’m hot at every size I have been in the last 25 years, so there was not so much pressure, and that was also as good an explanation as any for his perpetual bachelorhood. That earned me an eye roll and a “now I know you’re not human” comment.

It was a fun conversation. His offhand comments are frank, honest, and completely without malice.

But I do agree that I am sort of the anti-numbers health and wellness girl, until just recently anyway. While I am literally counting the days until this experiment/fact finding mission with food tracking, photographing, and calorie counting ends, I have noticed a trend with all the Kaiser primary care physicians I have seen thus far. They each mention my diabetes numbers, the improvement, etc. being so encouraging. There is always this sort of pause and then they say something along the lines of “you need to drop some weight if you expect to stay this well controlled.”

Well, duh. What would you suggest? And I essentially get the “eat less, move more” advice. I will definitely take that into consideration, and thank you for your professional opinion and advice.

No wonder people hate Kaiser.

It must be easier to just look at people, look at their weight on the scale, check their BMI on a chart, and pass judgment on their overall health. I suppose, anyway. It’s frustrating that the primary care docs I have tried thus far seem far more interested in the numbers in my chart than me the overall patient sitting right in front of them. I’m glad my A1c is lower and now in the normal range. I’m glad not to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I’m truly sorry you’re so very concerned about my weight and BMI, but less interested in the steps I am taking and the ways I have been using your own in-house dietician to change those numbers to something more satisfactory. Do you even care that the only time I step on the scale is when I come here, because otherwise I start having anxiety attacks and depression resulting in more drugs that may cause me to gain even more weight? So I have heard, anyway.

All this because I was having unrestrained allergy issues and wondered if there was something more effective to try that might offer some relief. Nope, apparently not, because everything he suggested are things I either am doing or have tried and had not work out so well.

While this latest appointment with the primary care doc occurred a few weeks ago, I am reminded of it with an email survey requesting feedback on the appointment. Not sure yet how or if I will respond to it, because I have little positive to say about it.

Only 7 more months until open enrollment and I can hopefully do something else. It’s been an intriguing experiment, but since I am likely to lose my endocrinologist before too long and my official access to my dietician, the things I like are being removed. I suppose this is the price of getting healthier.

In the long run, it’s totally worth it. In the present, thank goodness I have access to other sources of medical assistance and answers. Apparently my expectations for routine health-related answers and care are set a bit higher than Kaiser has managed to meet thus far.

 

 

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