“I’m amazingly healthy,” the woman said beaming as she lowered herself onto the couch. My friend is an acupuncturist and she stared at the large woman. “My Kaiser doctor told me!” she continued. “My numbers are perfect.”
I smiled at this story. My mother-in-law, also a good hundred pounds overweight, says the same thing. “I’m perfectly healthy. I get a one hundred percent score from my Kaiser doctor!” I stare at her like a cow stares at an oncoming train, like really? and my sister-in-law Claire gives me the “shut your dirty mouth” look. Claire explains that with the proper medication to control blood pressure, diabetes and knee pain, my mother-in-law’s numbers are fine and she can continue eating and drinking as if she were not overweight and suffering from diabetes.
She’s in her eighties and still possessed of her faculties so many people would applaud her for that, and I think it’s great to still be reading and driving in your eighties. But I would argue that Kaiser doctors and perhaps other doctors as well do us a disservice by not being honest with us.
My own health by the numbers: I started with Kaiser in 1989. By 2009, I’d gained forty pounds in twenty short years . No one said a word. I’ve lost fifteen pounds and have another fifteen or twenty to go. My doctor never mentions my weight loss.
Last year I got a step counter in October. For 2014, my average daily steps were around 9000. This year, I’ve got it up to 11,500 and I hope to bring it to 12,000 plus. Those numbers represent taking every opportunity to walk.
Walking and losing weight, I feel better, I have more energy and I can fit into my clothes which is always nice. But doctors are interested in the numbers that can be created by the use of medications rather than the numbers we can create ourselves. We all need to walk more, swim more, move our bodies, stay light on our feet, stretch, dance. We have only this one body. We should enjoy living in it. Scale obsession isn’t healthy but the scale is one way of telling you whether you are within a healthy range. If lions were chasing you, could you run a mile? For most of us, the answer should be yes. Note to self: Lions can run up to 50 mph. Zebras can run 40 mph. God must favor lions. Still, the point is, running a mile is a good thing to be able to do if necessary.