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Get Your Doctor Involved

Weight Loss 101


Updated February 15, 2014

The first step in starting your healthy weight loss journey is to schedule an appointment with your health-care provider. Let the receptionist know you'll need a little extra time to talk to your doctor.

It's Time to Talk

You may feel slightly uncomfortable talking to your doctor about your weight, but try not to worry. Remember, your doctor is there to help you. If your weight is affecting your physical well-being, it's time to leave embarrassment behind and talk honestly with her.

Plan to fully address any medical conditions that influence your diet and nutritional requirements or that can limit your ability to exercise.

Get Clear on Contributing Factors

Weight gain does usually come down to calories in versus calories out, but sometimes there are other medically related factors that can cause you to put on extra weight.

Talk to your doctor about are contributing factors to your weight; ask if she think an underlying cause may be to blame. (e.g. Are you taking medications? Have you had your thyroid tested?)

Get Your Questions Ready

You may wish to write down questions before you go and to bring a pen and notebook to take notes as you talk.

Here are some ideas for questions:

  • Do I need to lose weight?
  • What should my weight goal be?
  • Are any of my health conditions related to my weight?
  • Am I at risk of developing other conditions because of my weight?
  • Do any of the prescriptions I currently take contribute to weight gain?
  • Is weight loss medication right for me?
  • Is weight loss surgery an option for me?

Be Prepared to Answer

Your doctor may have some questions for you, too. For example, she may ask how many meals and snacks you eat each day, how often you eat away from home, and what types of restaurants you visit.

You shouldn't be offended or worried if your doctor starts asking you these types of questions. The American Academy of Family Physicians actually recommends that family doctors ask their patients these questions in order to assess their nutritional history.

You may find keeping a food diary is helpful to both you and your doctor. If you're interested in meeting with a nutritionist, ask your doctor if your local hospital offers private consultations or nutrition classes.

If you are thinking about starting a particular diet or weight loss program, bring the details of it to your appointment so your doctor can review it for safety and effectiveness.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Ask if any of your conditions can be improved with weight loss; some health conditions can improve after you lose as little as 10 percent of your weight.

Your doctor may ask you to schedule follow-up appointments so she can continue to check your weight and health status. She may also wish for you to have regular lab work if you are currently being treated for any health conditions.

One of the great "fringe benefits" of weight loss is that patients can sometimes discontinue medications as losing weight improves their health (e.g. blood pressure medication); regular check-ins will indicate if this is happening in your situation.

Do not discontinue any medications just because you start to feel better; wait for your doctor's approval.

Continue: Keep a Food Diary

More Weight Loss 101


Hark, Ph.D., R.D. Lisa, et al. Taking a Nutritional History: A Practical Approach for Family Physicians. American Family Physician 15 March 1999. 29 June 2007.

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