Since When Do You Take Advice from Your Doctor?

by Matt Weik

If you’re like me, you hate going to the doctor. I’m just about on my death bed before I finally decide to go in to see what could be wrong with me. In fact, whenever I call to schedule an appointment I wonder if the doctor I had previously is even practicing anymore—or alive even as that’s how long it is between my visits. Doctors certainly have their place, but I’ve personally found most doctors that I’ve seen to be total quacks. After all, someone has to graduate last in their class, right?

I’m not going to stand here and generalize that all doctors are bad. There are many doctors who take their work very seriously and are amazing at what they do and are a specimen of good health and living a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, on the flipside, you have doctors who are truly less than qualified to be giving you health advice as you’re sitting on their table being lectured. I hear it all the time that people say they left the doctor’s office being told they need to lose weight by exercising or changing their diet. No kidding. You expect them not to say that when over half the population is overweight or obese? Just for fun I ask if their doctor is overweight. Their answer? Yes. So riddle me this… If someone who is more out of shape than you is telling you that you need to work out and watch what you eat, how likely are you to take advice from someone who could possibly be in worse shape than you? That would be like going to a nutritionist for help getting your diet under control and the person you sit down with is 300 pounds with a bag of potato chips on their desk. Heck, even some doctors even smell like an ashtray. Check please. Get me the hell outta there.

My most frequent visit with the doctor I grilled him a little to see just how much he knew about health and fitness. I asked him how often he sees overweight individuals (no, I’m not speaking about myself). His answer was all the time. I asked him if he tells them they need to exercise more in which he replied “yes”. So I dug a little deeper and asked him how he goes about recommending that they exercise more. He responded with he tells them they need to get more active and clean up their diet. I asked first about his direction to clean up their diet and what he tells them or gives them so they know what he means. He said that the only thing he asks them to do is watch their fats, sugars, and carbohydrates. Hmm, not exactly the advice I would have recommended. So I keep my thoughts to myself and ask about the getting more active part. He said he tells them to simply walk more and if they are sedentary to get up throughout the day to stretch and move. While that is true, that’s a small part of the bigger picture. So then I asked him how he classifies people—does he do it through weight alone, body fat, or BMI? He responded with the easiest way to measure is by using BMI. I asked him to please use the BMI model to see where I stand. He connects the dots on the chart and says with a brief pause, “Mr. Weik, you are considered to be obese.” Really, doc? I smiled and said, “do I look obese or unhealthy to you? Do I even appear overweight?” He smiled and said “no”. Here is my biggest problem. We are using outdated measures and information to diagnose and categorize people. By using BMI, you aren’t taking an individual’s lean muscle mass into consideration. In fact, the same doctor that I was speaking with didn’t even know what bioelectrical impedance was.

So I come back to my initial question—since when did we start taking advice from doctors? Or better yet as I like to call them, “pill pushers”. A family member of mine just happens to be a pharmacist. It’s amazing the stories he tells me of doctors prescribing medication to someone that has a direct interaction with another medication they are already taking (leaving actual names out of course). He ends up calling the doctor to figure out if he would allow the patient to use a different medication instead of the one he prescribed to give the patient. Again, my point of why are we really listening to doctors? Sure, they have their place, but they really need to stay in their lane. The example just given doesn’t directly tie into my concern of them giving out health and fitness advice, but it does tie in with the fact that some doctors quite honestly have no idea what they are doing. If doctors are not certified to give fitness or nutritional advice, I’d truly like to see them working hand-in-hand with local gyms to have their patients work with trainers and nutritionists who can help the patient rather than having the doctor blindly giving poor advice that won’t help their patient at all. Or, it might even frustrate them because they are following the generic advice without any true guidance on what to do.

Again, I’d personally like to see doctors staying in their lane. You don’t see trainers or nutritionists giving medical advice as if they were a doctor. So I’d like to see doctors shy away from handing out fitness and nutrition information and advice and instead, find a reputable local trainer and nutritionist to work with to help their client if they are in need of losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle. If everyone can work together, we might just be able to make a positive change in the world.