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Friday, July 19, 2013

Swapping weighty stories & Ted Talks

Week 15 - Psychology, Oncology, Cardiology

Weight management education and counseling is a required, regular aspect of a Registered Dietitian’s arsenal, particularly in America’s overweight/obesity cauldron.  As I counseled one patient this week on weight loss he listened patiently, but had a pressing question on his mind.  His question did involve food, lifestyle, or habits, but was more personal in nature: 
Patient:     “Have you ever been fat?”
Me:            Taken off guard, I unremarkably replied, “Huh?”
Patient:     “Have you ever been fat in your life?”
I learned that this man, severely obese, was not interested in taking any advice or guidance from someone that had always been thin, never struggled with larger weight problems (literally, not figuratively), or has never felt the social stigma of largess.  After sympathizing with him, and empathizing with him, we had a some frank discussions about his weight (and mine), choices, and future options.  He was receptive towards me, and recounted stories of previous weight coaches and dietitians that left him more cynical than engaged.  Personally, I have not been "thin" during any part of my life, but characteristically normal weight to slightly overweight.  We exchanged ideas for over 30 minutes, a very long time by inpatient standards, and when I departed, I could feel his sense of empowerment and renewed vigor.  If felt really, really good.  He asked if he could make an appointment to meet with me on an outpatient basis after his hospital stay.  That is what I call a professional compliment!
It is times like these that I realize how much impact each of us can make on a daily basis.  We don't have to be in healthcare to make a difference in someone else's life.

Have you ever watched any Ted Talks?  Here are two of my recent favorites, with a few quotes from the talk, that demonstrate how easily it is to affect another person:

1.  Mark Bezos: Life lesson from a volunteer firefighter
“It is so easy to dismiss the opportunity to do something good because you are hoping to do something great.  There are opportunities dozens of times a day to make a difference in somebody’s life.”  Initiate a smile, clean up a park, be a mentor...

2.  Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA
“Food is the problem and the solution.” “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”  “If kids grow kale, they eat kale.  If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes.” “…the joy, the pride, and the honor of growing your own food…”

Each of us has the opportunity to impact a life every day.  Let's strive for positive, impactful results, big and small!

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