Being overweight leads directly to a large list of medical problems, so your doctor will probably be thrilled to hear that you’ve decided to get serious about weight loss. Your doctor can help you set a reasonable and realistic goal, and increase your chance of successfully achieving your target weight.
You do need to consult your doctor before weight loss, for a number of other reasons. Just the fact that you’re carrying extra weight usually causes health issues in itself, but there’s more to the story.
Exercise Isn’t Always Good
Many people hear of a new exercise system and want to dive right in, without considering whether it’s safe for them to do so. If you are thirty pounds ore more over your ideal body weight, your physician should be consulted to ensure that you plan a safe routine that doesn’t strain or injure you.
“No Pain, No Gain” is a myth. Pain is an indicator that something is wrong. There are many gentle exercises that you can choose that will ease you into being more active, without risking your health. There are even exercises you can do without leaving your chair, if you’re seriously overweight or otherwise medically challenged.
You Need Adequate Nutrition
Some weight loss regimens can seriously harm your health over the long term. Even if they “work”, in terms of taking off weight in the short term, they may do so by starving your muscles, organs and bones of nutrition essential for health. It is no exaggeration to say that this can lead to organ damage, osteoporosis, or other medical problems that simply wouldn’t arise with proper medical supervision and nutritional advice.
Your Age Should Be Taken Into Account
Particularly if you’re over 40, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any serious dieting and/or exercise program. As we age, our internal organs, muscles, joints and tendons age as well. Some exercises may be detrimental because they may not be as strong as they once were.
Prescription Drugs Can Prevent Weight Loss
Be sure to see a doctor before you make any significant changes in supplements or medications. If you are already on prescription medications, ask your doctor specifically if any of them have side effects (alone or in combination) that can cause weight gain or prevent weight loss.
Here are a few examples of prescription medications which can cause weight gain and/or trigger appetite (this is not a complete list.)
- Estrogen or progesterone independently, or together in “the pill”
- Certain antidepressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft
- Steroid anti-inflammatories (i.e. Deltasone/prednisone)
- Mood stabilizing and anti-convulsant drugs such as lithium, valproate (Depakote), carbamzepine (Tegretol), Zyprexa, Clozaril (clozapine), Mellaril (thioridazine), and Thorazine (chlorpromazine)
- Antihistamines such as Allegra and Zyrtec
- Certain drugs and types of insulin used to treat Diabetes
- Beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure, such as Tenormin, Lopressor (metoprolol), and Inderal (propranolol)
Of course, you should never discontinue a prescription medication without consulting with your doctor. Often a different solution can be found, such as an alternative medicine without the same side effects.
Your Individual Medical History Matters
Your medical history, pre-existing conditions and even genetic background may influence the choices you make for a diet or exercise program. Certain medical conditions such as Coeliac Disease or Thyroid Disorders may have been contributing factors in your weight gain, and should be investigated if they haven’t already been. Some specific pre-existing conditions you should discuss with your doctor before starting a new exercise program include:
- heart disease
- asthma or lung disease
- liver or kidney disease
Also be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve been experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- pain or discomfort in your jaw, chest, neck or arms during physical activity
- ankle swelling
- rapid or pronounced heartbeat
Weight loss done too quickly or unsafely can increase your chance of constipation, gall stones, malnutrition, eating disorders, organ damage, reduced muscle mass, regaining weight quickly (the Yo Yo diet). In all cases, dieting can stress your body, but advice from a competent doctor ensures that the gains in health you get from reducing weight are greater than the risks.
You Are An Individual
Don’t risk your health with diet or exercise plans that are “one size fits all”, or fad diets that sacrifice your health for quick results that don’t last. You’re unique, and the role of your doctor is to ensure that the program you undertake will be suitable for your own combination of age, current physical health, family history, genetics, medical risk factors, current prescriptions and more.
If you’re in Hawaii, my medical practice specializes in weight loss, and I’d be happy to offer you an inital consultation at no cost. Please come in and meet me, and together we’ll plan your route to safely reach your goal weight.