Whether you’re a patient or a provider, you know how quickly time can pass during a health care encounter.
Your provider’s priorities may be to discuss your chief complaint, medications, lab results and other chronic medical problems. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to counsel you on managing weight.
That’s why I recommend that health care providers schedule a dedicated weight-focused visit.
Here are some ways your health care provider may help you during a weight-focused visit:
1-Offer Pre-Visit Assessment Tools
The right assessment tools can give the provider important information about you in the shortest period of time.
It’s helpful to complete a pre-visit assessment tool that covers your daily habits related to diet, activity, sleep and stress that can be reviewed by your health care provider during the encounter.
You can also complete my scientifically-validated Six Factor Quiz online that identifies your lifestyle, habit and mindset factors that are barriers to successful weight management.
You will be emailed your personalized results that can then be brought to and discussed with your provider.
Reviewing the completed assessment tools with your provider will allow you to further explore your daily health habits and challenges.
2-Take a Weight-Focused History
Taking a good history will help your provider better understand you and your weight management journey.
One useful technique I’ve been using for years is to ask patients to graph their weight changes over time, inserting life events or treatments they feel were temporally related.
This activity can stimulate an empathetic discussion about the complexity of each person’s weight journey along with weight-loss strategies that may have worked in the past and can be tried again.
3-Initiate Patient-Centered Counseling
Here’s where the provider can use shared decision-making to assess your personal goals and challenges, resources and time availability.
It’s important that the provider helps you set mini-goals that are realistic and achievable. Here are some examples:
- I will use a food tracker like My Fitness Pal, Lose it! or Calorie King only on the weekends, since that is the hardest time for me to eat healthfully
- I will accumulate 30 minutes of physical activity through brisk walking 3 days per week to start
- I will add a fruit or vegetable to my lunches and dinners
- I will make an appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist to get more help with healthy meal planning
- I will put my indoor exercise bike in a room with a TV so I can watch favorite shows while I exercise for 30 minutes 3 times per week
- I will make a follow-up appointment in 2-3 months so we can discuss my progress
This is also a good time to discuss if you are a candidate for a weight-loss medication or weight-loss surgery.
If you are looking for a weight management plan that fits your life and lifestyle, you can check out my self-help book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!
Six Factors to Fit is a comprehensive approach that offers step-by-step guidance on diet, physical activity, behavior change and mindset.
Robert Kushner, MD