Community Support

Almost everyone who walks through our doors is there because they want to find a way to be healthier and live better.  Despite the almost universal desire for these things, the actual “doing it”  isn’t easy.  It takes grit and persistence and tenacity and bravery and vulnerability – and a whole lot of other things. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it (& we wouldn’t have a purpose)!  Despite possessing most of these character traits and a strong desire to change, some patients struggle through the process more than others.  We are constantly analyzing our data and trying to figure out why some people struggle less and some struggle more. One of the things that good healthcare providers do – that makes them seem so brilliant or intuitive – is they identify patterns – and then use those observations to work upstream and change the patterns. In fact, the word intelligence comes from the Latin word “intellegentia” meaning “the action or faculty of understanding.  True knowledge is understanding – not simply memorizing facts but looking in between the spaces for the connection points.  At Heartland Weight Loss, we embrace this idea.  We want to be the best in our industry, so we are constantly looking for patterns, constantly trying to improve our patients’ results.

There are lots of ways we could evaluate patients to find patterns  – according to age or gender or varying medical problems or time from the initial phone call to the initial visit (trust me I’ve tried them all !) but one of the most striking things is when you compare based on community support. Some people are on their health journey alone and some are doing it with a group. We have lots of patients that are connected to each other outside of our office. We have groups of nurses, groups of teachers, groups of family members, groups of people that attend the same gym – we even have groups of people that live on the same street.  When you start looking at the results of the people in these groups versus people who are isolated on their health journey, the people who are part of a group almost universally have better success rates. 

Why?  The doing of the health journey is easier when you have people walking alongside you. I say this all the time when I’m one-on-one with people, but I don’t know that I’ve ever written it down or pushed the idea out to the masses.  Think about this:  let’s say you have two 21-year-old kids that want to quit smoking.  One lives with five roommates – all of whom are smokers.  The other lives with five nonsmokers.  Which kid do you think has the best chance of being successful?  

When one of your weight-positive behaviors is late-night snacking in front of the TV and you are trying to battle this weight-positive behavior, what happens if your spouse keeps up the behavior?  How long before it oozes its way back into your routine?  When one of your weight-positive behaviors is beer and bar food on Friday & Saturday nights and your social life revolves around people that are continuing to drink beer and eat bar food two nights per week, how long can you sit at the table, drinking soda water with lime and eating a salad?  Chances are, not very long.

However, if your social life revolves around people who get together to take walks, go bicycling. or go to the farmers market, you’re probably going to do those things much more often.   You’re probably not going to go sit by yourself and drink beer and eat bar food.  If no one else in the house is eating ice cream (or anything at all) at 9 pm, you’re going to be more self-conscious plunking down with a bowl in front of the TV.  

Peer pressure is real. Even when you’re 50.  While it’s on your brain, think about your life and who you are surrounded by. If you are on this health journey alone, is there someone in your life that you could bring with you?  Even if you are two steps ahead of this person, they will still provide support and encouragement.  Don’t think about being two steps ahead as it being “too late”.  Being slightly ahead of someone else on a journey can be a really good thing. It means someone is looking to you for guidance.  Which gives you more responsibility to keep leading. When put in a position of leadership – when we know someone is watching and learning from us, we have a lot more pressure to stay on the path.

This theme is going to be even more important as we start talking about treating obesity in children and adolescents.  If you are raising children or playing a role in the lives of children, what kind of behaviors are you demonstrating or teaching them?  Big scary question to ponder, huh?  

As always, if you need me, you know where to find me!

Courtney Younglove, M.D.

ATTENTION LAWRENCE PATIENTS: 18th Street is closed at Wakarusa until further notice due to construction. You can access our parking lot via Research Parkway and Research Park Drive. Expect traffic delays and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to our office.
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