Q: I went to see a new doctor to get my thyroid checked because I have been gaining so much weight. He was really fat and I smelled cigarettes. I felt like I couldn't trust him. Am I being too picky?
— Vickie L.
A: We YOU Docs know from experience that doctors are human. But overweight doctors are far less likely to provide good weight-management advice to overweight patients. And that's a matter of life and death. A doctor who smokes may be willing to overlook a patient's bad habits. So, how can you find a quality doctor? Here's our "Good Enough to Be Your Doctor" checklist.
Look up the doctor on Facebook and Google-check for healthy activities.
Do a front-office interview. You'll learn a lot from how the support staff treats you. Ask if the doctor sees patients your age and with your health concerns. Ask where the doc did a residency and has hospital privileges. Find out how long the doc's been board certified (three years should be the minimum).
Check out the doctor's credentials: Go online to see if the doc is included in medical-association databases, such as the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Only choose someone board certified with admitting privileges at a major medical center.
Q: I had a checkup, and my doctor said I have to start exercising or I'm in for trouble. I'm too embarrassed by how I look to go to the gym. Should I buy a treadmill?
— Frank W.
A: You could get a treadmill, but it'll probably be an expensive clothes hanger inside a month. We YOU Docs advise investing about 1/20th the money in a good pair of walking shoes. (You're going to need them, because your goal is at least 10,000 steps a day!)
Walking reduces anxiety and stress, decreases the risk of major cancers, memory loss and type 2 diabetes, improves heart and lung function, increases flexibility and IT'S FUN! You'll lose weight and feel better almost immediately. So get started.
Jump in feet first. Go to a shoe store in the afternoon (your feet are larger then), and try on running shoes. They're best for walking too. Then buy them; it'll raise your commitment level.
Step it up. Make a walking plan you can carry out. Week one — maybe all you can do is walk down the block and back. Do it daily. Extend your distance a little each time you go out. Get a pedometer to keep track of your steps. Shoot for building up to 3,000 steps a day, over two walks. Over six weeks, increase to 10,000 steps a day. But you don't have to do that all at once. Every step counts toward the 10,000. For example: Walking in place while watching 20 minutes of TV equals 1,000 steps; walking during a 15-minute phone call, another 1,000 steps; 30 minutes of vacuuming, 2,000 steps.
Need more help to get going? Get a buddy for daily walks or to tell "I did it today!" The pal can give you a get-going poke if you don't check in. No one available? You can email us at youdocs(at)gmail.com (there's a small charge for this daily email coaching). And don't forget, hoofing with a canine companion will speed up your pace by an impressive 28 percent. Don't stop stepping when the dog stops. Walk circles around him.
Lace up those shoes, take a deep breath and remember, every success starts with the first step.
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight."
© Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Dist. by King Features Syndicate Inc.