“And then in clinicals, I’m actually seeing people who are suffering from complications of obesity. I remember seeing a patient whose BMI was I think 34 or 35, and they’re like she’s obese. And all I can think is my BMI is 43, and I’m like… I can’t do this. And, as I’m going through and seeing patients in clinic as a medical student, “Well, you need to watch what you eat, and you try to exercise,” and the only thing I can think about is, “I sound like such a hypocrite.” All you have to do is look at me and obviously I don’t do any of these things.” – Dr. Rebecca Blonsky
As a young medical student, Rebecca Blonsky was morbidly obese, weighing over 320 pounds at her heaviest. Growing up as an overweight child more interested in music and debate than athletics, Rebecca had long-struggled with her weight, but had never found the impetus to make a lasting change.
That all shifted when she started seeing patients as an upper level medical student. Rebecca felt like a hypocrite when counseling her patients on making healthy lifestyle choices to manage their weight and medical conditions while she herself was on the road to diabetes and heart disease. By taking baby steps and making small, manageable changes to her diet and exercise routine, Rebecca has lost more than 150 pounds and now uses nutrition and exercise as a first-line approach when working with patients as a nephrologist. Today she is an active CrossFit athlete preparing to take on her next challenge as an attending physician at Marshfield Clinic, the same place where her health journey began.
In this episode we discuss:
- How Julie and Rebecca met
- Rebecca’s childhood and personal health journey
- What attracted Rebecca to nephrology
- Rebecca’s struggle to educate patients on obesity when she herself was morbidly obese
- How she started her weight loss journey and how she uses her experience to encourage her patients
- Rebecca’s realization that she lacked strength despite having improved her endurance
- Her introduction to CrossFit
- How she encourages her patients to find a form of exercise they love
- The realization that the need to be “in shape to start” is false, and the advice she gives to people who are nervous
- How Rebecca uses her weight loss journey to help her patients
- What encouraged Rebecca to continue with her healthy lifestyle
- How CrossFit and her healthy lifestyle has influenced Rebecca as a physician
- The importance of educating patients on how they can control their own health before prescribing medication
- Rebecca’s experience with talking about CrossFit among her medical peers
- Using diet and exercise to slow the progression of kidney disease
- How Rebecca realized she had the power to influence her own health markers and risk factors
- Her advice on how you can help friends, coworkers, and loved ones start their journey to health
- Three things Rebecca does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
- One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
- What a healthy life looks like to Rebecca
- University of Minnesota
- American University of Caribbean School of Medicine
- My Fitness Pal
- Jillian Michael’s Yoga
- Run Coach
- When Doctors Rescue Doctors
If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.
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Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.