Preventive Maintenance

A recent story[1] by Seattle Times staff reporter Richard Seven starts like this:

“After performing more than 3,000 weight-loss surgeries during a three-decade career, James Weber closes his practice this month to become a yoga instructor. Consider it a quality-of-life move.”

Think about it. Giving up a six-figure career to focus instead on the preventive root of the problem. In all fairness, obesity has many causes, including a genetic predisposition for some to have more fat cells than others. But Dr. Weber had observed a doubling or even tripling of obesity cases during his tenure, along with the high stress of what he came to recognize as his driven lifestyle.

So he made a life change. In his own words: “As I look back, I had sort of made myself belong in surgery, Yoga has given me a totally new perspective. I am learning that there is unity and value in everything. I hope I was always compassionate, but I feel I am more at peace now. And I’d like to share that.”

Welcome to the next chapter of your life, James.

I could wrap this essay right here, but here’s one more angle to consider. As a society, we’re prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars for corrective surgery, too often (not always) to enable self-destructive life choices like lack of exercise and poor dietary habits. But the thought of spending a tenth of that amount on yoga or preventive education? Heresy. Try convincing your health insurance provider to pay for your yoga class.

We have a lot of opportunity to fix our ailing health care system in a way that works for everyone, and I applaud Dr. James Weber for taking a necessary first step.



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