Updated: Jun 7
I tried my best to be a good girl growing up - of course I wanted to please my mom, dad and grandma. Turns out I wasn’t good at much - I wasn’t pretty, bad at math, wasn’t sporty, didn’t play the piano well, and was terrible at Chinese.
But I could eat. I would always finish my bowl of rice because I was told that any remaining grains of rice would be pock marks on the face of my future husband. I come from a family of food pushers who knew how to shame you into finishing the last bit to avoid waste. I was willing to try weird new things, and as I grew older I even learned to sacrifice myself by choosing the parts of the chicken or fish that others didn’t prefer.
I began to be self conscious about my weight in middle school, and like many women it would be fair to say that weight has been a struggle for most of my adult life. I felt like I had tried it all: Weight Watchers, the Zone diet, South Beach Diet, to name a few. I had done weights, step aerobics, taebo, zumba, and even triathlon/ marathon running.
I don’t mean to blame my family for my weight problems, after all my grandparents had come through multiple wars and famine in China. So of course they had a completely appropriate mindset for the context of their age. I had to take responsibility for the choices I was making in being a people pleaser and also to recognize where I was using my culture or genes as an excuse for my choices.
Mind body work
As a doctor, I felt this shame and disconnect about how I was supposed to know all about the body, but somehow couldn’t figure out how to control my weight. I kept losing and gaining back the same 10-15 lbs for decades, always seeing and fearing that gradual creep of the scale upwards.
Things began to shift for me during my Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Through Dr Andrew Weil, I learned that we want to make healthy food choices rather than following a diet, and that self care is about lifestyle choices like exercise, but also mind body work like meditation or yoga. I began learning about my hormonal responses to food through intermittent fasting after reading Dr Jason Fung’s Obesity Code.
Coaching with Katrina Ubell
As I learned about the importance of lifestyle choices, I began to see the limitations of what we can do as doctors. I have always wanted to empower patients to do more for themselves, so I decided to train as a health and wellness coach. During the pandemic, I made the shift from general primary care practice to a membership model of practice with health coaching.
I learned that it’s good to be a picky eater
As I wrote about in The Missing Link, a major turning point for me was enrolling in Katrina Ubell’s Weight Loss for Busy Physician’s program. I learned that it’s good to be a picky eater. How to say no to food pushers. How to enjoy social events without eating myself to the point of feeling ill. And yes, it’s even okay to waste food sometimes . . .
Beyond that, I love the power of mind management through coaching. The CTFAR Model is literally the quickest way to analyze a problem or feeling, reframe it, and come up with solutions.
Dream come true
In February, I was honored to receive a message from Team Katrina inviting me to consider working with them. And as of last month, I have officially joined her extraordinary team of coaches as a rookie.
Not only do I get to coach amazing women doctors all over the world, but I am learning from the best about how to harness the power of the mind over and over again to help others. I look forward to continuing to build my skills as a coach and to serving my tribe in the years to come.
The Obesity Code by Dr Jason Fung is an excellent summary of the science behind intermittent fasting as an evidence based approach to weight loss and blood sugar management.
Weight Loss for Busy Physians features Dr Katrina Ubell's Interview with Dr Em Wong EP#208 Weight Loss Success Story: Emily Wong, MD..