Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Previously: Elisheva’s father promises her that they will help her deal with her weight and become healthier.

* * * * *


The waiting room was empty and Mommy and I sat down in the blue plastic chairs to wait for the doctor to call us. I morosely watched the fish in the tank swim back and forth. Lucky fish. I’d never heard of a fat fish before. I’d never heard of fish teasing or laughing at or poking fun at other fish. For a fleeting moment I felt jealous of the silvery fish swimming happily around their tank.


Mommy quickly stood up and waited for me to follow her into the doctor’s office. I dragged my feet as we walked into the examination room.

“Good afternoon, Elisheva. What can I do for you today?” Dr. Segal was a kind, stout doctor with a little teddy around his stethoscope. I’d always liked him, but today I couldn’t bear to look at him.

Mommy intervened. “Hello, Doctor. We’ve become somewhat concerned about Elisheva’s weight over the last few months.”

“I see. Well then, Elisheva, we’ll measure your height and weigh you. Then I’ll calculate your BMI. That’s a number which can give us information about whether or not you are at a healthy weight. Then we’ll run some blood tests to make sure that there’s nothing physical causing your weight gain.”

The doctor kindly invited me to step onto the scale, but I refused and remained seated silently on the chair.

Dr. Segal spoke softly. “You know, Elisheva, you don’t have to be afraid or embarrassed. Your mother just cares about you and wants to see you healthy and happy. And I’m a doctor. I promise you that whatever the scale says, I will have seen worse.” Dr. Segal smiled reassuringly.

My heart felt like a brick as I slowly got to my feet. Every step felt like I was climbing a mountain. It felt like I was wading through silly putty. But Mommy and Dr. Segal waited patiently.

I reached the scale and stepped out of my shoes. “Take off the sweatshirt,” Mommy murmured. I did so and then closed my eyes briefly and stepped onto the scale.

When the ordeal of weighing and measuring me was over, I hurried back to my seat. The doctor typed the figures into his computer and waited a few moments. Finally, he looked up from the screen.

“Elisheva, your BMI is 27.3. That puts you in the 95th percentile.” Dr. Segal cleared his throat. “This indicates that you are overweight.”


Though just moments had passed, it seemed like eons had gone by in the seconds since Dr. Segal had said, “This indicates that you are overweight.” Although I knew what I was, hearing it from the doctor made it all too real and I felt my insides shrivel in shame.

Mommy coughed a little. “What would be the healthy weight for Shevi?”

“For Elisheva’s height and age, I would like to see her weighing between 81 to 120 pounds.”

Mommy gave a little gasp. “That means that she has to lose at least 20 pounds!”

Dr. Segal shuffled the papers on his desk. “Yes. Of course, you won’t be doing this alone.” He smiled at me. “I will refer you to a pediatric dietician who can help you achieve our goal.”

The doctor’s room was silent. Mommy’s eyes were wide and her thumb rubbed her forehead in little circles. I slouched down further in my chair.

“It’s excellent that you came in today,” Dr. Segal continued. “With these sorts of things, the earlier we become aware of the issue the better. You’re very young Elisheva, and you have time to correct the problem. When an adult suddenly wakes up and realizes that he’s overweight, it’s a much bigger issue.”

Was that supposed to make me feel better?

“Mrs. Sanders, Elisheva, it’s very important to take care of this now. I’m referring you the dietician who will teach you about nutrition. Of course, it’s also very important to exercise daily. Do you like to swim?”

I shook my head. I liked to sit on the couch, read a book and eat cookies.

“Well, try to find some physical activity you enjoy. You can walk or run, bike-ride, swim, or join an aerobics class. There are many different exercises; pick something you like doing. Try to get you heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Getting your heart rate up means you’re breathing hard enough that you can’t sing a song, okay?”

No, it was not okay at all. Not in the slightest. Not the tiniest bit okay. I’d always liked Dr. Segal, but suddenly I hated him passionately. I clenched my hands under the desk so hard that my nails dug into the soft padding in the palm of my hand.

“You can do it, Elisheva,” the doctor said encouragingly as he handed Mommy the referral to the dietician. I clenched my teeth.

Yeah, right.


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