While I am not one who likes to stand in front of a crowd or even bring attention to myself, I am being told I should put up a bit of a bio.
Pictures: the best bathroom mirror selfie I could find 😉 and a few pictures of me at the heavier weights. It's amazing how good I was at being the photographer and never photographed. #notacoincidence Notice in the family picture how tiny my "little" one looks in my arms, that was an 8lb newborn!
My name is Dr. Jennifer Kovaric Hendrix I graduated from the University of North Texas Health Science Center's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2007. From there I went to Peoria IL and trained in an ACGME family medicine program associated with the University of Illinois. After residency, I pretty much immediately became board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Why obesity medicine?
I have struggled with my weight just about all my life. I have gained and lost, gained and lost, over the years easily probably hundreds of pounds. Then after having my children and at my peak weight, which was somewhere above 250lbs, a light was switched.
***Of note I do not know how heavy I was. I had stopped weighing myself at a drop above 250, and even when I started my weight loss journey I didn't step on a scale until I was down a dress size!***
At this highest weight, I finally hit "rock bottom" and thought enough was enough; I couldn't stand being miserable in my own body. I did not want to undergo surgery as I had two very young children at home and the thought of surgery scared me. Thus I started studying. At the time, and well even now, there was not one super convenient clinically relevant resource to learn about the biochemistry behind "adiposity" (a term being coined to describe the state of obesity or having too much adipose excess) and weight loss in general. Thus I just started reading and researching anything I could find. If I'm brutally honest, I don't know if it was the added knowledge in itself that helped me lose the weight...
***I currently sit at 165lbs, yes I possibly lost about 100lbs through diet, but I'll never know as I don't know my starting weight. ***
...or in retrospect, was it more the mentality that pushed me to spend my little free time to learn more associated with ability and determination to get rid of my fat excess. It was probably a bit of both. Then in 2015, I had another epiphany, that I could help my self and my patients more if I focused on just Obesity Medicine. Eventually, I opened my very own obesity medicine practice, Direct Metabolic Care. My suspicion that I would enjoy obesity medicine came true when I started thinking about diabetes differently. When I was more traditional FM and a patient came in with the new diagnosis of T2DM, suddenly there would be a dark cloud looming over my patient. It would even make me depressed and I was not the one with the new diagnosis! From then on it would be just a slow path to added pain, comorbidities, and more and more medications. But now when I find this new diagnosis, I am excited! Now I feel empowered! I can do something more than just "control" this disease process.
Why Get This Certification?
Let's all face it, the "weight loss world" is fraught with scam and upsell. Obesity, unfortunately, is a chronic state which is either controlled or uncontrolled. However, for some reason, every Tom Dick and Harry thinks they can cure our society. You don't see old Thomas over there helping people control people's CHF, but here they are "controlling" obesity. #imightbebiasedherebuthanginwithme We've all heard it: "guaranteed to lose "X" amount of pounds in 3 months." I call poppycock - if you truly know about the body and how it changes very quickly in response to weight loss you would know to make this type of claim is purely a marketing gimmick to grab attention. Sorry to be passionate about this but as I myself have been through and "failed" just about every "weight loss plan." I am a bit passionate about protecting the desperate to lose, as I too was once one of these people who fell prey. #sorrynotsorry 😉
Anyway, to get back on topic, I sat for the boards as I had hoped it would pull me away from the "pack" of vitamin pushing, shot injecting weight loss plans that most of us physicians scoff. Unfortunately, it has been my experience there might be too much bias out in the world. I still find it hard to convince people I am not part of this pack. But still, having the deadline of a board exam in front of me did help me focus a shade more than I would have if this pressure were not over my head.
How can you spend so much time on the "facebook" group? Facebook in parenthesis as most people associate facebook only with a plethora of duck faces.
I love it! I started the group as I, myself, need support. Weight loss and weight maintenance are hard! There seems to be a judgment out in our world that there is just some magic golden egg, some magic combo of certain foods that will suddenly make it easy to lose a significant amount of weight. And then the weight will just stay off, easy as that. There is not only this judgment but the judgment against physicians for being overweight. The crazy thing is is it makes complete sense for physicians in particular to have weight problems. Adiposity is not about "willpower," but that is another topic for another day. I felt like we needed a judgment-free space to interact, a place we could let our guards down and relax. We needed a place of pure, nonbiased support and thoughts.