Straight Talk Advice

Jan 07, 2014

Teen wants help losing weight

Dear Straight Talk: This year, I want to lose weight. My weight affects my energy, my lack of a boyfriend, and how I feel about myself. I think my mom is scared I'll become anorexic if she says anything other than, "You are beautiful just the way you are." Not that I want her putting me down, but I do want to lose weight. Did anyone on the panel get fit and healthy when they were once overweight? If so, where did you get the willpower? Thank you so much! — 15 in Vacaville, Calif.

Moriah 17, Rutland, Vt. Ask me a question

I'm a person who needs to plan. If I try to find willpower in the moment, I fail. I've sat down at the beginning of the week and written out a detailed menu (including snacks) for the whole week. Then I follow it strictly, packing meals/snacks for when I got out, too.

Brandon 21, Mapleton, Maine Ask me a question

At 15, I was 5'10” and weighed almost 300 pounds. I played video games 20 hours a day, drank 7-8 sodas daily, and no potato chip was safe. I was the chubby, funny “Chris Farley”, picked to be goalie because I could lie down and block 80 percent of the goal. I started having health troubles, mainly breathing troubles, and after I lost my first 10 pounds, someone actually noticed. That really motivated me! I slowly cut things out, replacing soda with tea, eating baked chips instead of fried, playing active video games like Wii and Dance Dance Revolution, and got into Airsoft. Girls started paying attention and my motivation continued. By graduation, I weighed 190.

Kira 20, Moraga, Calif. Ask me a question

Try the Paleo diet! I did it just to get healthier and ended up losing 10-15 pounds. Also, eating Paleo made me realize I had a gluten sensitivity. Check it out! You don't eat any processed foods, grains or dairy — so, no bread, pasta, rice, milk products, sugar or caffeine. Instead, lots of vegetables, nuts, sweet potato, eggs and meat. (Because I'm an athlete I ate brown rice and quinoa occasionally. I also gave myself some cheat meals.) Your first three days are hard. Stick with it though!!! You'll start feeling great and sugar cravings will lessen. Aim for 30 days — not that you'll want to stop then! For exercise, I love CrossFit. People of all sizes and abilities do it. The coaches are so friendly! It's a much better workout than going to a regular gym.

Taylor 16, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

Lasting weight loss happens slowly. I recommend a class. Group workouts keep you honest and are fun! Have mini-goals to keep you on track and celebrate mini-successes (like a workout record or a shirt you feel good in). The goal should be to feel healthy, not fit society's mold of perfection.

Brie 21, San Francisco Ask me a question

Find an activity you love. I hate the gym, but love swimming, dancing, kayaking, basketball and tennis, all of which are great workouts. Ask Mom to stop buying sugary and processed foods. Have her or a friend join you! A partner can help with accountability.

Dear 15: Congratulations on a life-changing initiative! I hope the panel's comments are motivating. Here are some tips from “successful losers” who kept the weight off (from the National Weight Control Registry): All modified their diet and increased physical activity, four out of five always ate breakfast, 62 percent watched less than 10 hours of TV a week, the average exercise time was an hour a day, and walking was most popular exercise. (Our panelist, Peter, described dramatic weight loss through hour-a-day walking in our May 11, 2005 column.) You go, girl!

Editor's Note: I want to emphasize the essential importance of adding fermented foods to one's diet. Fresh, traditional lacto-fermented foods (such as sauerkrauts, pickles, kefirs, kvasses, etc.) used to be present in all traditional diets, and were eaten with every meal. These foods keep the gut alive with good bacteria which aids proper digestion. A big part of today's obesity epidemic is due to the body being taken over by yeasts and other bad bacteria (mostly due to all the sugar in today's diet), and these yeasts and bacteria have trouble getting a foothold in the body if fermented foods are eaten with meals. Make sure to buy them fresh, in the store's refrigerator section near produce, not on the shelf  (if they're on the shelf, they are "dead", the good bacteria has been destroyed. Many of the shelf "pickles" are not even traditional pickles, but are made with vinegar. These you want to avoid.)

To learn how to make your own lacto-fermented vegetables, see "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. Thanks to "Nourishing Traditions" and the Weston-Price Foundation (dedicated to bringing back traditional foods), many fresh lacto-fermented vegetables are available today in your supermarket's refrigerator section, usually near produce. —Lauren

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  1. By Ashley, age , from Auburn, Calif. on 01/07/2014

    The willpower comes from within. If you are determined to make a change in your life, you will do it. That said, you need a plan and a support system. Ask your family to participate with you. Start cooking healthy dinners together and replace junk food with healthy snacks. It helps to have a partner or a group class for exercise. Don’t get discouraged if you have bad day, just jump back on track!

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