January 8, 2003

Dear Sandra,

I put on quite a bit of weight in the month of December and I really need to lose it, any suggestions?

Chubby from Christmas

Dear Chubby,

Eat less, move more! It’s that simple. Everyone seems to expect some kind of miracle exercise or diet for weight loss, when really it all stems down to eating less and moving your butt more often.

The holidays seem to be the time that most people put on weight. With Christmas parties where the calorie-laden punch keeps getting refilled and the butter cookies grandma sends beckon you to devour them all at once, it’s inevitable that you are going to gain weight. Now is the time to redeem yourself. The most important thing to remember about eating less is not to starve yourself. Give yourself 3 nutritious meals a day and a couple healthy snacks.

So many diets centre around restrictions; don’t restrict just constrict (if I ever become a health guru that’s going to be my slogan). Instead of 3 hamburgers have 1, instead of the pan of brownies have 1 (cut it into regular size!). If you are a sugaraholic like I am, taking yourself immediately and completely off sugar will only lead your body to make you a nut case sneaking out late at night to the 7-11 to buy candy. I try not to eat sugary foods at any other time than after dinner, this way I know I’m getting something “good” once a day and I don’t try to sneak it in. Adding more fruits, vegetables and fibre to your diet and drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water a day will help fill you up quicker than those empty calories in that candy. 8 glasses of water seems like a lot, but really it’s only 4 – 500 ml water bottles a day.

If you take the time to keep a food journal, whether it’s on the computer or in a little notebook in your pocket, you will be amazed at how much goes into your body in one day (when you are not eating responsibly). You need to record every morsel that enters your mouth from those M&M’s you stole from the skinny girls’ desk to the gum you chewed after to get rid of the smell in case she checked (hey, overeating is an addiction, people do crazy things). Keeping this journal along with how your body reacts roughly an hour later will show that oatmeal (without 5 handfuls of brown sugar and a cup of homo milk) will keep you fuller and give you more energy that 2 honey crullers, 20 Tim-bits and an extra large mochachinno. Make small changes everyday; put half the cream or sugar in your coffee, drink only one pop a day, pack your own lunch, cook with sprays instead of butter, etc:

Don’t try to stop all your bad eating habits all at once, keep a food journal so you are aware of what you are eating and gradually get rid of all those foods in your diet that are not on the food guide and add more that are.

As for moving your butt, you should be doing something active for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. This doesn’t have to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise; 15 minutes of yoga in the morning and a 15-minute walk at lunch are just as beneficial as a 30-minute walk. Do what you like to do. If you like to swim, swim. If you like to run, run. If you like to dance around in your living room and relive your days as an 80’s punk rocker wannabe, dance like an idiot! You can exercise by sitting at your desk just by contracting muscles. It doesn’t have to be complex and you don’t have to do it with other people.

Losing weight is not rocket science; eat less junk and more nutritious food and get up from your desk or off the couch. There is an abundance of help on this subject; your local library, magazines, gyms, and of course the Internet (just try typing in weight loss and see how many hits you get!) Keep in mind that improving your diet and getting more exercise will not only help improve your figure but it will also improve your mind and provide you with more energy to cram through the night. Of course it’s going to be hard to walk past the bakery and refuse that tempting aroma, but the payoff is worth it. No more laying on the bed to do up your jeans with a coat hanger, and if you start changing your ways now you might just be able to venture out onto the beach in a bikini by July (unless you are like me, my butt and stomach look a roadmap from the stretch marks my two children gave me, I’ll always be a one-piece, towel wrapped around my butt until I step into the water kind of girl!) Good luck!



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of