Blog posts from...

Ask Leslie

Childhood Obesity

Question: My adolescent daughter looks like she’s putting on some extra weight. I don’t want to say anything to her that will damage her self-esteem, but I also don’t want her to gain weight unchecked. What do you recommend?

Answer: Adolescence really is a difficult time and saying anything about her weight could indeed damage her self-esteem. Instead I would suggest focusing on how she can start living a healthy lifestyle and start laying the groundwork to help her grow into a healthy adult.

One way you can start is by making sure her diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables. If you can, bring her into the kitchen and get her involved in making healthy dinners for the whole family, featuring lean protein and lots of healthy vegetables. This would be a great time to talk about how the right foods give our bodies the energy we need to get things done, while the wrong foods, such as simple sugars and over processed carbs, can zap our energy and negatively effect our moods.

Make sure that you don’t forget the importance of exercise. If she’s interested in sports, encourage that interest and help her get the exercise she needs. If she’s not very athletic, help her find something active that she can enjoy, such as going for walks with friends, swimming, or trying a non-competitive sport that isn’t too intimidating.

You have such an important job in helping her grow into a healthy and active adult. I wish you all the best!


Making Time For Yourself

Question: Dear Leslie, I feel like I never have any time for myself. I’m constantly running around for other people and working long draining hours. I try to exercise and eat right, but most days I just don’t have the time. It’s so frustrating not being able to stay on a healthy path. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: If you sat down right now and made a list of your current priorities, what items top the list? It sounds like work, family and friends all rank high on your list, but what about you? Are you even on your own priority list?

Although everyone else may seem to have needs that are much more pressing than your own, you need to put yourself at the top of your priority list. I know it sounds selfish, but it’s actually something that will benefit everyone. If you don’t take the time necessary to replenish yourself through exercise and proper nutrition, you won’t have the energy to take care of all those other items on your priority list.

When possible, why not incorporate priorities? For example, you could combine family time and exercise by taking a family bike ride together to the beach or you could enjoy a family hike followed by a nutritious picnic.

Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself. The return you receive on your own self care will be well worth it.


Weight Loss Transformation

Question: I’ve been eating healthy and exercising regularly for the past month, I don’t seem to be loosing weight. When I step on the scale, it says that I’ve actually gained weight! Why am I gaining weight and what should I do about it? I honestly feel like quitting since I don’t seem to be getting ahead.

Answer: Don’t quit! You may actually be making amazing progress and just not realize it. First of all, don’t concern yourself with the scale weight and instead focus on how your clothes are fitting and how you are feeling. That’s because the scale can be a little misleading at times.

Typically when you begin an exercise program with weight training and cardiovascular activity, you are changing your body composition from fat to muscle. We all agree that muscle looks so much better than fat and takes up much less space, but it actually weighs a little more than fat. As a result, as you lose fat and gain muscle, your weight on the scale may go up slightly. This is a good thing. Muscles will increase your metabolism, take up much less space and give you a lean toned look

There may be several other explanations why the scale is misleading you. Here are just a few factors that can impact your scale weight:

    • Energy input=energy output=weight loss or gain
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Body composition; lean muscle tissue vs. fat
    • Pregnancy & childbirth
    • Menopause
    • Monthly cycle


How to Increase Your Energy Level

Question: I feel constantly exhausted and just don’t have the energy to exercise. I can barely wake up each morning and just drag myself through the day. By the end of the day, all I can manage is to sit down on the couch and watch TV. What can I do to increase my energy level?

Answer: Take a moment to ask, “What’s draining me?” Some possible energy drainers could be a lack of a good quality of sleep during the night, something or someone keeping you up, such as a rambunctious cat, snoring partner/roommate, or a restless mind that can’t let go of a problem or thought for the night. Another possibility is skipping breakfast or eating the wrong foods during the day.

To get a clear idea of your specific energy-draining culprit, start keeping a journal of your general health and activity for a few weeks. Looking through it, you should be able to identify potential culprits and then be able to make some small changes that will help to renew your energy. Whether it’s locking the cat in another room, buying earplugs, learning proper meditation and relaxation skills or revamping your diet, you’ll be able to start making positive changes and experiencing increased energy!


Achieving a Six Pack

Dear Leslie, I’ve lost 30 pounds and am very proud of myself. I’ve changed my diet, incorporated a strength training routine and do cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis. I’m really proud of myself and how I look. My only major complaint is my lower stomach. It doesn’t matter how many abdominal exercises I do, I just can’t lose my gut! What am I doing wrong?

Abs for Life!
The key to achieving that “six-pack” you’ve always dreamed of comes not from doing 600 crunches a day, but through a combination of a low fat diet and cardiovascular exercise. When you train a particular area of your body, fat will, unfortunately, never turn into muscle. It is still important to strength-train your abdominal muscles to keep them strong and ready to be revealed. When you strengthen the area and lose that fat, you are uncovering the muscle. That’s when your hard work pays off, because lean muscle tissue helps burn fat. As your lean muscle tissue increases, your body becomes more efficient and you will increase your metabolism.

The lower abdominals are the most difficult area to train for most women and some men. Oftentimes, people feel frustrated that they can’t access their lower abdominal region, or they say “it’s so weak and covered with fat that they have no feeling down there” – particularly women who have given birth or had c-sections. The good news is there are simple ways to gently begin strengthening this area in our daily lives. It is our place of power and we need to reclaim it!

Begin by gently pulling your belly button towards your spine, and you will contract these muscles. This can be incorporated into every exercise that you do, or even while lying down, standing at a bus stop, washing dishes, sitting at your desk — basically anytime and anywhere! By simply engaging these muscles on a regular basis you are strengthening your core, which will help you achieve stronger abdominals, improve your posture, and support your back. Your entire figure will simply look better by “sucking in your gut.” But keep I mind that when you do engage this area, it is important to relax your upper body, especially your shoulders and chest. You don’t want to overcompensate by sticking out other parts of your body. Stay focused on isolating the lower abdominals.

Keep up the great work and don’t get discouraged, after all “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” First and foremost, your health is the most important, how you look and feel are a reflection of your inner self, so treat yourself with patience and kindness. Good luck!