15-year-old needs a healthy-living plan

Q and A


I exercise just about every day, and I am losing weight, but how do you lose it in a faster, healthy way at the age of 15?

Particularly at your age, it's easy to fall into unhealthy diet and exercise habits. As you probably know, crash diets are an unhealthy and inefficient (meaning short-term) strategy.

For the lowdown on how to lose the weight right and keep it off for good, we spoke to two experts at Sinai Hospital, Dr. Tyler Cymet, head of the family medicine section, and Michael Kelly, certified personal trainer and director of operations at Sinai's LifeBridge Health and Fitness.

Cymet explains that you have to decrease the amount of food you take in by 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If you work out vigorously, you probably burn about 350 calories an hour, so it would take 10 hours of working out to loose that single pound.

But Cymet points out that "if you cut out dessert or a bag of chips a day, that is about 500 calories, and in one week you can lose a pound."

In other words, while exercise is critically important, it must go hand-in-hand with diet adjustments.

Without knowing more about your health history, weight loss goals and current diet and exercise habits, Kelly says, it is impossible to prescribe a safe program for you.

In general, however, he says, "A healthy weight loss is 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per week." Still, he recommends focusing on the big picture, not the needle on your scale.

Contacting a registered dietitian and consulting a personal trainer may be a wise choice for launching your routine.

I'm running a 5K with a friend next month. He wants us to run the race in under 10.5-minute miles. How can I quickly calculate my pace? I'm practicing on a quarter-mile track, so I know how far I've run and how long it has taken.

While you can use simple arithmetic (divide the number of minutes by the number of miles to get your speed per mile), this is a case where the Internet can come in handy.

The Runner's World Web site (runnersworld.com) has a great pace calculator. From the home page, click on "training," then "calculators." Plug in your distance and time, and it will display your pace.

If you need to convert miles to kilometers, visit onlineconversion.com. When calculating your time in preparation for the race, keep in mind that your pace will most surely be quicker on a flat track than on an uneven race course.

Is it true that people who fidget stay thinner than those who don't? Like most people, I've always resisted the urge to fidget, but maybe I shouldn't?

A handful of studies have supported the theory that fidgeters are generally thinner than those of us who sit still. Drumming your fingers on a desk or bobbing your leg can be distracting to those around you, but maybe it isn't the worst thing in the world.

Should you pick up the habit as a weight-loss tactic if you aren't already doing it? Hardly. Twisting paper clips or tapping your toes isn't going to turn you into Michael Phelps or Maria Sharapova. If you want real results, stick with a real fitness strategy, like exercise.

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to fitness@baltsun.com, or online at baltimoresun.com/healthscience, or in writing to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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