Home' LOTL : September 2006 Contents 34
by Dr Ann
QDear Dr Ann
Help! I am a 36-year old happily
partnered lesbian who is gaining
weight. I work out and run but see no
difference other than increased visits to my
chiro. What to do? Happily Partnered
ADear Happily Partnered
What is it about love that it inevitably
comes with a 5kg-plus price tag? I
don’t know. What I do know is that “Happy”
doesn’t necessarily have to end up “Fat and
Happy”. It’s a good look for cats, but not
so good for health in humans. As you know
from the endless media on the subject, being
overweight can lead to heart disease, Type 2
diabetes, joint problems… i.e. eventually “Fat
and Not So Happy”.
How much weight is “overweight”? A good
ballpark measure is the “Body Mass Index”
or BMI, which you can work out by: weight in
kg (height in metres)2. So if you weigh 67kg
and you are 1.78m tall your BMI will be 67 ÷
(1.78)2 = 21 (roughly). The range regarded as
healthy is a BMI of 19 – 24. Try working out
your BMI and see if you are within this range.
If you are, then your concerns about weight
may be a little misguided: maybe you were
unhappy and too thin before!
If you are over the 24-25 BMI, start looking
at your diet and the kind of exercise you do.
Are you eating a high-fat, high-carb diet with
junk food and “instant” meals? Are you and
the loved one splurging on restaurants? Do
you remember where the vegetable section
is in the supermarket? A nutritionist can
be useful to help you analyse your eating
patterns and to suggest plans for healthy
eating. Sometimes a book like one of the
“Low GI” series can change the way you plan
Exercise: The golden rule is at least 20
minutes DAILY, ideally spent walking,
cycling, or doing aerobic-style classes. For
strength and improving fat-to-muscle ratio
do resistance or weights exercise too. Get
a personal trainer to develop a program that
you can stick to on your own. Most gyms
provide this when you sign up.
Sometimes people gain weight for reasons
other than poor eating and inadequate
exercise. There can be causes related to your
metabolism or diseases which contribute to
weight gain, and these need to be explored
with your GP. An initial checkup with your
doctor will not only help to rule these out,
but will give you important information on the
exercise appropriate for you.
QDear Dr Ann
I have been a compulsive nail biter
since early adolescence, around the
same time I became aware I was “different”.
Now 40 I can’t break this disgusting habit.
I’m sure it’s how I pick up germs. Any
remedies for it, or do I need a shrink? Tasty
NailsADear Tasty Nails
Yuck! That’s gross! Stop it! Did that
work? No, I didn’t think so. This is not
an easy habit to break. There are no patches,
lozenges, chewing gums that will help. This
leaves us with non-pharmacological options.
You yourself have identified issues attached
to your nail-biting: good on you! This brings
you closer to finding strategies for stopping.
They’re not easy issues and it sounds like
your habit is lingering many years beyond
your initial anxiety during adolescence. What
this means is that you may be reverting to
nail-biting when you feel anxious about other
issues – plus some of those original worries
about being “different” may be continually
resurfacing for you. Get a referral from your
GP for a good mental health professional.
They can help you not only with ways to beat
the habit, but with exploring other anxieties
and the way you deal with them. You may
end up a lot less anxious in general – not
to mention gaining sexier fingers and less
exposure to germs!
Dr Ann is a doctor at a Sydney metropolitan area
hospital. The opinions expressed in this column
are those of the author and are not intended as a
substitute for medical advice. If you have concerns
about your health please consult your
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