How to get in shape quickly

Sundershiner asks: I’m really overweight, and really upset I’ve let myself get this way. At school all my classmates look at me funny, and I always feel insecure. I am confident in everything else other than my stomach. I don’t have any problems, and I’m occasionally active! I just love to eat! I’ve tried to be healthy, or try to do something active but I just end up not doing it and having some type of food in front of me! So what could I do to get healthy fast? Run, swim, walk, cardio twister, the bike, field hockey practice in my yard? Also, I will be missing a week worth of field hockey practice! My coach said we all really need to get in shape or it will be a nightmare. I know because I did it last year. I just want to be prepared this time! What should I do?

Hi sundershiner –

If I’m understanding your question right, your field hockey will start soon, and you want to get into great shape by then.  Well, it’s impossible to change completely in that time.  But what you can do is start preparing now, to be ready for the practices to get you into better shape.

All the exercises you ask about are great.  And my advice would be to not overdo any of them.  Maybe go long-distance running one day, do a yoga class the next, take a bike ride the next, swim the next… What you don’t want to do is overwork any particular muscles to the point that you can’t exercise for two weeks while they heal!  So don’t overdo any of those exercises, and that’ll be good.  And biggest of all, be sure and STRETCH before and after any exercises you do.  You humans tend to be just terrible about that!  Look at what we dogs do when we wake up: we stretch every muscle in our body, and then shake it all off.  Now that’s self-care!

Then, as far as diet goes, I’m going to send you something I wrote to a Pack Member whose family always had too much food to offer:


Great question, and there is a trick to it.  Lots of times grownups want their kids to eat a lot, with the idea that eating big amounts makes them healthy.  While the kid might want to eat less, to lose weight, in order to look better.  Now as we all know, eating way too much or way too little can be really harmful.  So your mother might be right, to the degree that she wants you to eat enough to be strong and healthy – but you’re right, to the degree that you don’t want a lot of fattening foods.

The solution is for you to make certain demands about what foods you eat, and then you won’t have to worry so much about how much you eat.

Vegetables and fruits are really the key here.  Lots of people just have them on the side of their meals – say they eat a big slab of meat with a big potato or load of pasta, and a little salad on the side.  Or for breakfast they’ll have eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, toast… and a tiny glass of orange juice.  These diets are pretty certain to put more weight on you than you want to have.

But if, instead, you had only a little meat, and/or a little starch (bread, potatoes, etc.), per meal, but you really filled up on fresh fruit or vegetables… suddenly you’re eating extremely healthily, but with a pretty low-fat, low-carb diet.  If you can do that, and exercise regularly, you’re going to be healthier than your mom even imagined, while keeping your figure in the level you want.

And of course, this extends to outside the main meals too.  If you have a great dinner like I describe, but then drink two cokes with it and have a big hot fudge sundae afterwards, you’re not being healthy or losing weight.  Try to keep even your between-meal snacks down to fruits and vegetables, as much as possible.

Of course, I’m not saying you should never have pizza or ice cream or candy.  But if you can keep those down to being as small a portion of your overall eating as possible… you’ll have a really excellent setup.

Okay.  I have absolutely no idea how I’ve managed to write all that and keep my sanity.  But somehow I did, and now I’m going to FLIP OUT!!!  Meat!  Potatoes!  Sausage!  Pancakes!  Ice Cream!  Pizza!  Oh I’m so excited I’m running in circles and getting dizzy!  Good luck with your diet, and be appreciative of your mother wanting you to be healthy, just like I am of Handsome feeding me boring dog food every day when what I really want is…  OH YUMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!


Okay, sundershiner, that’s about all I can offer.  Oh, except to be sure to get lots of sleep in the time you have too.  Your body needs to be as ready as it can be, so you can have as much fun as possible out there!

Good Luck,


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