Rosanna Davison shares her advice in her latest agony aunt column.
Q. Do you think it’s normal to get fatter as we age? Every year, I do the same routine come spring — eat healthier to get ready to shed some layers for the summer sun — and each year it just gets harder and harder.
Have I messed with my metabolism too much from all the yo-yo-ing? And why does it seem like all my pals can eat what they like and never gain weight.
I’ve tried every exercise fad going over the years and diets too so I really do want to get to the bottom of this — I mean if I am fighting a losing battle, then maybe I should just give up and get fat.
My pal told me that sometimes your hormones can be out of whack and this can mean that no matter how ‘good’ you are, you gain weight. Is this true and where can I go for tests? I’m mid-30s and I want to be a size eight — but these days, it’s seriously hard work to stay at a size 12.
A. As we age, our metabolism does gradually slow down and our ratio of muscle to fat lowers.
Muscle, at rest, burns more calories than fat at rest, so muscle loss also contributes to a sluggish metabolism. But it does sound to me that you have messed around with your body to the point that your metabolism isn’t working as efficiently as it should be.
That’s what yo-yo diets and crash dieting does to the body unfortunately, as tempting as it may be for you to do each year as summer approaches. My advice is to approach diet and exercise with a sensible balance.
Eat five to six small meals a day with lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats in each meal, drink plenty of water, get enough rest and take regular cardiovascular and resistance exercise to fire up your metabolism again.
If possible for you, I would suggest you seek out professional advice from a qualified nutritionist, who would also be able to advise you on balancing your hormones and going to your GP for blood tests if necessary.
Q. My mother died a few years ago really suddenly and my dad has not taken care of himself ever since.
He eats the wrong things and too much of them and he never even goes for a walk. He’s a gorgeous man and has so much to live for as myself and my brother adore him and want him to be with us and our families for as long as possible.
He never talks about how sad he is but it’s really apparent by the lack of care he takes of his health. I’ve asked him to move in with us, as has my brother but he just cheerfully says he’s grand the way he is.
How can we get through to him — he keeps a happy demeanour, but he’ll get diabetes and other related illness if he doesn’t take more care, and it’s almost as if that’s what he wants.
A. I’m sorry to hear that your dad has been struggling, and it’s fully understandable under the sad circumstances.
But you’re right that he needs to start looking after himself and preserve his health for as long as possible, because he still has a family that loves him dearly and a life to live.
If he hasn’t already listened to you and made an effort to change his health habits, then it’s unlikely that he will anytime soon. If financially feasible for you, my advice would be to set up an appointment with a qualified nutritionist, who will be able to advise him on the simple changes to make that can make a big difference to his health and quality of life.
Your brother and family may even want to chip in to cover the costs, and you could accompany him to the consultation if you want. Hopefully, the advice of a health professional will make him see that he needs to take his health seriously.
Q. My friend is really embarrassing when we go out. Since she grew breasts, she wears really low cut tops and flirts with any men — it doesn’t matter if they are our age or old enough to be her dad.
I’m left there squirming beside her, mortified — it could be in a shop buying some food or on a bus, it makes no difference. Once she is in the company of a boy or man, she becomes some cartoon-type person.
And she dresses really slutty. I know I sound like a prude, but she’s totally giving out the wrong impression, plus my mom is starting to get a bit suss about letting me out with this pal because of all the low-cut tops. Should I say something to her?
A. Your friend has recently discovered her sexuality and the powerful effect it can have on the opposite sex, and right now, it sounds like she’s experimenting with it and pushing her own boundaries.
As you’ve found out, it doesn’t actually benefit anybody else and she will probably end up getting herself into trouble. She also risks developing a bit of a reputation for herself if she’s not careful, and that may be hard to shake off.
On top of all that, her behaviour may end up pushing friends like you away or at least straining the friendship. I feel that the kindest thing that you can do for her as her friend, is to have a quiet chat with her.
Approach the conversation as a concerned friend rather than sounding accusatory, and suggest that she should perhaps calm down on the flirting with other men, as it’s inappropriate and she won’t be popular with their wives and girlfriends.
Explain to her that sometimes it can be far sexier to cover up, and that less is more. Encourage her and be supportive of her, as you want to maintain your friendship with her.