DR. WALLACE: I'm 18, and this past fall, I started a complete "body makeover" program. I eat properly and exercise daily. In the past two months, I have lost 13 pounds. I still need to lose 10 more pounds, so I am staying on my program. Once I get down to my goal of 120 pounds, I intend to maintain that weight.
My mom is a fantastic cook, so we always have an abundance of great food around. Don't get me wrong; I do not blame my mother. But she does force me to eat her heavenly mashed potatoes filled with cream and butter and smothered in chicken gravy, as well as her raspberry swirl cake covered with mounds of luscious whipped cream!
Those days of me wolfing down those types of foods are over. I now try just a very small taste instead of a huge serving — or two. I jog a mile or more every day, after I do my homework and before dinner. I really enjoy my workout.
But I do have one nagging problem since I started my program. I have a difficult time going to sleep. Could this be caused by my change in eating patterns? And how much sleep does a teen girl need per night? — Working on a Plan, via email
WORKING ON A PLAN: Congratulations on your "body makeover" program! I realize it is difficult to forgo your mother's delicious dishes, but those extra calories definitely add up, so you are right to watch your intake carefully.
Various research papers I've read over the years indicate that teens function best on eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Here are a few tips for getting a good night's sleep:
Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m., including soda, iced tea, coffee and chocolate.
To create a stress-free environment, keep homework, cellphone usage and other nonslumber activities to a minimum in your bedroom.
Don't exercise within three hours of bedtime. You'll be too pumped up to sleep right away.
Keep your bedroom no warmer than 72 degrees F. Sweet dreams!
WE PLANNED TO ELOPE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 18 and very much in love with my boyfriend, who is 19. My parents really like him. In the past, they have acted like they thought he was the perfect guy for me. He has attended many of our family functions, and my dad sometimes even calls him "son," as in son-in-law!
About three months ago, my boyfriend and I got into a deep conversation about how much we love each other, and we decided we love each other more than any other two people on earth. That's a lot of love. We've agreed that this would be a good time for us to run off and get married! I believe the term for what we plan to do is "elope."
About a week ago, my boyfriend wrote me a note and said the time had come for us to run off and tie the knot! I dropped that note behind a chair in my room, and, you guessed it, my mother found it. She was, shall we say, less than happy with me.
To make a long story short, I got quite a lecture from my mom. She said running off was selfish and a sign of immaturity.
My mom thinks my boyfriend and I should take a month or two off from our relationship to "cool down" and think things through.
Luckily for me, she has not tried to tell me that I should never see him again. She seems to be focused on telling me, "Now is not the time," and we should have a plan to support ourselves with good jobs before we even consider getting hitched.
I always thought that if two people were in love, their love would help them find a way through life together. Who do think is right? — Bride-To-Be, via email
BRIDE TO BE SOMEDAY: Your plan was likely a bit premature in that you and your boyfriend have not really established a reliable means of supporting yourselves.
My suggestion is to turn things around as they pertain to your mother! I suggest you ask her for guidance and advice on how you and your man can plan ahead now to get married in the future.
The main reason I'm making this specific suggestion is that you've indicated your parents truly like your beau, and your father is especially comfortable with him. Suggest that you and your boyfriend have a sit-down meeting with both of your parents in which you seek their advice on how you can plan ahead and grow into a position that would culminate in a strong, successful marriage one day.
In the meantime, consider the benefits of allowing your marriage to wait. You'll both be more mature; you'll have a better plan; and best of all, you can invite everyone to your wedding instead running off alone and surprising everyone!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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