DR. WALLACE: I started a diet/exercise program a few months ago with a goal to lose 2 pounds a week. I've lost 15 pounds so far, but now I'm stuck and can't seem to lose any more weight. I was told that this kind of a plateau is natural and normal for most people. Can you tell me how long these plateaus last? It's very frustrating to diet and not lose weight. — Working on It, via email
WORKING ON IT: Plateaus can last for weeks or longer, so be patient. And actually, diets seldom work. A person loses weight, goes off the diet and then gains most or all of the weight back. A much better strategy is changing your eating habits for the rest of your life. Work with a professional nutritionist who can provide a tailor-made plan for your specific body that you can live with from now on. And yes, your exercise is a key component of your weight loss plan, too!
I would also add that a weight loss regimen with a goal of losing 2 pounds per week is a bit aggressive for most individuals. Losing a pound each week is more reasonable. And don't weigh yourself every day: do so once a week, at the same time of the day. It's far less frustrating.
I'M SHOCKED AT YOUR ANSWER
DR. WALLACE: I always look for your column in our newspaper. I believe that you are, for the most part, a compassionate, nonviolent person who has a teen's best interest at heart. That's why I'm shocked that you sometimes encourage teens to fight back when they are picked on by bullies! Isn't our world filled with enough violence, mayhem and war? Is it necessary for you to advocate violence, especially with young people? I totally agree that being bullied can be a problem, but can't it be solved in a peaceful, nonviolent negotiation? — Shocked, via email
SHOCKED: You are correct that I'm compassionate and an advocate of nonviolence. However, as a former high school principal, I am all too aware that bullying can present complex problems to those being tormented, because so often, it does go on for a long time before responsible adults even become aware of the situation.
When I was a principal, I came down very hard on those students I could prove were bullying others. All students should be able to attend their school without the fear of harassment, physical harm, extortion and humiliation. That's a given and important right each child and student fully deserves.
But the first line of defense against a bully is self-esteem and courage. To tell someone to stand up for himself or herself is not to advocate violence. On the other hand, to give in to a bully is to condone a vicious form of emotional, and sometimes physical, violence. Often standing up to a bully simply means giving eye contact and saying, "stop." A bully is, at his or her core, a coward who lords over those who are smaller or weaker physically or mentally; a bully usually wants nothing to do with those who stand their ground.
When all else fails, I do encourage students to fight back. Sometimes adults do nothing to stop bullying, and the victims are on their own. Standing one's ground and displaying a will to fight back usually stops the bullying quickly — and does wonders for the former victim's self-esteem.
Please don't confuse my advocacy for standing one's ground with an advocacy for violence. Standing up to bullying helps illuminate violence: It does not compound it. I can tell you from past experience that there were many times on my high school campus where small shoving matches or even a few punches or slaps occurred, and it exposed rampant bullying that had gone unnoticed by teachers, counselors and administrators.
I agree that it's best for a student who is being bullied to "go public" with the situation, sharing with a trusted teacher or counselor first. But you'd be surprised at how many bulling victims remain silent out of fear, shame or a myriad of other reasons. Pushing back against a bully is essential to end the torment.
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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