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Dear Alex,

I feel so unfit compared to my classmates. I can't really do anything at home anyway because my flat is quite small. I don't want to be unhealthy and chubby but how can I lose this extra weight? 

Feeling flabby


Dear Feeling flabby, 

First it is important to check your ideal weight with a doctor or dietitian. Also, have a full examination to make sure that you are generally healthy and that it is safe to start an exercise programme.

Once you know what the right weight is for your own body, you can make small changes to your eating habits, guided by a dietitian. Focus on healthy eating, rather than on losing weight.

Talk to your parents about getting healthier. Work out a plan with them that includes study time and show your parents evidence of your efforts - work hard and do your best. 

Small eating changes are best - eat wholegrain bread rather than white, eat more fruit and vegetables and drink water when you are thirsty rather than sugary drinks. 

Speak to your local gym trainer or sports coach about an exercise plan. Check online for exercise ideas for small spaces. Pilates, weight training, yoga and jogging on the spot are all excellent choices if you don't have lots of space.

It's important to remember that all of these changes are not about image, but rather about being healthy and active, and feeling good about yourself. Try not to compare yourself to your classmates, as being happy and confident in your own body is a personal goal.

Getting fit and healthy is a fantastic goal, so focus on doing your best, rather than trying to look like a movie star.

Dear Alex,

I'm in my last year of secondary school and finishing off my IB. I've no idea where to study or what to study. I don't want to be a doctor although my parents would love it. I think I need more time, but they'll see a gap year as a lazy option and I don't want to be a failure in their eyes. What should I do?

Fearing the future


Dear Fearing the future,

It's okay to feel nervous and unsure about the future, especially when your peers already have plans in place. 

A good plan is to spend time writing down your interests, strengths, accomplishments and possible career paths. Include academic awards, the subjects you're best at, sports and non-academic activities. From this list, find all the related careers that match your personal profile. Then, research the qualifications offered at various universities that match these careers.

Do any of the university courses interest you? If so, commit to the application process - you don't have to go, even if you are accepted.

Look at other options if university still doesn't appeal to you. Check websites about gap years and internships, or talk to your parents, other family members and teachers about paid work options for a year after school.

By involving your parents in your decision-making process, and committing to researching all the options available, you are being responsible and taking action, rather than sitting around worrying. 

Dear Alex,

A while ago I lied to my parents about what I spent my pocket money on. I bought a fake ID and now they have found it. They are furious with me for doing something illegal and lying to them. How do I regain their trust and be a good son?

Trust is a must


Dear Trust is a must,

The fact that you have written this letter shows that you are committed to positive change. 

Put yourself in your parents' shoes and imagine how you would feel if your roles were reversed. This will help you to understand why trust needs to be earned - and kept. 

Give them time because you will need to do a lot of work to become trustworthy again (in their eyes). Don't expect them to "get over it" just because you feel trustworthy inside - they need to heal first.

Focus on schoolwork, be responsible and help around the house. Talk to them and let them know that you understand the consequences of your actions and how it affected them. 

Ask your parents how you can help them regain their trust in you and listen to them. 

Do whatever they ask you to do quickly and graciously - gaining trust again takes hard work. And remember, you have all of your adult life to drink and go to clubs legally. You don't need to waste money on a fake ID.

For information on exercise ideas for small spaces, visit or

For internship and gap year opportunities, visit

Our new agony aunt, Alex, will answer your questions, ease your doubts, and help you to make difficult decisions. Email your problems to [email protected] and keep an eye out for Alex's answers. And don't worry, you can remain anonymous.