Asking for a Friend: Help! I don’t have time to exercise, and it’s making me feel self-conscious

  • This week we talk about the importance of both physical and mental health and give tips for writing a personal statement
  • If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help
Amalissa Hall |

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Everything about your routine has changed a lot over the last year, so don't beat yourself up if you're struggling to handle everything!

Hi Friend of a Friend,

Since being back at school for the whole day, and having a job lined up for the summer, I have no time to exercise. I used to exercise five times per week but now I only exercise two or three times a week. I am so afraid that I will gain weight. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do? Should I go on a diet since I’m exercising less?

Thanks, Gym Bunny

Help! My classmates make mean jokes about my medical condition

Hi Gym Bunny,

Regular exercise is important because it keeps us healthy, both physically and mentally. But it can be challenging to maintain due to school and daily commitments. What were your reasons for exercising so regularly? Think about your intentions, and create a new routine to fit around your new schedule.

Also be kind to yourself – you’re allowed to deviate from the schedule and take breaks sometimes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that you exercise daily for an average of 60 minutes, but it’s good to mix up the intensity of your workouts. Try shorter and dynamic workouts like circuit training some days, and longer and slower activities like walking on others. Anything that gets you moving and your heart rate going is great.

Being at school or at work all day is practically exercise in itself – walking between classes, climbing stairs and getting to and from your location is a lot more movement than you might think. That, plus concentrating in class and applying yourself to your internship, will take up a lot of energy.

Food is fuel, and everything is ok in moderation!

Remember that food is fuel, especially for your brain, so it’s important to eat enough to satisfy your hunger. You are still a teenager, so you need all the nutrients you can get while you are still growing and developing. A diet is not necessary at your age, and the best thing to do is to eat a little bit of everything in moderation.

You can opt for fruits and nuts over processed snacks, because that is better for your health in the long

run. You can also incorporate more grains and vegetables into your everyday diet if you feel like you want to eat wholesome foods. Just be sure to balance proteins, fats and carbohydrates to nourish your body and mind.

Hope that helps, Friend of a Friend

What to do if you’re feeling burned out

Hi Friend,

How do I “package” myself for university applications? I’m struggling to think of interesting topics about myself to write for personal statements and essays. I feel like I can describe my friends so well, but have zero clues when it comes to thinking about myself. What should I do?

Who Am I?

Hi Who Am I,

It’s great that you’re thinking about this early. All university applications require a personal statement or essay of some sort, and they can be challenging to write because there are a lot of things to consider.

You’ll need to express who you are as an individual, discuss a unique topic, explain what you would bring to university and also write a well-crafted essay. It may feel like there’s a lot at stake, but it’s totally possible to write an authentic and interesting essay.

Which path should I follow - practicality or passion?

Before you start to panic-search “examples of excellent personal statements” online and read all of them, stop. This essay is about you – forget about what other people have done for now and focus on yourself. Start by making a list about your admirable traits. It doesn’t have to only be outstanding traits like “top student” or “leadership skills”, because “persevering” and “good listener” are just as valuable and have depth to them.

When it comes to university applications, remember to focus on YOUR traits and achievements, not those of other people.

Personality traits like “brave” or “friendly” are worth considering, too, because ultimately universities want to accept students who have all-round skills, not just top grades. When you can’t think of anything else, ask your parents and friends what they think your best qualities are – like you said, it’s hard to think about yourself but you can describe other people well, so their input can be useful.

Link those traits to experiences you have had. Which subject helped you realise that you could persevere? What situation did you go through that gave you the skills to be a good listener? Have you always been brave, and what’s an anecdotal story you could share about that? How has being friendly benefited you?

I’m too stressed thinking about the future, what do I do?

Now find a way to connect all of these things together, because a common thread will give great structure to your essay and make it cohesive. This might be something you find important, like your culture or even your favourite film, but don’t turn to clichés or experiences that everyone has gone through recently (like the pandemic). Also, avoid talking about other people, because this is about you.

You shouldn’t make yourself “perfect” on paper – of course it’s easier said than done and you want to impress, but it’s key to remain authentic. It won’t benefit you to over-exaggerate small events to make you look more attractive, and sometimes it pays to be honest.

Is it possible to balance dating and the DSE?

Write a draft as soon as possible, and then you can start looking at other examples to see what you’re missing. Share your work with friends and family, and ask them if they feel like it’s a good representation of you. Speak to your teachers about what makes you stand out as a student, and definitely take advantage of higher education counsellors at your school, because they’ll have plenty of experience knowing what makes a good essay.

Good luck, Friend of a Friend

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

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