DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This is the second year I have tried out for football but got turned down. The coach says I’m too skinny. He said he would give me a chance if I put on some weight. How do I do this? I’ve been this way all my life. — J.R.

ANSWER: To be successful at this, you’ve got to do some math. Get yourself a book that list the calories of foods, and get one that lists that information in common measurements. These books aren’t expensive. Your school’s library or a local library probably has one.

Weigh yourself at the beginning of a week. For that entire week, keep a record of all the foods and liquids that pass into your mouth. Add the daily calories and average the daily amount by dividing the total by seven. That’s the number of calories that keeps you at your present weight. If you have an exercise program, keep the program up during that week.

The next week add 500 more calories a day to what you eat. Increase the portions of food you eat at every meal, and get in two snacks a day. The snacks should consist of calorie-dense foods. “Calorie-dense” means a small amount of food has lots of calories. Dried fruits, raisins, nuts and cheeses are calorie-dense. So is peanut butter. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich has 400 calories, close to the daily goal of 500 calories.

If you aren’t on an exercise program, get on one. You want to build muscle and not accumulate fat. If such a program is new to you, add another 300 to 500 calories to your daily calorie goal. By exercising, I mean weightlifting. Does your school have a weight room? Ask the coach if you can use it.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I’m scheduled to have an operation on my right big toe. The doctor tells me I will have to wear a cast for six weeks.

I have been a competitive runner in my younger years, and I have kept running daily since I stopped competing. A six-week break will ruin my conditioning. Is there any way to stay in shape during this off time? — W.O.

ANSWER: You can still exercise your upper body. You have to do exercises that keep your arms moving at such a clip that you raise your heartbeat to the level it rises to when you run. You can do this by using very light weights.

It’s said, and I’m not sure it’s true, that exercising your good leg transfers an exercise effect to the casted leg.

Tensing and relaxing the muscles in the casted leg will give those muscles a workout.

Ask your doctor if your foot can be immobilized in a waterproof cast. If it can, you can engage in many water exercises that will keep you in shape.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Does weightlifting make women muscle-bound? My boyfriend lifts weights, and he wants me to join him. I don’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Will I? — C.S.

ANSWER: Weightlifting doesn’t turn women into muscular behemoths. While females do make male hormones, they don’t make the amounts that men do. That puts the brakes on muscle development. Male hormones are responsible for the gigantic muscles attained through dedicated weightlifting.

Weightlifting for women is quite appropriate. It’s encouraged. Not only will your muscles become stronger, but so will your bones. Weightlifting is important insurance against osteoporosis developing later in life. This is the time of life that you can get your bones to a state that they will not be liable to suffer from bone weakening as you age.

Do you mean you don’t want to look like Arnold before or after he became a politician?

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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