DEAR ABBY: I go to the gym regularly. Part of my membership includes a free guest pass. Working out with others can be much more fun and a really good motivator. I have a friend who has taken me up on my offer to join me at the gym. She goes with me two to four times a week.
Initially, I made the offer to get her going. Never in a million years did I think she'd still be piggybacking off of my membership all these months later. Now that it has become routine, I feel bad saying anything to her. Should I suggest she get her own membership? Or must I just own this since I invited her along in the first place without clear and obvious boundaries? -- WORKING OUT AT THE GYM
DEAR WORKING: You have a right to draw the line. Tell your friend how pleased you are that she now works out regularly, and that because she seems to enjoy it, she should get a gym membership of her own. If she asks why, tell her it's so you can bring other people with you if you wish. If she objects, then she has been taking advantage of your generosity, and that's not how "friends" treat each other.
P.S. If money is an issue for her, you could always suggest she split the cost of your annual membership with you.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my wife for four years, but we have been together for 11. She has three children whom I love and treat as my own. My problem is that my wife is a baker and lets the kids eat whatever, whenever, and as much as they want.
My older daughter has graduated from college, where she worked out regularly and lost weight. However, my son and younger daughter have ballooned to obese. I have tried to talk to my wife about instilling better eating habits, but it never materializes. Food with no nutritional value is consumed each school night, along with bowls of my wife's homemade ice cream. I know being obese will have lifelong consequences for them. How can I fix the problem and help them change how they eat? -- NEEDS GUIDANCE IN FLORIDA
DEAR NEEDS GUIDANCE: You're correct that childhood obesity can set the stage for lifelong health problems. I'm surprised your wife hasn't been told this by their doctor. If she thinks stuffing them with unhealthy food and failing to instill good eating habits is showing them "love," she's misguided.
If she is doing this because of some emotional need of her own, she may need both nutritional and emotional counseling to get past it. A step in the right direction would be for you to involve your kids in family time that includes exercise and encourage them to choose a sport that interests them and to pursue it. If you ask your older daughter, I'll bet she would be glad to support the idea.
DEAR ABBY: One of my friends says I work too much, that I have little to no time for myself or her, and when I'm off, I spend the majority of my time sleeping.
Abby, I'm a certified nursing assistant and work in a hospital that requires me to work 12-hour shifts. (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) What should I do? Yes, they are long hours, but I love what I do. Does this make me a workaholic? -- LOVES MY WORK IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR LOVES: No. It makes you a lucky person who is dedicated to a profession she enjoys. What matters is that your schedule works for you, not for your friend, and that you get sufficient rest to do it efficiently.
TO MY READERS: A very merry Christmas to you all!
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)