DEAR HARRIETTE: I just saw a picture of myself that a friend posted online from an event where we both were last weekend. We had a really good time, and I was happy to hang out with old friends. I hate the picture though. I know I have gained some weight in recent years, but the picture showed me more than I realized. I have become a middle-aged woman with a fat belly. I was absolutely horrified to see what I look like in that photo. And I'm afraid it's too late to get in shape. I'm already past 50. I feel like I want to stay in my house and hide for the rest of my life. What can I do? -- Fat and Freaked Out, New York City
DEAR FAT AND FREAKED OUT: Photos have a way of revealing lots of things about us. I'm sorry that your recent photo upset you so much, but you can think of it as a fantastic wakeup call. You are NOT too old to get fit. Many people of all ages have made the choice to turn their lives and their bodies around. You can, too!
Start by getting a complete physical, so that you can be cleared for rigorous exercise. Commit to an exercise program. Best case would be if you could go to a regular class where a teacher guides you in your fitness regimen.
You must also change your diet. If possible, visit a nutritionist who can give you a healthy eating plan. If not, read up on healthy eating. Cut out salt, sugar and fat. You can do it!