DEAR HARRIETTE: Diabetes runs in my family. Nearly every adult who has reached 45 years old has gotten it, and many of my father’s relatives died of complications from it. I am so worried that it will happen to me. For years, I worked out a lot and kept myself fit.
For the past 10 years, though, I haven’t paid much attention to my health, and I have gained a ton of weight. I am worried that I could be headed toward diabetes. I’m so ashamed. I have avoided going to the doctor because I don’t want to be told I have the family curse. I feel like such a loser. I don’t know what to do. I feel as though I will be letting my family down if I have it because I could have taken preventative measures. Is it too late to do anything now? What’s my next step? -- Hopeless and Ashamed, Syracuse, New York
DEAR HOPELESS AND ASHAMED: This wake-up call about yourself can seem daunting, but don’t try to hide from whatever your truth is. Go to the doctor and get a complete physical examination. Be sure to tell your internist about your family history. You should request the test for diabetes. It is wise to know what health issues you are facing so you can deal with them directly.
If you do have diabetes, follow the protocol your doctor has given you, and be sure to exercise and pay close attention to your diet. Eliminate everything that your doctor tells you to stop eating. If you follow directions, which will include losing weight, you may be able to reduce the impact of diabetes and any other ailments the doctor may discover. Instead of being paralyzed by shame, take action. You can oversee your health. You can choose wellness.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I met a nice young man I think my parents would like a lot. He is thoughtful and attentive. He also has a good job and career aspirations even though he’s still young -- 22 years old. The one big thing that could stand in the way is that he doesn’t share our religious beliefs. We are Catholic, and he is Jewish. I’m worried both of our families will be upset about this.
It’s too soon to say whether we want to go the distance yet, but I’m worried that if we actually fall in love and decide we want to get married, our parents will stand in our way. We haven’t talked about this directly, but I know it’s on his mind too. We are both close to our families. It would be awful if they turned away from us. How should we proceed? -- On a Twisty Path, Dallas
DEAR ON A TWISTY PATH: Start with each other. Talk about the elephant in the room. Play the “what if” game. Ask yourselves what if you decided to get married. What are the pros? The cons? How would each of your families react? Do you feel that you could weather the emotional storms that might come from your religious differences? Talk about how you might choose each other when conflicts arise. Play it out to see if you think you could handle it in real time.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)