DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been exercising regularly since May. I have lost almost a whole dress size, and I am proud of myself. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m sticking to it.
Yesterday, I got a big blow to my ego. A friend forwarded a picture to me asking if I was one of two people in the photo. It was a profile shot, so you couldn’t immediately recognize my face, but yes, it was me. All I could see was how HUGE I looked in that shot. It’s from about three years ago, but still. Honestly, I had no idea I was that big. I was so embarrassed to see this photo that I didn’t want to admit it was me. I had to confess, only for my friend to say how beautiful she thought I looked. What?! I think she was just trying to be nice. Now that I have awakened to the reality of my body, how can I deal with how poorly I have taken care of myself in the past and how far I have to go to get to my goal? -- Blimped Out, Syracuse, New York
DEAR BLIMPED OUT: Give yourself credit for where you are today, and love the woman you were before. Your friend probably did see your beauty in the shot, regardless of how many extra pounds you were carrying. Better yet, she chose to celebrate your beauty when she sent you the image. Welcome that celebration and use it as motivation to keep working on yourself. Give yourself specific fitness goals that are manageable and within reach. Consult your doctor for guidance on what is healthy for your body. You may also want to see a nutritionist.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. You are doing the work. Stay focused. Love yourself as you are, and forgive yourself for whatever you did or didn’t do in the past. Be in the present, conscious of how you want to care for yourself.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a brother who always was the one with extra money. He has had great jobs in the past and has been consistent in earning money since he graduated from college. A few years ago, though, he lost his job and has had a tough time finding another one, at least one that pays well. I talked to him the other day, and he told me that he may lose his house if he cannot get a better job. I was shocked. He is the one we used to always “borrow” money from. Now that he could use some support, I have nothing to offer him. I feel horrible. Not that he asked, but he has bailed me out of a few financial droughts in the past, and I wish I could help him now. I bet part of him feels bad for being the one to help everybody, and now nobody can help him. What can I do to be a support for my brother? -- Broke, Nashville, Tennessee
DEAR BROKE: Reach out to your brother and tell him that you know he is going through a tough time right now and that your heart goes out to him. Admit that you feel terrible that you don’t have money to share with him, as he has done for you over the years. Ask him if there is anything you can do to help him out.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)