DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like such a loser. I had a great career earlier in my life, but I lost my job almost 10 years ago. Since then, I have had small projects here and there, but nothing has stuck. Now I’m approaching my 60s, and I have nothing to show for it. At this rate, I will never be able to retire. I feel like such an idiot. I have met people with no education and with menial jobs who have saved way more than I have and who are set for their twilight years. I don’t know what to do. I feel like it’s too late for me, but I have to figure out something. -- Sad and Broke
DEAR SAD AND BROKE: Stop comparing yourself to other people. That will not help you. You can silently thank the people whose examples you see for showing you that it is possible to build a life and save even when they don’t have a high-paying job. This is proof that it’s not too late for you. Look around at all of the jobs in your area, including those well beyond your current area of expertise. What “menial” jobs pay fairly well that you believe you can do? Apply for those in the midst of other things. To be successful in your search, you have to genuinely value any job that you apply for. You have to be ready to defend your reasoning for why you should be hired, and go for it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have gained quite a bit of weight in the past year. I realized it when I looked in the mirror in a dressing room and saw myself from behind. I knew I had gained some, but I didn’t recognize the woman I saw in the reflection. My doctor warned me more than a year ago that I had to do something about my weight or I was going to start having health problems. I have started and stopped exercising a few times, but nothing has stuck. I haven’t gained enough to go away to one of those diet ranches, but I definitely need to do something. How do you get started when it feels so overwhelming? I think I need to lose more than 50 pounds. Is that even possible? I have seen commercials that say it is, but I have never met anybody who has done it. What do you think? -- Need To Go Down
DEAR NEED TO GO DOWN: Go back to your doctor and get another physical. Find out what your health status is and whether you have any challenges that are already affecting your body. Ask for permission to exercise. When you have it, consider getting a trainer who can help you to build an exercise plan that will help you to burn a significant amount of fat.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist who can help you to design an eating plan that is low in calories but that is still healthy and not too extreme. Throw out fatty foods and unhealthy snacks. Start wearing clothing that doesn’t stretch so that you can feel if something is getting too tight. Commit each day to your health and well-being. Over time, you will begin to see the change you so desire and deserve.
(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.)