Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ask Kelli: Dealing with Mom's Weight Gain; Envy; People You Don't Like

by Kelli Miller

Dear Kelli,

My mom has struggled with body weight for the majority of her life. About four years ago, when she separated from my father, she took control of her life and started taking good care of her body. She lost a lot of weight by eating healthy food and exercising; she looked great and seemed to feel really good about herself. Now my parents are divorced and she has a man friend who is very kind to her, but his kindness seems to revolve around food. She has recently gained a bit of weight back and is feeling self-conscious about her body again, as he buys her favorite foods and they go out to nice restaurants for seemingly regular "special occasions." Obviously, she is accountable for eating things that are not healthy for her, regardless of who she spends time with. Do you have any pointers on how she might get back on a healthier course? Also, do you have any tips to help her direct some of the love and care her man gives into different, healthier avenues without hurting his feelings?

Moderation, Please

Dear Moderation, Please,

Do I have any pointers? Sure, let’s start with your mom needs to be honest with her man friend! If this man really cares for her, he’ll respect her efforts to eat more healthfully and choose activities that don’t revolve around food. My guess is that the man friend has no idea she’s feeling this way, and once told, he’ll make changes with her to help improve her lifestyle. It sounds like your mom may be worried about saying something will ruin their relationship. But if she doesn’t, it’s going to ruin her body image and/or health.

You’re right in saying your mom is accountable for her own behavior. She’s the one who needs to step up here and voice her concerns. So what you can do is encourage her to do this. Again, remind her that her friend only wants the best for her and will understand. I’d also encourage you to have your mom ask her friend for help in the process. In other words, have them brainstorm together about other things they can do. This way he is also held accountable in a way and becomes more personally involved in helping her.

My advice for some healthy activities are:

1) Creating a scrapbook of things they’ve done together (pictures, receipts, brochures from places they’ve been , etc.)
2) Romantic walks and if it’s cold, a walk at a mall
3) Joining a book club together
4) Going to the movies
5) Learning a new language together
6) Visiting animals at a shelter
7) Volunteering at a hospital or other facility
8) Taking a healthy cooking class together or making healthy dinners at home (can be fewer calories than going out to dinner)

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

I’m constantly jealous of everyone around me. It’s either “She has the best career,” “She has a great guy. My guy isn’t as good,” or “She has the perfect life.” Everyone else’s life always seems better. What can I do?

Jealous of Everyone

Dear Jealous of Everyone,

I think it starts with a reality check -- realizing and saying out loud, “No one’s life is perfect.” You are simply picking and choosing what you want to see in your friend’s life. So in essence you are only “seeing” the good. So maybe your friend has a great career but I’m sure there are other things in her life that are challenging. Or your friend has a great guy but how do you know how things are behind closed doors? You need to remind yourself that there needs to balance in what you are choosing to see in her life. Finally, accept that what you are thinking about everyone else may not be 100 percent valid (i.e. “They have the perfect life”). This is irrational thinking.

I’d suggest you write a grateful list of five things every night. Studies show that people who write down what they’re grateful for feel more satisfied. Maybe you aren’t “seeing” what you have and this would be a nice reminder. Finally, ask yourself what would people be jealous of you for? (And yes there are plenty of things!)

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

I’m curious how to handle people when I just don’t like them.

Not Evil Just Don’t Like Everyone

Dear Not Evil,

In my opinion, even when you're with people you don’t like, try to behave with class. I know it’s not easy but this way you’re always keeping your side of the street clean.

Now if there is a specific issue -- let’s say with a relative or someone you will have contact with again -- I’d gently confront them (e.g.,  “Sally, I really like how generous you are with gifts but sometimes I feel you can be a little bold with your comments about my job.”)  If it’s someone you barely see or someone you have a superficial relationship with, I don’t think you need to say anything -- just be polite. That’s it.

I do think you should avoid being mean to anyone, no matter what you think of them. It doesn’t get you anywhere and it only fuels the fight. So try to take contrary action and just be nice. No one can ever fault you for being too nice!

Finally, try having sympathy for the person you don’t like. Perhaps they have a challenge you don’t know about? Sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. And often I will pray for people who are mean to me. It sounds crazy but to me, that person needs probably needs my prayer!

All the best,


Kelli Miller, MSW is a therapist, author, and radio personality. Miller was a featured expert for SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 198, the co-host for the TV show Love and Money: The Advice Show, and the advice columnist for Playboy U, and the author of Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband. Ask Kelli is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv on Wednesdays.

Kelli welcomes your comments below.  Have a question? You can write to Kelli at advice (at) fastmail (dot) net or via Twitter @askkelli.Your name and email address will be kept confidential.

1 comment:

  1. Kelly - You are right on with your advice to "Not Evil." Yes, it is always best to "...[keep] your side of the street clean..." rather than stooping to the same level as a nasty person.

    And about praying for people who are mean? Hey, it's worked for me and my husband. His ex (who, mind you, was the one who dumped him) was REALLY mean to us -- but, especially to me -- for a long time, But, as we've continued to pray for her every night (yes, every night), she's finally coming around to almost-nice. Boy, has that been an answer to prayer!