DEAR HARRIETTE: Two people at my job gave me gifts for Christmas, and I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t get anything for them. We weren’t supposed to exchange gifts outside of the Secret Santa thing we do, where each person picks another to give a small gift to. I did that, but these two who gave me nice gifts are people I like for sure. It was really awkward. I thanked them, but then thought I should run out to the store and get something for them. The thing is, I won’t see them until after New Year’s Day, so it may make it awkward all over again. What should I do? I want these women to know I appreciate them and their generosity. -- Giftless, Detroit
DEAR GIFTLESS: Take a deep breath and relax. You are not required to give a person a gift just because you received one from her or him. What you should do is to graciously offer your thanks for the gift and the thought behind it. To complete the cycle of giving is to let the person know how grateful you are. You do not need to go shopping for these people for after-the-New-Year gifts. Instead, if you do want to do something special for these women, consider inviting them individually or together for lunch or drinks -- your treat. No need to say that this is your gift to them. Just enjoy each other and stay in the moment.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was already gaining weight before the holidays, and I feel pretty confident that I added a few pounds over the past week or so. I am really mad at myself. I need to lose, not gain. Even though I know this, I don’t seem to make smart choices that will help me get anywhere close to my goal. I want to lose about 40 pounds, but the cake and cookies just looked too good for me to resist. I hate to say it, but I have very little discipline on this front. Even though I know that I need to do something, it ends up being just a thought in my head. How can I really do something? -- Ready for a Change, Washington, D.C.
DEAR READY FOR A CHANGE: Consider it a good sign that you recognize the position you are in right now. It means a lot that you are clear that you need to lose weight and even that you know what some of your trigger foods are. You also need help. Start by getting a complete physical from your doctor to be clear about your health status. Ask your doctor for any medical guidance for weight loss.
Consider going to Weight Watchers. There’s something powerful about having to go to a weekly meeting where you get on a scale and track your weight in the company of others with similar goals. Weight Watchers teaches people to eat responsibly and in the right portion size for your weight goal. Visit www.weightwatchers.com for ideas. Good luck!