April 13, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Ask The Therapist

Irene Rubaum-Keller

Irene Rubaum-Keller is a licensed psychotherapist who has practiced on
the Westside for over 20 years. She specializes in treating people with
eating/weight/body image issues as well as motherless daughters. In
addition to her private practice, Irene has been on staff at UCLA’s
Risk Factor Obesity clinic for the past 15 years where she works with
some of the most esteemed leaders in the field of obesity research and
treatment. She has published numerous articles in professional journals
and for the popular media and currently writes a weekly weight loss
blog for The Huffington Post. Her television appearances as an expert
guest include:
World News Tonight, Penn and Teller’s Showtime Original
Series,
9 on the Town, UPN, KTLA and NBC news.

Dear Irene,
I have a very dear friend who is quite a bit over-weight.  I am just about right but struggle to keep it that way.  I watch what I eat, especially fats and sweets.  My friend makes little digs like I am compulsive about fatty foods or sweets or when we go out to eat, calls me a party pooper when I order only salad or won’t even share a dessert. I feel as though she is trying to sabotage my efforts to not get fat.  How can I talk to her about this without harming our friendship or hurting her feelings?

Non-fat Friend

Dear Non-fat Friend,
Your question is a good one and comes up often in my work with people who are trying to lose weight.  In doing the research for my new book about weight loss, I have learned some amazing things.  One is that in studying people with weight issues they have found two common personality traits.  Those traits are: a tendency to put other people’s needs ahead of their own, and not taking credit for their successes.

These traits cause people to say “yes†when they mean “no†.  They also cause people, such as yourself, to care more about the other person’s feelings than their own.  If this fits for you, you might find you have trouble expressing your feelings in general.

My advice here is to start slowly. When confronting anyone it is best to start with how their behavior makes you feel.  Something like,

“You know, when you call me a party pooper, it makes me feel badly.  Do you mean to make me feel badly?â€

Then see what she says back.  That way you take responsibility for your own feelings.  She might say something like,

“Well no, of course not.  It would just be more fun if you would have dessert with me.â€

Then you can say,

“I understand that and if I wanted to, I would.  I am watching my weight and would prefer not to.â€

That should nip it in the bud.  She will think twice before saying that to you again and if your friendship is good, which you say it is, it shouldn’t do anything to harm it.

Good Luck.

Dear Irene,
I am stressed big time.  My husband has lost his job and we are down to just my income.  He is trying hard to get a new job but can’t even get an interview.  There is so much competition and so few jobs right now.  So far we are getting by but we are depleting our small emergency fund and when that runs out, I don’t know what we will do.  I am afraid to lose the house and what will become of us.

Help!!!!

Freaked Out

Dear Freaked Out,
You are certainly not alone.  I was at the Westside Pavilion Mall the other day and it looked like a scene from one of those movies where there has been a nuclear holocaust and there are only a few people left alive.  The mall was empty except for the lone salesperson in each store looking bored and desperate.

We are in very trying economic times.  If you are in danger of losing your home there are some excellent resources for you to check out.  It sounds like you still have some time on that though.  That is good.

Meanwhile, being proactive tends to be the best way to deal with the anxiety.  Spending time every day looking for work should help your husband and you might want to think about looking for a second job yourself.  Meanwhile, if you have things you can sell, you may want to consider liquidating some of your assets to help you through.  For example, designer clothes sell well on eBay.  You could have a garage sale.  Furniture does pretty well on Craig’s List, etc…  

In addition, it is time to scale back on anything you absolutely don’t need to spend money on.  If you use less minutes than you are paying for on your cell phone, call your company and see if you can get a cheaper plan.  Make sure you are not carrying too much insurance on your car, or your home.  Go through all your expenses and see if there is anything you can do without, at least temporarily.

History tells us that this too shall pass and the economy will get better.  I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you exactly when that will be.  In the meantime, hang on, try to stay in the present and be proactive.

Best of Luck!

Have a question for The Therapist? Send it to Letters to the Editor via www.westsidetoday.wpengine.com/contact.html and place “Ask the Therapist†in the comments section.

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