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Dear Christine, Lean in Lansing

  • Posted on December 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm

I’ve been living with my girlfriend for about six months and we dated for about a year before that and I’m a person who struggles with their weight. I’m about 40 pounds overweight my girlfriend is thin and she can eat anything she wants… very frustrating! So, our schedules work out so that she makes dinner three nights a week I make dinner three nights a week and we go out to dinner once a week. The problem that I’m having with her and she knows I try to avoid bread but on her night to cook dinner she makes like a big plate of lasagna with garlic bread and there’s always dessert.  Bread and sugar and desserts are my weakness and I’ve asked her to please consider the fact that I’m trying to lose weight but it doesn’t change anything. And then sometimes when it’s her time to cook dinner she gets busy and says let’s go out to dinner instead. We’re going out to dinner I mean even if you eat a salad you know there’s a lotta calories in that. So I’ve been struggling with my weight since we’ve lived together I’m starting to gain weight. I know it’s on me, I know I should have will power, and even if she makes lasagna maybe I could watch my portions, maybe I could say no to the desert, but when it is there in front of me I can’t help myself. When I lived alone I didn’t keep bread in the house. I kept lean chicken fish meat fruits and vegetables in the house and I was doing OK. I have gained 10 pounds. Is there a way to convince her or do I just have to find will power myself? If I have to find the will power, how do I do it?

Signed, Lean in Lansing

Dear Lean,

My wife isa lifetime member of Weight Watchers and every few years goes back to meetings and weighs and measures her portions, and cuts up a great many vegetables.  She has successfully lost weight each time.  She does most of the cooking for us and has told me over the years how much she appreciates my support in her investing in that healthier style of eating.  What is not to support?  It is healthier, and we both benefit.  I no longer can afford to graze as I please, though for many years I did. I would change my eating style to match hers, and if I wanted bread or pasta, I would get a carry out lunch when she wasn’t around.

The question is about what kind of relationship do you have?  Are you both able to take care of your own self first and foremost, and with what is left over, support the other in their goals?  It’s great for her that she can eat anything and not gain weight.  But you can’t!  Is she willing to modify her cooking for your health?  It might require to learn some new recipes and if you’re into lean meats and vegetables, learning more about spices and herbs can enhance meals that have less fat and starch.

Have a conversation about both of your needs and how you can support each other in healthy goals. Take some time to check out some cookbooks, go shopping for produce and lean meats together and go to Penzey’s Spices on line, or the store on 13 Mile at Southfield.  Planning, shopping and cooking new things might spice up your relationship!  Check out these on line resources as well.

Good luck to you both!

Christine C Cantrell, PhD

Licensed Psychologist

Dear Christine, Curious in Canton

  • Posted on September 4, 2018 at 10:23 am

Dear Christine, I have enjoyed reading you articles but I feel a little out of place sending you a letter. It’s not the kind of thing I ever thought I would do but here goes. I have been in a good relationship for many years and I love my partner. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be with, however lately I have been feeling very attracted to other men. In the past when another man flirted with me I would have never considered cheating. Lately, I’m not so sure. I don’t know why this is happening but the temptation is very strong. There is not one particular person I have in mind, I just want to go out and be with someone else. Boredom, mid-life crisis? Should I tell my partner I am having these feelings? I guess I’m just curious why I’m feeling this way when I never have before. Let me know what you think, Curious in Canton Hi Curious, I’m just wondering what your relationship has been like the past few years. Do you and your partner spend quality time with each other, focusing on each other without other distractions? Do you make time…

Dear Christine, Curious in Clawson

  • Posted on March 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

Dear Christine,

Are homosexuals always atheist?

Curious in Clawson

Dear Curious, Gays and lesbians are just like everyone else in the world when it comes to religion and faith. Some faiths are not welcoming to GLBTs, so some have stayed within their religion to fight for acceptance from the inside. Others have left their religion entirely and are atheist or agnostic. Still others have rallied together and formed entirely new religious groups to minister to GLBTs in a place and way in which they are spiritually, emotionally and physically safe. A good example of this is the Metropolitan Community Church denomination. It is a Christian denomination that was founded in 1968 by Troy Perry for GLBTs who were excluded from mainline Christian Churches. Check out Many mainline protestant churches now have GLBT groups or are GLBT friendly, and some have approved ordination of GLBT people to the ministry. The United Church of Crist, UCC, opened ordination to GLBT people in 1972, and more recently, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Presbyterian Church (USA). The Roman Catholics have a GLBT group called Dignity Detroit, www.dignitydetroit.orgin this area, which celebrates mass monthly. Recently, Pope Francis has made refreshing comments about how he is not to judge about someone being GLBT and Christian and he wants the Roman Catholic Church to stop focusing so much on antigay and antiabortion issues.


There are also welcoming congregations of Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. By the way, there is an interesting film that I saw at the DIA Friday Film series several years ago called “Trembling Before God” about Orthodox Jewish gay men and lesbians who wanted to remain Orthodox.

Just as there are all kinds of heterosexuals and not all of them are atheist and not all are believers, all people are everything. Some gays and lesbians do feel that they were driven from their religion (Christians, Mormons, Muslims) to atheism and agnosticism, there are plenty more who took their faith and created a welcoming community for GLBT within their faith. Sometimes that’s been a new faith (taking on a Spirit Guide from Native American Spirituality, or Buddhism or Paganism) and sometimes that’s reclaiming the faith of their upbringing. Thanks for writing. Christine Cantrell

Dear Christine, Nervous in New Haven

  • Posted on October 9, 2017 at 11:08 am

Dear Christine, I’ve been asked to do a 10 minute speech to my coworkers because I won sales person of the month for 8 consecutive months. They want me to speak at our annual banquet in late November. I have a secret that no one knows at work. I am terrified to speak in public. Last time I did it in college I got tunnel vision during my speech but somehow managed to finish it. At least I think I did. It was all a blur afterwards. Should I tell them and decline, or is there a way to get over the fear? I’m embarrassed by it. Signed, Nervous in New Haven Dear Nervous, Welcome to the club!  The number one fear that human beings share is fear of public speaking!  More of us fear that than death!  There are some things you can do to prepare and possibly reduce your anxiety before your debut performance in November.  Prepare, of course.  Know yourself.  Do you do better by reading directly from a script or using notes or an outline.  I just read an interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.  She wouldn’t show the interviewer her script she reads from, as…

Dear Christine, Interconnected in Ypsilanti

  • Posted on October 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Dear Christine, My husband and I work together, live together, share most of the same friends and enjoy many of the same activities. We’ve been together for 9 years this September. I recently decided to join an LGBT bowling league. My husband feels hurt but I feel it’s time we don’t do every single thing together. My feelings for him are as strong as ever. Am I being selfish for wanting us to finally have a thing or two that we can do on our own? Signed, Interconnected in Ypsilanti Dear Interconnected, Every relationship is unique and complicated. What first attracts us can later on drive us apart. In a marriage, each of you has individual needs and wants as well as the couple together having needs. Making sure you have time to be together, sharing love, lives, cooking and cleaning, friends and emotions are necessary. Sometimes couples grow distant because of being apart too much, due to work, parenting or separate interests. If that’s the case, planning time to be together is crucial. People grow and change in their emotional and social needs, but they don’t always grow the same direction at the same time. As needs and wants…

Dear Christine, Shocked in Saugatuck

  • Posted on August 21, 2017 at 8:38 am

Dear Christine, I’ve been living with my wife for 20 years and I just discovered something. She just confessed that she hasn’t seen a doctor for a physical for over 10 years! This scares me! I love her and understand from family experience that prevention saves lives. Now she is afraid to go. How can I convince her? Shocked in Saugatuck Dear Shocked, We think we know each other and all our secrets in marriage! But the truth is, there is so much we don’t know about each other! Interesting read about this here: mwrsm=Facebook. I’m glad you and your wife had this discussion. Going for many years without any health care happens to a great number of people, and in my experience, more often with men than women. Most people have stable health and don’t really see the need to go to a doctor for an annual physical when they aren’t having any health concerns. And if you are lucky, you can go 10 years without needing any medical care. However, life is a pre-existing condition, and eventually, we all have something go awry, the flu, a sprained ankle, a car accident, a bursting appendix, a blocked colon,…

Dear Christine, Frustrated in Ferndale

  • Posted on August 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

Dear Dr. Christine, Question: I am a lesbian, and I’m masculine looking and proud of being me. I like hanging out with straight girls, as they are more fun, I think, than lesbians. I get caught up in a cycle that is exhausting, and I wonder what should happen? For example, my straight friend “Cindy” likes to hang out at my house and we’ll watch movies together, and pretty soon, she’s holding my hand on the couch, and before long she’s cuddling with me! I can’t watch the movie to the end! She’s driving me crazy. The next day I’ll try to tell her that I’m really attracted to her and want her, and she’ll just laugh and tell me that she doesn’t have feelings like that for me. When I ask her about being such a tease, she insists that she does these PDAs with her other straight girlfriends. It’s torture! I try to tell her that I’m like a guy, that if you hold my hand and cuddle with me it turns me on, and I can’t stop! If she really does this with her straight girl friends, then it sure isn’t something I can do and remain…

Dear Christine, Depressed in Detroit

  • Posted on June 12, 2017 at 9:46 am

Dear Christine, I’m a generally happy person so it confused me when for no apparent reason a couple months ago I started feeling sad, somewhat depressed and unmotivated to do things. I was due for my annual physical and told my physician but she wasn’t much help. Nothing physically wrong with me that she could find and she suggested I seek medication if it continues.I don’t want to be on meds so my question to you is, do you know of any reason why someone 45 could suddenly feel depressed for no real reason? Oh, and how do you feel about medication for depression? Thanks, Depressed in Detroit Dear Depressed, I’m glad that there’s nothing physically wrong with you and that you first checked with your physician about your feeling blue these days. There are several things that could be affecting you: you are close to the age of perimenopause and mood changes can be connected with those hormonal changes. Menopause can really wreak havoc on the a woman’s body and well being. Also, several months includes important events in any one person’s life, but also the life of United States citizens. There’s been a lot of political changes in…

Dear Christine, Sad in Saline

  • Posted on June 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

Dear Christine, My group of close friends consists of 6 couples. We’ve been tight for more than 20 years even going on vacations together. This past election was hard on us as many of our group worked hard to get Hillary elected and Trump as president is giving us much anxiety. Last night, one of the couples invited the group to dinner saying they needed to get something out in the open. Much to our surprise, they let us know that they are republicans, have always been republicans but have kept it to themselves…until now. They are sick of us bashing Trump and asked if we could keep politics out of our group. After their shocking announcement, there ensued a passionate debate and even some tears. We decided the remaining 5 couples would go off on our own to discuss and absorb the news.The majority of the group is so disgusted that our two friends can defend Trump even after all we have seen that they want to cut them lose. Me and my wife hope for a reconciliation of some kind and to not throw away 20 years of friendship. We just don’t know if there is a way…

Dear Christine, Anonymous in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on May 8, 2017 at 10:15 am

Dear Christine, I know that it’s wrong to doubt the validity of someone’s trans status, but I have this thing going on with another friend of mine. We’re both trans, and we have our different ways of going about it (how we dress, act, etc.) But whenever I’m around him, I can’t talk about anything trans related because I can’t look at him like a man. He became trans overnight, and I took months and years. He’s always weirded out by the fact I’m gay, and he has a girlfriend. We both seem to doubt each other.
Anonymous in Ann Arbor

Dear Anonymous, There’s no right or wrong way to be whoever you are, and the same goes for your trans friend. How you identify your own gender is a completely separate thing from what you experience as your sexual orientation. Some people look feminine and are men, some people look masculine and are women. Some of those feminine men are gay, and some of those masculine women are lesbians. But not always! There are men and women who ‘look good” and “pass” and those that don’t, whether they are trans or not. Same goes for sexual orientation. There’s also no “right speed” of transition, or even “right goal” of transition. Some people transition when they are young (teens, 20s) and it can happen fast, as their body has not been exposed to sexual hormones shaping their skeleton and body one way or the other. Some people choose to just change their attire, dressing as the opposite sex of their body’s physical appearance, usually called cross–dressing. Interestingly, it’s been welcome for women to cross dress publicly since the World War II era, and I, for example, only wear skirts in the summer, but pants almost exclusively in the winter. For my comfort! No one calls that cross dressing, but it actually is! Some people choose to take hormones and cross dress, and some people go all the way through hormones and having various surgeries, including Gender Reassignment Surgery. That is the surgery that is usually required by the State of Michigan to be able to change your gender on your driver’s license. Some trans people, particularly women to men, don’t bother with the GRS, as it is a difficult surgery without the best results for many people, and so they are able to legally change their gender with the appropriate letters from medical and psychological professionals. Some people don’t have the money to have the surgeries, and some don’t consider those physical changes necessary for their feeling at home in their own body. It’s a very individual thing. Some people can afford to race through the process, and other take many years, both for the financial and for the emotional and psychological changes that the physical transformation takes. It’s not only one way.

Some trans people have physically changed their bodies with clothes, hormones and even surgery, but still have not emotionally internalized their new gender. Some male to female trans people still hang on to their “male privilege” in how they carry themselves, how they walk and how they interact with women and men. Some trans female to male men are not fully comfortable interacting as a man, as others may have a hard time realizing they are a man, because their voice still sounds in a higher register, like a woman still. So, over the phone, someone may not realize they are interacting with a man until they meet face to face. However, once again, there are lots of people who aren’t taking hormones and aren’t trying to be anyone different than their body presents itself, and some men have high voices and some women have low voices. I’ve heard such people complain about the assumptions of gender that are made over the phone, when people hear them and assume. Assume. Bad word. Remember what it stands for: To assume is to make an ass out of u and me!

So, if you can’t find a way to accept your trans friend as he identifies himself, maybe it’s time to back off from that friendship, and give it time: for you to be able to accept him however he presents himself and for you to understand that every trans person is on a unique and individual journey. Just because yours has gone in a certain sequence and timing, it doesn’t mean anyone else’s has or will again! Try to relax, and just let your friend be himself, and see if you can begin to see who he is, as he defines himself.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.