Being overweight, a friend who keeps taking advantage and being smart are readers' problems this week
Every month I start a new plan designed to make me thin but nothing ever works. I am so sick of being fat - it dominates my every thought, I say no to invites if I think I will attract any attention for how I look and I never go away for holidays to hot countries because I can't bear the thought of having to look at all the skinny, beautiful women.
The last few hot summers here have been a misery - it's harder to get about with any grace and I feel like even more of a failure. I haven't had a date for over 10 years either.
I always have a smile on my face but inside I feel tormented. I have been saving for a gastric band - the first person I told said I had better save for surgery to get rid of loose skin afterwards, so now I don't even know if the band is worth doing?
It makes me so sad to hear that your body image is ruining your life, and you have been giving up fun experiences with family and friends because you're worried about how you look.
Surely these people would be devastated to learn about how insecure you really are as they love you for the person you are and not what you look like.
I would also suspect that your lack of dating activity has much more to do with your low self-confidence than your appearance, as nobody wants to date somebody who refuses to be seen out enjoying themselves because they're so worried abut how they look.
A gastric band may save some people's lives, but it's invasive surgery and that carries some serious risks. My advice is to enlist the help of diet, fitness and motivational experts to help you discover why you're overweight and what drives you to choose the wrong types of foods.
See a professional and get working on your health and fitness. It will take work, dedication and sacrifice, but if being slim and fit was easy, then everyone would do it.
It takes hard work, but the results are most definitely worth it.
My friend keeps dumping her kids on me - she calls up pretending to see if I'm free for a coffee, comes around and then casually asks me to look after them for "a while".
Sometimes they end up staying the night as she is so late getting back - all so she can spend time with her boyfriend who doesn't seem to like kids very much.
She has been seeing him for about five months. While we have been pals for many years and I really have so much time for her, she is behaving unfairly to everyone including her children because of this man. Do I tell her out straight or just become unavailable?
It definitely sounds to me like your friend is being extremely cheeky and sees you as an easy target because you haven't spoken up yet and this is terrible abuse of your trust and your friendship.
I understand how exciting a brand new relationship can be, but she's behaving extremely selfishly towards both you and her kids. It's definitely time to speak about how you feel and tell her that taking her kids once or twice was no problem for you, but doing it regularly is not okay.
Firmly explain to her that you enjoy her friendship and don't want to lose her as a friend, but it's time that she shows more respect for you and pays for a babysitter if she wants to spend all that time with her new man. It's the only fair thing to do for everybody involved.
I get teased at school for getting really good grades and always knowing the answer to questions. I've always been like this - I seem to absorb information without knowing it, but this makes me unpopular in secondary school.
One of the coolest girls in the school recently pretended to be my friend, but it turns out she just wanted help with some of her work - once the assignments and tests were done she stopped seeking me out.
We're moving house this year so I will start at a new school too - should I dumb down a little in order to make friends? I know school is important, but surely having mates is too?
You're clearly a high-achiever and that's something to be incredibly proud of. In school, everybody wants to follow the crowd and nobody has become properly individualised yet, so anybody that's different is made to feel inferior.
But being smart and hard-working is something that will stand to you later in life when there's tough competition for the best jobs. It's a pity that others feel the need to take advantage of your studious ways, but you know in future not to help somebody so readily. Of course, it's important to have friends in school, as these people often stay close to you for life.
But school is also for learning and developing skills for life, so dumbing yourself down for others is like shooting yourself in the foot.
My advice is to continue to work hard, get high grades and be really proud of your academic strengths.
Focus on friendships with those who aren't the cool and popular ones, but rather those who share your hard-working attitude and will help to bring out the best in you.