DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two children who are teenagers. In the past, they’ve been extremely active, but as they entered middle and high school, they slowly dropped sports. I know children grow out of sports all of the time, but the lack of physical activity seems to be catching up to them. They have visibly gained weight, and they aren’t as energetic as they once were. I have tried to bring up exercising together, but apparently being active is “lame”! I want to instill healthy values into my teenagers. How can I get them to get active so they don’t become eternal couch potatoes? – Fit Mother, Detroit

DEAR FIT MOTHER: Speak to their pediatrician. Explain your concerns, and ask the doctor to examine them and require physical activity if he agrees with your concern. Schedule a physical for each of them. The blood work will reveal if they have developed any real health issues at this point. If the doctor prescribes an exercise or nutrition plan, you have greater authority to enforce it.

Obviously you are their mother, but you well know that teenagers can be challenging to manage. Armed with doctor’s orders, you can be insistent about their fitness. Other things you can do include stocking only healthy snacks in your home, continuing to invite them to participate in fun physical activities and talking to them about the importance of cultivating healthy habits. Try not to reprimand them for becoming less active. Instead, work hard to inspire them to want to be more active.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: I work at a high-end restaurant to make money while I attend college. My entire shift, I have to be polite and the best server I can possibly be. Although some guests can be difficult, I always try to be nice. I have noticed the busboys being incredibly rude to customers and even rolling their eyes at their requests! I try to step in, but it usually just adds more tension.

I don’t want to get fired because of these interactions; I just want everyone to behave. Could I reprimand the busboys I work with, or should I ask my manager to find new busboys? – Restaurant Nightmares, Racine, Wisconsin

DEAR RESTAURANT NIGHTMARES: I recommend a softer approach. At the end of a shift, start by saying something directly to the busboys. Ask them to work with you so that together you take care of the customers. Next, speak to your manager. Share your concerns about the attitude that the busboys have had. Tell him your concern about the customers getting upset because of their behavior. Ask your manager for help so that everybody is professional.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.