Question:

A good friend has recently lost a lot of weight, and I am happy for her accomplishment. However, I can't escape the sense of jealousy I have when our mutual friends constantly applaud her on how great she looks, and how it annoys me to read her daily updates on Facebook on how far she's run or what skinless boneless healthy meal she's cooking up for dinner.

I suppose part of this jealousy stems from my gaining weight, despite my best efforts (a rigorous exercise regimen and restructuring what and how much I eat). Also, I used to be "the skinny one" of the two of us, so that's probably affecting my attitude.

I guess I'm asking how I can keep my jerk tendencies in check while I'm around her. I'm frustrated and want to be happy for my friend, but I feel like a failure compared to her.

Answer: I don't think annoyance with someone's "daily updates on Facebook on . . . what skinless boneless healthy meal she's cooking up" is an ailment in need of a cure. It's a symptom of the ailment of having a friend who has lost all perspective on what is worth sharing about one's day. I admire her hard work and self-discipline, too, but not her evangelism.

You do seem particularly susceptible to annoyance here, too, and that's a problem you can address. That you note you "used to be 'the skinny one,' " that you're measuring your worth against hers, and that you covet the attention she's getting all suggest you've got body-consciousness where your self-image should be.

If you're able to see this about yourself, then maybe that recognition will be enough to start detaching your self-worth from your food intake.

So, if you find you're unable to tune out your weight preoccupation, then an exploratory conversation with a therapist who specializes in eating and body-image issues might be a productive hour to invest.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.