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Dear Abby: I was moved by the letter from “Losing Slowly in Ohio” (Feb. 18), who is 50 pounds overweight and walks every day with her friend to lose weight. She said that almost daily people made fun of them. My heart goes out to her.

I was in her shoes once. With diet and exercise I lost more than 60 pounds, and I’ve kept it off. But I was never ridiculed as she was. On the contrary, one day after I had just begun a daily 1-mile jog and was struggling to keep going, I passed by a man who called out to me to “keep at it, and one day you’ll be a 10!”

Abby, I can’t tell you what that meant to me. I thought about his encouragement whenever I felt hopeless and was thinking of giving up. The memory of his kind words inspired me to go on.

We all have a choice: We can be kind to each other and offer friends and strangers alike support for the challenges we all face, or we can make ourselves feel superior by being cruel and demeaning. In the end, our choice shapes our character and we receive what we give, so we must choose wisely.

– Wendy in Colorado

Dear Wendy: Thank you for your upbeat response. Many other readers were quick to “weigh in” with letters of support for “Losing Slowly”:

Dear Abby: I, too, have a weight problem, which I am working to resolve. But I can tell you from experience that the worst kind of discrimination is directed against people with weight problems. I have been insulted in the workplace, in restaurants and doctor’s offices. I have not been hired for jobs because I am perceived as fat and lazy.

I am NOT lazy! I keep a clean house, work hard at my job as a secretary every day, and I am a good wife and parent. We may ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t hurt us or matter, but I can tell you it IS painful, demeaning, and it doesn’t go away. I have been in meetings or at social functions and have had to excuse myself to have a good cry.

– Still Suffering in Kentucky

Dear Abby: Please let “Losing Slowly” know she has another option to continue her new, healthy lifestyle in a safe environment. I have worked in malls for years, and they have all had a mall walkers’ club.

The mall allows people in to walk, including many seniors, before it opens in the morning. There she will have access to a place where everyone is on the same page. The walkers are safe from traffic, the climate, and morons who have the manners of a junkyard dog. The regulars there can tell her how many miles they can cover. It’s a great society of people who support and root for each other.

– Never Giving Up in Southern California

Dear Abby: I would suggest the two ladies create T-shirts that read “At Least We’re Trying!” and watch the jeers turn into cheers.

– Carol in Wisconsin