Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Why Do We Need to Know Our Weight?

While visiting a friend, she mentioned being happy about having lost weight and asked how much I weigh. I said I didn’t know, at which point she asked if I wanted to use her scale, perhaps thinking the reason I don’t know is because I don’t own one. I politely declined, saying that I know what I eat so I don’t need to know what I weigh.  On the drive home, I was thinking about our interaction. My first thought, quite frankly, was that what I weigh is none of most people’s business. I grew up at a time when the scale was not an obsession and I don’t recall general discussion of body weight until I was a teenager and had begun dieting and binge-eating.    My second thought about the interaction was curiosity: Why would someone want to know what I weigh? I think my friend was comparing her...
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How to View Isms

Last summer, my husband and I got on the wrong check-in line at Boston’s Logan airport (having been directed there by an airport employee). Later, at the gate, we sat down just as a twenty-something woman mentioned something to her friends about, “this old couple getting in the wrong line.” Assuming it was us, I stood up and said, “You mean us?” and we all had a good laugh about it.  I described this (to me) humorous incident to a friend who smirked and said, “How could you laugh? What she said was so ageist!” I hadn’t thought of it that way. To me the term “old” was descriptive, especially since the young woman wasn’t saying anything unkind about us. After my friend’s comment, however, I realized that this whole “isms” thing may be a lot more complicated than it first appeared. I’ve on rare occasion had someone say something negative...
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Looking to be More Consistent

I confess, I’m a creature of habit: I have dance classes on Tuesday night, watch TV or read from 8:30 on in the evening, exercise 10-11 most mornings, and my best friend and I exchange phone calls every Sunday at 9 a.m. Although I have my share of flaws, I’m nothing if not consistent, raised as I fortunately was by creatures-of-habit parents. So, what do you do if you weren’t raised with a model of consistency and want to learn how to do things more regularly and stop flip-flopping between performing and avoiding certain activities? This is an especially crucial skill for dysregulated eaters who swing from under- to overeating and being a couch potato to becoming gym rats. In How to Be Consistent, Brad Stulberg explains the five principles to follow to develop habits of consistency. I’m sure you’ve heard some of them before, but maybe this time you’re ready...
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What’s So Hard about Facing Reality?

A client told me this anecdote. Her first therapist helped her to see that we can live quite well without controlling everything in our world and she was excited to share this enlightened insight with her mother. But when she told Mom that “anything can happen to anyone anytime,” Mom freaked out and quickly changed the subject. This story reminded me of a former boyfriend to whom I was complaining about my mother when suddenly he slapped his hands over his ears (in a restaurant, no less) and kept repeating “no, no, please stop.” My complaints must have stirred up a helluva storm inside him that he needed to shut out the pain my words were triggering in him. I’ve accepted that life can turn on a dime ever since my father died suddenly in the summer between my junior and senior years in college. Ever since then, I wince when...
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Let People Take Care of You and You’ll Improve Your Eating

I’ve noticed this phenomenon over my 35 years of being a therapist: many clients who are great at giving care are crummy at receiving it. These are people who become uncomfortable when someone wants to do something for them—give them a gift or do them a favor. These are often the same people who rely on alcohol, food or other obsessive habits to deal with life rather than turn to people. Take Astrid who is finally accepting now in her late 50s that there’s a cost to perpetual giving. Doing for all her neighbors, colleagues, and family members exhausts her but it also makes her insist, “It makes me feel good about myself, you know, worthwhile.” Of course, anyone can see that by saying this, she’s also saying that the opposite is true: if she isn’t giving or taking care of someone, she’s of no value. Worse, if she’s taking care...
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Why Keep Blaming Yourself for Your Childhood?

If you’re still carrying around some terrible story about being a bad, defective, unworthy person, please take a minute to read this blog. Our culture is big on individuals taking responsibility. Sure, it makes sense that at some point in your life you stop blaming your current problems on your history and become accountable for your actions. But what actually makes us who we are as adults?  No one as a child decides to become an angry drug user. Or a thief. Or an abusee. Or an ignorant person. So much of who we are started before we were born. For example, when you were a fetus in your mother’s womb and kept fidgeting and moving around so much that it prevented her from sleeping night after night. Was that your fault?  What happened was that a particular sperm and egg randomly got together and spawned you. It was an act...
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Feeling Understood

There are two ways clients let me know or at least cause me to suspect that they weren’t listened to and validated in childhood. They exhibit habits they’ve picked up unconsciously and don’t realize how they come across to others now.  The first is when clients frequently ask, “Does that make sense?” Or, alternately, “Do you know what I mean?” We all ask these questions occasionally, but when people regularly or often make these inquiries, there’s something else going on. My client Taylor had a dysfunctional childhood in which she was strictly raised, rarely got to do her thing, and had parents who were demanding and narcissistic. In session, she’ll explain something to me that’s clear as can be, then ask, “Does that make sense?” I recently commented on her repeatedly asking this question and we discussed how she’d always felt a need to clarify herself and use overkill to be...
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How Envy Hurts You

In these days when it’s hard to avoid knowing everyone else’s business, especially if you spend time on social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of envy. The goal is not to avoid envy, which is a natural, human feeling, but to avoid immersing yourself in it and being swept away by yearning for something someone else has and hurting yourself in the process.  Envy comes in all shapes and sizes: desiring others’ appearance, success, talents, status, brains, or popularity. It’s no surprise that the envy I hear about most often in my practice is of people’s thinner bodies and smaller appetites. What I’ve observed is that the habit of being envious when you see something someone else has that you don’t does nothing to make anyone healthier or happier. In fact, the clients I serve who are most envious, are also the most unhappy. This point is underscored...
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From Busy to Bored to Binge-eating

If you go from bored or bustling to binge-eating, it’s time to understand and address the root of the problem and respond effectively. Boredom and busy-ness are normal emotional states that may be trying to tell you something, but sometimes they’re pure habit. The goal is to manage them.  I see us as having four emotional/physical energy states: 1) nothing to do, 2) some stuff to do, 3) lots to do, and 4) more than you want to do. Having nothing or something to do is just that—neither good nor bad, just a description of being.  Every situation is unique and, therefore, our environment dictates the general energy level required of demands and available options. If you’re a recently widowed person living alone in a new city, you might feel bored a lot. Or, as a single parent working full-time and raising three children, you may rarely have a spare minute. ...
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Stop Being a Victim of Fat Phobia

There is absolutely no doubt that fat phobia is alive and well and thriving in our culture. The question is whether it has to take root in your mind and make you miserable. Do you even know of anyone who’s of higher weight and pays no attention to fat phobia? My guess is that you don’t and that’s one of the reasons you fall prey to it. So, let me introduce you to Shannon Walton who finally got tired of being bullied about her weight. “Battling obesity—and telling bullies to ‘Kiss it!’” tells her story and shows how she took charge of her life and fought back. Says Walton who lives in Sheffield, England, “I’ve always been overweight, from a very, very young age.” At 14 she was 196 pounds and at 15 she was 210. Later, she discovered that she had both premature adrenarche which made her develop early and...
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.