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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Focus on Fit, Not Fat

Most of my clients who carry more weight than they’d like believe that they cannot be healthy or fit because they are fat. They hyper-focus on weight, shape, body discomfort, and how others view them, and feel helpless and despairing over their size. They believe that fat equals unfit. Research tell us this is not the case, so listen up. A study published in the March 2009 issue of BMC Public Health proves that some people can be fat, yet fit. Their research concludes that both overweight and obese individuals can have healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels if they eat healthfully and exercise. A Mayo Clinic study (American Heart Journal, 3/11) “found that overweight, high fitness (determined by cardiopulmonary exercise testing) subjects had a much lower risk of dying compared with normal-weight, low-fitness subjects.” Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (9/11), focuses...
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Hunger and Exercise

The last thing I want to do is deter anyone from exercising. In one form or another, I engage in it daily and strongly believe that activity is an integral part of mental and physical health. So the conclusions of an article in the May 2009 issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter came as a surprise and were, I confess, a bit of a downer. “Exercise? I’m Hungry” sums up a study reported in the journal Obesity. Here’s what it has to say: ”If a clever experiment in college students holds up, just seeing advice to exercise might make you eat more. Scientists showed roughly 50 students posters with messages to exercise (like ‘Go for a walk’) or other messages (like ‘Make friends’). Those who saw the exercise ads ate more from a small bowl of raisins than those who saw the non-exercise ads. In a second experiment, students ate roughly...
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Body Image and Workouts

Research says that the exercise women select may contribute to attitudes about their bodies. Although I encourage you to do whatever exercises you enjoy, it’s interesting to consider which of those might—and might not—help improve your body image. Studies at Australia’s Flinders University surveyed women who attend health clubs. Their findings might surprise you: “Taking cardio classes was linked with mood uplift, but greater time [italics mine] spent on individual cardio workouts predicted body image concerns. Women who spent more time lifting weights and taking yoga or other mind/body-oriented classes were less likely to perceive the body as an object to be modified for the judgment of others.” Researchers concluded that activities which focus on body awareness, mental health, centering, and calmness are more likely to help women connect to the reason they exercise (for fitness and to feel good) and, therefore, work to improve their body image. Of course, women...
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Barriers to Exercise

Not a week goes by without someone I know commenting on disliking exercise. Although it’s likely that certain folks are born with more of an inclination move their bodies, that’s not the whole story. What’s important is to understand your story, you know, the one you tell yourself (and others) about why you don’t exercise. You probably have the best of intentions and recognize that exercise contributes to health and longevity, so knowledge isn’t the problem. How could any adult in this society not have gotten the 30-minutes-a-day message by now? Well, then, if you recognize the benefits of exercise and have the intention of doing it, what stops you? Although there are general answers, exact barriers are unique to each of you. Make a list of what stops you from exercising or regularly, intentionally keeping your body moving by walking, dancing, gardening, going to the gym, gyrating to a DVD...
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Exercise

A report in Prevention magazine (5/10/08, page 10) has got me going—“Research shows that typically half of all women drop out of exercise programs within the first 6 weeks of starting one. Most women say having little free time, a lack of confidence when exercising, and supportive friends and family are the main reasons they stop short of achieving their goals.” Superficially reasonable answers, sure, but based on my years of professional experience, researchers need to dig deeper to get at the real issues. Yes, many women are pressed for time. Working in and out of the home, trying to live up to cultural expectations, they’re overworked, overextended, and exhausted. But women with an all-or-nothing mentality generate an inner pressure to do everything and do it perfectly which prevents them from exercising—if they can’t do it all, they do nothing, if they can’t do it well, they don’t even try. So...
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Move Your Body

An article in the April issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter on the correlation between moving your body more and weight loss intrigued me. James Levin, professor and researcher in the Division of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, heads something called the NEAT lab which studies the effect of body movement and expending energy on weight. NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is any movement that is not exertion for the sake of physical fitness. Levin’s studies conclude that by keeping moving we can burn off calories without formal exercise. Not that he eschews the activity; rather he encourages people to use NEAT along with exercise, saying, “If you look at an average sedentary person, 60% of total daily energy expenditure is basal metabolic rate, 30% is NEAT, and 10% is the thermal effect of food—the calories you burn to digest, absorb, and store the food you...
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