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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

The 90-Second Emotion Rule

In her amazing book, MY STROKE OF INSIGHT: A BRAIN SCIENTIST’S PERSONAL JOURNEY, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., maintains that it takes about 90 seconds to pass through the physical phase of experiencing an emotion. Aside from recommending the book as a terrific read, I found her knowledge of and insights into the workings of the brain useful in thinking about behavioral change, in this case about emotional eating. Taylor says it takes “less than 90 seconds” for an emotion to get triggered, surge chemically through the blood stream, then get flushed out. She goes on to assert that within this brief period of time, the automatic emotional response is complete, so that whatever we feel after that is our choosing. Stunning information! Her take is that we need to be present and open to the feeling at whatever intensity it comes. If we short-circuit it, we won’t receive the full impact...
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What’s It Going to Take?

A new Associated Press/iVillage survey concludes that American women are shedding pounds for the wrong reason. Want to guess what, according to research, the primary motivation should be to successfully keep weight off? Want to guess what the most common motivation is? If your first answer was “for good health” and your second was “to look good,” you’re right in line with the AP survey results. The poll of 1,000 women found that half are unhappy about their weight, including women who were not even overweight! The main reason for unhappiness was because of how weight, or their perception of it, affected their appearance. Only one-third had concern for their physical condition. Okay, if you’re in that one-third, nice going. Not only do you have the right motivation to lose weight, but you have the right one to keep it off. Now you other two-thirds, please take a moment to stop...
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Weight and Relationships

If you’re a plus-size woman, this blog could be a downer—but only if you let it be one. An article in ScienceDaily (6/23/09), “Heavy Women Have Lower Quality Relationships, But Same Is Not True for Men, Study Finds,” is far from heartening, but, remember, research is about statistics and doesn’t dictate your romantic choices or situation. The research, coming out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, focused on body image, weight, romantic relationships, and the perceptions between males and females in 57 New Zealand couples who were studied to see if there was an association among their body mass index (BMI), the quality of their relationships, and perceptions about their partners. The finding was that “heavier women had lower quality relationships, which they predicted were more likely to end. They partnered with less desirable men and thought their partners would rate them as less warm/trustworthy.” Not surprisingly, “male partners of...
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Undereating and Food Obsession

A blog reader recently asked me to write more about undereating and the fear of becoming overweight. There are many similarities between undereaters and overeaters—using food as an emotional distraction or crutch, allowing weight to determine self-worth, dependence on inadequate life skills, and disconnection from appetite signals. However, there are also differences. Many undereaters believe they need to be in perfect control around food 24/7and obsess about it and their weight. I know, I used to be one myself. These thoughts fill up your head and dictate your life. You can’t go here or there because there might be edible temptation, food is the hollow center of your life, and the accursed enemy which must be battled daily. Societal reinforcement keeps behavior in place. Unless you’re walking skin and bones, everyone thinks it’s mahvelous how much control over food you have. After all, you are the American ideal, having vanquished your...
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Fat Girls Guide to Living

I want to tell you about a fabulous new website I discovered for overweight women—The Fat Girl’s Guide to Living at http://www.fatgirlsguidetoliving.com/. Here’s what the women who run the site say about it: “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Living is a lifestyle blog for and by overweight women who are tired of missing out on really living because of internal and external pressures and perceptions of themselves.“ They also describe the site as “a life hacker for the full-figured set.” Good stuff, huh? What I love about this site is that it makes no apologies for fat women. It proudly proclaims that you can be fat and still have a life, which many of you—fat or thin—don’t believe. Too many of you insist that being fat prevents you from being lovable, dating, going on vacation, saying what’s in your heart or mind, asking for what you need, being attractive or successful,...
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A Client’s Own Words on Progress

This is an inspiring post from a client who is also a member of my Food and Feelings message board. She graciously allowed me to share her words on my blog space, but wants readers to know the following: She’s still a work in progress, as she adamantly stresses in our sessions, worrying that people will think she’s overcome all her problems (heaven forbid!). Nor does she have the positive attitude that shines through this post every day. Some days are better than others. She also fears feeling too good because of childhood messages about pride and how she was invalidated when she did achieve and succeed. To me, these fears as well as her accomplishments are highly telling and speak to the struggles that many of you have. I haven't posted on here in a while. Karen asked if I would share my recent experiences with change and a sort...
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Permanent Change

I was talking with a friend over dinner one night about how she and I were proof that enduring change around food really does happen. She and I were serious binge-eaters earlier in our lives, decades ago. She even wrote about her food excesses in a national women’s magazine! Now in our 50s and 60s, we’re radically different people than we were in our food-hazed days. We eat mindfully and enjoyably, with attention and care. Our wild and crazy eating life is long gone—we have changed our brains permanently! I blog about permanent change for those of you who are just now thinking about improving your relationship with food to let you know that this huge transformation is definitely doable over time. When you’re in the initial stages of trying to quit bingeing, purging, or overeating, the endeavor seems enormous and impossible. You start out with a teensy sliver of hope...
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Behaviors of Slim People

Keeping in mind that some 50-70% of our weight may be genetically predetermined (Rethinking Thin—The New Science of Weight Loss and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, Kolata, 2007), survey studies identify that a number of behaviors slim people do that keep them that way. Although I could quibble with one or two findings, the point is that biology is not destiny and that there are folks with some of the most challenging weight-related DNA on the planet who manage to stabilize weight at a comfortable level and still enjoy eating and life. Dr. John Foreyt, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, maintains that people who remain thin “are eternally vigilant with daily or weekly weighing, they monitor calorie intake and they’re highly active exercising at least 60 minutes a day.” Hmm, so what of the many “normal” eaters I’ve met, whether they’ve ever had an...
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Cravings and Addictions

A message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) member asked me to blog about cravings, compulsions, and addictions. Here’s my take. Over recent decades, scientific research has concluded that brain chemistry dictates far more of our behavior than we had previously thought. Alternately, it also stresses that we still retain free will and, fortunately, that changing behavior can modify brain chemistry. When you hear the seductive voice of leftover birthday cake calling to you from the refrigerator two rooms away, can’t stop obsessing about a watch you found on E-bay that you don’t need and in no way can afford, or feel the repeated stab of yearning for your old flame who was bad through and through, what’s going on? When you crave a food, biology is often at work—your body is triggered by low blood sugar or surging hormones or has a neurotransmitter imbalance and you seek food to alter your mood. What of...
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Backbone, Not Wishbone

One of the my clients made a comment that keeps running through my head. It goes something like, “I’ve got to stop wearing my wishbone where my backbone ought to be.” Profound, huh? I couldn’t have said it better. How many of you spend your life, like the old song says, “wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’”? Oh, did I forget eatin’? Conversely, how many of you stand up for and go after what you really want? In part, it’s natural to wish that unhappiness would simply go away on its own or that another person will change so that you’ll be happy. However, that only happens in fairy tales. Wishes have little to do with dreams coming true. If they did, you wouldn’t seek wisdom from my blogs. What creates change is lots of hard work until you reach your goals. So many of you have been emotionally hurt,...
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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.