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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. 

Understanding People Who Hurt You as Expressing Their Hurt

One valuable lesson, among many, that I’ve learned as a therapist is to not take hurtful remarks or actions personally. When clients say something unkind to me, I try to understand why they said it. This focus has helped enormously in my personal, as well as in my professional, life. This doesn’t mean that I repeatedly allow people to hurt my feelings or that I let them off the hook for their remarks or actions. It means that I do not internalize what they say to or about me and think negatively of myself because of it.   Here are some clinical examples of what I mean. A relatively new client said to me, “Well, at least you’re not as worthless as my last therapist.” I could have interpreted his comment as meaning that I’m still pretty useless and not very helpful. Instead, I thought that he might have had...
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How to Enjoy Exercise More

Would you like to love exercise? Would you settle for enjoying it a bit more, enough to do it regularly? To do so, you’ll have to erase the concept of “no pain, no gain” from your mind and follow the wisdom in “Maybe You’d Exercise More If It Didn’t Feel So Crappy” by Kathrine Hobson (538, 12/5/2017, www.538.com , accessed 12/13/17). Here are some interesting highlights from this article.   “Research by David M. Williams, a clinical psychologist and professor at Brown University, and his colleagues has shown that how you feel during exercise predicts both current and future physical activity levels.” Most health coaches, trainers and therapists, including myself, try to motivate people to exercise by encouraging them to focus on how they’ll feel after exercise, not during it. Apparently, that’s not too helpful. Instead, researchers say that the goal is to find exercise more pleasurable as you do...
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Go-To Self-Talk That Gets Me Through Everything

Clients sometimes ask me what I say to myself to reduce stress and distress. I use three major phrases, which are based on truths I firmly believe in. It’s crucial to have a set of phrases or mantras, because you want self-soothing self-talk to kick in as soon as you need it and don’t want to be wondering what’s going to work to settle you down or set you straight. Occasionally, I’ll say something else to myself to suit a particular situation, but these are my routine go-to messages:   I’m doing the best I can : I say this to myself often, as a quick-fix antidote to perfectionist tendencies, which I have on occasion. Many of us keep pushing ourselves until we’re hurt or exhausted and for what? Usually to come close to or reach some abstract ideal. However, what if, due to inborn limits, our best isn’t going...
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What’s Preventing You From Feeling Happier?

What’s preventing you from feeling happier? You’re probably saying things like, “I’d be a lot happier if I had: more money, a spouse, children, a better job, less weight to carry around, someone to love me, more time to myself, success (whatever that means), a better body, increased popularity, or didn’t have to listen to people tell me what to do. Well, according to experts, believing that any of those things would somehow magically bestow happiness on you is dead wrong.   I love what Albert Einstein said in a handwritten note to a bellboy in Japan in 1922, “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” (Time, 11/6/17, p. 58) When I read this quote, I realized how many of my clients who are dysregulated eaters (and many who aren’t) suffer from some kind of restlessness, much of it coming...
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How to Stop Being Unhappy

In her article, “How to make yourself perfectly miserable,” Marilynn Preston shares the advice of master family therapist Cloé Madanes, who lays out eight ways we perpetuate our misery. We all engage in them occasionally. The goal is not to fall into them unconsciously and make them a mainstay of your life. ( Sarasota Herald Tribune , http://www.heraldtribune.com/entertainmentlife/20171205/preston-how-to-make-yourself-perfectly-miserable ,12/5/17, E18, retrieved 12/5/17). Rumination involves constantly worrying or thinking about what’s wrong in your life, including what you did to cause it. If you spend a great deal time focused on your problems, how can you not be miserable? Observe how often you ruminate and whether the focus of your life is on the positive or the negative. Boredom is natural once in a while, but if you chronically complain how bored and uninterested in life you are, you’re promoting unhappiness. You’ll also be miserable if you engage in unhealthy, impulsive...
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How to Gain Resilience After Trauma

Although they may not recognize it, many dysregulated eaters are trauma survivors. I can sometimes intuit a history of trauma when clients see themselves as having something gravely wrong with them that makes them irrevocably defective. For those of you who view yourselves this way, here’s how to get beyond trauma to resilience.   The central question you must ask and answer is: Is there something wrong with me or did something bad happen to me ? Take a moment to notice if your first reaction is that there’s something wrong with or bad about you. Don’t judge your reaction; simply allow yourself to be curious about it.   In fact, what you’ve internalized as self-badness or defectiveness is nothing of the kind. The truth is that bad or, maybe, terrible things did happen to you. Through no fault of your own, you were the recipient of poor parenting through...
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Beware of Imposter Syndrome

I posted on Facebook about the Impostor Syndrome (IS) a while ago and was surprised that I couldn’t find any blogs of mine about it. To remedy that deficit, here’s an explanation of what IS is, how it impacts dysregulated eaters, and what to do about it.   According to “Feel like a fraud?” by Kirsten Weir (American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine, 11/13, http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx , accessed 11/26//17),  The Impostor Syndrome or Phenomenon is a form of “intellectual self-doubt” and is “generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.” As these three conditions are commonly seen in dysregulated eaters, it pays to learn how to stop feeling like a fraud and start believing in yourself to up your self-worth.   The term was first described by Suzanne Imes, PhD and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD in the 1970s. They found that high achievers were unable to assess themselves adequately and appreciate their success....
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The Destructive Power of Internalized Weight Stigma

Many higher weight people think that weight stigma may only affect their self-perception and self-esteem. Not so. It may also negatively impact their health. According to research (Himmelstein, M. S., Puhl, R. M., & Quinn, D. M. (2017, November 9). Weight Stigma and Health: The Mediating Role of Coping Responses. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000575 , accessed 11/17/17), “A large and methodically diverse literature links exposure to weight stigma to a range of poor health outcomes including obesity, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, physical activity avoidance, heart disease, stress, and depression.” For this reason, “…it may be useful to address weight stigma and coping in the context of weight management and obesity treatment programs, to help protect individuals from negative health effects of experiencing weight stigma.” If you have depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or difficulty accepting your body at a higher weight, weight stigma may be having a negative impact...
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Beware of Corrupt Power

If you frequently turn to food for comfort because you have a boss, parent, partner or someone close to you who abuses power, you may wonder why he or she acts that way. Or you, a nice person, may be shocked that others can be so mean and cruel. Either way, it pays to understand what power can do to some (but not all) people.   A Columbia University experiment helps us comprehend “how power corrupts the minds of those who possess it, more specifically noting how power changes the way people visually perceive others. According to the study, the most powerful people tend to perceive those who are less powerful as smaller in stature. In another series of studies , researchers observed how power increased moral hypocrisy. They found that powerful individuals tend to judge the powerless more harshly when caught in the act of cheating than when more...
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More Benefits From Meditation

I confess that it took me a while to see the value of meditation. When it was first touted as a stress reducer, there weren’t a whole lot of studies to back it up. But now, the more I read about it, the bigger fan I’m becoming—especially since so many anxious clients ask me, “Can we really change our thinking? Is it truly possible to change our brains?” Science tells us that the answers to these questions are yes and yes.   According to “Meditate on this: a mindfulness practice promotes better health” (Healthy Years, vol. HY16H p. 5), a practice of meditation has health benefits beyond simply reducing anxiety and stress, not that that’s any small feat, particularly for emotional and stress eaters. The article states that “Science is still not clear how meditation influences the brain,” but that it helps in “decision-making, planning, abstract thinking, and regulating emotions.”...
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