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Synopsis: "Starting Monday" is based on the simple premise that when our behaviors don't align with our expressed intentions, we've got a conflict going on, often outside of our awareness. Author Laren R. Koenig helps her readers dig deeply into their psyches to figure out what mistaken beliefs and needless fears are holding them back from achieving their health and fitness goals. The polarized feelings for disregulated eaters to identify and resolve fall within these seven key areas: 1) create lasting change, 2) making conscious choices, 3) feel deserving, 4) how to comfort themselves, 5) know what's enough, 6) manage intimacy, and 7) developing a healthy identity. "Starting Monday" first helps readers unearth their mixed feelings in these seven areas, then teaches them how to change their beliefs and behaviors to resolve them. Using humor, plain talk, examples from her clinical experience, reflection exercises, case studies, and homework, Koenig lets troubled eaters know that their yo-yo patterns of eating and self care are due to conflicts. She shies away from easy answers and, instead, provides hope and concrete actions to developing a permanent, positive relationship with food.
Critique: Informative, motivational, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Starting Monday: Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food" is especially recommended for anyone wanting to improve their mental and physical health through a more nutritional and balanced approach to meal time decisions. Very highly recommended and instructional reading, as well as an invaluable addition to community library Self-Help and Health/Medicine collections, "Starting Monday: Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
- Small Press Bookwatch; The Midwest Book Review July 2014
BOOK REVIEW: Starting Monday: Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food by Karen Koenig LCSW, M.Ed. (Gurze Books, 2013, 288 pages) People repeatedly - but often fruitlessly - promise themselves they will finally get their eating struggles under control. When? Starting Monday! The title of Karen Koenig's book refers to this familiar resolution, and she explores why emotional eaters, filled with determination to improve their hurtful behaviors, wind up failing time after time. In this, her seventh book, Ms. Koenig offers a key approach for long lasting change: people must confront that internal part of themselves which is invested in not getting better! This is a book for those people who yearn for weight loss and body satisfaction but may have difficulty appreciating the conflicts within themselves that sabotage and defeat their best efforts. Why would someone want to derail their best efforts to be happy? Koenig shows readers how to identify "the ouch of self-recognition" and to discover what blocks normal eating. She describes seven keys to unlock your self-defeat and create lasting change: 1. apply curiosity, self reflection, and compassion to why you have been stuck. 2. make conscious choices through the mindful focus of living in the present moment. 3. feel deserving by exploring your family history which may have left you feeling unworthy or deprived. 4. comfort yourself by reaching out to others and develop strategies to cope with stress. 5. know what's enough and pinpoint where you feel unsatisfied not only with food but money, possessions, work, and relationships. 6. manage intimacy by becoming aware of your fears of closeness and your desires. 7. develop a healthy identity by claiming your most authentic self regardless of weight. What are your beliefs, your needs, your truths? In a lively, engaging style, Ms. Koenig illuminates these psychological solutions to help you get unstuck so you can live a fruitful and compassionate life every day of the week - not just Starting Monday!
Book review submitted by Mary Anne Cohen, Director of The New York Center for Eating Disorder
Karen Koenig has written a book for anyone who has ever experienced dysfunctional eating in his or her life. It is a book that will resonate for either the person who works with people that may struggle with food and body issues, or has had issues of his/her own. (And let’s be honest, who hasn’t in the world in which we live?!) It is a must read for all social workers to better understand our own relationship with food and our bodies in order to better help our clients. This is not a book about eating disorders. But it is a book that will help anyone who strives to have a better relationship with food. Karen provides a step-by-step guidebook on how to manage your eating and emotions.
One of the aspects of Karen’s book that I love is that it is light and fun, while also providing concrete advice and helpful homework assignments. Karen uses food analogies to clearly represent her points while also showing us the connections food has to our emotions. For example, Karen speaks about “marinating” our- selves in pride or nothing “tastes” as good as pride. This spirited way of speaking to the reader is compelling and engaging!
All of Karen’s books examine our issues with food from a strength- based perspective. Instead of calling ourselves “lazy”, Karen suggests that we acknowledge having ambivalence or conflicts about our relationship with food. She teaches the reader how to reframe one’s beliefs and helps us to understand the identifiers for when we are having difficulty with “all or nothing thinking,” (for example, I am “good” if I eat fruit but “bad” if I have a cookie). We learn not only about the psychological components of our relationship with food, but also about the biology related to eating issues. This is a very important point, showing us that it is physiologically impossible to “talk our way out” of a binge. Karen reminds us that there are many areas that require further examination to have a healthy relationship with food.
Karen recognizes that our relationship with food and our body does not only have to do with our actions. The media and our peers plays a huge role in how we think about this topic. Karen challenges us to fight society’s concepts regarding “beauty” and “quick fixes”.
Reading Karen’s book feels like you are taking a class with her. Karen’s relaxed writing style is lovely. She tells us to take deep breaths and to be mindful of our response to her writing. She acknowl- edges our discomfort in beginning to deal with these issues and encourages us to take action so we can challenge some of our beliefs.
Karen asks us many provocative questions about our own relationship with food at the end of each chapter. This provides “food for thought” as we explore her questions and challenge our thoughts and beliefs. Karen believes that people can have healthy relationships with food and their bodies, and provides the reader with the tools they need to get there.
I will definitely use Karen’s book in my private practice on a regular basis. I hope you will too.
Reviewed by Beth Mayer, LICSW
PRESIDENT OF THE MULTI-SERVICE EATING DISORDER ASSOCIATION.