Interview: Teen Eating Disorders Thrive in Secrecy, So Let’s Talk About It

Interview: Teen Eating Disorders Thrive in Secrecy, So Let’s Talk About It

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or believe you may be, Go to the National Eating Disorders Association for their Free online chat, call their Help Line at 1-800-931-2237 or contact their Crisis Line by Texting “NEDA” to 741741.

Dr. Karla talks with Dr. Jillian Rigert (DMD and MD) about what teens, parents, doctors, and teachers can do to help teens recognize, get treatment and heal from eating disorders in adolescence, starting with self-worth and self-compassion.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and this helpful information is needed now more than ever!

You get to live your magical and FUN life! 

Dr. Rigert wrote an incredibly helpful blog for IME Community, titled, “Lessons from a recovering perfectionist”.  I found Dr. Rigert’s blog and my interview with her to be so helpful and healing.

Teen Eating Disorders Video

We’re talking about teen eating disorders in this video, so just know that if you are not feeling it, go ahead and stop listening.  Also, the video is super helpful and healing, but doesn’t take the place of going to your doctor and working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorder treatment.  The earlier you are diagnosed and receive treatment, the better your outcome.  

First, if you are experiencing disordered eating, know that you are not alone, that it’s never your fault, you are worthy of help and treatment and healing no matter where you are with your diagnosis.  

Recognize, you are not broken and you can heal and live your beautiful life.  

You don’t cause and you don’t control all the things in life.  Eating disorders are a mental health diagnosis.  They are a medical condition.  You are not a diagnosis. 

I simply love you and want you to know that you are deserving of a self-love superpower life.  

Eating Disorders in Adolescence Are Common

Eating disorders are unfortunately common, cross gender lines, and do not have anything to do with weight.  What do I mean by that? You cannot determine if someone has an eating disorder based on their weight and external appearance. 

In our society and culture, we feel entitled to comment on bodies and sizeism is a thing and so is weight bullying, weight stigma and bias, and the false association between weight and health.  It’s all 100% harmful.

Dr. Jillian and I talk a lot about social media in this helpful discussion. It’s very very helpful. 

Welcome to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  I mean, I guess it’s a good thing to have an awareness week? What do you think?  I spent some time figuring out how to be helpful and not just share the typical talking points that are out there on eating disorders.   

How IME Community is addressing eating disorders starts with sharing the story of Dr. Jillian Rigert and her experience with an eating disorder, but most importantly, how Dr. Jillian is intentionally healing through her journey of self-worth and self-compassion.  

Sound familiar?  It’s self-love superpower! 

Eating disorders are “suffering”, a word Dr. Jillian used many times in this discussion.  Parents, note that your teen’s weight has absolutely nothing to do with their internal mental state.  If you believe your teen’s thinness means they should be happy, you’re wrong.  If you believe your teen who exists in a larger body, needs to shrink their body and their emotional and mental health and well-being will be fixed, wrong. I’m not saying that improving health habits won’t improve well-being.  Our focus on weight being equated to health and emotional health is just wrong.  

Stop Believing the Pursuit of Thin Privilege Gets to Happiness

Silence is fuel for an eating disorder.  Not talking about it, not knowing how to talk about it, staying stuck in diet culture, focusing too much on weight and not on mental health are all ways that parents and doctors contribute to the perpetuation of eating disorders and potentially create continued harm. 

Just like many issues in healthcare, eating disorder screening and treatment is another thing we’ve not been that helpful in addressing. Dr. Jillian and I talk about how we can start by having discussions with physicians and get rid of the focus on BMI (Body Mass Index) and weight-based diagnostic criteria.  When she talks about how harmful BMI at the doctor’s office was for her, I was overcome with emotion.  Her story is very powerful.  

Here’s a link to one of the many helpful Dr. Jillian Rigert articles on eating disorders, Eating Disorders Thrive in Secrecy, So Let’s Talk About It, published in  

Next up, I will discuss the different types of eating disorders.  Parents, please let me know what needs you have for coaching on this important health issue. 

Reach out to me at Teens, 12 to 18, and parents of teens, go to and subscribe to the IME Community newsletter – you’ll be automatically added to the IME Community and get my coaching to create a Body Positive Community for Teens in a Body Negative World!

Self- love superpower, 

Dr. Karla, ActivistMD

Celebrate Measures of Self Success – May 2022 Mantras

Celebrate Measures of Self Success – May 2022 Mantras

May is an exciting and often stressful time of year.

Lots of wrapping up finals, graduations, planning for summer, all the things!

My middle child, Audrey, is graduating from Lincoln High School and, for some reason, seeing her senior pics and the pics of her friends she’s grown up with, is really getting to me.  

May can be a whirlwind mix of all the emotions.  

How about you? 

Pause and Get Centered

Don’t forget to create a pause and get centered and internal.

One of the most important tools I can coach you on, maybe the most important is that you get to measure your own success!

Does that sound radical to you?

It’s not.

Unfun (nufnu) toxic, diet culture has taught you, maybe you’ve even internalized these harmful keep you stuck habits: 

  1. put your success on the finish line 
  2. determine your success by external validation (yuck!)
  3. celebrating your own wins is selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, all the “bad” self things (um, no).

Dropping Toxic Diet Culture Is One Way to Achieve Some Measures of Self Success

In one fell swoop, I’m coaching you to let it all go.

Drop it like a book you don’t really want to read.  You know the kind of book everyone is saying is so good, but you start reading it, and you’re like, 

“What the heck? This thing sucks! I don’t get it!” 

Challenge everything!

Drop that cruddy book and let’s discover and celebrate the power of measuring self-success!

May 2022 Daily Mantras

As always, print my helpfulness off, share my radicalness with others, and let me know how you measure success and celebrate your self-success wins!

  • 5/1: I own my success.
  • 5/2: I get to determine how I measure my success.
  • 5/3: Someone else’s measure of success means nothing to me.
  • 5/4: I love celebrating myself by trying new things. 
  • 5/5: I create my own ways to celebrate!
  • 5/6: A measure of success for me is when I stay out of self-judging.
  • 5/7: I celebrate feeling all of my human emotions.
  • 5/8: I love celebrating with and without food.
  • 5/9: Whenever I stay out of people-pleasing is worth a celebration.
  • 5/10: I celebrate my life by listing three things I’m grateful for every day.
  • 5/11: I never wait to measure and celebrate my success.
  • 5/12: No one can ever take my success away from me.
  • 5/13: I feel successful when I create healthy boundaries for myself.
  • 5/14: I never let diet culture determine my success.
  • 5/15: A number on a scale is not how I measure success.
  • 5/16: A number on a scale is not how I measure failure.
  • 5/17: I celebrate failing because it’s all learning.
  • 5/18: I measure my success by how much risk I take.
  • 5/19: I celebrate failing by never making it mean I’m a failure.
  • 5/20: I’m having a cancel diet culture party and you’re invited!
  • 5/21: I celebrate being and not constantly doing.
  • 5/22: A big measure of success for me is knowing I am always enough.
  • 5/23: Perfect does not exist is a realization worth celebrating!
  • 5/24: I feel successful when I’ve worked hard and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
  • 5/25: I never wait to cross the finish line to celebrate.
  • 5/26: I love to celebrate my wins in the present moment.
  • 5/27: Showing up as my true self is my greatest measure of success.
  • 5/28: I celebrate letting go of seeking validation from others.
  • 5/29: Resting, relaxing, and restoring my energy are my favorite ways to celebrate. 
  • 5/30: I feel a connection to beautiful memories celebrating with people I love.
  • 5/31: I honor and celebrate the life of people who have loved me for me. 

Stay tuned for June’s IME self-love superpower mantras when I will coach you on Body Image Thoughts to Think!

Cancel Diet Culture from Your Life with Dr. Karla and IME Community

If you’re a teen, 12 to 18 or a parent of a teen, ready to cancel diet culture from your life and achieve your weight and life goals without restriction or deprivation, make sure you subscribe to the IME Community newsletter  – you’ll be automatically added to the community to get my Dr. Karla coaching!

Self-love superpower,

Dr. Karla, ActivistMD

Do You Parent with Compassion or Compliance?

Do You Parent with Compassion or Compliance?

Do you parent with compassion or compliance?

I don’t have everything figured out.  

I don’t have some secret that I’m withholding from you.  

I don’t know any more than you, especially when it comes to your teen.  

I don’t think your parenting needs fixing or solving. 

You Are an Unbroken, Loving Parent

In fact, I believe with my whole heart that you are unbroken.  I believe with my whole heart that you are an incredible loving parent who is living your amazing life with your incredible teen.  Like me, you want your teen to reach their full potential in every aspect of life and be happy.  Right?  That seems like a tall order with all that’s going on in the world these days. 

You cannot control all of the things in the world for your teen, which often makes us feel helpless or powerless which makes us double down with our fear and lack and compliance parenting approach.

Once You Change, Your Teen Changes

Here is what I have worked on as a parent myself and as a pediatrician over many years, and that is, drumroll please, once I change, my teen changes.  Until coaching I thought I needed to change my teen to make myself feel better.  Wrong!  Once I learned the power of thoughts and that thoughts create feelings, I started to get curious and invested at least the last 2 ½ years (yes, years) in creating a more loving and supportive approach with my teens.

I was as stuck as a parent could be in a fixed and prickly relationship with my daughter.  I kept waiting for her to grow out of it and it seems like it took me forever to figure out that I’m the one who has to “grow up and out of it”.  Of course, she stepped up too with intention to create a more healthy dynamic between us.  I can tell when she is trying.  

I was parenting her from fear and lack and a belief that when I say something she should do it and collecting all of the evidence when she didn’t do what I said, take my advice which would, of course, at least in my mind, make her life so much better and make her more successful, then I could make it mean that the label I was assigning to her is true.  I became more self-righteous as a Mom and our relationship suffered or stayed stuck and I felt like a failure and felt defeated, hopeless and helpless.

Learn to Parent with Compassion Instead of Compliance

I was parenting with compliance and not compassion. A round of unfun for all! Yuck!

Now, the first and most important thing I learned is to put my self-love superpower oxygen mask on first.  

I learned how to stay in my lane, that I will continue to make mistakes (on the daily) and I learned how to set boundaries, which has helped me with all aspects of my life. 

I recognize that I cannot fix or solve my teen because they are unbroken.

I recognize I don’t cause or control all of the things and that I am a mere mortal and so is my teen.  

I learned that even though my actions came from good intentions, none of it was helpful when my actions, coming from my feelings, created by my thoughts I was choosing over and over even though they weren’t serving me, are what mattered.  All our teens know is our actions or inactions. In your head, you may be June or Ward Cleaver or Dr. Spock, but none of that matters if you are triggered to get in your teen’s lane every time they walk in the room.  

I created a curious awareness of my thought patterns that would send me into emotional reactivity and victim mode instead of taking responsibility for my feelings and responding as an emotional adult.  

Parent with Compassion and Stay Out of Shame, Guild, and Judgment

I learned to parent with compassion and not compliance and most importantly, to treat myself with compassion and not judge how good of a parent I am 

I stay out of shame, guilt and judgment of my teen and myself as a parent, most of the time.   

My teen and I just got back from a couple of college visits and we had such a great time.  We had our moments of tension which is fine, those will always happen, but so many glorious moments that we wouldn’t have had if I haven’t done this self-work.

You and your teen are worthy of your self-work. 

Self-love superpower, 

Dr. Karla

Self Awareness and Discovery – Doing the Work

Self Awareness and Discovery – Doing the Work

“The Work” of self awareness and discovery is hard.

There’s no way around it.

Circa 2018 or 2019: “Mom, I know you’ve lost weight and have done a lot for your health, but you act the same.  I don’t see much of a difference.”

That was my daughter, Katherine’s comment to me after I reached my weight loss goal, referring to my emotionally reactive self which still rears her ugly head on the daily, though exponentially less these days.

Man did that one sting. 

We Cause Our Own Suffering

In “Loving What Is” Byron Katie teaches that most of the harm and suffering we cause ourselves and others is by staying attached to the thought that reality should be different.  

Should is the key word in that sentence.

Does the reality that you will cause harm and suffering in others, even your children, give you a punch in the gut?

Hitting Rock Bottom

I hit rock bottom in September 2019, after a perfect microburst storm of grief over my mom’s death, transitioning to a reality I couldn’t deny that my oldest was going away to college, and resigning from my job after enduring years of whistleblower retaliation and toxic gaslighting. 

To be honest, though extremely painful, and as difficult all the above were, the additional pain and suffering I was adding to the mix by how I was showing up as a parent with my daughter, Audrey, was the icing on my dark-times bitter cake.

Keep in mind, all of this was pre-pandemic. 

I was down on the mat and down for the count, soon to be a colossal loser because of my attachment to my belief that Audrey should change for me to feel better about myself as a mom.  It was clear in my ever-blurrier vision that Audrey was a problem I needed to fix and solve.  

From the Mouths of Babes

Keep in mind, my kid is a great kid.  She’s brilliant, fearless, and doing great things in the world.  

I have lost every argument with her since she was 3.

Flashback to 16 years ago, potty-training the most adorable child to exist with buns squished on the toilet seat, feet turned in and talking through a PhD level logic thread while sucking her thumb: 

Hey, you don’t control my body.”

“I don’t even control my body.”

“God controls my body.”

“Wait, God doesn’t control my body.”

“If Jesus is God’s son, why would he kill his own son?”

“If Jesus is really God, why would God kill his self?”

“Fine, Audrey. All pigs can fly.  You keep crapping your pants.”

Flash forward 16 years to when I resigned from my job:

Mom, you’re just bored.”

“You do nothing all day.”

Since our teens live in gotcha culture, failures are weaponized.  

Negative Self-Talk & Pursuit of Perfection Spans Generations

It makes sense.  When you are raised by hyper-competitive, external achievement focused, perfection driven Gen X parents, it’s going to seep in. 

Years of attachment to my negative self-talk, inner critic, spilled over and since I had minimal to no self-compassion and taught her that I could control suffering and avoid failure, I provided Audrey a lot of robust evidence that Mom must be a failure.  

Mom’s a loser and now’s my chance to let her know every time she tells me to study, come out of my room, and gets in my lane. 

Byron Katie is an enlightened genius, and I couldn’t recommend her work more.  When I say, work, I mean, “The Work” which are four seemingly simple questions that will lead you through personal inquiry to self-discovery.

What Are the 4 Questions of Self Awareness and Discovery?

The Four Questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

We cringe thinking of doing “The Work” or any work on ourselves.  

Isn’t it easier to just change up other people so that we can feel a certain way? 

“The Work” is a gift of personal inquiry, of self-awareness and discovery.  The only reason you may be really frightened, even terrified to do “The Work” is because you are terrified of what you will discover.  That all this chasing down the external and changing yourself up to make yourself feel a certain way, to prove you are worthy, that you finally fit in, has not only been a colossal waste of time, but has also caused unnecessary suffering.  

It seeps over to our teens.

Maybe you aren’t willing to do “The Work” of self awareness and discovery for yourself, but I guarantee you are more than willing to do “The Work” so you are able to show up as a loving and supportive parent for your child.  

I can assure you leaning into doing “The Work” has been a transformational gift in my life.  

Right now, you may be white knuckling through life, fighting off reality like a failed superhero at every turn.  

You most likely come to parenting with some baggage, so having grace and compassion for yourself is the first step.  

Also, staying out of perfection. Perfect doesn’t exist.  Perfect parenting doesn’t exist.  

Let me know when you’re ready to do “The Work” on yourself.

That’s your first powerful decision.

Self-love superpower, 

Dr. Karla, ActivistMD

Interview: Teen Eating Disorders Thrive in Secrecy, So Let’s Talk About It

Dr. Karla & “The Magical Everywhere”: Positivity through Adversity!

Did you know I’m a children’s book author?  To get your signed copy, go to and I’ll send you an extra copy to donate to a child who needs the magical message, your school library, your pediatrician’s office, community library, etc.  

It is my very favorite thing I have done in my career – writing “The Magical Everywhere!”  I was inspired to write it by one of my patients, Magical Gigi! 

We need the message of “The Magical Everywhere” now more than ever!

Did you know you are “the magical everywhere”?

Listen to me read “The Magical Everywhere” and “fly around the world with Magical Gigi on a journey to find the perfect word to describe someone like you! The book was written and illustrated to honor the life and spirit of Magical Gigi, an eternally full-of-life eight year-old girl, famous for her positivity through adversity.  

Thank you for listening and sharing!

Self-love superpower, 

Dr. Karla, ActivistMD