health, healthy living, Uncategorized

Poor, Fat People

I was at the grocery store the other day, stocking up in preparation for the big storm. Side note – I hope all of you on the East coast fared well in the storm!

The line to check out was long, as one might imagine, and in line in front of me was a very overweight woman in an electronic scooter checking out. In her cart were multiple bottles of soda, bags of non-brand-name chips, snack cakes, family-sized packs of cookies, a few loaves of white bread, and boxes of, once again, non-brand-name macaroni and cheese. To be sure, there wasn’t a vegetable or piece of fruit in sight.

The guy in line behind me was clearly in a hurry (as evidenced by the fact that he kept butting up against me with his cart). I’ve had the flu for over a week and was already rundown and tired, so every little thing was annoying me more than it would on an average day.

I could hear the man sighing loudly, watched as he stomped around and rolled his eyes, and heard him muttering under his breath. I heard a few phrases like, “fat ass,” and, “eat another cookie.” Part of me wanted to turn around and confront him, but the bigger part of me just wanted to try to get out of the store and get home and back on the couch.

When the woman finished with her order, she pulled out her state welfare card, payed for her order, and scooted on her way. The man muttered the last comment, “figures,” and proceeded to move his cart up, hitting me again. I angrily pushed the cart back toward him and asked him to “back up,” as I started to unload the few groceries I had onto the belt. The truth was, while I didn’t have a lot of things to buy, I was praying as I swiped my debit card that I’d have enough to cover my order.

I’ve heard snarky comments like this guy’s before. “If people are poor they should be skinny,” “Clearly, he’s not that poor, he looks like he’s eating pretty well,” “The state doesn’t need to pay for her food, she’s so fat, she just needs to eat less.” It’s just so unnecessary, and so wrong.

While I agree that you can eat somewhat healthfully on a budget (I teach this to people as part of my health coaching practice) junk food is cheap. I can tell you that cheap soda pop, Pop Tarts, and off-brand cereal is a lot cheaper than organic juice, spelt bread, and organic granola.

We shouldn’t be asking why “health food” is so expensive, but instead, asking why junk food is so cheap! It’s a problem when a hamburger at a fast food joint costs $1.00 and a salad costs $6.00!

Comments like “He’s not that poor, he looks like he’s eating pretty well,” just speak to the problem. A lot of people who live under the poverty line rely on cheap, packaged foods to survive. They’re shopping for foods, based not on their health benefits or calorie counts, but to get the most amount of food for the least amount of money. They are shopping for bulk and price, not for health.

If we desire a return to health, it’s not going to be found in a pill or an exercise video, or a packaged diet shake. For a return to health we need a return to real food. We need to stop shaming people and judging people. We need to stop feeding our kids crap in school cafeterias. We need to educate people on basic health and nutrition, teach them how to shop on a budget, help them understand the mechanics of food, and yes, work to make healthy food available and affordable.

That’s why I’ve been working hard on the development of a community program aimed to address these issues and then some. I hope to roll the program out in the fall to YMCAs, community centers, schools, and churches across the country to help people who need help. Stay tuned for more.

I know that some of you may disagree with this post, I know some of you may be offended, and that’s okay; everyone is entitled to their opinion on things. But I think most of you can agree that the systems we have in place aren’t working, in fact, we are failing our families at almost every level.

If you’re in need of health and wellness information, please feel free to reach out to me at I promise I’ll answer your questions and do my best to help you if you need it.Or visit my website, for some quick information at a glance.

Take care of yourself, be nice to yourself, and be well. And until next time, veg in – don’t veg out.


Karen Ann Kennedy’s commitment to wellness and service is at the heart of her life and career. As a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a decorated United States Army veteran, and a longtime Human Resources Director, it is only natural that Karen would launch The Caring Coaching Center, to support others in reaching their health, fitness, and lifestyle goals. As the company’s President, CEO, and “Coach in Chief,” Karen provides individual, group, and corporate health and wellness coaching that is flexible, fun, and free of denial. As Karen likes to say: “Little changes. BIG results!”

Thanks to her studies at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school, Karen is well versed in the importance of nutrition and healthy living. Karen also has extensive experience in compassionately coaching and counseling others through her work in human resources and volunteer management, having worked in this industry for over 20 years.

Karen shares her knowledge and passion for healthy living as a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Known for her bright smile, boundless energy, and approachability, Karen is an in-demand speaker who has presented training programs for many prestigious organizations and schools in the Philadelphia area, including The National Constitution Center, The Urban League of Philadelphia, Constitution High School, Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, The Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, City Year of Greater Philadelphia, and the Upper Darby School District.

Karen is also a decorated veteran of the United States Army, serving her country for eight years including a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, and now residing in Ocean City, New Jersey, Karen offers Caring Coaching to clients nationwide. In addition to coaching, she loves cooking, marathon running, and writing her blog, Carrots Don’t Scream When You Boil Them.

Karen is also the author of Your Best Year Yet! 365 Days of Little Changes that Add Up to Big Results! Available on


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

December is almost upon us, which means, most people start thinking about celebrating the holidays. Not to sound like a big old Scrooge, but December is also the beginning of peak flu season which runs from December to March.
How do you know if it’s a cold or the flu?
• Aches and pains are sometimes slight
• Mild to moderate chest discomfort or pain and a cough are present
• Chills may occur
• Fatigue is sometimes there and is often mild
• Fever is unlikely
• Headache is unlikely
• Sneezing, sore throat and stuffy nose are common
• Aches and pains are often severe
• Chest discomfort and cough are common and may become severe
• Chills are common
• Fatigue is common and can be moderate to severe
• Fever and headache are both common
• Sneezing, sore throat, and stuffy nose can occur sometimes
Prevent illness by:
• Washing hands often
• Keeping your home clean and sanitized
• Avoiding contact with anyone who has a cold or the flu
• Avoiding crowds, when possible, during the peak flu season
• Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
• Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutritious foods, daily
• Keeping stress under control
Prevent spreading germs by:
• Avoiding close contact with others when you are sick. There are no heroes when it comes to cold and flu. If you’re stick, STAY HOME!
• Use tissues or the inside of your elbow to cover your coughs and sneezes
• Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
While I always advocate for good self-care, it’s especially important when you’re sick.
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Get extra rest and sleep
• Soothe sore throats by gargling with warm salt water and drinking warm water or tea with honey and lemon
• Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and excess caffeine
Seek medical advice if:
• You have difficulty breathing
• You feel faint
• Your sore throat is severe
• You have a cough that produces a lot of phlegm (especially if it is green or yellow)
• Your fever is 102 or higher with a cold, or 104 or higher with the flu
• Your symptoms last for more than 7 days
• You have a fever with shaking chills
• You have sharp chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough
• You suffer from a condition that puts you at risk for complications from the flu

Remember, it’s always important to take care of yourself and listen to your body, but it’s especially important when cold and flu season is upon us.

As always, take care of yourself, be nice to yourself, and be well. And until next time – veg in, don’t veg out. Karen
It’s almost the New Year! If you want to set yourself up to have your best year yet, check out my new book, Your Best Year Yet! 365 Days of Little Changes That Add up to Big Results! It’s available now