Today, I’m super excited to present my interview with Golda Poretsky, HHC, who operates Body Love Wellness, a health and wellness company that counsels women and men on body acceptance and healthy and intuitive eating from a health at every size approach.

I truly admire Golda’s work and love her blog, which I turn to daily. In addition to her blog, Golda also has great podcasts, which you can listen to here, and a wonderful newsletter, which you can sign up for on her homepage.

Golda also interviewed me for her blog, so be sure to check that out here! 🙂

1. Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what being a holistic health counselor entails?

A: Sure. I have a degree in Integrative Nutrition and Holistic Health Counseling from the Institute For Integrative Nutrition and I’m certified by the American Association Of Drugless Practitioners.

It’s funny, but I went to Integrative Nutrition because I wanted to “solve my weight problem.” I had been on diets since the age of four, and had had the experience that 95 percent of people who diet have — I would lose some weight and then steadily put the weight back on, then add more weight. Then I’d get fed up and try a new diet.

I thought if I learned about nutrition on a more technical level and learned to “eat perfectly” I would finally be slim and happy and all that stuff that drives people to diet in the first place.

I found, instead, that eating better didn’t help me to lose weight, but that it did make me feel a bit better. It wasn’t until about a year after I graduated that I finally gave up dieting for good, learned about body acceptance and intuitive eating, and started to develop a program incorporating these principles with some other techniques that I had learned in school.

2. Q: You work with clients by using an approach called Health At Every Size. Can you elaborate on this concept?

A: I would love to. Health At Every Size is based on significant data that says that (a) you can’t judge a person’s health based on their weight and (b) dieting does not create health and often leads to more health problems than it solves. (Despite the fact that more and more studies suggest that this is true, we are all bombarded with the message that dieting increases health, due to the advertising and lobbying efforts of the  $50 billion a year diet industry. But I digress…) Instead of a dieting approach, Health At Every Size says that there are three things that actually improve health: intuitive eating, or eating appropriate foods that reflect our bodies’ needs, appropriate exercise, and accepting ourselves and our bodies.

3. Q: Your work also emphasizes radical body love. Is this the same as self-acceptance? Can you give us some tips on how we can love our bodies right now just the way they are?

A: I talk about radical body love because I think that, in this society, loving your body is a radical act. And sometimes, to create real change in the outer world or our inner lives, we need to be radical. And I talk about body love, rather than acceptance, because, to me, acceptance is not enough.

Words are incredibly powerful. If you close your eyes for a moment and say to yourself, “I accept my body” and then do it again and say, “I love my body,” which feels better? We’re human, and we all want to be accepted, but more than that, we want to be loved. When we love our bodies, our bodies know it, we know it, and everyone around us knows it.

If we get to a point where society accepts fat people, doesn’t discriminate against them, and understands that people come in all shapes and sizes, that acceptance will be extremely meaningful. But as for the internal way that we deal with ourselves, I think we need to love ourselves rather than accept ourselves.

I have tons of tools on how to create body love, and seeing the transformations that happen when my clients try them is astonishing. Here’s a sample of one to try: the next time you take a shower or put on body lotion, do it really slowly. Do it at least three times as slowly as you normally would. Pay attention to what you’re doing, the way your skin feels as you touch it, the type of pressure that you like, the way your muscles soften or contract in response, the way your skin changes color ever so slightly.  You can do this wordlessly, or just say a word or two, like “beautiful” or “love” or even hum a bit. This is going to feel so different than your usual shower or lotion application session. Notice how your body feels as you move throughout the day. Often, you’ll feel sexier, more relaxed, etc. It’s a beautiful way to instill body love right into your body.

4. Q: For many of us, yo-yo dieting is a way of life. Can you talk about how we can leave dieting behind?

A: Definitely. First of all, dieters need to know that nothing is wrong with them for yo-yo dieting. Studies show that within three to five years, 93-99 percent of dieters gain all of the weight that they lost back, often adding on more. In essence, all dieting is yo-yo dieting.

So let’s think about why people diet. Most people would say that they diet either to be healthier or to be more attractive. The Health At Every Size approach that I use actually addresses both of these concerns.

If you’re dieting to be healthier, then let’s help you get healthy! With intuitive eating, you learn to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness indicators (which initially can seem quiet or non-existent to long-term dieters). I also teach healthy eating basics to help my clients understand their cravings and what their bodies are asking for. Also, we work on breaking down barriers to exercising, and finding appropriate exercise for each person. Body acceptance also helps to improve health, because it decreases stress levels in the body.

And as for feeling more attractive, people who love and accept themselves and their bodies are incredibly attractive to other people. We all know people whom we might not consider pretty or handsome who are considered devastatingly attractive by others. The diet industry/media b.s. that teaches us that you have to be a certain size to be attractive is really antithetical to the real world reality, which is, people of all shapes and sizes fall in love (and lust too).

5. Q: What is one way (or two) that we can begin to heal our relationship with food?

A: One of the best ways to start to heal is to realize that food is not an enemy. Food is necessary for survival. It nourishes us. For people who find themselves consistently stressed out when eating or thinking about food, try this: Each time that you eat, either before you start eating or whenever you remember to do it, take a deep breath, and have a moment of gratitude for your food, whatever you might be eating. It’s a great start to changing your relationship with food.

6. Q: Every Monday I like to feature an inspiring quote or exercise that helps women improve their body image. Can you share one with us?

A: For many of us with body image issues, the mirror can be a contentious bit of furniture. Just for today, every time you pass a mirror or see your reflection, say or think, “I am beautiful.” Know that this is the truth, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.

7. Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I think I’ve said a lot!  But I would like to say thank you so much for interviewing me. I’d also like to let your readers know that I would love for them to stop by to sign up for my newsletter and stay in touch!

Golda, thank you so much for your interview and wise words!!

We have some great information and inspiring stories coming up next week for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, have an awesome weekend.