Weeks ago, I was browsing the excellent More of Me to Love blog and came across Julie Norman. As soon as I read her website, I knew that I had to interview her for Weightless.

Norman is a registered dietician, yoga teacher and Health At Every Size supporter. She helps women heal both their body image insecurities and negative relationships with food.

Below, Norman discusses how readers can improve how they experience their bodies, make peace with food and interpret nutritional info.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!

Q: You work with clients to help them change how they care for and experience their bodies. What are some of the ways readers can make these changes? 

A: The most important thing we can do is reconnect to and listen to our bodies.  To slow down and notice what our bodies are telling us, listen to that wisdom and act from there.  The body wants to be in balance, it wants to be healthy.  It will tell us what it does and does not need from food to rest to caffeine to hydration to taking on another work project.

The problem is, we go too fast to hear its cues and/or we’ve been brainwashed not to trust our bodies. Think about it, why would the body want to destroy itself?  This is why I integrate yoga into all my work with clients.  It teaches us that reconnection and body trust.

With the body image piece, the “I feel fat” experience, I have found this to always be a messenger for a deep spiritual or emotional need.  Instead of trying to escape that feeling through changing the body, we need to look into the experience and ask ourselves what BIG message the body is sending us.

What are we Fearful of, Anxious about and Tense around?  Keep breaking that down to what the real problem is (hint: it’s not your body) and address things head on.  Try it and notice the connection to body image and emotions, especially for women.

Q: You’re an ardent supporter of Health At Every Size. Why do you believe in this movement? 

A: I can remember sitting in class as a dietetics student wondering why they were training us to put people on diets and at the same time teaching us statistics illustrating the ineffectiveness of dieting for improving health or even “improving” weight.

Weight is simply a poor measure of health and that narrow focus sabotages people’s attempts to legitimately improve their health on so many levels.  Once I take to focus off weight with clients, they are free to choose for their bodies in the present moment.

They are able to align with their bodies because they are working from acceptance.  If weight needs to change it will as a side affect of positive self-care.  This is true for all my clients across the size, shape and weight continuum.

Q: How can people become more at peace with their bodies? 

A: By agreeing to be in them, accept them, love them and care for them exquisitely.  I realize this sounds easy yet is hard to do.  It’s a huge process that takes time and support given our conditioning and cultural environment.

This is the main reason I developed Body Karma Healing, to focus specifically on this.  A huge part of the process is understanding and healing the “fat experience” I mentioned above.  I am currently building a website that will provide detailed guidance and support for this very thing.

Q: You help your clients heal their relationships with food. What are your favorite ways readers can start mending this relationship? 

A: First and foremost, begin work on the body image piece.  It’s the foundation to a peaceful relationship with food.

Next ditch dieting.  Any attempts to change health with weight loss as the primary focus will ultimately wreck havoc on your relationship with food.

Instead begin practicing intuitive eating which involves listening to body cues, doing away with good food/bad food mantras and moving in ways that feel good for you.

Q: Nutrition information is often used for restricting and dieting. What would you like readers to know about interpreting nutritional data and tips?

A: I like to teach clients to use their intuition here too.  We are not idiots though the health, beauty and diet industries would like us to believe we are so we continue to buy their products and services.

As you read feel how the information is sitting with you.  If you know in your body it’s a diet in disguise it probably is!

Also, resistance has wisdom.  If you’re thinking, “I should do that,” but something inside resists, follow your own deeper wisdom rather than that magazine article financially backed by corporations and diet ads.  YOU are the expert of your own body!

More about Julie Norman:

Named “The B.I.G.-Body Image Guru” by a group of her clients, Julie blends yoga with professional nutrition guidance for a holistic approach to healing body image, food, and exercise challenges. Focusing on peaceful body image, aligned eating and sustainable movement she helps clients transform how they feel in and care for their bodies. Julie is an engaging and dynamic speaker and enjoys working with individuals and groups in person and virtually.