I was recently interviewed by Jay Solomon over at More Of Me To Love. We covered a lot of ground in this interview, from how I got started in Health At Every Size coaching to simple tips for loving your body up, right now.
See it here or read it below!
End Dieting and Experience Radical Body Love in an Interview with Expert, Golda Poretsky (October 21, 2009)
More of Me to Love: It’s so great to have the opportunity to sit down with you and learn a little bit more about what you do. Your weekly tips and blogs on body love are wonderful, but I’m sure that when people read them, they can’t help but think, what is body love? Today, I hope we all get to learn a little bit more about you and what you do. So, what made you want to get into the field of body-love counseling in the first place?
Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. of Body Love Wellness: I love this question, because it makes me feel like body-love counseling is really a field!
I was always interested in holistic health, so in 2005 I decided to take my self-taught self to the next level and go to The Institute For Integrative Nutrition. As a lifelong dieter, a major part of my reason for attending this school was to finally figure out how not to be fat anymore. (I’m sure More of Me to Love readers can relate to this reasoning.) While there, I learned a lot about nutrition, and I was also introduced to the concept of intuitive eating, albeit as a weight loss method.
To make a long story short, I lost a bunch of weight on Weight Watchers while in school there, and then in 2007 began the slow, steady weight gain, while still dieting, which I’m sure many readers can relate to as well. Somehow, I found fat acceptance and fat acceptance blogs at just the right time. I was really lucky.
My desire in creating Body Love Wellness was to support my clients in their journey to body acceptance and a healthy relationship with food. My own journey was one of trial and error, and I didn’t feel like I had much support from anyone other than the blog writers. I desired to be that support for my clients and to use methods that I developed in order to make that journey easier for others. The work that I do now is a combination of things I learned at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition (healthy eating basics, dealing with health concerns nutritionally) and things I learned through my own body acceptance journey (intuitive eating, body love and acceptance).
MMTL: How long have you been doing your work?
Golda: I’ve been doing this work for about 2-3 years.
MMTL: What are your hobbies outside of body counseling?
Golda: Oh, gosh. I used to do musical improv comedy, which I really miss now. I love to read – lots of new-agey nonfiction and novels. I love to write. I also read tarot.
MMTL: How did you come up with the name for your business, Body Love Wellness?
Golda: As someone who was really inspired by the fat acceptance movement, “acceptance” never felt like a strong enough word to me. I think there are two parts to fat acceptance: acceptance by society at large and self-acceptance. To me, self-acceptance just isn’t enough. I want people to really love themselves. I had struggled to love myself for years without loving my body, and I realized that it just doesn’t work. That’s why I put the emphasis of my work on Body Love. I want people to know, up front, that I’m going to support them in loving their bodies, and it’s not a crazy idea, or something just for thin people. It’s almost confrontational in a way that I enjoy.
MMTL: What do you think it means to “be healthy?”
Golda: I really think that being healthy is about taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. That means eating in a way that feels good to your body and moving in a way that feels good to your body. It also means taking care of your emotional needs, acknowledging your feelings, respecting your boundaries, and noticing when your thoughts are judgments that you’ve internalized and need to release. You really cannot separate the physical and the emotional. It’s really difficult to eat healthfully and sanely when you’re beating yourself up emotionally. That’s why I find that, for many people, when they begin to heal emotionally they find it easier to listen for their internal cues about hunger, fullness, and the foods that feel best to them.
MMTL: What do you think the biggest attitude problem is that people have towards their bodies?
Golda: I think that very often people look at their bodies as something separate from themselves and something that needs controlling. They think that once they find the right diet or the right personal trainer, and scream at their bodies enough, their bodies will cooperate and fall into line. This never works for long because our bodies, literally, rebel.
MMTL: How do you help people overcome their negative attitudes towards their bodies and learn to love themselves?
Golda: I have a set curriculum that I use with clients, but I often mix it up or revise it for each individual client. I use a multi-faceted approach, addressing everything from thought-patterns and assumptions about their bodies to more body-based, experiential assignments that they try at home and we talk about in session. I never make assumptions about clients based upon their weight, and I guide our work together by what they really desire to change, whether it’s their relationship with food, and/or their bodies, and/or a myriad of other things.
MMTL: You live in New York. Are the majority of your clients from New York or do you take clients who live farther away as well?
Golda: I take clients from all over. Right now, my farthest client is in Arizona. I love having clients from different states. We do our sessions over the phone and correspond mainly via email. The other day, I wanted to demonstrate a lymph moving technique, so I made my client a little one minute video and emailed it to her. It worked out great and she loved it.
MMTL: Do you find that people in New York are more obsessive about their bodies than people in other parts of the country?
Golda: It’s an interesting question. I work a lot with New Yorkers and Californians who often point out how the beauty standards are so demanding where they live. I think that wherever you have a high concentration of models and actors and entertainment industry people, the pressure to be thin can be even greater. The great thing about New York in particular is that where there’s culture there’s also counterculture, so those who want to seek out other body positive people can find it here more and more. Despite all that, I think that, for the most part, things are the same for clients across the country. There may be gradations in how thin one feels pressure to be based upon where one lives, economic status, cultural norms etc., but we all live in a country where individuals feel the weight, literally, of the so-called obesity epidemic firmly on their shoulders. We all watch underweight people on television and are told that they’re the norm; we all feel pushed to count calories or points or carbs or fat grams; we all feel like our bodies are unacceptable. I wish things were different in different parts of the country, but I don’t think they are overall.
MMTL: Are you generally the first counselor that your clients work with who doesn’t believe in weight loss? Are you the first real body-love counselor your clients work with?
Golda: Always. Often clients start off by telling me how they’ve failed – how they’ve been to nutritionists or weight loss gurus who promised to help them and then blamed them for not losing their weight or for gaining it back. It’s really heartbreaking. At least initially, clients often feel like I can’t be for real.
MMTL: Could you please share a story with us about a particular client who had a challenging time but who you managed to see through her conflicts with her body to a life of body love?
Golda: I’d be happy to. One client came to mind right away. I’ll call her Ann. Ann was in her mid-40’s and had been on diets since her early 20’s, including many starvation diets. She also hated exercise in all forms. In the middle of her 6 month program, we got on the phone for her session and she began to tell me that she had started a new diet. We had done a lot of work on intuitive eating and getting off dieting, but she insisted that this diet wasn’t really a diet and she felt really good about it. Anyway, my approach is to listen and not make people feel bad about their choices, so I listened to her and let her give me updates on it. After about 3 weeks, she realized that she had just done yet another diet and told me it was her last one ever. Over the next few months, we worked more with intuitive eating, and she began to really love listening to her body. Her relationship with food normalized and she even began to find exercise that she enjoyed. Last I heard, she was so connected to herself and her needs that she received an instructor certification in a really body positive exercise program, she’s eating intuitively, she’s considering moving to a new city, and she’s getting certified as a life coach. Her life completely changed when she began listening to what her body really needed. It was really amazing to see her life change when she started listening to her real needs. I find that many of my clients make major shifts like that because they become willing to connect with their deepest desires and parts of themselves.
MMTL: How long do you typically work with clients?
Golda: Clients usually sign up for a 6 session (3 month) or 12 session (6 month) program, though some clients like to extend beyond that, too. I also offer a “tune-up” session for clients who have done my programs and just want to work on any new issues. Additionally, I offer workshops and tele-classes that some clients do instead of a one-to-one program or in addition to it.
MMTL: Do you ever relapse in your own world of body-love? If so, how do you pick yourself back up?
Golda: Every once in a while I do. It’s been happening a little too much ever since I’ve been live tweeting that show More To Love. But seriously, I go back to the techniques I use with my clients. Sometimes I literally do the same “homeplay” exercise I just sent to a client. Sometimes it’s something more physical, like getting more dressed up than usual or taking a walk when I’m feeling pressured to work more, or it’s something more mental/emotional, like fine tuning my affirmations or connecting with why that judgmental voice is coming up in that moment.
MMTL: If you had just one simple piece of advice for people to love their bodies what would it be?
Golda: Just one? That is really difficult! It’s difficult because everyone is different, so the starting point to body love is often different for different people. But here’s one to try – take a moment, every day, to find things that you’re grateful for about your body. Start out with a list of 10 things. They could be things like the way your heart pumps blood, the way your immune system defends you, the way your hair sparkles in the sunlight, or the way the skin on the inside of your arms feels so soft and delicate. As you list the things you’re grateful for (either on paper, aloud, or in your mind) make sure to notice and feel the sensation of that gratitude in your body. It may feel very subtle or it may feel like a more obvious change. Do this daily and you will definitely begin to notice positive changes in your connections with your body.
MMTL: Thank you so much, Golda! It was such a pleasure learning a little more about you, your body-love philosophy and the way you work with your clients.
Go to www.bodylovewellness.com for information on Golda’s one-to-one programs and workshops.