I had the pleasure today of interviewing Golda Poretsky, holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, which provides individual and group counseling from a Health at Every Size (HAES) perspective. We met last year at Full Figured Fashion Week and hit it off, and ever since then I’ve meant to learn more about her work. When I read about her upcoming 2nd Annual Body Love Revolutionaries Telesummit starting tonight and running through the end of February, I finally got it together and reached out to her.
Golda was put on her first diet at age 4 so that kids would stop picking on her. At 11, she was on a calorie-restricted diet requiring her to drink a lot of weird shakes. Sick of dieting and struggling with her weight her whole life, Golda pursued her degree to become a holistic health coach after practicing law for 6 years. After helping herself coming to terms with her body, she turned her efforts to helping others.
Central to Golda’s counseling is the concept of “intuitive eating.” She explained to me that intuitive eating is listening to your body’s needs, hunger and fullness signals. Golda says it’s important to trust your body, and hear hunger pangs rather than being wed to calorie counts. The goal is to reconnect with your body and emotionally heal. She says it’s important to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. By figuring out what you really need emotionally, you can take steps to have these needs met in a more effective way. When eating, you should do it mindfully and savor your food, whether it be greens or a piece of cake. Unlike some experts such as Geneen Roth and Mark David, she doesn’t think intuitive eating necessarily leads to weight loss. But she does think it’s imperative to coming to terms with your body.
Do Diets Work? The Health at Every Size Approach
Golda doesn’t believe in dieting and says it doesn’t work. She told me studies show diets work short term, but 3-5 years after, 85-95% of people gain the weight back and often more. People blame themselves and feel like failures, which is devastating to self-esteem. We talked about the limitations of BMI and how it doesn’t predict health, as I spoke about in my previous post here. She pointed out, as I did, that many doctors blame everything on weight, which is dangerous and leads to faulty and incomplete diagnoses. When encountering such a doctor, she suggests looking for a “fat friendly” doctor through Fat Friendly Docs or the Health at Every Size Resource List. Golda also talks more about dieting vs. HAES on her blog here. Linda Bacon’s HAES Manifesto is another great place to start.
Golda advocates for the Health at Every Size approach to physical and mental health. She explained to me what it is, and here is what she says about it on her website:
Health At Every Size covers a wide range of principles. In a nutshell, Health At Every Size means that a person’s weight is not his or her only indicator of health. It means that intentional weight reduction does not equal health and often causes more problems than it seeks to fix. It means that every person, regardless of their size, can have optimal health by healing his or her relationship with food, learning to connect with his or her body, finding pleasurable body movement, and loving that body just as it is.
According to Golda, HAES has 3 principles:
1. Accept and love your body. Understand there are a diversity of bodies in the world and that is a good thing.
2. Eat intuitively in a way that is nourishing.
3. Find a form of exercise you enjoy and feels good to you.
You can read more about HAES here.
Golda helps her clients work through disordered eating. Disorder eating is when you obsessively restrict your food intake and then binge. Binging occurs when your emotions or hunger rises high. Then you beat yourself up and restrict yourself as punishment. It’s important to break the cycle for physical and mental health reasons.
Feeling Better About Our Bodies
I asked Golda what we can do to feel better about our bodies. She says that one way that works for many of her clients is the “Body Love Shower:”
When you take a shower, wash yourself really slowly, using your hands instead of your washcloth. Feel your body and where it starts and ends. Enjoy the sensation of touching and being touched, as well as how good your body feels. We see our bodies visually but often don’t feel them.
Finding the right clothes can do wonders for one’s body image. Golda helps her clients find the right clothes for them. She says that it’s “better to have 5 outfits you love rather than a closet full of clothes you aren’t happy with.” She suggests being open to try new things and breaking away from a “uniform” you might wear to feel safe. According to Golda, it’s all about letting go of fears and starting to see your body as beautiful.
Want A Free Coaching Session?
In Golda’s supportive and nonjudgmental coaching sessions, she talks to you about where you are in terms of your relationship to food and body image. With her help, you can pinpoint what obstacles and emotional needs have been getting in the way. You can also listen to her podcasts, read her blog or even her book. If you are interested in working with her, Golda has generously offered free Body Love Breakthrough sessions to Size and Substance readers here.
Do Your Homework, Then Decide For Yourself
I think it’s important to educate yourself on the important issues surrounding health and body image, and then make the decision about what’s right for you, rather than letting anyone tell you what to do. It’s your body and your choice. I’m still continuing to learn and grow as well.
A great place to start is Golda’s telesummit running through the end of February. She has a great panel of experts lined up, including Linda Bacon, nutrition professor and author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, Paul Campos, law professor, journalist and author of books such as The Diet Myth, and activist and author Marilyn Wann.