Feeling Judged

Ugh. Tell me if this has happened to you.

You’re out somewhere. Maybe you took yourself out to lunch. Maybe you’re on the subway going to work. Maybe you’re at a work meeting.

And you find yourself feeling judged by the people around you.

You feel like people are thinking negative things about you. You feel pretty sure that at lunch, the lady at the table next to you was thinking you shouldn’t be eating whatever you’re eating. On the subway, you’re pretty sure that guy who kept looking at you was thinking something negative about the way your body takes up more space than some other bodies on the train. In that meeting, you’re pretty clear that your boss didn’t like the way you handled that agenda item that you wish you handled differently.

Why Feeling Judged Is A Problem

Here’s the thing. I can’t promise you that these people who you feel are judging you aren’t judging you. I really have no idea.

But neither do you.

And even though you have no absolute proof that these people are judging you in that moment, you still may change your actions to appease them. Maybe you order something different at lunch just so people won’t judge you. Maybe you choose to stand on the subway so that you won’t have to squish yourself into a seat, even though you really want that seat. Maybe you’ll defer to someone else on that agenda item at the meeting even though you know that you have the best answer to that particular problem.

In other words, when you find yourself judged, you make yourself smaller and more invisible to deal with the judgment. And that never feels very good.

How To Stop Feeling Judged

Over 10 years ago, a friend of mine told me to get a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I hadn’t looked at that book in years, but I came across it again as I was preparing classes for my body image/writing workshop (some of which will definitely be part of my workshops at Abundia).

Anyway, I found myself drawn into the book once again, particularly to his “third agreement” which is “Don’t Make Assumptions.”

This concept of not making assumptions can factor in to a lot of aspects of your life, from how you communicate to what you believe about yourself and your abilities.

And I started thinking that feeling judged by others really is an assumption. We really can’t know what people are thinking unless they tell us. And even if someone has judged you in the past for something, you can’t really know if they’re actively judging you right now.

And even if you’re right that they are judging you, so what? Why do their judgments get to change your behavior?

So my advice on this topic is to not make assumptions. However, in reality, I think that’s easier said than done. I know that my mind does a lot better when I tell it to do something rather than not to do something. So, if you’re like me, I want to encourage you to make assumptions. Just allow your assumptions to be positive.

How does this work in practice?

It’s deceptively simple. If you’re at lunch and you assume the woman next to you is judging you for what you’re eating, assume, instead, that she wishes she had ordered it herself. On the subway, assume that guy who you thought was judging you for taking up too much space is actually thinking your cute, or at the very least, is staring at you because he’s thinking about something totally unrelated. In your meeting, assume your boss is thinking you’re doing a great job.

This may sound silly but it’s an incredibly powerful practice. If you think about it, most people spend the day thinking about themselves, not judging you, and most of the time you can’t really know what someone else is thinking. And even if they are judging you, who really cares? Who gave them the right to make you feel bad or ruin your day?

I love this practice of making good assumptions. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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"Health News" Is Neither Healthy Nor News + Real Health News That You Probably Missed This Week

Health News Checklist From Body Love Wellness Last week, “health news” outlets widely reported this study that found that fat people with metabolic abnormalities, when studied over a 10 year period, seem to show more cognitive decline than thin or fat people without those abnormalities.

I could go on and on about the fact that this is not a controlled study and doesn’t account for things that might be causing this decline other than fat, like fat stigma and pharmaceuticals etc.

But today, I want to talk about the way this study was reported, not the study itself.

Why “Health News” Is Usually Bad News

Let’s look at MSN Health, for example. The original article on MSN Health was so hate-filled and misleading that an editor must have finally revised it to make it slightly more accurate. I wish I could get access to that original posting, but at the very least this facebook preview from the Rolls Not Trolls group says it all.

This is how “health news” outlets like MSN Health reported the study:
being fat makes you dumber from facebook preview with circleEven though MSN eventually changed the text of the article, they kept both the inaccurate title and the image of the mostly headless fatty holding a donut. Kudos, MSN for not letting fact checking get in the way of your hit count!

The Other Study That Came Out This Week That “Health News” Outlets Didn’t Bother To Cover

So is it any wonder that this other study, which found that fat doesn’t kill and being fat may actually have a protective effect when it comes to diabetes, got swept under the rug by “health news” outlets this week?

Here’s a quote from this study that may blow your mind.

"After adjusting for diabetes and hypertension, severe obesity was no longer associated with mortality, and milder obesity was associated with decreased mortality. There was a significant interaction between diabetes (but not hypertension) and BMI, such that the mortality risk of diabetes was lower among mildly and severely obese persons than among those in lower BMI categories."

In other words, fat doesn’t kill you. If you don’t have diabetes or hypertension, and you’re fat, even really, really fat, your life expectancy is no different than a thin person. And if you have diabetes, being fat actually lengthens your life expectancy.

Hmm. So why would this study, which had a sample size of over eight times that other, widely reported study, get so little mention in the press?

Could it be because, as I wrote last week, the idea that fat is bad and weight loss works is the result of advertising, not science?

Perhaps it wasn’t reported because, if fatness isn’t dangerous or unhealthy or bad for you, then everyone from diet companies to diet pill manufacturers to weight loss surgery implant manufacturers to weight loss surgeons to Dr. Oz to women’s magazines to diet book gurus to anti-obesity researchers to the hacks at MSN Health would have to find some other way to make a living?!

This is hugely important health news that news outlets never bothered to cover. They didn’t cover it because if people actually knew about it, it would kill the weight loss business.

The diet industry alone makes over $60 billion a year here in the U.S. and much of that money is funneled back into the economy in the form of advertising. Perhaps some “news outlets” would go under without those monthly checks from Weight Watchers. I can’t be sure of that, but this much is clear: the news industry has an interest in keeping the weight loss industry thriving.

What You Can Do

1) Follow The Money — When you see a fat bashing article online or in print, take a look at the rest of the page, site or periodical. How many diet-related ads do you see? How many references or links to weight loss products do you notice? You may be shocked by what you find.

2) Ignore Or Comment — When you see “articles” that say that fat is bad and weight loss is the answer, feel free to ignore them. You know that they’re not the truth, and won’t contribute to your mental health. Alternatively, dig a little deeper and see if the cited study lines up with the article. The study itself may have bias too, so see if you notice that as well. And remember, very often, “health news” is neither healthy nor news. Feel free to comment and give ‘em heck for bad reporting.

3) Practice Health At Every Size(R) — When you look at studies that are not funded by the diet industry, again and again it becomes clear that fat is not a death sentence, it’s not a curse. Embracing the body that you have—nourishing it, loving it, moving it in ways that feel good—is truly the healthiest thing you can do. This is the essence of HAES(R). You have the right to live a big, beautiful life in the body you have right now.

Get great body love tips and more when you subscribe:

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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What Diets And Deodorants Have In Common <br/>(It’s Probably Not What You Think)

[caption id=”attachment_8027” align=”alignright” width=”300”]1930's/1940's anti-perspirant deodorant ad Men will gossip about your underarms!!! (Image courtesy of Smithsonianmag.com)[/caption]

Last week, I came across this gem of a post about the history of antiperspirant/deodorant.

You see, as recently as the early 1900’s, Americans weren’t too worried about sweaty or smelly underarms. In this time before air conditioning, when people often wore a lot more clothing than we do, even in the summer, sweaty and smelly underarms weren’t really a concern. In fact, the word “underarm” wasn’t really a word until advertisers needed a nicer sounding euphemism for armpit.

So why did things change? Why did so many Americans start buying antiperspirant/deodorant, so that it’s now an $18 billion a year industry?

It’s very simple. Advertisers made up a problem. They convinced women that their odoriferous underarms were the reason they weren’t getting dates. They convinced men that their smelly pits were unmanly and the reason why they weren’t climbing the corporate ladder.

And the big capper — they convinced people that using this stuff was healthy. They made antiperspirant/deodorant so normal that it became a regular part of the ritual of puberty.

Sound familiar?

The history of dieting is a fairly similar tale. It may have started earlier and had different players, but there are certain tropes in this story that bear a similar stink.

Those Who Do Not Know Dieting’s Past
Are Condemned To Repeatedly Diet

There was actually a time, even here in America, when fatness wasn’t considered a problem. Until the early 20th century, doctors were mostly concerned with their patients weight when they were noticeably losing weight. Sudden weight loss could indicate a dangerous wasting disease, like tuberculosis.

Two of the earliest dieting advocates, William Banting and Helen Densmore, also had to convince people that fatness was a really bad thing, bad enough that you should buy their pamphlets, follow their meal plans, and take their “morning cordial” (Banting) or weight loss tea (Densmore), both of which contained laxatives.

lucky strike weight loss adBoth of these diet marketers conflated fat with ugliness and with immorality. Their diets were proscriptive and plainly dangerous, with Densmore actually telling people to fast for as long as 30 days if her diet didn’t work.

The genius of obesity epidemic rhetoric is that it takes this normal thing —bodily diversity—and pathologizes it. Just like anti-perspirant marketers had to convince people that underarm sweat and smell is disgusting and will keep you from getting dates and jobs, diet marketers had to convince people that fat was disgusting and would keep you from getting dates and jobs. They keyed in to people’s deepest fears of social ostracism and inability to support themselves and made scads of money in the process.

Fast forward through about 100 years of diets, from Horace Fletcher’s chewing diet, to the tapeworm diet (I wish I was kidding) to the Master Cleanse (yes, that’s a diet, let’s get real here) to the Nicotine Diet to the Cabbage Diet, to the HCG diet (it’s from the 60’s and it’s still a bad idea, by the way) to all the “lifestyle plans” (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig etc.) and what do you have — a society convinced that fat is bad and that dieting is the answer. Not only do they “know” that fat is bad and dieting is good, they are convinced that the fact that dieting only worked in the short term is their fault. That really is brilliant marketing.

This Time, I’m Doing It For My Health!

Promoters of anti-perspirants also had to spend a lot of time and money convincing people that their product was healthy. Quite naturally, people were dubious of a product that blocked the natural cooling and excretion process of sweating.

Nowadays, very few people worry about this problem (except for folks like me who use stuff like this), just like very few people seem concerned about the negative effects of diets, diet products, and weight loss surgery.

In the early 1990’s, more researchers were getting hip to the reality that the vast majority of human beings were incapable of sustained weight loss, and that these attempts to lose weight were causing more problems than they were solving.

As you can imagine, the multi-billion dollar diet industry was not cool with this reality. So they made sure to fund their own weight loss “research” that would lead to the conclusions that they needed to keep marketing weight loss. And it worked. These conclusions get repeated so often that they are now believed to be “common sense” — fat is unhealthy and weight loss is healthy. Any attempts to lose weight, be they diet pills, fake fats, fake sugars, weight loss surgery, or good ole dieting are healthier than OMG just being fat.

If you think about it, the problem of “obesity” is a marketer’s dream. Despite the rhetoric, it doesn’t actually kill anybody, so the diet industry has a lifelong customer. There’s no cure for it, and the supposed cure (dieting or weight loss surgery) causes a variety of problems, including weight gain, which just keeps the customer hooked in. Plus, lots of folks who aren’t fat are convinced that they’re fat or going to become fat, so they buy the product as well. This is marketing heaven!

Don’t Believe The Hype +
Further Reading On The History Of Diets

I hope I’ve demonstrated here that our collective beliefs about fat and weight loss are utterly fabricated and meant only to sell products. It’s time to investigate these beliefs and give our bodies (including our underarms) a break!

If you find the history of dieting as horrific and fascinating as I do, check out these wonderful books!

And for a quick hit of facts about fat, check out this post.

Get great body love tips and more when you subscribe:

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

(Listen to this post here, or subscribe on itunes.)

Get The How To Heal From Emotional Eating Home Study Course For Only $47 (This Weekend Only!)

This offer is no longer available, but you can still get a great deal on this powerful program by clicking here.

how to heal from emotional eating home study $47 thru this weekendHey there!

As a beloved blog reader, I wanted to let you know about a really special deal that’s only available through Sunday!

If you’re struggling with emotional or compulsive eating or just want support with learning (and sticking to) intuitive eating skills, then you will love this course.  

In this go-at-your-own-pace program, you’ll get help with what to do when you find yourself eating unconsciously, how to connect with your hunger and fullness levels, how to let go of the guilt that keeps you stuck in emotional eating patterns, and so much more.

When you sign up, you’ll get access to a private page that has everything you need — mp3’s that you can listen to right there or download, worksheets, etc.  I’ve also added in some special bonuses that I know  you’ll love.

Truthfully, I think this course is a steal at the normal investment of $147. But I’m really committed to sharing these healing tools with more and more people. So through Sunday night (midnight, Eastern time), I’m offering this course, for only $47.

To get IMMEDIATE access to the course for only $47, click here: http://www.healfromemotionaleating.com/august.

Here is just a sampling of what you will get from this course!

  • Learn what to do when you find yourself eating unconsciously
  • Understand what cravings really mean and give your body the nutrition it needs
  • Learn how to connect with your body’s hunger and fullness levels
  • Master my unique process for healing from long held emotional eating patterns
  • Get Health At Every Size based counseling — scientifically proven to positively influence health indicators more than diet programs
  • Bonus calls to support you in making your new eating skills “stick”

And so much more!

To receive a special, limited-time rate for this course, you must register by midnight Eastern on Sunday. Go here to learn more: http://www.healfromemotionaleating.com/august. I won’t offer this course again at this low investment level.

With love,


P.S. Please don’t forget to share this special deal with friends! 

Why Portion Control Doesn’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

[caption id=”attachment_7933” align=”alignright” width=”336”]the endless binge restrict cycle infographic by body love wellness Healing from compulsive overeating / bingeing is impossible within this cycle.[/caption]

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you.

You go on a diet or meal plan and you do really well with it for a little while. You feel in control, healthier, just “better” overall.

And then something happens. You have a rough day at work. You have a fight with your partner. You wake up feeling too tired to work out or just hungrier than usual. And then … you binge or just generally eat past the point of comfort.  Maybe you eat something that isn’t on your plan, something forbidden. Maybe you go back to your plan or diet the next day, but these “cheat days” or binges seem to happen more and more frequently.

You beat up on yourself. You feel like you failed. You feel overwhelmed with emotions. Your body feels uncomfortable and bloated.

So what do you do? The only thing you know how to do. The thing that everyone tells you to do. You go back on a diet or plan (maybe the same one, maybe a new one) and hope that overwhelming feeling, that hurricane of desire to binge, won’t happen again.  You start to feel in control, healthier, just “better” overall. And then something happens …

Why Portion Control (& Restricting & Dieting) Don’t Work
There are many, many reasons why portion control, restricting, dieting  do not work if you have bingeing* or overeating patterns. (Diets don’t work for weight loss in the long run either, but that’s a whole other story.)

Portion control doesn’t help a binge. It only leads to a new one.

As I wrote in Stop Dieting Now, using portion control to deal with overeating is like putting a band-aid on a deep knife wound. Maybe it’ll stop a bit of the bleeding or seem to be taking care of the problem for a while, but eventually you’ll realize that the band-aid isn’t helping. Plus, you may find that just putting a band-aid on it causes more problems than it solves.

The main reason why portion control doesn’t work is that it only deals with the symptom of bingeing, not the root cause. If you’re eating past the point of comfort as a way to ignore your feelings, those feelings don’t go away. They just get driven deeper down, only to come up again when you’re not paying attention. If you’re eating past the point of comfort because you’re body is desperately hungry because you’ve been restricting food, restricting more will not solve the problem.

Restricting will only lead to your next binge, and the cycle will start again.

What To Do Instead
In order to really heal, it’s important to break out of the restrict/binge cycle. That can be hard to do on your own, so getting additional support is helpful. However, here are three tips to get you started.

1) Intentionally Stop Restricting — This is different than stopping restricting because you’re bingeing. This is an intentional move out of the cycle. Decide that you are going to start a practice of listening to your body more. This process can take a while and be more complicated than it first appears, but it’s important to set this intention for yourself.

2) Respect Your Emotional Reality — Sometimes it’s hard to really acknowledge the depth and breadth of your emotions. You may have been raised to not express certain “negative” emotions, like anger or fear.  But the more you deny your emotions the more difficult they are to deal with. So it’s helpful to practice connecting with and acknowledging your emotions. Sometimes it’s helpful to just take a breath and ask yourself “What am I feeling?”  Trust that it’s okay to feel your feelings and practice finding safe ways to express them. The more you acknowledge your emotional reality, the less you’ll need to use food to handle your emotions.

3) Let Go Of Doing This Perfectly — Trying to be perfect is often a big part of what keeps you stuck in the binge/restrict cycle. We try to be perfect with food, handle our emotions perfectly, deal with friends and loved ones perfectly and the end result is that we feel massively flawed for being imperfect. There is no perfect way to eat, no perfect way to deal with your emotions and no perfect way out of the binge/restrict cycle. What is perfect is your particular journey, no matter how imperfect it may seem.

An Offer Of Additional Support

This week only, I’m offering my Heal From Emotional Eating Home Study Program for only $47.

In this program you will learn to break away from the never ending binge/restrict cycle, eat in a way that is connected to your body’s needs, and discover new methods of dealing with your emotional needs. I normally charge $147 for this program, but I want to make this decision a “no brainer”. To learn more and get this special deal (no code required!), click here.

*I use bingeing and overeating pretty interchangeably in this post, mostly because what counts as overeating vs. bingeing is often open to interpretation, and different people describe their habits differently.

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

(Listen to this post here, or subscribe on itunes.)

Dangerous Beauty?

I often ask myself if I’m wrong to talk about beauty as much as I do.

I know that the question of beauty is a contentious one. If beauty is used to make women feel like they don’t measure up, then maybe the whole idea of beauty should be tossed out the window.

The argument isn’t a bad one. Many feminist writers, whom I respect very much, would say that beauty is a bad ideal. Beauty is used to keep women down and keep us competitive with one another. And for this and other reasons, we should no longer focus on beauty or wanting to be beautiful.

Is Wanting To Be Beautiful Bad For Your Self Esteem?

You may have seen this recent piece by Jessica Valenti in The Nation. In it, she contends that by promoting self-esteem in young women, we’re really telling them that they should do whatever it takes to feel good about themselves, including adhering to a beauty myth which will have them buying plastic surgery as soon as they can. She writes:

"Young women know exactly how ugly the culture believes them to be. So when we teach girls to simply “love themselves”, we’re implicitly telling them to accept the world as it is. We’re saying that being beautiful is something worth having when we should be telling them a culture that demands as much is toxic."

I agree with Jessica Valenti’s assertion that raising women and girls’ self esteem and belief in their own beauty without a contextual discussion of our messed up society is a bad idea, but I also don’t see this discussion being left out by anyone actually doing this work.

There’s a difference between the coaches, counselors and organizations that actually work to promote self-esteem and the corporate interests who have conflated self esteem and beauty as a way to sell products. Gussying up the beauty myth under the guise of promoting self-esteem is just the latest marketing trick. It’s like when the diet companies realized in the early 1990’s that they would sell more diets by marketing their plans as healthy. Diets didn’t become any more healthy, but they became more popular again, and weight and health continued to be muddled.

In other words, promoting self esteem isn’t dangerous, we just can’t get our ideas about self esteem from the same place that we buy our body lotion. (I’m looking at you, Dove.)

Blowing Up The Beauty Myth

So is beauty an old, tattered concept that we should collectively throw away? Is it time to throw the beautiful baby out with the patriarchal bathwater, so to speak?

Personally, I don’t think we should. I just think we need to rethink our conception of beauty.

To me, beauty isn’t something that we should strive to attain. Beauty isn’t some scarce thing that only a select few get to have. Beauty is big and bold. Beauty is quiet and delicate. Beauty is everywhere.

Somewhere along the line the definition of beauty became about looking like society’s ideal of beauty. Beauty became about perfection. Maybe we should blame the ancient Greeks (I’m looking at you, Plato) or ladymags (I’m simultaneously looking at you, Cosmo).

But perfection is only one kind of beauty, and it’s probably the least interesting.

Even if we’re just talking about physical beauty, who among us hasn’t found beauty in crinkly eye wrinkles, crooked smiles, messy hair, dimply fat, etc? Why do you assume that your ability to see unique beauty in others won’t apply when others see you?

Beauty shouldn’t be about changing yourself to achieve an ideal or be more socially acceptable. Real beauty, the interesting, truly pleasing kind, is about honoring the beauty within you and without you. It’s about knowing that someone else’s definition of pretty has no hold over you. When you know that, your self esteem does improve, no surgery or botox or cosmetics required.

For tips on feeling beautiful and improving self esteem, check out my Body Love 101 resource page.

Want to feel more abundantly beautiful? Get great body love tips and more when you subscribe:

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

(Listen to this post here, or subscribe on itunes.)

Is Your Weight Holding You Back (Or Is It Something Else)?

[caption id=”attachment_7749” align=”alignright” width=”240”]Italy's Olympic Archery Team I would love to share some victory canoli with these dudes. (The Italian Archery Team. Image courtesy of Reuters.)[/caption]

Saturday morning, I found myself watching the U.S. men’s archery team play the Italian team.

I’m not all that interested in archery (or the Olympics, if I’m really honest) but once I started watching, I noticed something kind of interesting.

The U.S. archery team had stereotypically athletic bodies. They were slim and muscular. If you saw a picture of any of them you might think they were tennis players or volleyball players or baseball players.

The Italian team, on the other hand, were more of a mixed bag. A few of them looked, well, kind of adorably fat. And so I ended up watching pretty much the whole thing, rooting for the Italian team and getting very excited when they (spoiler alert) won the gold.

It makes me really happy to see fat Olympians. These folks are at the top of their game, and when you see them compete, no one would think that weight loss would make them better athletes. As you may know, this year the U.S. team has fat (and incredibly strong and talented) weightlifters Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold, and in past years we had Cheryl Haworth, who is the subject of a documentary called Strong! that you can catch on PBS and elsewhere.

What Fat Olympians Have Got To Do (Got To Do) With It
The reason I bring up these fabulous, fat Olympians is not because I think that you should start training for 2016 right now (unless you want to). I’m bringing them up because, if you’re fat like me, you probably have made a lot of assumptions about the ways in which your weight is holding you back in life. (For example, before you heard about these fat Olympians, you probably thought your fat would basically keep you out of high-level athletics, right?)

So I want you to take a moment to think about some areas of your life where you feel like your weight is holding you back. Maybe you have health concerns that have been blamed on weight. Maybe you think you’d have an easier time dating if you lost weight. Just take a moment to think about these things that seem to be affected negatively by your weight.

The Two Assumption-Busting Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
Now that you have those problems in mind that seem to be affected by your weight, ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: “Do thin people ever encounter this problem?”


Question 2: “If my weight weren’t an issue, how would I handle it?” (Another way to ask it is, “If I were thin, how would I handle it?”)

Why am I asking you to ask yourself these questions? Because very few problems in the world are fat-people-only problems. Thin people have joint issues, dating woes, poor self esteem, diabetes (types I and II), difficult relationships with their family, trouble finding clothes that look good on them, etc.

For the record, I’m in no way trying to invalidate your pain or the difficulties of your experience. I’m only asking you to ask yourself these questions to show you that (a) losing weight is not a magic bullet and (b) when you stop blaming your weight for problems, you can actually begin to find solutions.

How This Works In Real Life
Here’s a very recent example from my own life. Ever since I got the cast off my wrist after I fractured it, I noticed that my back was feeling really tight and out of whack. I would particularly notice it in my lower back whenever I walked more than a few blocks.

[caption id=”attachment_7764” align=”alignright” width=”260”]sarah robles and holley mangold U.S. Olympic Weightlifters Sarah Robles & Holley Mangold (from Sarah’s facebook page)[/caption]

Now, I could very easily blame my weight for this problem, right? If I were thinner, the argument goes, then there would be less pressure on my lower back and so I would have no pain. So, following that logic, I would have to try to lose weight and hope that I could both achieve weight loss and that it would have the desired effect of lessening my back pain.

That already sounds like a terrible idea.

Instead, I realized that I hadn’t been to the chiropractor in a really long time. I checked in with my body and felt intuitively that it would help. And I’ve found that after a mere two sessions with the chiropractor, my back feels about 85% better.

You see, if I had just kept blaming my weight, I would have never had the near immediate relief that I experienced. I would have been stuck blaming myself and my size, and waiting for the unpredictable and nearly always temporary hope that weight loss would fix the problem.

So, I hope you’ll try this technique. And, of course, let me know how it goes in the comments section below!

Get my body love tips, and start to see your body in a whole new way!

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. If you’re in or near NYC this August, don’t miss her LIVE workshop: Rounded Letters: A Body Image Workshop For Women Who Love To Write. Check it out here.

(Listen to this post here, or subscribe on itunes.)

Real Women Have Curves, And Don’t Have Curves, And Have A Few Curves, And Whatever

by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C.

Listen to the podcast of this post here:

Lot’s of very well meaning people, when they find out what I do for a living, say something to the effect of:

"Right on!  Real women have curves!"

[caption id=”attachment_4951” align=”alignright” width=”178” caption=”Real Women Have Curves. Maybe. (Image from wikipedia)”]Real women have curves movie poster[/caption]

I know they mean well.  They’re saying that women’s bodies are more curvaceous than the emaciated bodies that are often held as an ideal by the media.  But the whole concept drives me bonkers.  And if it hasn’t driven you bonkers yet, let me explain why it drives me bonkers and you may end up agreeing with me.

1) Women Are Women, Curvy Or Not — Women’s bodies (just like men’s bodies) come in a diverse range of shapes.  There are plenty of curvy thin women and curvy fat women, not curvy thin women and not curvy fat women.  There are plenty of fat women with proportionately small hips and proportionately big hips.  There are plenty of thin women with the same.  Same for breasts.  Same for everything.  There are also some men with bigger hips and smaller hips and bigger breasts and smaller breasts.  In other words, there are plenty of “real women” who are not f-ing curvy and are still quite real, and sometimes even, quite fat.

2) What The Heck Is A Real Woman, And Why Should We Care? — Personally, I think that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman.  I don’t really care if she has curves or a vulva or whatever.  I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t care to much about it either.  But aside from that, does it help anything to refer to larger women as “real”?  Does that make thin women fake?  Or not really women?  Ugh.  See item #4.

[caption id=”attachment_4953” align=”alignleft” width=”191” caption=”Which of these women is more real? (Image from Marie Clarie UK Online)”]Beth Ditto & Kate Moss hugging[/caption]

3) Can We Just Say FAT For Once? — I personally hate the curvy euphemism.  I hate it more than most others, like large or even plus size (though I agree with Queen Latifah that plus size should be “buried”).  Curviness has way more to do with chest/waist/hip ratio than anything else, and I think our fixation on those measurements has added to the negative way that most women view their bodies for decades.

4) Relegating Thin Women To A Lesser Status Isn’t Helpful — I realize that bigger women have been put down, discriminated against, considered non-ideal, and worse, and that is really, really wrong and needs to change.  But I don’t think the way to create that change is to try to prove that bigger is better.  How about we just start to see that bigger is great too. We don’t have to relegate ourselves to a scarcity model of beauty and “realness” belong to only a select few.  Perhaps one doesn’t have to be better than the other.  Perhaps we can see that there’s a thing called body diversity, that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and that attraction is viable among people of varying weights.

So, yes, real women have curves, and don’t have curves, and whatever, at least that’s what I think.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

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Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body.

You Didn’t Sign Up for This

by Golda Poretsky, HHC

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It’s been more than 8 months since I first published this series of posts on my interview with Biggest Loser finalist, Kai Hibbard.  And yet, those posts are still swirling around the Internet, and account for about a third of the comments I still receive.

As you can imagine, not all of those comments get posted, even though I do approve a lot of comments that I don’t agree with.  One of the most common comments I get is that Kai and the other contestants volunteered for the show, signed an agreement, and could leave at any time if they weren’t happy.  For example, here’s one I received last week:

"Whilst I accept that some of the treatment of the ‘stars’ does sound unsympathetic at best and very harsh at worst, as many people have already pointed out – it is voluntary. I’m sure if Kai wanted to leave at any time she could – she was not being held prisoner."

As to the contention that Kai wasn’t being held prisoner, I don’t really know.  I can’t imagine that if she had gone to the producers and said “I don’t care what you say, I want off the show, I want a ride to the airport, I’m out,” whether they really would have let her go or used the same brainwashing tricks that she alleges were used on her from the first day.

But here’s the thing, would anyone sign up for The Biggest Loser if they knew the truth?  And more broadly, would anyone sign up for Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, other diets, bariatric surgery, etc. if they knew the truth of the serious complications, weight fluctuations, and head trips that they were really in for?

I would contend that they would not.

Shows like The Biggest Loser and their ilk, the American Medical Association, the pharmaceutical industry, the diet industry, the bariatric industry, the plastic surgery industry and others spend billions of dollars a year convincing you that being fat is deadly, causes disease, makes you unattractive, unacceptable, unworthy.  They make you think that until you change your body and lose weight, you are less of a person.  They make you believe that you should be spending your precious life hating your body and struggling with food.  This sort of brainwashing is big business.

But since so many commenters have focused on the fact that deciding to be on The Biggest Loser (or diet, or get surgery etc.) is a voluntary agreement, let’s talk about the law of contracts.

It is settled law that there are certain instances where a contract, even if signed, is not valid.  These factors void an otherwise solid-looking contract.  These affirmative defenses include fraud, undue influence, and duress.

I believe that the diet/pharmaceutical/bariatric/plastic surgery industry has had an undue influence on people as a whole, and I believe they are committing fraud every day.  Diet ads should come with huge warnings about the fact that if you go on their diet, you’re going to gain the weight back, and likely more, unless you’re a statistical anomaly.  Bariatric surgeons should tell you that you’re going to have serious issues assimilating food, that complications are extremely common, and that you’re probably going to gain a lot of the weight back.  The pharmaceutical industry should let you know that their diet drugs don’t work and cause more side effects than anything.

If this reality were laid out on the table, in essence, if you were treated like an adult and given the truth, would you ever sign up for a diet, or diet pills, or the freaking Biggest Loser?

I know that I wouldn’t have.  And I truly hope that this blog will keep others from making this same mistake.


Want to learn more about intuitive eating and the science of Health At Every Size?  Then join me for the Body Love Revolutionaries Telesummit!  Click here to learn more and register for FREE.

Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/stay-in-touch/ to sign up for her newsletter and get your free download — Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!

© Golda Poretsky 2011

The Truth About Willpower

This morning, when I was cleaning out my office, I came across this postcard:

It is now on the wall of my office, where it should have been all along!  It is one of the best pieces of mail I have ever received, sent to me by one of my very pleased and (very wonderful) clients.

It’s so appropriate that this postcard has resurfaced in my life at this time of year, when the media is awash in “health information” that so many of us internalize into really negative, judgmental, painful resolutions.  This time of year, when new seasons of shows like The Biggest Loser, so calculated to feed on our collective guilt and shame, make heroes of obnoxious, diet pill hawking trainers.  This time of year, when we’re told that our merriment of a few weeks ago is over and it’s time to “stick to a plan”, “get back to the gym”, “get our bodies ready” for the swimsuits that are waiting for us in our closets, taunting us until their use can throw us into more guilt and shame.

In other words, “Repent ye sinners!  For ye have been cast from Eden for the sin of drinking the egg nog of the Tree of Knowledge!  Now drop and give me 20 squat thrusts and hand over that cupcake!”

And when ye of little faith replieth (because repliething is how you do things) that you know not how to do as the wrathful god of dieting bids, you will hear this answer:

"Useth your willpower!"

I’m sure there’s a plaque somewhere, maybe at Weight Watchers headquarters, honoring the advertising genius that came up with willpower.  It’s one of the most disempowering words in the English language.  So full of false hope and shame, it’s an advertising dream. When I hear it, it’s mostly from women who feel like failures for not having enough of it.  “I just have no willpower,” they always tell me, defeated.

So now, I’m going to lay some truth on you about willpower: Willpower is a myth, and you don’t want it anyway.

Let’s say you’re on a diet.  (I have lots of reasons not to diet, but let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that you are.)  According to the diet, you can have only 1200 calories a day, let’s say.  Let’s say you had breakfast and went out with your coworkers for lunch.  Let’s say it’s almost dinner time, and you think you have about 500 calories left to work with, but your coworker calls you, in horror, to reveal that she looked up the calorie content of the sandwich you both had for lunch and she was shocked to find out that it was about 500 calories more than you had both estimated.  You hang up the phone.  Your stomach growls.  You are really hungry.  You think about all the machinations possible — waiting until midnight, your new calorie day, to eat, but you were told that eating late at night is bad.  You could make something low calorie, like shrimp with some greens, but then you’d be over the limit anyway.  Or you could try to distract yourself, read a magazine featuring emaciated models, watch some t.v.

If you have “willpower,” you go to bed hungry.  Right?  You do it because you are “committed” to your “plan.” You are so committed, so “good”, that you’ve learned to ignore your body’s hunger signals in order to stick to your diet.  You have sublimated your will, your body’s will, for the will of the diet.   You have learned to ignore your own body’s basic signals in favor of a diet that, supposedly, knows what’s best for you.

Congratulations, say the diet companies!  You are on your way to a healthy life!

In other words, if you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve got willpower.  You’ve got loads of it.  You’ve learned to ignore your feelings of hunger and fullness, you’ve learned to ignore your cravings, your needs, your desires.  You’ve learned how to do as  your told, because someone, who was lying or didn’t know any better, told you it was good for you.

Now, the trick is, to unlearn all of it and start fresh.  Start small.  Start to listen to yourself again and trust that you know best. That is the essence of intuitive eating.

You can do it.  I don’t believe in willpower, but I believe in you.

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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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