For this installment of Body Trust™ Insights, we welcome the wonderful Judith Matz, psychotherapist and author of the body-positive children’s book, Amanda’s Big Dream. There is so much wisdom and kindness in Judith’s approach. Get to know her below!
Judith Matz, LCSW is a Psychotherapist, Author and Speaker. Her newest book, Amanda’s Big Dream, is an inspiring story that teaches kids to follow their dreams at any size and helps adults (parents, teachers, health professionals, coaches) learn more about how to support kids around body size. Information, resources, and a free conversation guide are available at www.amandasbigdream.com.
Judith has worked in the field of eating and weight issues for over 25 years, and has co-authored two books on these topics: The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self Care (2006) and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating and Emotional Overeating (2014). Descriptions of her work have appeared in the media including the LA Times, Fitness, Good Housekeeping, Self, Shape, Today’s Dietitian, Diabetes Self-Management, Psychotherapy Networker, and NBC News Chicago with Nesita Kwan, Huffington Post Live, and she appears in the documentary America The Beautiful 2. Judith has a private practice in Skokie, IL. Learn more at www.judithmatz.com and sign up for the free quarterly Diet Survivors Group Newsletter at www.dietsurvivors.com.
Radical self-acceptance means nourishing yourself in all ways – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and believing that you matter, right now.”
- What led you to Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating?
I was raised as an attuned/intuitive eater. I got derailed in high school when most of the girls I knew were dieting, and I wanted to “join the club.” After years of struggling with the deprivation of dieting – and the bingeing that resulted – I spent a summer in Boston where I had no scale or mirror, and worked as a waitress at a restaurant where food was always available. While my plan was to quit dieting for the summer and go back to it when I returned to my “real life” in Chicago, I realized by the end of that summer that dieting was the cause of my overeating. I made myself a promise to never diet again and returned to using my hunger signals to guide me in deciding when, what and how much to eat.
After I returned to Chicago it took me awhile professionally to realize that there was a name for the way I was eating, and that it was the way out of compulsive binge/eating for my clients. I worked with a liquid fast program in the 1980’s (I’m embarrassed to say now!) where people lost tremendous amounts of weight and, of course, gained it back. Those who were successful by society’s standards were obsessively preoccupied with food and weight. I came across the book Overcoming Overeating by Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter, which explained my clients’ experiences and matched my personal experience – I’ve never looked back!
I don’t think you can listen compassionately to people’s experiences with weight and shame, and not see the need for – and the importance of – the Health At Every Size model. The development of the HAES framework gave a name and validity to the size acceptance work I was already teaching my clients. It also gave me a community of like-minded people to share both our challenges and victories.
- What has surprised you the most as you have learned to accept yourself?
As I’m getting older, my body is changing. I still find that I sometimes have to remind myself that these changes aren’t bad – they’re natural. I think that if I didn’t do this work, I could have easily gotten caught in negative body talk, and all that goes along with believing your body is the wrong shape or size.
- What are three aspects you feel are the most important to remember when moving toward radical self-acceptance?
1. You deserve to take care of yourself. It’s never selfish.
2. Let go of shame. Tell someone that’s safe for you about your shame so that it’s no longer a secret.
3. Practice attunement – not only in your eating, but also in your needs for movement, rest, touch, connection, etc.
- What is your favorite part of your body? How do you celebrate it?
That’s a hard question for me because I realize I experience my body in its wholeness, not as parts. But I’d have to say my chest. I have a scar there from the port that was put in when I had breast cancer 10 years ago, and it’s a reminder of how precious life is and how my body heals. I also love necklaces, and it’s where they sit. And, I find that when people tell me stories that move me, my hand naturally goes over my heart, so I guess that part of my body carries a lot for me.
- What is your favorite food and how do you like to enjoy it?
It depends what I’m hungry for! There’s a good chance it’s an ethnic dish that’s spicy, and chocolate will find its place in my day, too. Eating at a restaurant, outside on a warm day (maybe a view of the ocean!) and with someone I feel connected to makes the experience feels especially wonderful.
- What inspires and renews your dedication to your process when you need it the most?
Sometimes it’s moving toward the work through a conference where I’m inspired and fed by the energy of so many wonderful people who are working to end body hatred, and the connections there nourish me. Other times, it’s getting away from the work – maybe a Zumba class or long walk. I also meditate twice a day. Some of my best ideas, including the structure and content of my books, have come to me while I’m meditating.
- Radical self-acceptance means…
Nourishing yourself in all ways – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and believing that you matter, right now.
- What books, music or websites inspire you right now?
I’m a big Indigo Girls fan. I like to put on their Pandora radio station while I work – the music calms me and puts me in a state that’s perfect for writing (have it on right now!)
I’m especially inspired by the work of Brené Brown, Dan Siegel, Rick Hanson and Kristen Neff – their books teach compassion, all from different angles that complement each other and support the work of attuned eating.
I also love reading fiction – I recently finished All The Light We Cannot See and was in awe of the beautiful writing.
- Favorite quote or poem?
“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
-Victor E. Frankl
As for a poem, the first time I heard of David Whyte was at a conference where he was reading his own poem, Self Portrait – an exquisite moment!