Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist in private practice with a specialty in the areas of eating disorders and family issues. She has been successfully treating individuals with eating disorders and obesity for the past 15 years. Aside from coaching, Dr.Norton is also a published author of several books including ‘LET’S EAT!: Maji Teaches Mongo What It Means to Eat Clean!’.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I was born in Michigan but lived most of my life in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had a wonderful childhood in general. Grew up on 7 acres with a stable and vegetable garden that my mother and I “worked.” My father and I built the stable for our 4 horses. I had the job of painting the fence which stretched across 3 acres and took an entire summer to paint. We lived next to a very wealthy community (Indian Hills) and rode our horses on the Indian Hill Trails where we were an outpost for the wealthy IH rider’s club. Amazing!
I had a hardworking dad, engineer (which is a diagnosis in my profession, meaning analytical, emotionless, and often anal-retentive), and an amazing mother, who died at the age of 42 when I was 22. Her love as well as her death defined me for much of my life. The unconditional love and her ability to empower me were the foundation for everything good and important in my life today. But her death also left a mark as I did not grieve her death well (delayed onset grief reaction) and never quite recovered from it.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish that I had understood the damage of judging, of both being judged and judging others. My father was an outspoken judger and didn’t hold back with me, his eldest. My mother was the opposite, seeing the best in us and encouraging us to see ourselves in positive ways. I consciously emulated her. But I believe the judging was also part of my worldview. Unfortunately, it leads to a rise in Cortisol levels, which is the flight or fight response. Flight or fight is hard-wired into us. We needed it when we were cave dwellers. But we do not have Wooley mammoths chasing us around today and we no longer need it.
Unfortunately, because it is still hard-wired into us, we use it when we judge something to be “bad” or a threat. A non-judging stance (which is what I teach my patients in DBT training) keeps cortisol levels down and increases the likelihood of good problem-solving. And if you can let go of the judging, and just accept and like people more, they usually respond positively. A win all the way around.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I specialize in the treatment of eating disorders and obesity. The worst advice I hear repeatedly is that we should all eat whatever we want, just in moderation. In other words, organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association still espouse an “all things in moderation” philosophy despite the fact that the US is the most obese country in the world, with the most obese children, as well as nearly dead last for health and wellness compared to other developed nations. We also have one of the lowest infant survival rates in the developed world. Why? Because our foods, unlike those in the EU countries or in other parts of the world, where citizens are protected by their governments, are loaded with GMOs and glyphosate, both of which are literally killing us and are definitely fattening us. The solution is to eat “clean” food or organic, minimally processed, grass-fed, wild-caught foods that have not been doused in insecticides like glyphosate.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
This has probably been one of the darkest periods of my life and that is saying something as I am a risk-taker and have had some colossal failures as well as successes. But between COVID19 and a knee replacement, the changes have rocked my life. I did all of my writing at a coffee shop for 30 years. Not anymore. I danced salsa. Not anymore. I had my grandchildren here on a regular basis, not right now.
That said, I started blogging when this all started and it is far and away from the best thing I have done for the practice in 30 years because I am reaching/helping many more people. I was very fortunate to have found the talented dedicated staff to back me up and help with this transition. And then there is my dog Moli, who was so depressed when I left every morning to go write and came back in time to see patients which meant she had to be on lockdown in her room until I was done for the day. She is a new being. I didn’t know how bad it was for her until I saw how sweet and obedient she was when I was home with her all day.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
My insatiable need to learn about health and reversing the aging process, combined with my need to share what I learn with others.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up later now since COVID (not rushing to get to the coffee shop by 7:00 a.m.) So instead of being out of bed by 4:30 or 5:00, I am up by 5:30 or 6:00. I stand in front of a near-infrared sauna to warm up and kill bad gut bacteria, then use a water-pik and then an electric toothbrush with organic mouth wash and toothpaste. Then jump in the shower where I use organic soap and body scrubs as well as an organic face wash. After I dry off, I stand in front of a Sperti vitamin D lamp when there is no vitamin D in the US from sunlight, for 4 minutes to get vitamin D3. (Vitamin D3 goes away in the US from November to February. It is back now in Cincinnati which means that I crawl out onto my roof where I have placed an outdoor recliner so that I can soak up some Vitamin D for 15 to 30 minutes.)
I eat the same thing for breakfast. One hard-boiled egg that I put in a cup of boiling hot water to warm it up, one organic 100% grass-fed beef stick that I also run under hot water in a glass until it is hot/warm, and 6 to 8 prunes. I also alternate coffee one morning with tea the next that both have almond milk, coconut oil, Greenleaf stevia, cinnamon, and nutmeg frothed into them. I sit at the bar in my kitchen reading my book by Gabaldon, while Moli stares at me hoping for the last bite of my beef stick.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Getting regular exercise, which is now walking, what with the gym no longer seeming like a safe option and also being post knee replacement. I was a gym rat but no more. Learning that I can get good results at home has changed my perspective on working out.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I am classically ADHD so I use notes and reminders on my phone and lists. But if I am being honest, I have two personal assistants who keep me on track.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I have been using EFT, Emotional Freedom Tapping, to reduce anxiety for many years. It works. But I also recommend and take the supplement Ashwagandha as it is amazing at reducing anxiety and helping me to sleep well.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I read Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer when I was a kid and it changed me for life. Made me think about personal and religious freedom and the cruelty and destruction that man commits against “others.” I was a naïve child believing that people were all fundamentally good until I read the books about the Hitler regime. Later I became an expert in diversity training, co-authoring a book on same (The Change Equation; Capitalizing on Diversity for Effective Organizational Change) and have supported the causes that support human, minority, and women’s rights.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I am a big “sayings” person so it hard for me to pick, but here are my two favorites for right now:
The past is history
The future, a mystery
Today is the present, which is why we call it a gift.
I also really like this one:
Some days are better, some days are worse.
Look for the blessing instead of the curse.
Be positive, stay strong, and get enough rest.
You can’t do it all, but you can do your best….