Health at Every Size: An Overview
Happy Valentine's Day!!
I hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with lots of love and sweet treats. Since today is the national day of love, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a big way that you can learn to love and respect your body. I reference Health at Every Size (HAES) a lot, without really digging into what it's all about. So today I'm sharing a little overview of some of the basics!
Health at Every Size
In short-health at every size is an approach that evaluates a person's health, based on behaviors and lifestyle factors rather than weight. That's not to say everyone at any weight is automatically healthy. We are simply taking the focus off of weight to assess people from a truly holistic perspective.
We know that for the vast majority of people, long term sustained weight loss is not possible. Yet, we're all still encouraged to diet and lose weight, at any cost. A fundamental aspect of HAES is that we all stop the pursuit of weight loss. Some may hear that and wonder: "if we're not trying to lose weight, how do we prevent chronic diseases?" Well, the research shows us that changing health behaviors (like movement, sleep, and stress management) can improve physiological outcomes (like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc) even without weight loss. So its's possible to improve our risk factors for disease, without sacrificing our health in the process.
The basic components of Health at Every Size are respect, critical awareness and compassionate self care. Each is an encouragement to reject our culture's widely held assumptions about weight and forge a new path.
Celebrate the differences in our bodies; all shapes and sizes. Acknowledge your own weight bias and discrimination and begin working through that. Know that all bodies are good bodies and we are not able to tell how healthy or unhealthy someone is simply by looking at them. A smaller body size does not equate to better health.
To fully embrace HAES, we need to challenge many common cultural beliefs. This includes scientific assumptions about the role that weight plays in health. The research only shows a correlation, not a causation of weight's role in chronic issues. We should seek to support health policies that provide fair accurate information, as well as necessary services for all people regardless of physical, economic or social status.
We can cultivate better self-care in several ways. We can find the joy in moving our bodies, eating intuitively, appropriately managing stress and improving sleep habits. When we begin taking care of our body in these ways, it will have the opportunity to settle into it's natural set point range. Your personal set point weight may be above or below where it currently is but once our body reaches that cozy range, we won't have to fight to stay there. This is a good thing. We can learn to truly take care of ourselves, and support our health, rather than striving for a smaller body.
If you're interested in learning more about Health at Every Size, click on the image on the right side of my page to sign up for the newsletter and get my free Guide to Discovering Real Health. This guide will help you to understand where you stand in your relationship to food and your body, and how you can begin to shift your perspective of health.
You can also schedule a free discovery call with me if you'd like to work one on one to really dive into these topics!