I want to delve into something that has become more and more important to me. It has actually changed my whole perspective and the entire way I train women. I'm currently transitioning my business to reflect this. I credit a client (turned friend) for this. She really opened my eyes and my mind...which isn't easy to do in the fitness industry and in a society that is so ingrained in diet culture.
In today's society, there is an increasing emphasis on body size and unrealistic beauty standards. As I just mentioned, the idea that one must conform to a specific body shape or size to be healthy or happy is deeply ingrained, and from a young age. However, the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement offers a very refreshing perspective, encouraging individuals to prioritize well-being rather than focusing solely on weight or appearance. Embracing HAES promotes a positive body image, self-acceptance, and health. You can absolutely foster a healthy lifestyle and well-being, regardless of your size. Let me clarify, this does not mean EVERY body is healthy. It means you CAN be healthy at ANY size. Let's look into what it means to be Healthy At Every Size.
Shifting the Focus:
The first step towards being healthy at every size is to shift the focus from weight to overall well-being. Instead of obsessing over an arbitrary number on the scale, concentrate on nurturing your body and mind. Cultivate positive habits such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods.
Embracing body positivity is a key aspect of being healthy at every size. Recognize and appreciate the unique beauty and strengths of your body. Replace negative self-talk (you know you do it) with self-compassion and even affirmations. Surround yourself with a supportive community that values diversity and inclusivity, promoting a positive body image for all.
Practicing mindful eating can help develop a healthier relationship with food. Listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues and eat intuitively. Focus on savoring and enjoying the eating experience rather than restrictive dieting. Honor your body's nutritional needs while respecting its natural size and shape. This means stop punishing your body for something you ate. Instead, enjoy what you eat without the guilt.
Exercise for Joy and Vitality:
Engaging in physical activity promotes overall well-being, regardless of size. Find activities that you genuinely enjoy and that bring you joy. Exercise should be about feeling energized and connected with your body, rather than a means to achieve a specific body size or weight. Do it because it feels good, because it gives you more energy, more strength, more endurance. Don't let the motivation be aesthetics.
Adopting a health-centered approach means focusing on improving overall and ACTUAL health indicators rather than pursuing an arbitrary number on a scale. Regular check-ups, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol level management, and other health markers can help you assess your well-being accurately. It’s these numbers that determine your actual health, not your size...and NOT the number on the scale.
Mental and Emotional Well-Being:
Being healthy at every size encompasses mental and emotional well-being. Prioritize self-care, stress reduction techniques, and seek support from mental health professionals or support groups when needed. Remember, true health involves nourishing both your mind and your body.
Advocacy and Social Change:
Promoting health at every size requires challenging societal norms and advocating for inclusivity and equal treatment for people of all sizes. Encourage policies that promote body diversity, fight weight discrimination, and prioritize mental and physical well-being over appearance-based judgments. I know these things may sound strange coming from someone who makes a living as a fitness trainer. I've learned though, reaching a goal weight doesn't equal happiness. However, feeling good and feeling confident in the skin you're in, does.
Embracing health at every size is a transformative journey that emphasizes self-acceptance, holistic well-being, and body positivity. By shifting the focus from weight to overall health and happiness, we can foster a more inclusive and compassionate society. Let us celebrate the diversity of bodies, challenge harmful stereotypes, and strive for a world where everyone feels empowered to prioritize their well-being, regardless of their size.