Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt dissatisfied with your size or wished you could change the numbers on a scale? You’re not alone. Recent research has shown that 89 percent of American women are unhappy with their weight and 84 percent of those women surveyed said they would like to lose weight. But tipping the scales isn’t just a concern for women. Body image has become a huge preoccupation for men as well but in the opposite direction. Almost a quarter of men say that they want to gain weight and become more muscular. So where’s the happy medium and why are people so obsessed with how much they weigh instead of how they feel?
Health at Every Size is the movement that’s looking to change our societal perspective by helping people love their bodies and set healthy standards that have nothing to do with weight.
In recent decades, many people have felt left out of the fitness and wellness culture solely based on the number they see on the scale, but new research is showing a positive connection between self-acceptance and health and a negative connection between fad dieting and overall wellness. The Health at Every Size (HAES) movement was first introduced in a book by Linda Bacon Ph.D. that aimed to destigmatize weight and focus on body positivity. Since then, the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) has trademarked the term and developed the 5 core principles. These principles include:
This principle is aimed at accepting and respecting the ways in which our bodies are naturally different instead of fixating on what weight we think we “should” be.
A key component of the movement is making fitness and health accessible for everyone, which also means supporting health policies that improve well-being for more people in more areas.
Weight discrimination, weight bias, and weight stigma are all common parts of modern society, but people rarely take into account the ways that socio-economic status, race, gender, age, and other factors might influence our weight.
Eating for Wellbeing
Instead of restricting access to foods or dieting, this principle promotes flexible, individualized eating that’s based on hunger, nutritional needs, and the enjoyment of different flavors.
An essential element of a healthy lifestyle is physical activity, but not everyone can do the same things. This principle invites people of all sizes and abilities to find a form of movement they love.
There’s No ‘Right’ Path to Wellness
Have you ever heard the phrase “you do you” before? That’s basically the entire premise of HAES and our philosophy at ViGOR FiTNESS. Not everyone is able to go about achieving wellness in the same way. In fact, one person’s version of a healthy lifestyle might be totally unrealistic and even unhealthy for another person. More and more trainers, nutritionists, and athletes are beginning to agree that fat is not evil and your weight on a scale does not determine your level of health and it definitely doesn’t determine your self-worth. In short, healthy does not always equal thin. As Dr. Bacon puts it, “saying everybody needs to be the same weight is like saying all people should be the same height.” That’s why you need to pursue well being on your terms in a way that works for you.
A key element to becoming healthy that tends to slip some people’s minds is accessibility. Not everyone is able to have the same resources, whether it’s money for a gym membership because rent comes first or regular time to exercise because you’re a single parent with a lot on your plate. Mobile fitness apps like the one being developed by ViGOR FiTNESS are a great way to break down fitness barriers because they allow people to train at their own pace, in their own time, with professional guidance. You can absolutely take inspiration from your favorite celebs or chat with your friends about their fitness routines, but at the end of the day, only you can set realistic goals for yourself.
From Keto to fasting and juice cleanses to raw food only, diet culture seems to spawn a new fad every single day! They’re hard to keep up with, hard to follow, and most importantly, they’re hard on your body. While there’s nothing wrong with mixing up your nutrition and swapping out junk food for healthier options, a complete overhaul of your food intake could actually lead to more problems than solutions.
Many people seek out fad diets because they promise a quick fix and an easy way to drop a few pounds (just eat nothing but baby food!) but the reality is that most of the “miraculous” weight loss is actually just rapid dehydration, meaning your body is losing water weight. Couple that with malnutrition and you’ve got a health problem on your hands, which is probably the complete opposite of the goal you set out to achieve with the diet.
The HAES movement encourages people to shift their old thinking patterns around food and fitness. Instead, pay attention to what your body needs for fuel. Recognize which foods make you feel full and energized. And forget about “deserving” or “being allowed” to eat something after a workout because fitness is not for the sole purpose of burning off what you eat.
Move in a Way That Feels Good to You
When you think of fitness, do you think of running, lifting weights, and doing crunches? At ViGOR FiTNESS, we know that those might be popular exercises for some people, but for others, the definition might be a little bit different. If you think about it, you’ve probably observed different types of exercise and movement all around you. It might be your overweight friend who can hit the dance floor for hours on end or the grandpa that does laps every day at the local pool. And what about your neighbor who slowly walks their dog every day, rain or shine? Everyone has different abilities which means that there’s no one-size-fits-all form of movement.
Many people who are overweight feel like they don’t belong in physically active environments because they’ve had negative experiences in the past that created a disconnection between exercise and enjoyment. However, HAES focuses on getting people to revisit fitness in a fun and engaging way. Yoga, playing an instrument, and even silly games like laser tag can get your heart pumping!
Health at Every Size is all about leading a lifestyle with more movement, better nutrition choices, and promoting overall health, not dropping five pounds fast. If you want to learn more about creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that works for you, ViGOR FiTNESS can help. Join our supportive online community and follow us on social media as we give tips, tricks, and motivation to keep you moving along your own path, no matter what you weigh!