Healthy Isn’t a Size
Honoring your body and treating it with respect starts with the understanding that there is a natural diversity of body sizes and shapes. Healthy isn’t “one size fits all.” There isn’t one height, weight, or shape that is healthy.
The Health at Every Size® (HAES) movement has a surprisingly simple way to think about caring for our bodies. Based on the premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body, HAES supports adopting healthy habits for the sake of health and well-being rather than weight control. This means acknowledging and respecting that there is a natural diversity of body sizes and shapes and that health isn’t “one size fits all.”
How can you find what it means for you to be healthy?
- Be mindful of your own thoughts about what it means to be healthy: Instead of setting a weight goal, or defining your health according to a burgeoning health trend, write down what makes you feel healthy. Does exercising 3x a week for 20 minutes make you feel stronger and healthier? Does adding more fruits and veggies to your diet help you feel less sluggish and more ready to tackle each day? You define what health means to you. Take control and write your own plan for health.
- Know what feels comfortable for your body: If you’re feeling sick or injured, don’t push yourself to exercise. Respecting your body is knowing when you shouldn’t push it and when rest is necessary.
- Stay active in ways that make you happy: You’re more likely to form a healthy habit doing something you enjoy. If you dread running on a treadmill at the gym, try taking a Zumba or yoga class instead.
- Notice internal cues when eating. Your body alerts you when you’re hungry and when you’re full. Use these internal clues to make sure you aren’t eating too little or eating to fill an emotional need. Take notice of the foods that improve your mood or give you energy and avoid foods that leave you feeling sluggish.
These tips allow you to partner with your body, rather than critique or disparage it. This partnership has the potential to improve your self-image, diminish critical thoughts and change your everyday life.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life and many more have an unhealthy relationship with their body. Using a strengths-based ideology, one that encourages self-acceptance and respect can help to reduce the number of people who are negatively impacted by the way our society views weight.