I received an inquiry from a potential client a few months ago asking if my personal training philosophy was aligned with the Health at Every Size movement. I had to admit that I had never heard of HAES, but I would investigate it and get back to her.
According to the website:
Health at Every Size® principles help us be at peace in our bodies, supporting people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves. It includes the following basic components:
- Respect, including respect for body diversity.
- Compassionate Self-care
- Eating in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite;
- Finding the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active.
- Critical Awareness
- Challenges scientific and cultural assumptions;
- Values body knowledge and people’s lived experiences.
— An edited excerpt from Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Leave out, Get Wrong and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, by Linda Bacon, PhD., and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD.
As far as making peace with body size and developing compassionate approaches to thinking about how we view and treat people of various body sizes, I wholeheartedly embrace the pro-tolerance message that recognizes that weight is not an indication of personal value any more than it is the sole contributor to a person’s health matrix. Just like there are plenty of people who are considered “normal weight” who lack fitness, people with larger than socially-accepted body sizes can have a positive health profile.
As a personal trainer, my job is to support people on their wellness journey. Fitness is one of the components of a healthy lifestyle, but it is only part of the puzzle. Sound nutrition, quality sleep, and maintaining a low-stress outlook on life also contribute to overall wellness and good health. Knowing that my primary role is to help people build healthy habits through meaningful exercise, I want to support people of any size.
I’m pleased to say that I have been working with the woman who introduced me to HAES since May, and she is determined to create a healthier lifestyle for herself. Incorporating regular exercise into her week and intentional movement into each day, these habits are building blocks to greater wellness. Like anyone beginning a new exercise program, she is reaping internal health benefits through the increased workload on her body. Whether or not this translates into a change in body size isn’t the point– it’s that going up and down stairs and taking the dog for a walk are now pleasurable activities that help her to feel vital and strong.
Fat shaming may be popular– particularly in the media– and even seen as en vogue in certain social circles. But if we truly care about people as individuals, we must see them for who they are and value their health, just as we do our own.
I urge you to read through the Health at Every Size website and sign the pledge!
Good health and great happiness to you.