Last week I introduced you to plus-size model and advocate of size diversity in fashion and body acceptance Marianne. Every week she discusses a topic related to those concepts. Last week she discussed “Plus-Size Models in Straight-Size Fashion“. Today Marianne discusses the concept of ‘Health at Every Size’.

[dropcap]Today[/dropcap] I want to talk about a movement called Health at Every Size (HAES). 

HAES is a movement that believes good health can be realized independently from size. It wants to support people in all sizes to approach health with healthy behaviors. Does that mean that all people in all sizes are healthy? No, that’s not what it says… it does believe though that you can work on being healthy, both physically and mentally, at any size.

You can work on being healthy, both physically and mentally, at any size.

Because let’s face it: the “war on obesity” doesn’t make fat go away and being thin doesn’t necessarily mean being happy either. The only thing we càn be sure this “war” has brought us, is more insecurity, more self-hatred, more messed up relationships with food and more self-hatred.  Doesn’t sound very healthy to me …

More from Marianne: Bikini body stress: “I hated myself”

Huge parts of our views on healthy living and lifestyle revolve around the obsessions with being thin and are driven by very negative emotions. I was so done with that; I really wanted more positivity in my lifestyle! But most of all, I wanted to feel connected with my own body again. Between all the diets, the detoxes and the “experts” telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat and the workout trends … I was just getting more and more confused.

HAES is not a new diet, a nutrition guide or workout scheme.

So what is HAES exactly? HAES is not a new diet, a nutrition guide or workout scheme. It’s a principle based on a couple of basic components that combine inner health with physical health.

health at every size haes

The international USA Olympic women’s water polo team shows that health is not dependent on size. Image (c): Kami Craig

 HEAS principal components

  • Respect body diversity

 There is no one right way to have a body; we all come in different shapes and sizes. So respect other people’s bodies and respect your own too; don’t hate it!

  • Honor your body with what you eat and enjoy your food

Start listening again to what your body is asking you. For me personally, this was really tricky. I started seeing nutritionists when I was a child. They told me to eat small portions 6 times a day, even when I’m not hungry. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I do think that this way, we completely stop listening to our own bodies. If I’m not hungry or don’t need anything, I don’t eat. When I crave chocolate, I have some chocolate. To me, mindlessly eating 6 times a day because someone else tells me to doesn’t work … I try to listen to my body and give it what it asks for!

  • Find joy in moving your body and being physically active.

Again, this sounds very logical and simple… but how many of us bust our asses off in the gym because we “have to” (for whatever reason we tell ourselves) and not because we actually like it? It’s all about finding positive motivation. So instead of saying “I exercise because I need to lose 10 lbs”, you could also say “I exercise because my body deserves to move around and because it makes me feel good”. Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.

  • Value people’s experiences

This kind of goes back to the first point about respect. We are always so quick to judge another person’s body, but we don’t know the journey that person has been on! That fat woman may have already lost 40 lbs and could be working really hard on a healthy lifestyle. Or she may feel really bad about herself and has decided to work on her mental health first before tackling her physical health. Isn’t that really great of her? That takes a lot of hard work and dedication too (this way of thinking applies to ALL sizes by the way …)!

Back in touch with our body & mind

Again, I know it all sounds so simple and logical, but so many of us have lost touch with our minds and bodies that you’d be surprised how many people, in all shapes and sizes, could still benefit from HAES.

Did you know HAES yet? What do you think about this?

Featured image: USA National Women’s Waterpolo team in ESPN The Magazine. Photography by Art Streiber.

Marianne Nykjaer

About Author

Marianne Nykjaer is a fashion lover, (plus-size) model and blogger. She mainly blogs about diversity in the fashion industry and body acceptance. She's quite into sports and passionate about (healthy) food, but her main focus is on mental health instead of physical health.

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