I’ve seen a lot of posts lately on social media about the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement and thought that it was important for me as a health coach who focuses on body confidence, to share my perspective on it.
One thing that I noticed right away is that the divide within the health and wellness space on the topic seems to be partly due to misunderstanding what this movement is truly all about. That’s not to say that everyone needs to support HAES, however, I’ve seen that there are quite a few whose lack of support for the movement stems from the belief that this is just a way of making excuses for unhealthy behaviours and obesity.
From my understanding of what HAES stands for, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ve done a little research on where this term comes from and discovered that it’s a registered trademark owned by the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH). This is how they describe HAES on their website:
The Health At Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a continuously evolving alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. It is also a movement working to promote size-acceptance, to end weight discrimination, and to lessen the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness. The HAES® approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
Their site also states, “measures of body weight/size do not accurately reflect an individual”s health status and often lead to ineffective interventions rather than efforts that enhance health and wellness,” which I’m in full agreement with.
There is no way to determine a person’s health status simply by looking at them. There are also several factors that may lead to someone having an increased body fat percentage, and just because a person possesses more fat that doesn’t automatically make them unhealthy.
When I was first starting my fitness journey and even after I’d become a Certified Personal Trainer, I thought that people who had higher body fat percentages were unhealthy. I also believed that the reason they looked the way they did was because they didn’t value their health or take care of their body.
Now, even writing those words makes me cringe but that was what I honestly thought at the time.
Thankfully, I know better now. I know that there is so much more to one’s health than their physical appearance. I know that there are a variety of different factors that contribute to increased body fat percentages. And I know that health doesn’t always look a certain way or have a certain size.
Though I don’t identify as a plus-sized woman (and never have), I still see the importance of advocating for and supporting the HAES movement.
As a leader in the online health/fitness space and a Body Confidence Coach, my mission is to empower as many women as I possibly can to feel confident and beautiful in their bodies and that includes women who don’t look like me.
My goal, and role as an educator is to equip women with the tools to implement sustainable lifestyle changes that allow them to lead happier and healthier lives. And that will look different from person to person.
At its core Health At Every Size is about promoting exactly that, health at every size and that’s something that is definitely in alignment with my own beliefs and health philosophy that I implement within my coaching business.
For more HAES and body confidence content, be sure to follow me on Instagram (@kairahjames).