How the 'Health at Every Size' Movement Turns Conventional Dieting on Its Head
Tired of being on the diet-only-to-gain-it-all-back-two-months-later hamster wheel? We don’t blame you.
It’s time to throw away your fat jeans and the guilt that comes right along with them. (Unless you’re keeping your fat jeans around to save some moola, which we totally get.)
Unlike conventional dieting advice, the “Health at Every Size” movement wants you to embrace your perfect size “whatever” body. That’s size “whatever,” as in whatever size you happen to be right now - yup, right now.
You can be 20 pounds away from your goal weight and still be healthy. Shoot, you can be 50 pounds away from pounding the catwalk like a supermodel and still feel like a queen (or king - we know some of you gents like to strut your stuff, too).
Here’s how this ish works:
1. Love Yo’ Self
Conventional dieting is built around making you feel badly about where you are right now. (Duh, why else would you want to change the way you look?)
At the center of the “Health at Every Size” movement, though, is self-acceptance. Easy to say, hard to do. We get it.
A healthy attitude toward the body and the self starts with you - and you have to love the body you’re in before you can make it healthy.
Put it in action: The king and queen of “Treat Yo’ Self,” Donna and Tom from Parks & Rec, shower themselves with love by buying fancy stuff. We love buying a sweet new outfit as much as the next person, but love and money aren’t the same.
Try showering a little love on the image in the mirror, instead. Don’t nitpick the way your hair is growing out or imagine yourself with a smaller stomach or bigger pecs. Find something good about what you see - then own it.
If all else fails, try a power pose to gain more confidence - just like our queen Beyoncé.
2. Read the Signals
Often, people who struggle with weight also have trouble knowing when their body is telling them, “Hey! I’m super hungry!” and “Ok! I’m totally full now!”
And if you’re dieting, the signals can really get crossed. Most diets are built around the idea of deprivation: you tell your body you can’t have a certain kind of food - or can only have small amounts of food - until you’re tired, cranky, and frustrated.
Instead, the “Health at Every Size” movement wants you to acknowledge the signals your body sends. Fill up on good-for-you meals and snacks when you need fuel - then put the food away when your hunger’s satisfied.
Put it in action: If you understand your body’s signals but need help steering clear of junk, may we introduce you to some of our fave nutritionists? And the idea of meal prep? Healthy eating, right this way.
3. It’s Not Just About the Scale
It’s true: the number on the scale can haunt level-headed, down-to-earth, happy-go-lucky people, too. Here are some other numbers you should pay attention to:
- How much weight you can lift
- How fast you can run a mile
- Your body measurements: think waist, thighs, and arms
- Your body-fat ratio
- How many steps you’ve taken today (Thanks, FitBit!)
Weight is a number that exists in relation to tons of other lifestyle factors. So start thinking about those other factors - and how you can control them - before you get down in the dumps.
Put it in action: Pick a goal and track your progress! Want to get up and move more during the day? Try taking the steps in your office building or picking the parking spot furthest away from the store.
Been focusing too much on cardio? Head to the gym and pick up a dumbbell (or, you know, two of them.)
4. Share the Love
Life isn’t always a self-affirming Dove commercial. Fat shaming is everywhere.
Buck the trend by embracing the different shapes you see around you - even if you have to confront a body or a size that makes you feel uncomfortable at first. Even if that body is your own.
After all, the average American woman now wears a size 16. It’s time to be cool with average, and making whatever your average happens to be, as healthy as it can be.
Put it in action: Fat is often a mean-spirited punch-line. Call out fat shaming wherever you see it - or at least try to get the conversation started with friends and family. FYI: it’s probably better to talk about a joke on SNL over drinks than get in a fight on your high school buddy’s Facebook wall. (Just sayin’.)
Feeling epicly motivated? Lobby your fave brands to show a more diverse range of bodies in their advertising - think race, gender, and - yes - shape.
What do you make of the Health at Every Size movement? Tell us everything in the comments below :