Health at every size. Is that really a thing? I will be the first to admit I was skeptical about HAES because I (like so many women) had a very narrow image of what healthy looked like.
I thought health looked lean, strong, and thin. I thought that being obese was a disease.
And that if you’re overweight you’re also unhealthy.
Moment of truth, I’ve spent most of my life in the overweight borderline obese category.
Not because I’ve been unhealthy, but because I’m short relative to my weight. So why it was so hard for me to grasp the concept of HAES baffles me.
The BMI, which our health seems to be determined by doesn’t take into account your lifestyle choices, your gender, or your lean mass. Both the medical community and the fitness industry seem to have forgotten is that your weight and your height don’t tell you anything else about the person or they lifestyle choices.
The terms overweight and obese used to wreck me. We’re taught that being either of those things is not beautiful, it’s not worthy, it means you’re lazy, and you don’t care about yourself.
The aha moment for me, and the moment those terms seemed to lose their power was when realized they were nothing more than arbitrary numbers.
You can be healthy no matter what the BMI says about you, and you can be healthy even if you don’t look like society’s narrow minded view. Your health isn’t determined by what you look like, but rather the habits, behaviors, and the lifestyle you choose.
Your happiness and fulfillment does not hang on what you look like. It’s time we stop believing it does.
Where many who follow HAES miss the mark..
When I first started researching the health at every size movement, I was shocked to see some of the information out there.
The messaging of some who follow HAES and its closely related Intuitive Eating spew about all discipline and self-control being bad is crazy. In fact, in the book Healthy at Every Size, the author Linda Bacon, PhD never says anything of the sort. She does warn against the dangers of continuing to believe dieting will work for you.
She also emphasized the importance of eating whole foods as much as possible, moving your body in a way that brings joy, and being intentional about the food choices you’re making. Which to some degree will require both self-control and discipline. Especially if you know certain foods don’t nourish you, but you still crave them.
Other harmful messages I’ve seen HAES leading ladies sharing is there are no such things as healthy or unhealthy foods, and essentially all foods are health producing. Again, I did not find this to be the message in the Health at Every Size nor to be true from a true health standpoint as a certified nutrition coach or my years of study in exercise and sport science.
I’ve even seen some supporters of the HAES movement encourage their followers to disregard healthy habits or behaviors. calling them restrictive or diet-y. Huh?
Again, not the message I’ve seen from Linda Bacon or from the creators of the intuitive eating movement.
This is your superpower..
I am not one to believe we will be most happy or at peace if we just give into every whim and go for instant gratification. In fact, it’s been those times in my life where I end up being the least happy or at peace.
Just to be clear, I don’t think you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and however much you want without having to also make peace and accept the consequences of those actions. You wouldn’t act this way in any other area of your life, like your finances or in your marriage. So why would it be ok to act that way towards food?
I do think you are responsible for making mindful and the best choices in the moment when it comes to food. And sometimes it’s mindfully eating a slice of chocolate cake and enjoying it. Other times it might be skipping the cake and going for a walk instead.
Your superpower lies in making mindful and informed decisions. Once you realize this, you can step into the role of expert of your life with confidence.
No doubt, discipline used as punishment or as a measure of your worth is harmful. As is wearing it like a badge of honor or using it to judge yourself or others.
However, discipline and self-control used with compassion, grace, and love is powerful. Learn to harness that power, you will make the best decisions for yourself.
Of course, leaning into the idea of health at every size is a little scary. If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering if you will be able to love yourself at any size. The decision to reject society’s idea of what your healthy body *should* look like is filled with doubt and anxiety.
The fear of judgement or rejection based on what your body looks like is also a very real fear. Will your friends, family, and co-workers think you’ve ‘let yourself go’ ?
My solution to these fears was to get crystal clear on my own definition of success, and my own healthy body. I believe that solution will work for you too.
We have a tendency to categorize everything as black and white. Good or bad. it seems when it comes to what a healthy lifestyle looks like, it is no different.
On the one hand you have people who have taken the HAES idea and have gone to the extreme of giving the middle finger to any sort of structure or discipline. While on the other hand you have diet culture supporting the idea that health looks a certain way.
Often we are uncomfortable in our ability to navigate and manage the gray area between the two sides, so we end up swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.
Surely, it’s easier to just go from hardcore rules and restriction to binge eating on the weekends. It takes more work upfront to figure out how to listen to our bodies, how to care for them inside and out, and how to handle being uncomfortable.
Is health at every size for you?
Like many women, I was doing all the “healthy things” and my body was revolting against me. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden I wasn’t losing weight or getting the results I once had.
Old disordered eating behaviors like food obsession started coming back. Monday through Friday I tried my hardest to be good on my diet, but the weekends were a pass for me. Saturday and Sunday were my days to eat without abandon and just start the diet back up on Monday.
I felt softer and fatter than ever.
Tired of trying so hard without anything to show for it, I knew it was time for a change, whatever that looked like.
You shouldn’t feel defeated because you’re not losing weight.
Almost as if a light bulb went off, it hit me. I’d been dieting again. This time though, it was more subtle and still looked healthy for the most part. This realization sparked questions in my head:
Could you be healthy and not look like it? Is it possible to do the same things (exercise, monitor food choices) and still get different results? Does the diet mindset exist?
I decided to suspend my idea about what healthy looked like for a moment. My focus shifted to effort and the consistency of behaviors over outcomes. Instead of tracking pounds lost, I celebrated the way I felt in my body.
This one mindset shift changed everything. At the end of the day, we can’t control whether our body will lose weight or not. Wee can control our effort, our attitude, and our outlook though. So why not focus on those things instead?
The thing that’s been the most surprising I’ve found is I’m as happy now as I ever was when I was 9% body fat. I may even be happier. It’s easier to be more engaged in life. Meal time is more enjoyable too.
Without the pressure of constantly micro-managing calories eaten and calories burned, I’m able to be more present when we sit down to eat as a family. And choosing what to eat has even become easier.
Living a healthy lifestyle should be easy
Food is not meant to be a sin or punishment. Exercise shouldn’t be a way to purge yourself from an evening of indulgent eating.
As a culture we’ve lost sight of that. We’ve normalized the idea that living a healthy lifestyle is either only for the select few who happen to be disciplined enough to follow a diet or should feel tough all the time.
I believe there is a happy medium, and it’s up to you to find it for yourself. The good news is you won’t have to do that by yourself. I’ve opened up a few spots in my program, and would love to see if it is the right fit for you. Click here
to schedule your FREE consult.
I can’t wait to see what you can accomplish when you step into your purpose in the healthy body you’re meant to have.
Are you still believing that if you were at your goal weight or living in your dream body, you’d be happy?
I thought having the ideal body would make me happy too. Of course I’d be more fulfilled no doubt. More confident, and successful too. That’s what they say, isn’t it? Everywhere we look. these messages are either subtly or not-so-subtly displayed for all women to see.
In reality the closer I got to this ideal lean body the more obsessed, self conscious, and unhappy I got. Funny, how no one seems to mention this side of weight loss.
If I wasn’t trying to ‘get’ the ideal body, I was anxious about keeping it. There never seemed to be the place of enjoying my body and all it could do.
Two things you should know now:
Your size and shape will not determine your happiness despite what society tells you.
And you won’t feel more confident once you’re in your ideal body or at your ideal weight.
In fact, there will never be a goal that once it’s reached will give you these feelings.
Can you be happy without waiting on weight?
What would you think if I told you you can cultivate those feelings NOW? Before you even get close to those goals you can start to feel the way about yourself you want. It sounds crazy, I know.
Change the thoughts you have, and the meaning you’re assigning to your weight, size, cellulite, or anything else you want to ‘fix’ about yourself you can start to feel different too.
One of the big things I think we miss, is the idea we are responsible for the meaning we attach to our circumstances. And in this example, the meaning we’ve attached to being leaner, smaller, or more toned is that we will be happier.
It’s ok if you don’t think you can…
I bought the lie that to be happier I had to be leaner and smaller because as I did start to lose weight, there was pressure from others to keep going. The more weight I lost, the more people praised me or made comments about how good I looked.
This was especially true when I was 111 lbs and breastfeeding or when I was 11% body fat and super lean.
I felt I had to keep going even if I was miserable inside; it almost ruined my marriage; and if the way I was treating my body resembled an eating disorder.
i didn’t want to lose this new found affection from others, so I held on as long as I could. Like many women, I associated being fat with being unloveable or disgusting.
What would others think?
In my mind, I had to maintain this picture perfect image of the fit ideal to be a successful fitness coach. And by successful I mean lean and thin.
My fear of going back to being chubby or losing clients forced me to disordered eating behaviors. I began obsessing over food again (just like when I was a competitive figure athlete). Bingeing and restricting became the norm once again.. I shrugged all of this off for a while justifying I was just living a “balanced” lifestyle.
Anxiety about keeping a perfect body resurfaced, and I found myself body checking in almost every mirror I walked by.
There was never a time I could enjoy life. Even when on vacay, I felt stress. I’d ‘let’ myself eat whatever I wanted, but knew it would be back on the wagon when we got home. Usually more strict than before so I could get my body back.
The tipping point for me was when I realized…
I couldn’t live the rest of my life counting calories eaten or burned or that I wasn’t actually happier in a smaller body.
The interesting thing, is I felt as if I was trapped in my body all over again, just in a smaller, more socially acceptable body.
Would you be shocked to know we weren’t meant to all be the same size or weight any more than we should all have the same eye color or hair color? This is hard for many women to believe because we hang our ability to be happy on what our body looks like.
we weren’t meant to all be the same size or weight any more than we should all have the same eye color or hair color?
I ditched prescribed meal plans and diets, and decided to try something new instead. This was the first time I’d ever really given thoughts to my behaviors, beliefs, and habits around food.
Since following a strict or even a “flexible” diet wasn’t working, I decided to do the opposite and ditch all the rules I had about food at that point. Instead of counting anything, cutting out or limiting certain foods, I’d let my body guide me.
Instead of following food rules, I’d start creating habits. This was an entirely new way to approach food for me.
Would this actually work for me?
Habits are brilliant because you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. This makes it simpler and easier to make healthier choices because you don’t have to think. Of course, habits can work for or against you. And they do take some time to develop or change.
However, by removing food rules I was less likely to binge on the weekends because I knew I could eat whatever I wanted. Suddenly all of the forbidden foods lost their power over me.
Having to unlearn all sorts of unhealthy and unhelpful behaviors took time. The thoughts, beliefs about food, exercise, and what my body should look like had to be undone. I’m still learning, and that’s ok.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, is life is always a practice. It’s not fixed, but more fluid. One slip up or failure doesn’t define us. And one success or win doesn’t get us off the hook of having to do the work.
There’s a false belief that healthy should feel hard. It’s a shame because it keeps so many women stuck in the diet mindset. This idea is toxic, and sadly one we have accepted as normal.
Living a healthy lifestyle should be as easy as an unhealthy one. It takes time to get to this place, but it’s where freedom exists.
Though I may be a bit fluffier than before, I’m the most at peace in my skin I’ve ever been.
I’m way less self-conscious. Thoughts or feelings of insecurity because of my body don’t swirl in my head any longer. That’s not to say there aren’t times those negative thoughts try to come back. I’m just more prepared and equipped to handle the lies because I know the truth, and I know how much sweeter it is on the other side.
Can I let you in on a secret? I’m the same weight as when I started my fitness journey over 12 years ago. Oddly though, it feels as if everything has changed…from the inside out.
PS. I know this probably sounds a little woo woo or too good to be true. Truthfully, I never thought I could be happy without losing weight either. I thought the other women I saw talking about this had just given up and “accepted” their bodies as if it were a negative thing. If that’s you too, I want you to click here
, so we can have a chat.
You deserve to be as happy and as fulfilled right now. What are you waiting for?
The holidays are right around the corner and for so many this is a time of year that brings about mixed emotions. Usually the slurry of emotions leave us unsure of how to feel. Even though this is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of year, they can be overwhelming. I know my family is far from perfect and there is always a little uneasiness as my husband I try to navigate the sticky situations that family can present.
Toss in all of the holiday parties, end of the year deadlines, and weeks where your kids are out of school and it is easy to see why we, as women tend to put ourselves on the back burner and become a bit more relaxed with our routines. However, I’ve found that the more relaxed I get around the holidays, the harder it is for me to get back into my rhythm come January.
Often guilt and shame accompany this time of year. Whether we find ourselves over spending, over eating, or over drinking. It seems that we buffer our feelings and emotions just to get by. After all, this is the season to eat, drink, and be merry, but usually the stress of the season leads to a bit more of the eating and drinking, and less holiday cheer all around.
You might be nodding in agreement, because you too have felt these same things and have found yourself buffering instead of facing the music. I am guilty of this. Thankfully we don’t have to wait until January, we can start today.
How to avoid guilt + shame around over eating, over drinking, and over spending: replace old habits and behaviors with new ones
First, let’s identify and acknowledge shame and guilt. Often they are interchanged, but they aren’t exactly the same thing…
Shame is feeling like YOU are wrong. It’s intense, it’s painful. Shame makes you feel like you have to hide from others because if they knew about you and all your secrets, you’d be unloveable.
Shame is something I see so many women carrying when it comes to their food choices. It isn’t uncommon for us to feel like we have to hide what we ate from others to avoid being seen or to justify our food choices to minimize the shame we feel around them.
In our society, a woman’s worth is often tied to her external appearance. It was for me growing up, and I see it still in other women, on magazines, even other coaches/ trainers that put too much emphasis on the physical goals without touching on the other important areas of health too. When we find that sweet spot of letting ourselves be seen, brining those things that make us feel shame into the light is when we can begin to shrug shame.
Guilt on the other hand, is feeling like you did something ‘bad’–Again, this comes up so often around food for women. We assign morality to our food choices, like it’s either a good or bad food. If this is true, then we either are good or bad for eating them #lies.
Food is a neutral party. Neither good nor bad. Its our meaning that changes things.
“I cheated on my diet”…”I am so bad for eating this”… I am so guilty of saying things like that in my past. And what would usually came next? Shame. It was a vicious cycle that the diet industry kept me trapped in for years. I vividly remember the pain I’d carry when I was “too weak” and gave into my cravings. I felt like a disappointment and a failure.I cringe when I hear another woman say any of these things.
How can you beat guilt and shame before it beats you?
Bring it into the light. Share with someone you trust and you know won’t judge you. Even journaling about it can help. Express your feelings. Practice rephrasing or reframing those thoughts for yourself.
Your value and worth don’t come from what you did or didn’t eat or whether or not you did or didn’t do a workout today.
Call out the lies- if you catch yourself talking negatively when you glance in the mirror or if you try something and do it less than great notice the thoughts + self talk that ensues. If its negative, it’s a lie, and it’s gotta go. Come up with counter arguments to those lies. Or better yet, create some mantras or words of encouragement you can repeat to yourself before you get in those situations that tend to bring out the urge to shame or guilt yourself.
What can you do if you are being guilted or shamed by others?
First, remember you can’t control or change other people, but you can change your environment and who you spend your time with.
Assess your current environment and the people you spend the most time with. Are they for or against you and your goals?
Take action: Change one thing about your environment, maybe that is removing foods that you know lead to you losing control. Maybe it’s investing in some dumbbells or bands so you can always move your body even if you can’t make it to the gym or your favorite class.
Who is one person you need to spend less time with? Create an action plan, who can you add to your circle that will help you?
Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. Whether good or bad, we are usually trying our best. We are doing what we can, with what we have, and it’s only reasonable that we would see others the same way. NO need to create extra stress or drama by believing anything other than this.
Give yourself some space to process. One way I do this is by creating small margins of time in my day and/ or week to reflect. I am always talking to myself. If you could hear what’s happening in my head most days you’d probably think I’m crazy. But if I’m talking, I can’t listen to the negative voice. Then give yourself some time to just listen.
Small steps you can take now in your mindset, movement, nutrition, and relationship with yourself:
–Daily affirmations: The key with affirmations is to make them believeable. At first it might be a stretch, especially if you’ve gotten used to being bullied by your own thoughts. One thing I’ve done this year that has been so helpful in this arena has been to back up my affirmations with specific bible scripture. This way I am reminded that these things are in fact truth.
–Start small and build up. It’s not the big things you do once in a while, but the small things you do daily that make the biggest impact. It’s tempting to want to change EVERYTHING at once, but that only sets us up to fail in the long run. Pick one thing and stick with it until it feels easy, then you can add another.
–Slow down when you eat. I still struggle with this from time to time, but it is the first habit I teach my clients, so it is that important, and if you totally forget everything else you know about food this one habit is all you need. Slowing down allows you to feel full before you reach that uncomfortable stuffed feeling. Plus when you slow down, you get to enjoy your meal and your company that much more.
–Choose movement that feels good and even a little indulgent. For me that is a mix of weights/ running or walking/ and some yoga sprinkled through my week. I used to snub walking because it wasn’t the sexiest. But you know what? It still burns calories, gets your heart pumping, and has some major benefits for your mind. So walk on! (if that’s your thing). The point is, moving your body is a gift and you get to decide what feels best. So forget the latest fad workout and just do you.
What is the hardest part of staying healthy during the holidays?
Too late for a #throwback?
I was 26 and probably about 15 pounds lighter in the picture on the left.
I was also exhausted from being a mom of two young kids and felt drained all the time.
I was trying so hard to be the perfect mom and wife and was honestly miserable in so many ways.
I was putting everyone first and chasing the wrong things.
I would make the excuse that I didn’t have time to take care of what mattered, because I had let busy take over, and tried to keep up certain appearances.
This is the side of motherhood that is rarely, if ever talked about because motherhood is supposed to be one of the best times of our lives as women.. my heart is racing even as I type my feelings so openly. There were days I thought about running away and leaving them all behind.
Looking back, maybe I was suffering from a little #postpartumdepression, bit more than that I think I was suffering from putting so much pressure on doing it ‘right’.
Fast forward 7 years.
I see life and vibrancy and passion in her eyes.
I see a woman who has completely embraced motherhood in all of its messiness and a wife that has endured a great deal of heartache over the last 11 years. But she is filled with joy. She is content. And she is confidently laughing at whatever the future may hold.
If you’re still reading this, I hope you know you’re not alone. Motherhood is messy. Being a wife takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice.
I’ve heard you can’t have it all…I’m starting to think that’s a lie. If you ever feel alone, know that you are not. My inbox is always open
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said yes to something and almost immediately regretted it..yep, me too. I am not exactly sure why it is that we do that to ourselves, but it was one of my intentions coming into 2018 to save my yeses for only the best things to come my way. That may sound incredibly selfish, and believe me it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I knew it is what I needed. I found myself saying yes to so many amazing opportunities out of guilt or obligation.
I’ve done some soul searching and a whole lot of reflection over the past year and I realized that I was simply trying to be too much to too many people. Handing out my yeses to anyone that asked was really depriving the people and the callings in my life that really need me…including myself. In the past I’ve casually given my yeses away because I felt guilty or because there seemed to be a genuine need. And by no means am I suggesting that we only ever do the things we want, but I am suggesting that we need to be more thoughtful and intentional with our yeses.
If you find yourself constantly on the run, burned out, and exhausted from honoring everyone else’s agenda then read on..
So how do we get off the hamster wheel?
One of the first things I did was identify my core values. Who were the people I was committed to showing up for? What causes and organizations do I feel led to serve? What were my existing obligations? What am I about?
Your best yeses or your sacred yeses will align with your values and ultimately what is most important to you not just what is important to the world around you. Sometimes the two will line up and sometimes they won’t. It is ultimately up to you to discern for yourself what that is. By having your values clearly outlined you will be able to decide what you really should be spending your time on and what you can pass on.
I know how hard it is to say no, especially when the cause or the need seems relevant, real, and is good. But if we crowd our schedules according to everyone else’s agenda, we don’t leave any time or space for Jesus to show up with his agenda for us. That is often what has led me to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
Once you get some clarity on your core values you will know when you should step up and when you should step aside and let someone else take it on. Asking questions always seems to reveal what is really going on in your heart.
Not sure if it is your best yes?
Here are some gut checks:
Does it align with yourvalues?
Does this align with your vision?
Do you have the time?
What will you have to say no to in order to make this a reality? **This one is especially a good question to ask yourself..because you can’t say yes to something without saying no to something else at the same time.
By creating the space and giving myself the permission to say no–even to ‘good’ things I am able to give more and to give better to the things that matter most and it frees me up to say yes to the things I was really called to do. I am able to show up in a bigger way and serve with more joy in my heart. We were created with certain gifts, dreams, and visions. And in order to step into those fully we will have to learn to turn down the things that tempt us or distract us from staying the course.