In my previous posts in this series on weight, I focused on the reasons why I choose not to directly focus on weight manipulation as a practitioner. In this final post of the series, I’ll share what I DO focus on. Feel free to refer to the previous posts as a reference.
As a HAES, or weight-neutral provider, I focus on finding a healthy, peaceful relationship with food; connecting to your body and its needs; and behaviors that enhance health independent of weight. This approach, when embraced fully, promotes being at your own genetic, natural weight range. It also takes mental and emotional health into consideration, not just physical health.
As I mentioned before, focusing on weight control, even in the name of “wellness,” often interferes with taking care of ourselves. It promotes being disconnected from your body and creates a fearful, not entirely peaceful, relationship with food. It also harms our metabolism and is correlated with more weight gain over time.
Taking the focus AWAY from weight manipulation and towards connecting to and honoring our own body’s needs is correlated with weight stabilization/less weight gain over time. There have been hundreds of studies on “Intuitive Eating” which demonstrate improvement in many important health markers, both mental and physical, and weight stabilization. (“Intuitive Eating” is an approach to making peace with food by tuning in/honoring our bodies, originally created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.) But, it’s one of those things—getting caught up in eating intuitively just for weight control just turns it into another diet, and has the same effects as dieting. Truly embracing this process, if you are ready for it, means letting go of this perceived control. It doesn’t happen overnight. Being dissatisfied with our bodies and constantly trying to change our weight is so normalized in our culture that it’s difficult to recognize its hold on us.
In practice, I focus on helping you connect with your body and honor it—using “Intuitive Eating” and intuitive/mindful movement. This means shifting your attention towards what can make a sustainable impact on your overall health (body/mind/soul). It also promotes a more peaceful and less fearful relationship with eating and your body. There are health behaviors you can pursue, no matter your body size, which can positively affect health, whether or not your weight changes. These may include adding more nutritious foods to your diet, being more in tune to your hunger and fullness cues, seeking satisfying/satiating eating experiences, and moving your body in a way you find enjoyable and not depleting. It may also mean decreasing stress, resting more, getting adequate sleep, and exploring constructive ways to cope with difficult emotions/circumstances. (This may include working with other practitioners too.)
Health at Every Size, or HAES, means shifting the focus towards what can sustainably impact health while eliminating stigma, shame, and assumption based interventions. This approach also promotes automony. I believe in informed consent, so if you are offered weight loss as a treatment, you should be aware of the long term effects as discussed in this series. It’s your choice on what you choose to focus on, and/or how you choose to practice as a practitioner. The purpose of this series was to share why my focus changed—in my own life and practice, and to explain my approach as a weight neutral, or HAES provider.
If you want to find out more about what I do in practice, work with me, or just want to chat further, feel free to reach out to me via my contact page. If you want to find a HAES provider in your area, visit www.haescommunity.comFollow me on social media: