By BodyMatters therapist Sarah McMahon
At BodyMatters we work from a health centred paradigm, a framework that transcends eating pathology & wellness, fatness & thinness by focusing on exclusively on health. If you are not familiar with Health at Every Size, the name we give to this paradigm, we encourage you to read the Health At Every Size Manifesto, which outlines the rationale behind it. In the meantime, a photo blog, featuring pictures that have recently been exhibited on our Facebook page, outlining the five key tenants of the philosophy:
Principle 1: Size diversity. We all come in different shapes and sizes. There is no “perfect size” for everyone. Our shape & size is based largely on heritability & our genetic make up. Lets encourage size & shape diversity rather than maintain “one size fits all” approach to life.
Principle 2: Health and well being is multidimensional. It is a result of engaging in health giving behaviour. Fitness, rather than weight, is the biggest predictor of health. However fitness in itself does not necessarily guarantee “health”. And health is much broader than our fitness alone. Health is a result of a balanced life that considers the “whole self” incorporating physical, social, spiritual, occupation, emotional & intellectual components.
Principle 3: Equality & equity in health is paramount. Just as the “close the gap” campaign into indigenous health in Australia has indicated shocking health outcomes for indigenous populations, largely due to their limited access to health care, “fatter” populations tend to have poorer health outcomes (although it is important to note that these are exaggerated). A significant confounding issues occurs simply because fat people are far less likely to access health care. Why? Research clearly documents that fatness is stigmatised & prejudiced amongst health professionals. Similarly, we hear terrible stories of fat shaming occurring at times when fat people do participate in exercise.
Principle 4: Make eating decisions based on hunger, fullness, pleasure & nutritional requirements. Unfortunately so many of us engage in “head eating” based on what we think we need, usually to lose or maintain weight. At BodyMatters we teach intuitive eating or “body eating” to our clients.
Principle 5: Exercise for pleasure! This is much more sustainable then exercising for other means. Some of the reasons people exercise other than for pleasure include: to avoid negative withdrawal symptoms of guilt or shame; because it is compulsive; because they are worried about weight/ shape; or to maintain “exercise rules”. Find pleasure in moving your body regularly. Seek out a variety of things you can do for fun. Don’t worry or concern yourself about the impact exercise has on your weight.
Over to you… How do you practice health at every size? What has the impact of this paradigm shift been for you?