One of the most important things to understand is that health comes in all shapes and sizes. You know the old saying, "thin is healthy, fat is unhealthy"? Well, that's just not true! And that's where the Health At Every Size (HAES) approach comes in. That narrative is not only harmful, but it’s also scientifically inaccurate. This is where the Health At Every Size (HAES) approach comes in.
HAES is a weight-inclusive, evidence-based framework that focuses on improving health behaviors and outcomes, rather than solely striving for weight loss. This approach is not only more effective in promoting overall health, but it is also more ethical and respectful of people's diverse bodies and experiences. Health At Every Size also acknowledges what the medical world has known for a loooooooooog, loooooooong time, which is that the BMI (Body Mass Index) is a garbage metric (and it’s racist).
One of the key principles of HAES is that weight is not a reliable indicator of health. Research has shown that weight loss does not necessarily lead to improved health outcomes, and that weight cycling (the constant loss and gain of weight) is often even more harmful. HAES also rejects the notion of “Spot Treating,” the idea that it is possible to target specific areas of fat on the body through diet and exercise. But that’s just not how our bodies work. Research has shown that the body does not selectively lose fat in specific areas. The distribution of fat on the body is largely determined by genetics, and is not easily changed through specific exercises. (I can’t tell you how many people ask me about this!). So, instead of fixating on weight, HAES encourages personal trainers to focus on behaviors that promote overall health and well-being such as joyful movement, eating a variety of food, stress management, and adequate rest.
Another important aspect of HAES is that it recognizes and challenges the societal and cultural factors that contribute to weight stigma and discrimination. Weight bias is not only unjust, but it also creates a barrier to accessing healthcare and other services for many individuals. By adopting a HAES approach, personal trainers can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all clients, regardless of their size. And making people feel like garbage has also been proven to not motivate anyone!
Hiring a HAES-aligned personal trainer will better support you on your journey to better health. It will also improve your relationship with movement and exercise because it will untangle strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility, and health, from the idea of thinness. You can improve your fitness without making yourself less!