Movement (in all forms) is an important piece of our overall health and well-being, but, unfortunately, too many workouts are pitched as the means to a “perfect” body or permission to eat the foods you crave. News flash: you have permission to eat ALL foods and this idea of perfection doesn’t actually exist. Unfortunately, the media manipulates and alters images to an impossible standard of beauty that has infiltrated our society and has bogged us down with rules of what and what not to eat.
Even if you have not sought out these things, it seems as though they are advertised everywhere. Whether it’s on television or social media, there is always something out there claiming to *finally* be the solution you have been looking for.
Diet Culture and Movement
Similar to fad diets, there are such things as fad exercise programs where you may feel the need to exhibit an “all or nothing” mentality around movement with the main driver being to change your body.
What if you reach these goals and finish that workout program, what comes next? You move on to the next thing because what you have accomplished still isn’t satisfying you. As a result, we are left disappointed, unfulfilled, and feeling like we are never enough. Why? This image-driven motivation is not only unhealthy but unsustainable and sets you up to fail.
As a society, our current view of exercise is so deeply entrenched in diet culture that it typically leads to the emphasis on moving only to change body shape and size or allow us to eat certain foods. When we focus solely on external cues for exercise it can lead to disconnection with your body, over-training and an overall feeling of “bleh” when it comes to movement.
But what if we told you it didn’t have to be that way? We want to offer a different take on exercise and reasons to move your body that expand the sole desire for weight loss or permission to eat certain types of foods. Adapting an approach to movement that aligns more with Health at Every Size paradigm allows you to move from a place of body respect and tuning into what your body needs through more joyful movement.
What is Health at Every Size?
Health at Every Size (HAES), is a weight-neutral approach to health care that promotes the pursuit of healthful behaviors for the inherent health benefits of those behaviors, rather than for the explicit purpose of weight manipulation. Health At Every Size is an alternative to our current weight-centric approach to health care—an approach which has been largely proven ineffective.
5 Principles of HAES:
1. Weight Inclusivity
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
2. Health Enhancement
Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
3. Respectful Care
Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
4. Eating for Well-Being
Promote flexible, individualized eating,based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control. Hello Intuitive Eating!
5. Life-Enhancing Movement
Support movement that allows people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
Approaching movement through a HAES lens helps us ask the question: why do we work out? How can movement benefit my life?
If we start to view the benefits of exercise through a HAES lens, we can begin to appreciate how much it helps us on the inside.
5 Ways Movement Can Enhance Your Health (That has Nothing to do With Changing Your Body)
It can prevent disease:
Preventing sickness and disease through exercise will keep you active to continue to do the things that you love every day.
It can lift your spirits:
Feel down, stressed or anxious? Movement increases dopamine (the happy hormone) in the brain which will boost your mood and leave you feeling relaxed. There is no better feeling than jamming to your favorite playlist as adrenaline rushes through your body. Movement is also an opportunity to connect with nature, which is the best kind of therapy. Whether you are alone or with friends, exercise is a quick escape from the stressors of your day.
Catch more zzz’s:
Regular movement can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Sleep is another important asset to your health, getting a better quality sleep will contribute to the success of your day.
Movement is a more effective stimulant as opposed to coffee. Research done at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that aerobic exercise in particular may improve immediate and long-term functioning in regions of the brain relating to attention. To all my college students out there, this could be the pick me up you need to get through class.
It can support strong bones:
Movement is the stimulus that makes bones stronger. Your muscles grow and strengthen in response to exercise; bone behaves similarly. Stressing bone through activity and exercise encourages it to increase its calcium content and grow more dense. Bone health follows the adage, “Use it or lose it.” Inactivity leads to decreased bone mass. Movement can help you maintain bone mass and reduce age-related bone loss. Movement decreases the risk of osteoporosis. It also improves muscle strength, balance and coordination, which help to prevent falls and bone fractures. Adequate intake of calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin A are important in this as well!
As you start to approach movement through an internal lens of how it can make you feel versus solely on how it may change your body - you are able to respond more appropriately to how your body is feeling in the moment. This can lead to body re-connection and finding movement that makes you feel good and enhances your life (a win-win!)
If you are starting on your journey to understanding how to move your body from a place of respect, we want to be there with you! Our unique, individualized services can help guide you through this process. Check out how we can best support you!