Health at EVERY Size

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In response to my recent post about the calories-in-versus-calories-out myth as seen through the lens of my surgical recovery, someone posted a typo-filled response along the lines of, “You would not have posted this if you had lost weight.” He continued with pretty offensive commentary about people of a certain size not having the right to exist, but I will put that aside for now, not because I condone that nonsense, but because I want to focus on what he said in the quote.

His comment seems to be implying that I had hoped to lose weight and therefore I found a scapegoat for my supposed failure. Not true. We must remember that not everybody wants to lose weight. Some people, whether they are large, small, medium, round, slender, or any other shape, actually like their bodies the way they are. Other people may wish for a different body shape, but they understand that purposely trying to manipulate their form is unlikely to work in the long run and comes with consequences.

The commenter also seems to be assuming that I am overweight based on the fact that I shared my blog on the Health at Every Size® (HAES) Facebook page. To be clear, the name of this approach to health is not Health at Some Sizes and Failing Weight Loss Endeavors and Shame For Everybody Else. It’s Health at Every Size, and people of all shapes and sizes understand its importance in healthcare.

Consider the counterexamples we have all heard before: “He is so skinny, he can eat whatever he wants” and “She is a twig already, she doesn’t need to work out.” These weight-centered opinions have nothing to do with health. Being lean does not guarantee good health, nor does obesity guarantee poor health; behaviors do matter at every size.

Consider doctors who make assumptions about patients based on their weights. Prior to my surgery, a handful of the doctors with whom I consulted made incorrect assumptions about my lifestyle based on my size. Some doctors will decline to run routine tests on lean people based on the assumption that the patients are healthy, and some doctors will similarly decline tests for larger people, blame existing symptoms on weight, and instead recommend weight loss. None of these behaviors are about health, either.

A long time ago, shortly after my first back surgery, my neurologist asked me, “Are you exercising at all?” At the time, I was really offended. I was running, lifting weights, and playing tennis. Didn’t I look like I worked out? However, as time went on and I became more educated, I realized his question was spot on. Some muscular people never lift weights, some lean people never do cardio, and some obese people are more active than all of them but happen to exist in bigger bodies. Making assumptions about one’s lifestyle based on his or her appearance is not about health either, and to my neurologist’s credit, he knew it.

HAES is about focusing on actual health no matter what size we are, hence the name. For more information on the the HAES approach to health, check out the Association for Size Diversity and Health, of which Joanne and I are proud members.

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