So to make sure I’m staying as healthy as possible, I’m working with a HAES-friendly trainer who has experience dealing with people who have chronic health issues. The goal is not weight loss – in fact, my trainer doesn’t like her clients setting weight loss goals or even looking at a scale. She’s a big believer in setting fitness goals, not “I want to weight x lbs” goals. She’s of the opinion that people get too focused on the numbers on the scale, and that ultimately derails them.
I couldn’t agree more.
I’m working on low impact exercises right now, because that’s all I’m medically cleared to do. My cardio consists of doing step-ups in 45 second bursts in between doing TRX exercises. I think I could get into TRX. I like that you can customize it to your comfort level and ability. I’m hoping I can take a TRX class at some point this year. That’s my fitness goal – enough stamina for a TRX class.
I only pay attention to the scale because I have to monitor the rapidity of weight loss or weight gain. I have a thyroid issue which can cause weight gain, and I’m on a med for the thyroid issue which can cause weight loss. I have digestive issues that can cause weight loss. Lupus can also cause weight gain or loss for various reasons, and since I have a history of rapid weight loss, I need to be careful.
I know to some people, the words rapid weight loss sound like opening the best gift ever on Christmas morning. Thing is, that’s bad for your heart, and bad for your other organs. If weight loss is your goal, and weight loss is your focus, then just keep in mind that slow and steady is the healthiest way.
I’m personally not a big believer in prioritizing weight over health, or conflating weight with health. That’s why HAES is so much more important to me now, because Health At Every Size believes that anyone, no matter what their body type, can find a ways to be physically active, and can more attuned to their body’s food needs. They encourage people to be active in ways that they enjoy. They’re not pro-obesity, as many detractors say – they simply take fat and weight loss and the idea that being thin should be the goal completely out of the equation. They don’t focus on weight, they focus on health. They focus on people feeling better. They focus on good eating habits and finding physical activities that you enjoy doing. HAES is all about lifestyle change, and it actually puts the focus on lifestyle, not weight.
I see too many companies, products, and gurus who claim to offer lifestyle change, where lifestyle change is a euphemism for weight loss. HAES doesn’t discourage weight loss, it just shifts the focus away from it.
Someone can get healthier and feel better without losing much, if any, weight. HAES reminds people that that’s okay. That weight doesn’t reflect health.
Even if I wanted to lose weight (which I don’t, it’s happening involuntarily), I can’t do high impact cardio or any of the things that typically burn lots of calories. I’m not medically cleared, and even if I was, one of the fun symptoms of Lupus is getting out of breath easily, and of course – OF COURSE – that’s one of the ones I have. I can’t walk across campus without getting winded. Hell, I can’t even walk down one flight of stairs to use the bathroom without getting winded. The fact that I work in an old building whose elevator doesn’t come to my floor means I’m struggling with stairs a lot. Stairs have become my nemesis.
Don’t ever assume that a thin person taking the elevator is just lazy.
But at the same time, don’t assume that the fat person on the elevator is just lazy, either. Don’t ever assume that someone is fat because they’re lazy and unmotivated. Maybe they have Lupus. Maybe they have thyroid issues. Maybe they have MS. Maybe they have CFS. Maybe they have PCOS. Maybe they have asthma. Maybe they have countless other medical issues that make them unable to do the sort of high impact work outs that they may want to do.
Or maybe they just don’t want to lose weight, which is totally fine too. Maybe they’re happy the way they are, and maybe they’re healthier than the thin people who hate them.
Point is, you don’t know why someone is fat, so don’t make assumptions about their body, their health, their level of motivation, and their capabilities.
And you don’t know why a thin person who looks healthy is constantly avoiding doing too much physical activity.
Maybe that fat person you look down on runs marathons. I follow three Fat Acceptance/Body Pos bloggers/activists who are very into running, dancing, and going to the gym regularly. All of them are probably in WAY better shape than I’ll ever be in, and all of them are fat.
Maybe that thin person you think is just being lazy by only doing 8-10 minutes on the treadmill at a very low speed is actually doing the best they can. My best effort isn’t going to look the same as the best effort of someone who’s not chronically ill. Because I don’t *look* sick – which is such ableist garbage – I know I get judged. I’m thin, therefore I must be healthy, therefore if I’m doing only very light exercises, I must just be lazy, right?
So don’t judge. Period. Refraining from judging someone’s level of physical activity isn’t just about not being fat phobic, it’s about not being ableist.
HAES isn’t fat phobic, and it isn’t ableist. It’s about understanding that all bodies are unique, embracing the idea that you know best what works for your body, and keeping your focus on your health.
I encourage everyone to eat in a way that’s healthy for your body, and find physical activities that work for you. Ideally, I would want people to focus on what health means for them, and strive to be as healthy as possible.
But if you don’t want to eat healthy or be physically active, I support your right do eat what you want and do as little exercise as you want. It’s your body, and I will always defend your right to do what you want with it.