How to Balance Desire for Weight Loss with HAES

I recently posted on Instagram about the desire to lose weight.  I shared that IT’S OKAY if you have this desire yet also want to live a life that aligns with intuitive eating and Health at Every Size.  It seems very relevant because a lot of you connected to this topic!  

The desire to lose weight is sometimes ignored in the Health at Every Size/Intuitive Eating world, yet I think it’s crucial to address it.  Often, people expect they are doing things wrong if they don’t skip to the phase of not caring about weight.  Desire for weight loss is something to work through, not skip over!

We are living in a culture and society  that praises weight loss, admires shrinking bodies, and rewards aesthetics endlessly.  How are we supposed to suddenly shed this conditioning to always want to make ourselves smaller?  It’s hard work to reject that idea, and that’s why I believe it is OKAY if you want to lose weight.  You are still welcome among us HAES/IE providers because we can help you achieve HEALTH (which…might I add…does not mean the same thing as weight!) in a sustainable way.  Once you achieve your best health, feeling good can help you feel even better about wherever your body settles.

The philosophical division of weight loss vs. HAES is so sad to me because, ultimately, we all want the same thing!  Any health provider (I hope) is working to help people be healthy.  The crazy part is, if a provider is acting ethically and from an evidence based perspective, then we will likely be DOING the same things!  Chances are, you know the general steps to take to be healthy – eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods, drink enough water, get adequate rest, move your body often…Whether you say you want to change your weight or not, these are all ways to improve your health!  If you see a weight centric provider who advises other methods (cutting out entire food groups, calorie counting, rigid exercise programs, etc) please run the other way!

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If you want to lose weight, but you also want to accept and live by the Health at Every Size program, start taking steps toward improving your health.  As you are on the journey, hopefully working with a HAES dietitian, you can dig into your underlying motivation for change, and, eventually, the weight concerns will drift away.  When you know WHY you want to improve your health, then you are able to connect to that motivation with each healthy habit you change.  If your sole motivation is weight change, you won’t have much to cling to.  Changes won’t be sustainable if weight loss is the only goal due to the lack of control we have over our weight (confused? Check out my post on set point weight theory!).  When the thing you desire (weight loss) possibly just won’t come, how can it continue to motivate you?  Health outcomes (better energy, improved mood, improved sleep quality, ability to keep up with your active friends) will be apparent, and they stick around as long as you keep maintaining positive habits, so it’s much easier to stick to actions that really do show long term results.  

As a dietitian, I want to help people be healthy.  I want people to engage in healthy behaviors and make changes that will stick.  I want people to enjoy the lives that they build…the lives that will hopefully last a very long time due to healthy behaviors!  I know that health is based on actions and not on the scale, so I hope you can  work on the real changes that will lead to the mental changes as well.  Interested in diving in?  Contact me to chat about the possibility of working together!