Healthy Lifestyles vs. Weight Loss: Health at Every Size (HAES) Wins Again

By Marsha Hudnall on 02/08/2006
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CeBe’s post on Monday encouraging us to walk for health, not weight loss, is a good opportunity to again talk about the Health at Every Size movement.  It’s an approach to living that’s about feeling great, not about spending your life in search of a specific size. 

The idea appeals to a lot of us, but it can be hard to give up dreams of fitting into those pants from our wonder years.  So when we think of giving up the search for weight loss, and focusing on just living healthfully instead, well, some of us essentially exchange the struggle for weight loss with the struggle to give up the search for weight loss.  We manage to keep ourselves stuck.

A study published last November in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (Promoting Healthy Weight: Lessons Learned from WIN the Rockies and Other Key Studies) might help get us unstuck.  It showed that small diet- and physical activity-related lifestyle changes, such as those encouraged by an HAES approach, can make a big difference to healthy body weights. 

You might also be interested to learn what the study showed was related to higher body weights:

Ø      Increased frequency of eating food while doing another activity

Ø      Drinking sweetened beverages such as soft drinks

Ø      Consuming foods from fast-food restaurants

Ø      Lower frequency of participation in physical activity

Ø      The perception of not getting as much exercise as needed

A brief comment on a couple of items from this list:  If you know us at Green Mountain, you know we don’t encourage thinking of foods as forbidden.  That only sets us up for feelings of deprivation if we really want the foods we forbid ourselves.  Yet there are foods that warrant careful consideration as to how frequently we eat them. We’d probably rank fast foods and sodas from the list above high on that list.  While a fast-food hamburger and soda won’t make us fat, if we eat them regularly, we may find such meals don’t leave us feeling great, ready to live that healthy lifestyle that promotes healthy weights.

I found it interesting that the perception of not getting as much exercise as needed was also related to higher body weights.  Suggests to me that how we think has as much of an effect as how we behave.  In reality, though, our thinking precedes our behavior, so I can see how getting discouraged about not getting enough exercise could stand in the way of getting enough.  Make sense?

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