HAES, SELF LOVE AND LOOKING AT YOUR HEALTH.


*Disclaimer: The following post is a PERSONAL OPINION PIECE. I understand that many people may not agree with what is said, but please kept tact and freedom of speech in your minds. 

I want for you to feel good. I want your face to radiate wellness and self confidence and your skin to shine. I do not, repeat - do not - want you to look any certain way. 

When I started this blog, I knew that with the territory of this market, there are just as many people that will dislike me, as appreciate me. In the past couple of years, interest in fitness and wellness has quite literally exploded, just about everyone from ponsonby mums to your next door neighbour and his cat has an opinion on what you should be doing or eating or juicing. 

The fact of the matter is, is that the biggest marketing and selling point in the industry is weight loss. Pills, shakes, expensive fitness equipment and accessories are what keeps this world turning, and everybody knows it. 
The problem with this is that the industry preys on basic human emotional needs: to be attractive, to feel wanted, to feel accepted. And it takes every little worry in your head and exploits it. 

Societies obsession with weight is harmful and destructive - but it doesn't stop on the weight LOSS side of the spectrum. A direct result of the pressure to lose weight comes the fight back, which in most circles is now called HAES. Health at every size. 

The basis of HAES is clear - you have the ability to be healthy no matter what size you are. 
And for the most part I agree. 


This blog is about wanting to improve your fitness and feel healthier and happier, it's not about losing weight. If you weigh 50kg or 120kg and you genuinely feel happy with yourself and you can honestly say that you feel healthy and not at all concerned with your life choices - then that's exactly what I want. I am so happy for you! 

But if you can look deep inside yourself and ask : 
  • Am I happy? 
  • Do I have existing health problems that bring me down? 
  • Am I able to do all the things I want to do, or is my health or fitness restricting me? 
And if you answered no - that's where I want to help. 

HAES has good principles. The issue that arises with a sensitive topic like weight loss is that it gets extreme fairly fast. On a large scale, HAES has turned many people down an unhealthy path. For example I went on tumblr and searches the HAES tag. What I found was interesting and seems to show the problems that I mentioned.
I saw heavily obese people with conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, eczema, arthritis and asthma say to the world : I cannot fix these things, I therefore accept myself like this and do not need to change. 

I absolutely do not have an issue with self acceptance, NOR am I fat shaming - what concerned me and frankly, made me upset was the fact that they choose to live with painful conditions rather than ask for help because they think that health = must be skinny. HAES Is not HAES if your weight is causing treatable conditions that can be potentially life threatening if untreated. 
A person of any size with untreated diabetes is a huge problem. 

What is not okay, is for people to discourage overweight or underweight people with SERIOUS ILLNESSES to not seek help because of vanity reasons. Accepting that you may need help or may need to make a change does not mean that you hate yourself! You can love and respect yourself and your body enough to acknowledge your issues and to work on them in a manageable way. 

I'm going to be a little blunt here: Obesity causes a lot of health problems. Heart disease, strokes, breathing problems, sleep apnea, diabetes, joint pain and arthritis for some. 

In my part as a health writer I will never honestly tell you that being obese is good for your health. It's not because I am a fat shamer or I prefer to be skinny or anything like that - it's because I genuinely want you to be healthy and happy. 

But also: Being underweight is extremely unhealthy as well. Being underweight can cause infertility, hair loss, fragile bones, limited growth, heart problems and anaemia. I will also NEVER tell you to lose an unhealthy amount of weight, and not because I am skinny shaming either. 

One in 3 (31%) New Zealand adults (15 and over) are clinically obese. Another 34% is clinically overweight. 

This is glaringly obvious to me, and I hope you too, that we as a country have a major problem. I personally think it's our relationship with food that is the issue, rather than not enough exercise, but thats another story for another day. What I want is for us all to take a look at our own personal relationships with food and fitness and see if there is room for growth. I am not saying you need to completely change you life around, but think back to the above questions : Could I be doing anything to make myself feel healthier? 

I think it's about time we all stop shaming and blaming each other - skinny, fat, fit , slut.. Anything. If you feel the need to comment on someone else's body, I want you to think for a moment. 
  • Did they ask for this opinion? 
  • Is this opinion constructive and welcome? 
  • Is this opinion hurtful? 
  • Is it my business? 
If you answered NO to any of these questions, keep your thoughts to yourself. 
Body positivity is amazing and I so wholly support the movement, but I have to have a realistic mindset in the niche that I am in. 

To be healthy you don't have to weigh a certain amount, or eat only raw food or drink a lot of protein shakes. 

The thing I love about health and fitness is that it's so personal! It's all about when YOU feel best! That, my lovely readers, is what makes me so happy. 

If you take anything away from this essay, take these points: 

- Take care of yourself, first and foremost. Nourish your body, keep your brain happy and treat yourself with respect.

- Keep a clear head and try not to fall under societies pressures - on either side of the weight spectrum. 

- If you are feeling ill, run down or just generally not healthy - it may be time to have a think about your lifestyle and the choices you make. 

Thank you for reading. XO 

10 comments:

  1. I would just like to say FUCKING AMEN. ALL OF THIS. This is exactly what I want to say to people, but I could never say it without coming across as a dick - but you have worded this perfectly without saying anything that could come across as offensive.

    I am overweight, and am actively trying to change that - not just because I want to lose the excess weight, but because I want to live a long and healthy life, and exercising/eating healthy is the only way for me to achieve that. It doesn't mean I'm unhappy with the way I look, it's just that I know I can improve things - and improving my health is my number one priority. oxoxo

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    Replies
    1. YAY! Thank you so much for your support on this sensitive topic. Your last paragraph is exactly what I hope others out there are thinking! Yes, so much yes.

      XOXO

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  2. Rhiana! This is a topic that I've found really conflicting in terms of HAES myself but haven't known how to word it. Weight related illness is the biggest pressure on our health system and on quality of life, what that means is different for everyone though. It's just recognising what that means for you. I know that personally I'm carrying too much weight for myself at the moment, and while that only equates to the larger end of size 14, I'm not comfortable, I'm not as sprightly etc. It's an awkward thing to vocalise though because people larger than me just see that I'm smaller. The shape of it isn't the point, the feeling is.

    GOOD JOB. xxxxxx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Madi. I have been thinking about this topic for a long time and I'm really glad that I finally was able to put my feelings into words. You seem to have understood me perfectly and I'm so happy.

      XOXO

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  3. I have always struggled with my weight. I say that in the sense that I have never felt truly uncomfortable but that I have always felt pressure to be thinner. I am large and I have a problem with my lower back but it's not caused by my weight by rather my lack of fitness. It's disheartening when people assume it is because I'm big.
    But I have a really supportive family and boyfriend who make me feel beautiful no matter my size as long as I'm happy and healthy. I think if I had not had this, I would have struggled even more.

    I think you've done a good job of talking about the issue without judging. Even when you say that being obese is not healthy (which it's not) you're not condemning a group of people, you're just pointing out facts and you're doing it in a nice way.
    The problem with HAES is that it sometimes forgets that size and health can be different topics. And accepting that you're overweight or a little big does not mean that you eat 2 pizzas and drink a 1.5ltr a night. You can be comfortable in your skin, accept your size, be larger than "standard" and still look after your health.

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    Replies
    1. You are so correct about support systems, Sam - they really can make or break you in this kind of situation. I'm so glad that your family and boyfriend are so great to you!
      Your comment about size and health is great too, that's the main point I was trying to get at.

      So happy that you read XOXO

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    2. It was my pleasure. I always enjoy reading your blog, your posts are very well thought out and very logical.

      I hope you'll write a few more opinion pieces (perhaps on detox teas and quick fixes etc?) because you're obviously very good at it and it's fantastic to have this sort of thing out there for everyone to see :)
      Keep doing you, Rhiana!
      xxx

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  4. This is written amazingly! Love the honestly!

    I firmly believe crazy diets don't work! And that they are not good for you mentally. Depriving yourself from things is not the way to go... you do not need to be thin to be healthy, geez you don't even need to be thin to be fit. Advertising is crap with how the portray this point! I don't know if you have seen this ad but i quite like it.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/sport/video-netball-advert-sparks-controversy-2015031215#axzz3U9NIim4A

    ReplyDelete
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