Healthy questions

Unsurprisingly, I’m sore today– but it’s not too bad, mostly my serratus and glutes. It could be lots worse. (Hopefully I don’t get more day 2 DOMS tomorrow.) I held myself to 30 minutes on the boring-ass elliptical machine to just get blood moving. How do people work out on that thing every day? It didn’t help that ESPN and golf were on the TVs, and I managed to pick up the world’s blandest magazine to read…

As most of you know, I’m a proponent of the HAES philosophy, which stands for Health at Every Size. It’s a pretty simple yet surprisingly revolutionary idea: that healthy behaviors should be accessible to all kinds of people. It seeks to encourage people to eat and move and live in ways that feel good and support their health, while discouraging weight loss as motivation and removing shame and stigma. I consistently see HAES misrepresented among its opponents, who claim that it means "healthy at every size," and that its proponents say fat people never suffer from illnesses related to their weight and people should never lose weight. Which is kind of silly; being fat is absolutely associated with certain ailments, though the cause-and-effect relationship is less well-studied.

But let’s go back to first principles and examine our assumptions about health.

It might be illuminating to ask a few questions here: what is health? What traits characterize a person who is in good health? How can people ensure good health as individuals? And what are some ways we, as a society, can promote health?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

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2 Responses to Healthy questions

  1. ebay313 says:

    One of my biggest issues is with “healthy at every size” implying that those who engage it must be healthy. Healthy behaviors and trying to be healthier in comparison to oneself is different than being healthy- HAES is open to people with any and all illnesses imo.

    I agree with a view of health that says it is more than simply the absence of illness, but I really suck at figuring out how to phrase good health within that framework. Most certainly though I think when talking about good health and being healthy we need a more comprehensive view of it that is not limited to physical health. Mental health is just as important, and many also talk about spiritual and social health as well, though when it comes to defining those, they always sound to me like subsets of mental health- understanding that mental health is more than just an absence of diagnosable mental illness.
    Actually when it comes to mental health it’s easier for me to understand health as something more than just absence or illness because even if you are not mentally ill, mental health to me is about having productive and non-harmful coping mechanism, feeling fulfilled in all areas of life (see social and spiritual health), being able to cultivate relationships that are beneficial and supportive and being able to walk away from those that are toxic and harmful (social health), et cetera. I guess from a similar position we could look at physical health, that you may not have any illness that is diagnosable but good health also means eating things that provide nourishment for your body, being able to accomplish a certain level of physical tasks without difficulty, and generally taking care of one’s physical body and being able to rebound from everyday ills (similar to mental health where I think it includes being able to cope with normal levels of stress, as well as coping through greif and loss.)
    And with that definition though, of course it bears understanding that not being in good health is not an indication of personal moral failing. And both individually and from a community level I think it’s important to understand a difference between being in good health and behaviors to promote better health (which is relative individuals).

    • G says:

      I like your point about health being strongly related to our ability to cope with and rebound from physical and mental stressors. It’s not at the baseline when our health is most important– it’s when we need to recover from something.

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