When I first started out in the fitness and wellness industry, I coached intentional weight loss because I knew it was expected of me. I preferred to help people get strong, build muscle, and feel more empowered, but I believed that weight loss and fat loss for clients who wanted it was just part of the job.
I eventually reached a point where I truly felt like coaching weight loss as a primary goal no longer aligned with my values. However, I wasn’t sure if I could build a sustainable business without it. So I went into intensive research mode to learn as much as I could about the alternate weight-inclusive paradigm.
I ultimately decided that I no longer wanted to take on intentional weight loss clients, and a lot of other things changed, too. For example, I stopped centering my own thin, privileged body in my social media. I stopped taking measurements of my clients’ bodies and asking them to take progress photos. I also brought social justice to the forefront of my work and committed to “learning in public.”
It seemed unethical to me to promise people weight loss as a solution for my clients’ problems when I knew that I couldn’t help them sustain it for the long-term, and I knew they’d have to adopt potentially unhealthy behaviors to reach their goals.
We’ve been taught that so many things in life can only be attained through weight loss, such as being healthy, being fit, being successful, being sexy, etc. But there are much more direct methods to achieve those things.
That’s because weight loss and aesthetic changes are not behaviors, they are outcomes. The key to my work is to focus on behaviors that can get people closer to their goals instead of getting hung up on an outcome like weight loss that may not be possible for many different reasons (e.g., genetics, hormones, stress, sleep, etc.).
Health At Every Size (HAES) and weight-inclusivity are all about ways that we can adopt health-promoting behaviors without worrying about our weight on the scale specifically. This is in contrast with the current popular practice of telling people in larger bodies that they should lose weight through any means necessary, even if those means are ultimately unhealthy.
Since adopting these practices in my coaching, I am much happier with the work that I do and I see long-lasting changes in the health and well-being of my clients.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Christy Harrison’s Food Psych podcast
- To learn more about white supremacist beauty standards, I recommend the book Fearing The Black Body by Sabrina Strings
- An illustration of what set point theory is and how it works
- Helpful books to learn more about Health At Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating include:
- You can find more information about why diets don’t work in these resources:
- Resources that debunk the connection between health and weight that so many of us were taught to believe [CW: many of these resources use stigmatizing language such as “obesity” or “morbidly obese”]:
- Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong
- How Obesity Became a Disease
- Long-term Effects of Dieting: Is Weight Loss Related to Health?
- ‘The Obesity Paradox:’ When Obese Patients Fare Better Than Healthy Ones
- Study: Healthy Obese People Don’t Face Increased Death Risk
- How and why weight stigma drives the obesity ‘epidemic’ and harms health
- Big fat lies about obesity
- Resources that explain why “concern trolling” (i.e., shaming people for their bodies because you’re worried about their health) is both harmful and counterproductive:
- Resources that support a weight-inclusive approach to care:
- Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift
- Is Permanent Weight Loss a Myth?
- The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss
- A weight-neutral versus weight-loss approach for health promotion in women with high BMI: A randomized-controlled trial
- Databases where you can find HAES-informed, weight-inclusive practitioners in various fields:
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Featured on this Episode:
Shohreh Davoodi, the host of the Redefining Health & Wellness podcast, is a weight-inclusive wellness coach located in Austin, Texas. She is certified in intuitive eating and personal training and helps clients improve their relationships with exercise, food, and their bodies. You can work with Shohreh in person in Austin or online from anywhere in the world. You can find her on her website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
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