I've been thinking about the Health at Every Size controversy, which really shouldn't be so controversial. You could call the movement "Health" and that sums it up too. The idea is to focus on healthy behaviors regardless of size. The movement takes heat because people assume it's promoting "every size is healthy" or "never lose weight" or "everyone needs to gain weight and not worry about it." Those interpretations are fear-based and are still putting weight ahead of health. Weight is not a healthy behavior; it's an outcome. How did you get there? What are you doing to stay there? How are you treating yourself? The answer can be "I got here through punishment, neglect, or self-loathing" at any weight. That makes those behaviors unhealthy. Weight is not inherently healthy or unhealthy. A focus on weight is missing the point, which is what HAES is getting at. And then fear will go....but, but, but....and something about cancer, heart disease, and joints as an excuse for not treating yourself better. It won't acknowledge the health problems you're already experiencing as a result of restriction.
I was listening to a podcast recently and someone said, "More than feeling healthy, people want to feel free and in control." Which is funny, because control is an illusion, and the opposite of free, but it's true, we want both. We went the feeling that we're safe and it's all going to be ok. That's what we're trying to achieve with diet and fitness schemes. We want a guarantee of safety and success, and we also want to do whatever we feel like and not worry about it. Humans are complex.
The interesting thing is that if you're compassionate, you can't fail. There is always a flexible option, a degree of freedom or a healthy choice that's doable and not too overwhelming. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, or all at once. My disordered mind liked to tell me: "Either you keep restricting or you give up and gain weight and hate yourself." For the longest time, I couldn't envision anything between the two extremes. That I might love to workout but not have any desire to smash myself, or eat vegetables just because they're tasty and make me feel good, or have some chocolate without needing to eat all the chocolate in the world. I wanted to choose a side, and it had to be the winning side. Right/wrong, good/bad, win/lose. That mental construct is so limiting. It keeps us trapped. The more we can learn to be flexible with our choices, the more freedom we experience, and ironically, the more safety. That self-confidence we'd been trying to achieve with new diets and restrictive schemes? If we learn to trust ourselves, it's always there.