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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #50: Does My Practice Align with Health at Every Size?

Show Notes

October 11, 2023

In this week's episode, we are discussing the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. We'll discuss the principles of HAES, and I'll discuss the ways in which my practice both does and doesn't align with their framework.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 50. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Good morning everyone. I am so excited to have you here with me today. Today is episode number 50 of my podcast and I just want to take a minute to celebrate that with you all because I have been really passionate about doing this, but there's times where it's been easy and times where it hasn't been, and I'm so glad that I have been able to show up for you all, share this information, help get my message out to everyone. I want to thank you all for being my listeners. If you have been listening, whether you just started or whether you've been with me from the beginning, thank you so much for being my listener. It has been so fun over the last 50 episodes to see how this podcast has grown. See it get into the hands of more and more people. And today I would like to ask you and request if you have someone in your life that you think may benefit from this podcast, please share it with them. Maybe you have a favorite episode or maybe you're just sharing the whole thing, but I would love to get my message into the ears of more people so I can help them achieve a healthy weight, understand their weight, and move forward in their health journey. So if you have someone in mind who you feel like, oh man, they would really love what Dr. Stombaugh has to say, I would really appreciate it if you could share this with them. So thank you so much for doing that. Today I want to talk about the Health at Every Size movement and just what my perspective is on that and how my practice does or doesn't fit in within the health at every size framework. So recently I've had a conversation with a couple of people and they have asked me this question, how does your practice align or does it align with Health at Every Size? So I want to spend some time talking about both what is Health at Every Size, what does that movement mean, what are they doing? And then how my practice does or does not fit into that because I would describe my practice as health at every size adjacent. Many of the principles people are going to find ring true, but of course, we are focused on a weight loss journey. And so that is going to be where we differ. So let me talk about that a little bit. So many of you may be familiar with Health at Every Size, but if you are not, I want to take just a moment and talk about the Health at Every Size movement so that you can understand just what I'm talking about as I say that. And as we talk, I am on the Health at Every Size website and I want to read a few things just directly from their website so that I don't misrepresent them at all. So Health at Every Size has five primary principles, which are weight inclusivity, accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights. Two, health enhancement support, health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services and personal practices that improve human wellbeing, including attention to individual, physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs. Three, eating for wellbeing. Promote flexible individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs and pleasure rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control. Four, respectful care, acknowledge our biases and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma and weight bias. Promote information and services from an understanding that socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma and support environments that address these inequities. And five, life enhancing movement support, physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities and interest to engage in enjoyable movement to the degree that they choose. So I wanted to share that specifically with you so that you have that framework and then talk a little bit about how my framework is similar in some ways and different than in other ways. One of the things that I pride myself most in, as I think most obesity medicine physicians do, is that when you come to see me, you are not going to experience weight bias. We are going to talk about your food, we are going to talk about your exercise, we're going to talk about your life without any judgment. And it is so important to me to create that environment where we can talk very truthfully about what has happened so that we can learn about your experiences, learn about your thoughts and beliefs that have shaped you, that have led you to be in the place that you are so we can examine and evaluate those moving forward. And so you are not going to experience any judgment, no weight bias when you work with me similarly, that I create an environment where people feel comfortable. So that means a lot of my practice is telemedicine. So you probably are comfortable if you're seeing me from the comfort of your own home, sitting in your own home, in your office, wherever you may be. But when you're going into a doctor or another office, really anywhere in public that there are chairs that are going to be comfortable for any body shape and size. And all of these things are important, and I agree with that 100%. Also, one of the biggest messages that I have for my patients is that my goal is for you to learn to love your body and learn to understand what your body's needs are. So if you've been listening to my podcast for any length of time, you know that we talk about hunger signals, we talk about satiety, we talk about understanding your body and all of the signals that it is sending to you. As my patients go through the process of logging their food, it's really interesting how sometimes other things will come out. They'll realize, oh wow, these certain foods are migraine triggers for me, or irritable bowel syndrome triggers for me, for example. Or recognizing foods that make their body feel good or foods that make their body feel not as good. And so it is through that process that we are not excluding any food groups. We are not demonizing any food groups. We are just simply learning how foods make you feel. And then what I'm doing also is using that as a framework to help support you in your weight loss journey. So I'm providing information and knowledge about how different foods may fuel your body. We're making sure to emphasize protein in order to support muscle mass. We're making sure to emphasize healthy fats in order to improve satiety. And so there's a lot of messaging that I will share with you about how these foods can support you both in your health and in your weight loss journeys. But there are no foods that are going to be off limit. Those foods that are feeling like they're off limit foods that maybe you've excluded from your diet in the past, a lot of times we have really serious cravings for those foods. We have a reason why those foods are off limit. Maybe they were off limit for us in our childhood, and now that we're adults, we're eating them almost out of rebellion. And so exploring foods that feel like they have power over you so that you can feel empowered to be you are in charge and that you're in charge also from this loving place. So I think a lot of that message is aligned with Health at Every Size. However, the goal is weight loss. One of the things I do want to say though, and I think it's really important to emphasize, and I've said this before, weight loss. I use that phrase just because that's the common vernacular, right? People talk about losing weight, people want to lose weight, but reality is we don't want you just to lose weight. We want to help promote fat mass loss. So as you are losing weight, I don't want you to be losing all of your muscle mass, for example, or losing your bone mass, for example. And so we are going to be emphasizing other things in order to make sure that we promote a healthy muscle mass, that we promote healthy bones. So that will be things like emphasizing plenty of protein in the diet, making sure that I'm helping you to choose movement that is going to build your strength, especially for women, but really for anyone that we are doing exercises, strengthening exercises that reduce the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis, which is a decreased bone mass. And one of the biggest reasons that people suffer from hip fractures and that sort of thing. And so I don't want you to waste away, the goal is not just to be thin. The goal is really to promote health. And I do believe that people can be in a body that is larger and not have health issues. It is certainly not my goal to fix everyone. And it's interesting. Or when I say fix everyone, help everyone to be as thin as possible. That is absolutely not my goal. And it's interesting. I had a family friend say to me once we were out and about at a public event and there were bodies of every shape and size, and they were like, wow, at an event like this, you must just look around and see potential patients everywhere. You could just pass out your business card and fill up your practice. And it's interesting because I actually don't see that at all. I don't care what shape or size your body is when we're talking about the broader public. If you are happy with your body, you are happy with how it is functioning for you, that is great. I have no concerns for you. But if you have concerns for you, if you have been to the doctor recently and you're dealing with high blood pressure or elevated blood sugars, or you're dealing with fatty liver, or maybe you haven't seen those issues yet, but you've seen your mother or your father or other family members who've struggled with issues related to their weight and you're concerned about that, I would love to help you in order to explore how we can help you become healthier and how we can help you to lose weight alongside of that. And so that is where I am not looking broadly at people trying to fix the whole world, but as an individual, if you have concerns, if your doctor has concerns and you are looking for more support, that's where I come in and teaching you how to lose weight from a place of love. So from a place of learning about your body, learning about your body's needs, how can we help you in order to capture that as well as to lose weight and to do that in a healthy way. And so I think that's where things differ. I am absolutely a proponent of people loving and respecting themselves for society to decrease weight bias and for people to be able to feel comfortable in their bodies 100%. I think learning how to love oneself, learning how to feel comfortable in your body is one of the most important things. And it's interesting. I've had patients who've come to me, particularly patients who've had yo-yos, but even patients who've lost weight that are still really unhappy. And I've said it before, there is nothing about being thin that is going to make you happy. Sometimes when we have this idea that thinness is superior, that thinness is going to make our lives better, it turns out that it doesn't. And it turns out a lot of times, especially when the journey to thinness is a journey of restriction and a journey of sort of forcing oneself or fighting against oneself, that whole journey feels awful. And the thinness that may result from that also feels awful. And so the reason that people are often not able to maintain their weight loss is they've done it from this place of hatred of fighting, and they have accomplished their weight loss in a way that was not sustainable and that was working against their body. And so instead, we are working together to work with your body to understand what your body needs, how different foods serve it, how different exercises serve it. And I'm going to help guide you and provide that framework in order to achieve health and long-term weight loss success. So if this is a message that resonates with you, especially patients who have aligned with the Health at Every Size movement and are also thinking about losing weight, I think there can be some confusion there of, okay, I really like the message of Health at Every Size and I want to lose weight. And I think sometimes that can feel like a betrayal and there can be some confusion of how do I move forward from this place? And so if that sounds like you or sounds like someone that you know and you're interested in losing weight from a place of love, from a place of partnering with your body, from a place of achieving health, achieving strength, I would love to help you do that. The best way to get in contact with me is through my website. It's It's I like to do a free meet and greet with all of my potential patients. So what that means is you and I will sit down for 30 minutes. We'll talk about your health goals, talk about where you're at, what you're interested in, and I will talk about my practice, and we can decide together if those two things align with one another. So if you were interested in that, I would love to get in touch with you. Please reach out on my website. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I will see you all next week. Thank you so much for joining me today. Bye-bye.
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