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What is HAES? So glad you asked.
Learn to accept yourself, then accepting others is more rewarding.

Learn to accept yourself, then accepting others is more rewarding.

Health at Every Size might sound like a New Age phenomena, but it’s not. It started in the baby boomer days of the 1960’s.

If you missed it between Save The Trees and Save The Earth, others didn’t.

People have always come in all sizes, however shaming is usually relegated to one size. And it doesn’t help anyone.

Have you ever been called fat? Me, too, and it went like this: A skinny old man (I’m 59 to be fair) came up to me in my gym and asked if I like working out? Did I like pushing weights around, he asked?

Then he dropped his little bomb. “There’s one exercise you’re not doing, pushing away from the dinner table.”

Ho, ho, ho, hilarious. I got shamed by a tendon and bone geezer covered in skin with brilliant capped teeth and orange hair-dye. He set me straight.

Did I respond by calling him a tendon and bone geezer? Did I get angry? Would you?

In a world of agendas, people outside the height/weight proportion ideal are easy targets. Stick figures with lungs feel it’s their duty to remind anyone beyond the norm how far they’ve strayed.

See what I’ve done here? Returning fire on self-righteous attitudes is no better than any other body shaming. Do I feel better making fun of painfully thin people? Not at all. You never know their story, any more than they know yours. Skinny folks may have a bad disease they’re fighting, and part of the fight is ranting about weight.

That’s an illness compounded by a bad attitude. Good luck on that healing path.

Health At Every Size encourages you to relax about the onslaught of diet and exercise advice. From quick weight loss schemes to high-tech gimmicks to health risking surgery, take a step back and reflect on your approach to your day.

Would you rather leave the house in a bundle of anxiety about how others perceive you, or start the day knowing you’ll do the best you can to make it great day for you and those you meet?

The first way adds to the pile of everyday life, the other reduces the load on you and everyone else.


Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health… Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.
Health at Every Size is the new peace movement.
Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.

I showed this to Dr. Gillaspie, ND (also my wife) who said HAES is an approach to health she supports. It fits the naturopathic philosophy like it was written by a naturopathic doctor.

Health isn’t determined by a dress size, a waist size, or a twin of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons making weight related comments at a gym.

It is determined by the amount of pesticides you ingest, by how much high fructose corn syrup producers add to packaged foods, and water, among other elements like good sleep.


Show you the path to vitality and how to stay healthy (once you feel the results of health and vitality you will want to improve even more).
Helping you stay on path and follow the basic health principles (when you recognize the guideposts you will stay on track).
Teach you how to be accountable for your health (accountability is a choice you learn to make).
Help you make progressive improvements in you and your family’s health (setting an example of health for others helps them learn).
Wellness checkups for all members of the family (early detection is key to treatment).
Develop your resistance to reduce disease and illness (good health practices are a shield).

Think about this mission statement the next time you see a doctor who spends your time checking your prescriptions, scrolling computer screens, then writing a new script for you.

Two things happened recently that put HAES in perspective. One was a mountainous hike with my millennial sons. They didn’t say they wanted to walk their old man down. No one said, “We’re gonna break you,” but it felt it.

I was so happy to keep up, that I had the vitality to endure the march. It felt like a blessing not to breakdown on the trail and turn back. Was it hard? Was it painful? Since every trail in the Columbia Gorge goes up, yes it was hard and painful. Most of all it was glorious stress, which I reported after we finished.

The other event was talking to a sixty nine year old lady in a swimming pool. She said she didn’t care what people thought of her body. Due to illness and accidents, she was headed for a wheelchair. Instead, she headed for the gym.

“If I didn’t come in here every day, I’d be in a wheelchair. My feet are shot. My ankles and knees ache. But getting in here gives me enough relief that I can walk to my grandkids soccer games. I can still get around, just not very far or very long.”

Then we talked about the Italian cooking she learned from her grandmother. Grandma never wrote anything down. If you asked her about her recipes she’d say, “A little of this, a little of that.” You had to watch to learn.

It’s the same idea behind HAES, with a twist. Learn to accept who you are as you are by ignoring the culture of ‘Never Too Thin.’ Do that and be ready to hear, “What is different about you? Something’s changed.”

Once you’re good with who you are, everything changes.

(Thank you Michele.)





About David Gillaspie
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