Dances with Fat

Last night I asked the following question over on our active Facebook page

“Who knows what #HAES stands for”

It was met with a few wise arse comments, a couple of “I dunno’s” and a few “I knows”

If truth me known a year ago I didn’t know what it meant either, as it is not a term used in every day life here in the UK.

It stands for Health at Every Size and is a concept I am buying into more and more each day.

My understanding is that the whole movement started off in the United States as a result of a book called “Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon PHD, but is seems like the UK is catching up fast, we even have our own support organisation where I found this useful definition.

haes1HAES stands for “Health At Every Size”. It is an approach to promoting health that first and foremost rests on the premise that everyone deserves respect. Whether we are thin, unwell, fat, healthy, fit, drink pop, eat burgers or wheat grass – whatever.

Many people first come across HAES as an alternative to dieting. And what an alternative! Rather than pursuing weight change, HAES advocates help people focus on health-gain and body respect. There are huge benefits for quality of life, sense of wellbeing and physiological outcomes that come from making peace with your body, not least having a healthy relationship with food and enjoying being active.

HAES isn’t suggesting that everyone of every size is always healthy – a popular misconception. Instead, it focuses on helping anyone interested in being as healthy as they can be in the body they have right now. Hand in hand with this it challenges size stigma to advance equality.

Weight change may or not occur when someone shifts to a HAES approach, who knows? HAES advocates aren’t anti- weight loss as such, we’re anti- the pursuit of weight loss. This is because health improvements can occur independently of weight change, and the weight-centred intervention is an unscientific and harmful endeavour that increases size stigma.

They also have a great FAQ section which definitely cleared a few things up in my mind when I read it.

I am by no means saying that I understand this concept 100% and I most definitely struggle daily with a lead by example approach to it, but I guess that is as a result of the journey I have been on personally with my body, a journey which has seen me pretty much waste 20 years of my life stressing about my body.

However I feel in a much happier place right now. In part that is because I am doing something I love which involves using my body daily and inspiring others, and also as a mum I have learnt to accept my body and appreciate the amazing things it can do. But I also think this new found confidence is also because I feel like there is an actual movement that I can attach myself too, although that does sound a little stalker/cult like doesn’t it?

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while I am sure you will see some similarities between what this way of thinking teaches and the messages I try to promote…Don’t beat yourself up, try your best, and that ultimately you don’t need to be thin to be happy and heathy. It has however already been pointed out that some of my previous blog posts are not very #HAES in particular my “Why every fat person should run a marathon” caused a bit of upset.

But I am willing to learn and hold my hands up in ignorance to what is a newish way of thinking for me. I guess now that I am working on this site full time I want to really investigate this approach further in an attempt to encourage or support more overweight women to find a love for running, just like I did all those years ago.

So what is with the title of this blog post?

Photo by Richard Sable

Photo by Richard Sable

Well…there is one lady in America that I have been following for the last month or so that has really inspired me. Her name is Ragen Chastain and she describes herself as a Dancer, Choreographer, Writer, Speaker, and Fat Person. She writes a blog called Dances with Fat which explores a range of body issues and topics.

As someone who grew up in the dance world, but lost her confidence as the years went by and the lbs went on I am envious of Ragens absolute joy of using her body through the medium of dance, and doing so completely unapologetically – I guess this is in parallel to how I feel about my running right now!!

I am inspired by Ragens tenacity and confidence to be who she is, and also her ability to accept others as she finds them, but this week I found an old blog post of hers that informed me that she too had run a marathon, I don’t know how I didn’t realise this before, but the post she wrote about that event really made me stop and think about some of the judgements we make about marathon runners.

Check the blog post out here.

The other thing that I have been pondering from Ragen’s site is the way in which she describes the financing of her site. Many bloggers ask politely for donations (but I know this doesn’t work) she instead encourages people to become members for a set fee each month, you still get great content if you don’t become a member, but if you do…well simply you are an awesome human being.

Take a look at the way she explains it, I’d love to know if you feel this makes sense – here it is 

In the next few weeks this site will start to have a more commercial vive to it, and this is for one reason. I need to eat. I have gone from a full time job on a good salary to being on maternity leave and then out and out unemployment. The launch of this new business venture is me putting out my stall and saying enough is enough. I have been giving advice to women about how to enjoy running for well over 10 years, and in all of that time the only income I have taken is through the sales of my ebooks, and that is hardly going to keep a girl for long in London town.

Content for new runners will continue to be free as will my regular blog posts but I too will be launching a membership scheme called The Clubhouse and I hope that some of you will see the value in joining this support network of other plus sized runners, but also in supporting me in my endeavours to serve this awesome community of women.

Full details will be available about what membership gets you and how much it will cost, but I want to leave you with these questions.

  1. How would you feel if this site came down tomorrow and these resources were gone forever?
  2. Where would you look for daily advice and motivation?
  3. What else is out there that will fill that void?
  4. If I don’t do this work who will? And I guess nobody will do it for FREE

(Reading this back, this looks a little like a threat – please be assured its not, I am not going anywhere)

Anyway, apologies if this is all a little disjointed but these are some things for you guys to think about over the next few weeks while the new site is being developed. I can’t tell you much about the new site other than it is going to be amazing and jammed pack full of resources and ways for you to support the campaign and each other.

 

On a slightly different note you can now sign up for this months FREE Virtual Run which we affectionately know here as #OneBigFatRun. Join thousands of other runners from around the world who have taken part over the past 10 month in this accessible event for plus sized and not so plus sized runners.

The concept is simple

Slide3Virtual Race One Big Fat Run June1. Sign up on Facebook (ie here)
2. Print out your race number
3. Encourage others to sign up
4. Choose your 5K route
5. Walk, Jog or Run your route on or around 29.06.14
6. Upload a finishers picture or time on social media
7. Tell the world you completed ♯onebigfatrun
8. Do it all over again next month
9. Be part of the @fattymustrun revolution
10. Get 1 Million Fat Women Running

Finally, I do hope you value the time and effort I have put into this site over the last 4 years, and in particular over the last 12 months when I could easily have packed it all in and taken a 9-5 job.

I love the possibilities this work has for my life moving forward, but more importantly I love the difference it could make to millions of women worldwide who haven’t even heard of the Fat Girls Guide to Running yet.

Do let me know what you think….

Comments
2 Responses to “Dances with Fat”
  1. carolhgrace says:

    thanks for the advice, now i think i shall dance a bit more.

    http://killerbody4u.com/

  2. LisaW says:

    I, too, am a dancer. A bellydancer with no fear of showing my belly to the world. Being a part of my bellydance community has done a lot for my self esteem, as there is NO judging and no body shaming. There IS embrace your body, love yourself at whatever size you may be. Having said that, I feel I am following the HAES mantra before I knew it existed. And I began running only recently not to lose weight (OK, maybe lose a bit), but to feel healthier. I enjoy reading your blog, and look forward to new entries to keep this butt jiggling down the lane to better health. Thank you!!

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