I have recently seen the Body Positive movement (specifically the “Health At Every Size” or HAES movement) make some comments condemning people who want to pursue fat loss or weight loss. Let me just say really quick that true Body Positivity does not condemn someone for wanting to make changes to their physique and/or their level of health. I feel like many parts of the Body Positivity and HAES movements have gone too far, turning into the very thing they were against in the beginning: shaming someone based on what they choose to do (and not do) to their bodies.
I understand that there is a problem with using #bopo for marketing purposes that perpetuate diet culture and extreme fitness. That is a practice I do not agree with. Don’t call yourself #bopo and then use predatory tactics to make people feel inadequate until they buy your product. That’s a shitty way to sell something.
But, I am a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor. Does that mean I sell my services and products? Yes. It is my job to help people find ways to become more active and *gasp* maybe even make changes to their bodies like losing fat or building muscle. And that is okay, as long as I know that my clients are pursuing their goals for the right reasons, and not because they feel like they aren’t worthy as they are right now. I don’t promote dieting in any form, and I refuse to push extreme workouts guaranteeing quick weight loss. Even though this is a popular selling point, I know that it’s unrealistic and setting my clients up for failure in the long run.
Parts of the HAES and BoPo movements push the idea that “if people loved themselves that they would never want to make changes to their bodies.” When I hear that, I start to distance myself. You can absolutely be body positive and want to make changes to your own body. Frankly, it’s your fucking body and you have every right to change it as you see fit. And it’s my job to make sure that if you do want to improve your health and/or change your physique, that you do it in a way that is realistic and sustainable and makes you feel happier, healthier, and more confident.
I have seen arguments coming from the HAES and BoPo side that will try to convince you that making changes to your fitness and health for the long term don’t work so you shouldn’t even try. I disagree. What is important is how and why you are making the changes. And it all starts with building very small habits, which is something you don’t see anywhere in the diet and fitness industry. This industry is all about the complete overhaul, glorifying “no pain no gain” extremes, and creating guilt around our food and exercise choices. This is why 95% of people rebound back to their original weights (if not more) after a couple years. These techniques don’t work. And it’s about time that we changed our approach to improving our health.
Unlike some big #bopo personalities, I’m not going to sit here and shame you for wanting to look and/or feel different. And unlike a FRICK TON of #fitspo personalities, I am not going to bully you based on your current weight, your current health, or your habits. Not my place (and not anyone’s place!), and that is not what a trainer (who truly cares) does. I am not here to shame you based on your personal choices in regards to your body. EVER. A trainer is there to help you navigate the path you want in regards to your body. Period.
I hope this clears up some things about where I stand with the HAES and #bopo communities. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.