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Life-Enhancing Movement: A Health at Every Size Principal

Health at Every Size (HAES) has a phrase “Joyful Movement”. This phrase challenges the concept that  diet culture has indoctrinated in us that exercise is to make you smaller, help you fit a mold and must follow lots of rules. HAES’s concept of “Joyful Movement” nudges us to look at movement differently. HAES is all about self-love, self-acceptance, and celebrating and loving on the fabulous body you're in. One of the Health at Every Size® Principles: offers the principal of Life-Enhancing Movement. Life-Enhancing Movement exists to support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

Recently, I felt my body craving different movement than my current practice was providing. After much research assessing studios, types of practices and assessing for the safety of my own body in a movement-based class I felt excited to give Pure Barre a try. In my experience the language and community the instructors use around celebrating different bodies and abilities as has been incredibly empowering and the Beyonce tracks don’t hurt either.

 Today I signed up for a class (and instructor) that I knew would be fun for me – I woke up feeling excited to lift heavier weights and find some mental challenge with trying a few new moves (plus her playlist is my favorite). During today’s class I found myself next to some class “regulars” who were rocking it. I got in my head and focused on their abilities instead of MY form. By warm up I had lost my joy for the class as I engaged in a secret competition of trying to keep up. The more competitive I got the more form I lost- my knees kept locking each new movement. With a gentle hand ( I consented to) my instructor would walk by and offer an adjustment. Panicked with competition, I started looking around, wondering if anyone else was locking their knees and then would lock my knees again.

The third, fourth or fifth adjustment I blurted out “damn it – why do my knee’s keep locking”. She smiled and touched my body to help it soften and then said, “soften and slow- protecting your body is the goal of softening”.

I smiled to myself with the keyword soften. It was so obvious how diet culture, comparison and a weird silent competition took me straight out of joyful movement and into an old pattern. 

I made the choice to break form, shake my body to hopefully reset. When I made the mindful choice to notice my body it was immediately apparent how tight, locked and honestly uncomfortable it was. I signed up for this class for movement I was excited about- not rigidity.

My past “stuff” got in front of my joyful movement. When I mindfully reengaged my brain, my body just softened. Everything that was held so tight just melted. Moving forward with mindfulness took me home to my goal today “to engage in enjoyable movement to the degree I choose” – not the movement of the girl next to me.  

I walked out of class today knowing that I cared for my body but also my mind. Diet culture can find us anywhere, When it does we can mindfully shift and proceed knowing that we can offer our past and current body and mind, softness.

Ps- I’ll keep you posted on those damn knees.

Health at Every Size


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