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3 Reasons to Set Your Scale Aside (and get healthier)

Do you love the idea of ditching your scale, but you’re worried about your weight?

If so, you’re not alone. You’ve been taught to focus on your weight (like all of us) – with your BMI number labeling your supposed health status.

And holy moly, as a culture, we spend enormous amounts of time, energy and money focused on weight and worried about what we see in the mirror.

So first, let’s honor that it’s freakin’ hard to live in this perfectionist body culture.♡

Next, I know that you wouldn’t be a part of my community if you didn’t care deeply about your health. Yet you may not know how to take care of your health without focusing on the scale.

Perhaps…

✔️ You’ve been focused on weight loss for a long time and maybe you’ve had some “success” but then you worried about gaining it back. And sure enough, when the diet or food plan ended or you found being hypervigilant with food and/or exercise just got plain exhausting, or life got in the way (because you are an actual human being) – you, like most people, gained it back and maybe more. This is not your fault, my lovely friend. Diets are not designed to be sustainable long term.

OR

✔️ You’re stressed about maintaining your current weight – berating yourself anytime there’s a scale fluctuation. And you too, my friend, it’s not your fault either because weight has been a proxy for health and no body talks about how weight fluctuations are normal. So no wonder you worry.

If not scale focused, what can you do to take care of your health?

You can take the approach I took with my current client, Maureen (and all my clients).

Mo Living Her Best Life

Here’s a shout out to Mo – who is always smiling!

“Mo” was dissatisfied with pandemic weight gain when she started her coaching journey with me. I deeply respect body autonomy. So only Mo gets to decide what’s best for her body. I never dismiss her (or anyones) desire to lose weight.

Instead, I shared with her my reasons (see 3 of them below) for not focusing 🔎 on her weight and how this approach would make her healthier and yes, much happier 😊 along her well-being journey. You can read Mo’s full story, in her words below in the P.S.

What’s the approach?

It’s taking care of yourself.

“Uh duh, Tanya. That’s what I’ve been trying to do!”

But has your self-care been focused on the number on the scale?

♡ What if your self-care wasn’t about self-control or “shoulds?”

♡ What if you didn’t have to use willpower to white-knuckle it to “be good” and restrict your favorite foods?

♡ What if you put the scale aside and practiced self-care from a place of self-love (instead of body hate or fear)?

TRUTH BOMB: Focusing on your weight can get in the way of you taking care of your whole self, in your unique body.

3 Reasons Why You Setting Your Scale Can Make Your Healthier

#1 Your weight and BMI are not the best indicators of your health.

♡ Consider a woman in the “normal” BMI range and looks “fit” yet she struggles to eat well and move her body because of lack of time, money. She smokes to “deal with” stress and isolates herself. A doctor could miss helping her improve her health if she isn’t asked about her behaviors and life circumstances.

♡ Consider a young man in the “o” BMI category. His behaviors with food and movement are terrific, as are his health labs, yet he’s considered unhealthy by BMI numbers.

♡ Consider a woman in her sixties who falls in the “underweight” category who might be praised by friends and family for “being good” with food and exercise, yet her behaviors are disordered.

It’s kind of a mess, right?!

We know that people can be healthy across the size spectrum. I have patients that are ‘normal BMI’ that have Type 2 diabetes. And I have patients that are well above ‘normal BMI’ that don’t have any health problems. If you hide their weight, if you just compared their labs to each other, you’d think the person with the poorer labs was the heavier person. It’s not always true. – Dr. Gregory Dodell, Central Park Endocrinology, New York City – January 3, 2022, USA TODAY article – Everything you miss when you think weight is about willpower.

So numbers don’t mean what you think they mean.

You could be healthier at a lower or higher weight or maybe you’re already at your healthiest weight range (even though you, diet culture or your BMI label says otherwise).

Want to read more about BMI? The Myths of BMI Can Hurt Your Health

And by the way, weight fluctuations are normal. If the number on the scale goes in a direction you don’t like, it can unnecessarily make you feel crappy about yourself and send you spiraling back into “diety” behaviors – restricting, controlling, “shoulding” on ourselves. No bueno (good)!

That’s why an important part of learning Intuitive Eating (one of my favorite non-diet nutrition tools) calls for setting the scale aside because it gets in the way of you being able to listen to your own body’s signals with hunger, fullness, satisfaction and more!

Ok, let’s move on to the next important reason why you should take the focus off your weight.

#2 Weight is not a behavior

Research shows that it’s your self-care behaviors that impact your health and longevity not your weight class (BMI). This makes a lot of sense especially after reading the above real life stories.

Weight is not a behavior

So how are your self-care behaviors?

Are you taking care of yourself from a place of self-love? If so, great! ✰✰✰✰✰ (5 stars for you)!

But maybe, like all of us, you get in self-care ruts. (Yes, this includes yours truly 🤚). So first, please, please be kind and compassionate with yourself.

Maybe you didn’t sleep well and you’re exhausted, but you feel like you “should” get up early before work to exercise. (FYI, it’s better for your body to get rest than force a workout, yes, really

Then because you’re tired, so you crave carbs, sweets (check out: Why Am I Craving Carbs, Sugar) and then you beat yourself up over it. And when you get home, you order takeout because making dinner just takes waaaaay too much bandwidth.

Or maybe you just started a new job; you’re going through a divorce; you’re caring for an elderly parent or pet or you have to shuttle your kids to a zillion different activities; or you’re injured or ill; or you’re struggling with a mental health challenge and the list goes on……..

Often, your self-care rut is caused by a **combination** of things!

The best part of taking a self-love approach to self-care is that it’s flexible and you!!! get to choose what feels “doable” because you know yourself best. Period. I can’t stress enough how critical personal autonomy is to your success. Nobody likes to be told what to do – even if you think that’s what you need. I promise that you are full of wisdom. My job is to help you bring it forward.

Maybe you start with a gentle improvement to your eating habits, or moving your body in ways that you enjoy, or going to bed earlier, or having the wine a few nights instead of every night, or winding down with hot tea instead, or learning stress management techniques to calm your nervous system, or carving out time to connect with others, or making time for fun, or maybe learning to separate your self-worth from a scale number?

Focusing on the scale can be such an unnecessary strain on your health (which may already be super stressed – so let’s not add to it)!

#3 Your health is complex

Let me tell you two stories to illustrate the many factors that influence your health:

♡ Consider a woman with a higher weight (BMI) who lived healthfully into her hundreds. She drank a couple cocktails and ate fried food daily, smoked, did little to no exercise. But…she slept great, was super social, had little stress, had tons of friends, and a lovely family that adored her and she adored them.

♡ Now let’s consider a man who had a “ideal” body weight (BMI) and lived the life of health as a personal trainer and was “perfect” with his food. Yet he was a stressed about lots of things including maintaining his physique. He ate “healthfully” – but out of fear of getting a disease or gaining weight; he declined social invitations to workout or avoid the “unclean” food at the dinner party. Sadly, he died from a heart attack in his thirties. (His “health” background sounds similar to mine).

Why did one out live the other?

There are waaaay too many factors to consider, but the main point I’m making here is that weight isn’t one of them.

To summarize, the 3 reasons to set the scale aside are: weight (and BMI- booooo!) are not the best indicators of your health, behaviors are far more impactful and your health is full of complexities.

So together, we (like I did with Mo!) will focus on your self-care behaviors and all the factors that influence your health and well-being, all while allowing you to live your best life (and not feel guilty for simply enjoying an ice cream cone). And ultimately, trusting your body weight to settle where it’s healthiest for you. (And don’t worry, if you struggle with body image, I’m here to support you with this too)!

♡ How does that sound dear reader? Reach out and let me know! T

P.S.🤩 Here’s what the lovely “Mo” has to say about her well-being journey:

Mo Winter Biking

“I am fortunate to have found Tanya’s coaching services.

After 20+ years in a fast paced and high-pressure career it took the pandemic to “wake me up” to the fact that my version of wellness was not effective nor sustainable.

After two years in a toxic work environment, I found myself burned out, stressed, anxious, irritable, experiencing weight gain, relying on prescription meds and just an overall lack of joy in life. This overall sense of fragility led me to research and engage with a well-being coach.

I chose Tanya over other providers because I wasn’t looking for traditional therapy or psychology nor was I uneducated about health and wellness. Tanya provided a holistic all-encompassing approach that leveraged the tools I already had at my disposal. I felt Tanya was able to customize her coaching based on my life stage.

♡ There were no rigid rules but a journey that felt organic and customized to my needs.♡

Each week Tanya listened to my needs and empowered me with digestible knowledge based on current science in a range of fields. It was with that information I could adventure out in life experimenting with what worked best for me. Tanya supported me with accountability and creative solutions along the way.

No matter what your well-being goal is, feel confident that Tanya is proven, licensed and offers versatile programs for a wide range of client needs.

After just a short time partnering with with Tanya for weekly coaching, I have benefited from the following results in seven months: improved strength and mobility, reduced aches / pains, improved body composition, menstrual cycle and elimination of PMS symptoms, stabilized mood, reduced anxiety, minimized stress and improved sleep and my nervous system, improved work life balance resulting in a fulfilled life — eventually eliminating previously prescribed meds.

Having Tanya as a virtual coach was easier and more rewarding than I expected and has led me to truly embrace flexible self-care and overall life satisfaction! Thank you Tanya – I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you!” – Mo Lang

♡♡♡ Thank you, thank you, thank you Mo, for these kind words! (It’s such a JOY! to be working with Mo by the way).

And if you’re curious about coaching and how we can work together to reach your goals, click here to discuss long term deep health coaching and/or book your first session. ♡ Tanya

Reject dieting and learn Intuitive Eating

Maybe you’ve heard that diets don’t work and believe that diet culture’s “thin(er) is better” messaging is toxic. Yet you, like millions of other Americans, still want to lose weight.

You find yourself wanting a healthy relationship with food but you’re bombarded by the “New Year, New You” pressure to transform your body.

That makes perfect sense. And I get it because I too, as a former fitness expert and “eat this, not that” nutrition professional, fell prey to the “wellness” marketing that says you must, “look good to feel good.” Who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves? But remember, it’s diet culture that masquerades as “wellness” that convinces you that only one body type is “healthy” and to tie your self-worth to your looks.

Every January the mental berating in your head goes something like this – “Why can’t I just eat well without needing a “plan” to follow? Why don’t I have the discipline to sustain “success” after 30 days?”

Following the rules of “healthy eating” and restricting your favorite foods is exhausting. You feel guilty for ordering a Domino’s pizza or enjoying a Ghirardelli chocolate square after dinner; it’s only ok to eat these “bad” foods on a “cheat day.”

You’re “good” when you control your portion sizes, yet you’re hungry in an hour. But now it’s after 7pm and you “shouldn’t” eat because the “kitchen is closed.” “How can I possibly be hungry? I just ate.”

Or maybe you “can’t” eat because you’re still within your 16-hour intermittent fasting window. The negative self-talk in your head is loud, rigid, and lacking self-compassion. You wish you could stop thinking about food and your body all day, every day.

Does this sound like wellness? No.

What’s creating all this food drama? Diets.

Learn Intuitive Eating and reject dieting

Diets teach us to follow food rules that restrict or ban foods rather than listen to our own body’s food and self-care needs. Many of us believe that “dieting” is healthy eating and good nutrition. It’s not. Eating healthy includes having a healthy relationship with food. It’s approached gently and respects biodiversity – different bodies, have different needs.

The ✨ good news ✨ is that you can:

Ditch diets and learn how to eat intuitively

Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created Intuitive Eating in 1995, as an anti-diet, a response to the failure of “diet” plans. Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework with 10 principles designed to guide you back to attunement or body awareness – listening for and responding to your individual body’s needs for nourishment – physical, emotional, and psychological.

You were born knowing how to eat. As an infant, you cried when you were hungry and turned your head, refusing to eat, when you were full. But over time, you can lose this natural ability to honor hunger and fullness because external forces interfered.

  • Maybe you had to “clean your plate” even if you were full.
  • Or you were served portioned plates and not allowed to have a second helping despite being physically hungry.
  • Perhaps you weren’t allowed to have dessert unless you ate your vegetables.
  • And cookies or chips were forbidden foods in your home so when available you “binged” on them.
  • Or you learned that you “shouldn’t” trust your body’s signals when you first dieted.

So how do you return to eating intuitively?

“The first thing you do in Intuitive Eating is reject that diet mentality – meaning we’re not getting back on that diet this new year, we’re going to reject those juice cleanses and intense programs and start eating food when we’re hungry, we’re going to start making peace with all food,” says clinical mental health counselor and Therapy Thoughts podcast host, Tiffany Roe.

Interviewed on CBS News this month, Roe discussed Intuitive Eating as the antidote to dieting.

“The difference between a really healthy relationship with food and dieting is you feel connected to your body, you feel satisfied, you enjoy variety, you enjoy life, and you can listen and respond to all your bodies cues. Dieting doesn’t give us that result. Dieting is about restriction, obsession, fixation. And its short-term results never stick. We get stuck in this cycle of depending on dieting” says Roe.

So what if you want to eat pizza tonight and feel you shouldn’t?

“What I am going to say is going to go against everything we’ve learned in diet culture. Eat the pizza,” advises Roe.

“The dieting rules trigger an inner rebellion, because they’re an assault on your personal autonomy and boundaries” says Tribole and Resch. A 2012 research study “Dieting and Food Craving” by Massey and Hill provides evidence that dieters experience stronger cravings for the foods restricted on their plans compared to non-dieters.

Learn to eat intuitively and beat sugar cravings

A healthy relationship with food could be enjoying a green smoothie, because you like it – and pizza. Intuitive Eating takes an all foods fit approach to gentle nutrition where pizza isn’t “bad.”

Instead of restricting and banning foods, Intuitive Eating gently guides you back inside your body asking:

What do you need?

♡ Are you honoring your individual hunger and fullness?
♡ Which foods give you pleasure and make you feel good?
♡ And if not food, what are you hungering for in life – making a difference, more pleasure, connection?

You might have one big question:

Will Intuitive Eating make me thinner?

When your mind is stuck on your weight – the goal of diets, it interferes with the foundational concept of Intuitive Eating – body awareness – listening to the physical cues coming from your own body without diet culture “shoulds” and “shouldnts” getting in the way.

Intuitive Eating is an empowerment tool that guides you to trust your body to settle where it’s healthiest, not where diet and “wellness” culture says it “should” be.

Liberate yourself from diet culture and weight obsession in 2022. Reject dieting and eat intuitively. You are the expert of your own body.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to transform your relationship to food and your body? Get started!

You might also enjoy Intuitive Eating: Do you need to relearn how to eat?

Don’t let diet madness ruin the new year

“When I was little, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said, ‘Small.’

By the time I was 16, I had already experienced being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese. As a child, fat was the first word people used to describe me, which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to” says Blythe Baird in her spoken word poem video When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny which has received over 4 million views.

She describes a teenaged life filled with eating “skinny-pop,” complimenting each other’s thigh gaps, trying diets she and her friends found on the internet, “Googling the calories in the glue of a US stamp” and “hunching naked over a bathroom scale, trying; crying into an empty bowl of Cocoa Puffs because I only feel pretty when I’m hungry.”

When Baird lost weight, her dad was so proud that he carried her before and after photo in his wallet, relieved that he could stop worrying about her getting diabetes and finally see her taking care of herself.

“If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story” says Baird.

“So when I evaporated, of course everyone congratulated me on getting healthy. Girls at school who never spoke to me before stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it. I say, “I am sick.” They say, “No, you’re an inspiration.

How could I not fall in love with my illness? With becoming the kind of silhouette people are supposed to fall in love with? Why would I ever want to stop being hungry when anorexia was the most interesting thing about me?”

I share Baird’s story with you with urgency, before the new year, to stress the harms of continually reinforcing the societal norms that we’ve been socialized to accept such as dieting before any major life event, “swimsuit season,” beginning every January or actually just dieting in general.

Think of someone you know whose time, energy, money, physical and emotional health and self-worth – whose life is being stolen by the constant pursuit of maintaining or attaining an “ideal” body shape or size, that is, according to diet culture.

Maybe this person is your best friend, your mother, or you.

Nobody diets for fun

Like Baird, we try to control our bodies to belong, to be accepted as “healthy.” We believe we must “look good to feel good” about ourselves, the diet industry marketing messages promise.

Diet culture equates thinness, muscularity, and particular body shapes with health and moral virtue, according to author of Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison. You can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like this ‘ideal” she says.

And even if you have a small body, you may live with fear of weight gain.

I want you to know that you have a choice. Your only option for love and a content life isn’t to be a slave to the scale and other people’s opinions.

Ditch diet culture

You can choose to opt-out of harmful dieting and diet culture.

Dieting is disordered eating and is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an eating disorder, which can occur across the weight spectrum according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

And you don’t have to be actively “on a diet” to be swept up by the culture of dieting.

Disordered eating habits also include preoccupation with food and your weight, feeling stressed about food and whether you’re eating the “right” or “wrong” foods and rigid food rules. It’s fasting, cleansing, detoxing, skipping meals to save calories, avoiding a type of food or food group, drinking laxative teas.

We can take “healthy” eating too far. There’s a term for this, orthorexia, also disordered eating, which is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy foods.

The risks associated with disordered eating and dieting include developing a clinical eating disorder, osteoporosis or osteopenia, fatigue and poor sleep quality, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, muscle cramps, feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviors, and nutritional and metabolic problems according to National Eating Disorder Collaboration.

And because diet culture is deeply embedded in Western culture masquerading as health, wellness and fitness, disordered eating habits have become an alarmingly “normal” way to “take care of ourselves.”

Nearly 75% of women reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors in a 2008 survey of over 4,000 women done by UNC and SELF magazine.

“Ideal” weight as myth

But you have another option. You can separate “taking care of yourself” and your “health” from some “ideal” number on the scale.

Think about how we determine a “healthy” weight. It’s measured by BMI (body mass index) – just your height to weight ratio. That’s it. It doesn’t consider your eating or movement habits, muscle mass. It doesn’t factor in a long list of behaviors that impact your health such as smoking. It doesn’t consider your genetics, nor the complexities of health. BMI is a poor determinant of health.

Furthermore, ingrained beliefs that fat poses significant mortality risk are not fact.

Research reported in Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift shows that except at statistical extremes, BMI only weakly predicts longevity. People who are “overweight” or “obese” live at least as long as normal weight people, and often longer.

You can’t determine somebody’s health status just by looking at their body size. A small body may be healthy or not and the same is true for a larger body.

Honor Body Differences

With this knowledge, you can choose to honor that your body, other bodies may want to be different than what you and our culture think they should be.

Baird lamented that her “small’ body was the “most interesting about her,” but now as part of her healing “how lucky it is now to be boring,” says Baird.

“My story may not be as exciting as it used to but at least there is nothing left to count. The calculator in my head finally stopped. Now, I am proud I have stopped seeking revenge on this body.”

As the new year approaches and yet another wave of dieting madness tries to steal your self-worth, I want you to know that you have another option: you can ditch the false belief that there’s only one size that’s “healthy,” worthy of love and belonging and make peace with food and your body.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to transform your relationship to food and your body? Get started!

P.S. (You can watch Blythe Baird deliver her powerful poem, here).

(This article was originally published in the December 8, 2021 issue of Jackson Hole News and Guide.)

Ditch the weight-based resolutions

What if you didn’t start a new “diet” every January?

No restriction. No elimination. No guilt. No shame. No “shoulds.” No “failure.”

And what if you actually became healthier? No scale necessary.

Sounds great, right? Got it, you say. I’ve got one in mind that says it’s “not a diet.” Such “non-diets” fill our inboxes or social media feeds, promising to rid us of the “Quarantine15,” pandemic weight gain that I wrote about back in April (“As you shelter in place, forget about your weight”).

So first, a quick PSA: Don’t be fooled. Diets have rebranded by co-opting terms from eating psychology, Intuitive Eating and the anti-diet movement, claiming they’re not “fad diets.” Ultimately, if you have to restrict or eliminate specific foods — to limit when you’re allowed to eat or how many calories you can consume — yup, it’s a diet. Ultimately, if you’re promised weight loss, it’s a diet.

You might be thinking, “But what’s wrong with wanting to lose weight?” Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you or me (as I’ve been there too) — or anybody. Instead, what needs questioning are deeply ingrained cultural beliefs such as: It’s weight loss itself that makes you healthier; it’s fat itself that makes you unhealthy; health is entirely your personal responsibility and mainly is about what you eat and how you move, ignoring environment and systemic issues.

“Our stories and bodies are too complex and too varied to fit into the oversimplified narratives peddled by dominant culture,” says the website BeNourished.org. “You may not love the body you occupy, but will you respect it? Try to listen to it? Get curious about it?”

The desire to “diet” may just be a protective coping mechanism for living in a weight-obsessed, size-stigmatizing culture. We all want and deserve to belong, to feel good about ourselves. It’s a basic human need. When it comes to our approach to whole health, I believe we can do better.

Try healthy behaviors

Shifting to weight-neutral self-care can feel scary or impossible, or can bring up resistance. It’s natural. I felt this way, too. Separating weight from wellness took me years. This approach might not be for you, right now, or ever. And that’s OK, too. Body autonomy is yours, and yours only, to choose.

So with kindness and compassion I offer four health behaviors to try with the intention of planting a seed to awaken curiosity to learn more about how you can honor your body and yourself without restriction, elimination, guilt, shame or “shoulds.”

Ditch the scale

First, take one baby step and maybe put the scale away. You know how “that number” can either make or break your day, which is hard on mental health, which is often neglected in our pursuit of physical “health.”

Consider if you’ve ever given up on healthy behaviors because you didn’t reach your “ideal” number or couldn’t maintain it. When you practice healthy behaviors your body may prefer to weigh more, less or stay the same. Your body is meant to change as you age and move through stages of life. There is no “ideal” weight you should be forever (as I’ve learned as 51-year-old, postmenopausal woman).

Furthermore, having “a number” interferes with your ability to listen for your body’s physical cues: hunger, fullness, satisfaction, how certain foods make you feel, how movement makes you feel.

So skip the scale and the mental mind game. Keep going. Practice self-care, not self-control. If you want more inspiration to ditch “that number,” read my Nov. 13, 2019, column, titled, “Say ‘no weigh’ to the scale.”

Feel good in your body now

Feeling uncomfortable or unattractive in your clothes sucks. Consider buying a few outfits that make you feel good now. If you’re on a budget, check out online thrift stores and consider consignment or trading with friends. I used to believe that holding onto clothes for if and when was “motivating.” It’s not. It just created guilt, shame and stress.

You deserve to feel good about yourself at any body size. Clothes are supposed to fit you, not the other way around.

Shift your “why”

Detach healthy eating and exercise “success” from a scale number. Focus on the long list of health benefits instead, such as improved health markers, energy, mood and the function of your physical, mental, emotional body. If your primary motivation to eat better or exercise is dependent on and focused solely on counting or burning calories, you may give up if your body doesn’t change (or change enough), thinking, “It’s not working so why bother.”

Keep going, and enjoy how eating and exercise make you feel.

Be more than a body

Finally, embrace body diversity and rebel against messages suggesting your self-worth or value as a human being is tied to your appearance.

‘Aim higher, friends’

In a recent Instagram post, dietitian Anna Sweeney discussed a tough conversation with a client who desired above all else to be thin, young and pretty. It unexpectedly made Sweeney cry “to think about this human’s existence being boiled down to her earth suit. Or any of yours, for that matter. You are not on this planet for the sake of being visually appealing. Period.

“Aim higher, friends,” she says. “We are given one body. That’s it. And truly, taking care of yours has nothing to do with what it looks like.”

A local client concurs: “I’ve spent basically my entire life dieting, then gaining back the weight and more. I felt guilty every time I ate ice cream, even just a spoonful. I’m making peace with food and my body now. Shifting to self-care behaviors without the scale determining my health has given me the courage to like my body for how it is, not what some diet will promise me. I nourish it properly for my active lifestyle. My new personal tag line is, ‘The elimination of the stress of eating is so much better than the elimination and restriction of food.’”

Consider practicing self-care from a weight-neutral place. No restrictions. No elimination. No guilt. No shame. No “shoulds.” No “failure.” No scale.

And get healthier.

Escape from the body hate diet cycle

Do you or someone you love struggle with healthy eating and/or suffer from body dissatisfaction?

If you said yes, it’s absolutely not your fault. It’s diet culture’s.

Let’s break down two major drivers of these challenges:

  1. You compare your body to health and fitness culture’s perfectionist and unrealistic body ideals.
  2. You’re stuck in “diet culture” (which created these body ideals) that profits off selling you the latest greatest eating plan, shakes, programs to maintain or “fix” your body, under the guise of wellness.


This can lead you to a lifetime of feeling like you and your body are not enough – regardless of your size or shape.

And it all seems perfectly normal, and is considered the way to take care of your “health.”

It’s a helluva business plan – keeping you coming back for another “hit of success” (= pounds lost) despite research showing you it’s temporary (unsustainable) for 95% of us. In fact, by 2023, the worldwide weight loss industry profits are expected to reach $278 billion.

Again, I repeat, it’s not your fault. It’s the culture we live, eat, move and breathe in and we’ve been passing these messages down for generations, thus keeping us stuck in:

The Vicious Body Hate/“Diet” Restrictive Eating Cycle:


START:
 You “feel” unhealthy, dislike your body, feel “fat”, and/or you’re told to lose weight for a variety of reasons.

RESTRICT: You choose one of the restrictive eating plans du jour. During this time, you may experience “feeling better” and/or losing weight but at some point either during, at the end of the 21 or 30 days, or months later when you’re trying to “sustain” it, you experience…

DEPRIVATION: the “diet/restriction” fatigue, backlash. This is when cravings kick in for certain types of foods (such as carbohydrates), “forbidden” foods (your favorite dessert) or you just feel hungry and simply want more food. Which leads to…

GUILT: You feel like you’ve “cheated,” “given in,” “fallen off the wagon” “don’t have the willpower” – you judge yourself as the failure, not the approach. You may regain weight, or for many of you who’ve been stuck in this cycle for years and years, even more weight than when you began. (Studies show that up two-thirds of us will regain more weight than lost).

💣TRUTH BOMB: Did you know that “diets” and restrictive eating can actually be the cause of perceived eating challenges such over-eating, intense cravings, bingeing and emotional eating? (Ironic, huh – as we often go to these plans to “fix” these “problems.”)

REPEAT: At some point (next year, next month) you begin again with another round of your “favorite” eating plan or you try a new one that promises you that you will be part of the 5% of people (the 🦄 unicorns) that can change your body size permanently – sustain it. Remember, we’re not all supposed to be the same size and that health and body weight are a complex subject (see my article ⬇️ to learn more).


The good news is that there’s a way out of this madness.

But I’ll be honest with you, it’s not a quick fix. But worth it – if you finally want to have a healthy relationship with food and feel good in your body.

What you can do instead:

  1. Re-educate yourself and learn more about how health can come in different sizes and shapes and how your health is impacted by many factors. ​That’s why I take a “deep health” coaching approach – when all dimensions of your wellbeing are in sync (physical, mental, emotional, relational, environmental and existential).To learn more, come on over to my blog and read: Size or shape doesn’t define your health
  2. Practice “true” self-care from this new space.

What if you could allow your body to be the size and shape it where its healthiest – when you’re nourishing it by listening to your hunger and fullness cues, being aware of which foods make you feel your best, moving in ways that bring you joy and living your best life? Don’t allow “diet culture” to be the life thief that it is – taking away your precious time, energy, health and happiness. Want to learn more about how you can learn to eat intuitively and take care of your health? Check out: Intuitive Eating: Do you need to relearn how to eat?

What to learn more about how “deep health” coaching can help you feel and be your best self? [](https://www.tanyamark.com/get-started)[Schedule a 20 minute consult](https://form.jotform.com/93306600537150) to chat with me.

I’d love to support you, Tanya

Body acceptance is a radical act of self-love

Radical Acceptance is a new column focusing on promoting healthy body image and redefining health.

Amy Pence-Brown, a 39-year-old mother of three, is a body image activist internationally known for her radical stand for self-love at the Capitol City Public Market in 2015.

Pence-Brown stood blindfolded in a black bikini, with the following message written on a chalkboard placed at her feet, holding markers in her outstretched arms inviting the crowd to support her radical declaration of self-love.

“I am standing for anyone who has struggled with a self-esteem issue like me, because all bodies are valuable,” her sign read. “To support self-acceptance, draw a heart on my body.”

By the end of the display she was covered in marker, having been drawn on by young and old, men and women. Visit Amy Pence-Brown to watch the video.

Three years later over 200 million people have viewed this stand for radical body liberation making it one of the most viral videos of all time.

“This is powerful. This is humanity,” she said. “This is a revolution. I’m honored and blown wide open with hope.”

Amy’s “Stand For Self Love” changed me.

Her radical declaration of self-love cracked open something deep inside me. I felt our shared humanness. I, too, wanted to advocate for radical acceptance — of all bodies.

Professionally, I began to see a need for this work. As a former exercise professional and “eat this, not that” nutrition coach, I held the false belief that if we exercised and ate well — the two magical pieces to health — we could achieve a fit and healthy body.

I was wrong.

I learned this after having hundreds of intimate conversations, often filled with tears and stress with Jacksonsites and clients around the country.

I started seeing bodies and health differently, with my eyes wide open. I started seeing myself differently.

I had made a career out of being healthy to look healthy. I took a critical look at my own body image. When I did, the worries, fears and shame that I felt about my body over the years flooded through. Now, as a 49-year old woman, I’ve added on another layer to my body image: aging.

I want to be clear about where I am at now professionally. As a mind-body nutritionist, I often have clients come to me seeking weight-loss help. Often they, like many of us, want to eat better to feel better, but the real hope is that eating the “right” foods will help us maintain or change our bodies.

But that’s not my focus. I help clients make peace and heal their relationships with food and their bodies. I help clients gain the crucial tools to achieve true health and well-being, not just the latest diet trend or body ideal.

It’s been three years since Pence-Brown’s video went viral, and I still think about it. I reached out to Amy for her wisdom on being a body image activist and radical Idahoan. When I mentioned this column, she was both excited yet surprised, in the best kind of way.

“I’ve had a lot of pushback against body positivity for years in the region, due to a long-supported fat-phobic culture with a severe dedication to healthism,” she told me.

Though her work has received positive national and international attention, regionally that has not been the case. She hopes to “pave the way to this slow opening of minds, hearts and eyes to the possibility that there might be a new way, a better way, to live and enjoy our bodies than we’ve been taught previously.”

Fat (and thin) Girls (and guys) Hiking

Body positivity activism recently made its way to our community.

This past week I attended one of two “Fat Girls Hiking, Trails Not Scales,” body positivity hikes in Jackson. Founder Summer Michaud-Skog set the ground rules: Hikers were to refrain from diet talk, body shaming or weight loss talk.

The focus was on enjoying the outdoors in whatever body you’re in. Our Jackson group was represented by different body shapes, sizes, genders and ages.

“We love getting outside as a family and exploring, teaching our kids to move their bodies, respect the earth and enjoy the outdoors,” said Stephanie Marie Martinez, who brought her entire family. “Also teaching them that body type doesn’t dictate what you can do in your life. Be it small children or fat adults.”

Elevating the conversation

I plan to provide new ideas and perspectives on how we see bodies and dive deeper into body image in Jackson and how we might redefine health and what healthy looks like.

I also want to be honest and up front; I am still learning to navigate body image myself. My intention isn’t to “fix” body image, self-confidence or self-esteem because we are not “broken.” My intention is to be of service to this community and News&Guide readers, to infuse our hearts and spirit with compassion, for ourselves and every body; to help us see our humanness and practice radical acceptance … of all bodies, no matter what your body size, shape, gender or age.

Our hearts are craving more — to be more than bodies.

“All bodies are good bodies, imperfect as we all are,” Pence-Brown said in an interview with People magazine. “Life is too short to go on hating yourself, so start loving yourself where you are right now.”

I stand with her and with you. Like yourself. Be a rebel.

Check yourself: Fat isn’t a four-letter word

Though we believe fat is bad, it’s not our fault.

“Fat” has been promoted as a dirty word in American culture since World War II, when the diet and fitness industries promoted mass obsession with weight and body shape.

“In the United States, fat is seen as repulsive, ugly, unclean, obscene and above all as something to lose,” wrote Jana Evans Braziel in her book “Bodies Out of Bounds.”

Our culture has indoctrinated us to fear fat if we want to be good, happy and healthy. As a result, those assumptions are accepted as truths.

All weight gain is bad; all weight loss is good.

All thin people are happy; all fat people are unhappy.

All thin people are healthy; all fat people are unhealthy.

As a former exercise professional and “eat this, not that” nutritionist, I, too, believed those misguided statements as truth. It’s the constant narrative that we hear, see and feel every day.

I am asking you to challenge those assumptions. Critically analyze those statements instead of eating up everything we’ve been fed over the generations about bodies and fat. Let’s elevate the way we speak about body fat in our own bodies and other bodies. It matters.

Question fat phobia

First, let’s recognize that we are all affected by weight stigma, regardless of our shape, size, age, gender and more. We may live in fear of getting fat, or we may struggle daily trying to (or believing we need to) rid ourselves of it. It may affect us personally or affect someone we love.

We’re paying dearly for this fear of fat in our country and our community. Consider the following stories from Jackson Hole.

A 55 year-old woman avoids going to her favorite yoga class because she’s embarrassed by her reflection in the mirror. Yoga feeds her spirit, but she can’t bear the pain of seeing her own image.

A divorced man in his 40s spends hours working out at the gym, agonizing over his changing body and trying to reclaim the body he had in his 30s. He feels the pressure to have a ripped, masculine “Jackson” body.

A teenage girl feels ashamed at the doctor’s office after being weighed and told to lose weight. It was assumed that she didn’t workout and eat healthy, when, in fact, she did.

A mom feels embarrassed by her post-baby body. She won’t take her kids to the rec center because she’d have to wear a swimsuit.

A woman in her 30s struggles with an eating disorder and is complimented for her thin body. The compliments reinforce her belief that thin is ideal and healthy and that fat is “bad.”

You get the picture. We dread trying on clothes. We isolate ourselves by declining invitations to places where we can’t control the food. We buy the Skinny Buddha tea, hopeful. We casually bash our jiggly arms in daily conversations with our friends. We bake cookies for our kids, but we won’t have any, or at best, “just one.”

These are our stories, our experiences living in a body in Jackson and in our country. It’s time for us to make an investment in changing how we speak about our own and other bodies so we can tell new stories, because it’s costing us.

Fearing fat comes at a cost

Fat phobia is keeping us from living our lives fully.

Our culture’s fear and hatred of fat holds us hostage, trapping us with hyperfocused food rules and obsessive exercise routines to maintain our bodies. It restricts us, keeps us stuck in a waiting zone to get on with our lives, if or when we change our bodies.

As you read these stories I imagine you felt the loss of precious physical, mental and emotional energy, your own or someone you love’s, deep in your heart.

We will remain stuck in this fat-fear cycle year after year unless we make a radical shift and change how we as a society speak about fat and our bodies.

Let’s begin by banning fat talk. I think we can agree that making negative comments about our own bodies and others’ bodies benefits no one. It keeps us stuck believing there’s a “right way” to have a body. It keeps us from the reality that body diversity is part of the human experience. It keeps us believing the statements that culture has fed us about body size as truths.

When you criticize your own body or judge another body ask yourself, “Who’s benefiting from my insecurities?” The quick answer: the $70 billion diet industry.

On the flip side we must also recognize that comments we believed are positive, such as complimenting someone for weight loss, aren’t always a compliment. They can, in fact, be harmful.

Before you make any comment, check yourself. Pause. Reflect. See your own humanness and see the humans living inside these bodies, not just the bodies.

The assumptions that society has led us to believe are not blanket truths. Question them because the belief that fat is a four-letter word, “repulsive, ugly, unclean, obscene and above all as something to lose,” is keeping us from living fully in this one beautiful life.

“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy,” Anne Lamott wrote. “It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

Let’s not end up here. Live fully today.

Like yourself. Be a rebel.

(This article was published in the November 28, 2018 Jackson Hole News and Guide).

Dear diet — it’s not me, it’s you, so goodbye

Dear Diet Culture,

Things just aren’t working out between us.

You make me feel ashamed when I’ve eaten a “bad” food. You make me feel dirty if I haven’t eaten “clean.” You’ve taken away my personal autonomy to choose what to eat and enjoy eating.

I will no longer allow you to judge my self-worth by my food choices or my body size or shape. You’ve kept me from having the relationship that I truly I desire — peace with food and my body.

While I used to feel guilty for cheating on you, I’ve learned that there’s no cheating when it comes to food. I did not marry kale and go behind its back to rendezvous with chocolate chip cookies.

My self-trust and ability to sense true biological hunger and fullness has eroded. Your restriction and deprivation intensify my cravings and make me feel like I am overeating or a failure when I inevitably desire half-in-half in my morning coffee.

You’ve made me a slave to the scale and its number, deciding for me whether I am going to have a good or bad day. You’ve made me feel dissatisfied with my body unless it fits culture’s “ideal.” And I am angry with you for judging me by my body size and shape assuming that I don’t take care of myself.

I will no longer socially isolate myself in order to control my food more easily. You’ve made me preoccupied with food, especially those dang carbohydrates. I’m breaking up with you because I don’t believe that bread is inherently bad. Especially if it’s a slice of crispy, warm Persephone Bakery bread.

You’ve promised me a better life with a new and improved body, but I know that this awesome life is happening now, not if or when.

I know that you will try to seduce me into staying in this relationship by enticing me with the latest, greatest eating plan in the New Year. I know there’s a better way for me to take care of my health and make peace with food and my body.

You’re just not right for me. I am so over you.

Yet I’ll be honest. I am afraid to break up with you.

I am fearful that without you I won’t know how to control my food and my body. If diets worked, the one I started with you last January would have done the trick and I wouldn’t be thinking about the next one.

And you don’t fool me. I know that “diets” are out. In order to stay hip and relevant and market to the next wave of dieters, you, the $70-billion diet industry, have ditched the word diet and hijacked the words “wellness,” “health” and “clean eating” to focus my attention away from the negative press that diets don’t work. But the strategies remain the same — restrictive eating with short-lived results. You seduce me with quick fixes, 30-day plans, 10-day detoxes, promising it will be different this time, because it’s not a diet.

You’ve lured me into pseudo-dieting, unconscious dieting. I might not be on a eating plan but I’m still stuck in dieting mentality. I limit my carbohydrate grams. I am obsessed with eating only foods that are healthy, also known as orthorexia. I have rules about when I should eat. I pay penance for eating “bad” foods by doing extra exercise. I sometimes put on a “false food face” in public by skipping the dessert at dinner to then go home and eat my sweets in privacy, feeling guilty when I eat nutritionally deficient foods.

No matter what you call it, a diet is still a diet if you “eat sparingly or according to prescribed rules,” at least according to Merriam-Webster. The language may have changed but the diet remains.

Diet Culture, you’re the problem. It’s not me. Nor is my body the problem.

In 2019 I’m starting a new relationship. I will nourish not only my physical health, but also the health of my mind and spirit. Because what’s health if it doesn’t take into consideration stress levels and my mental health?

And nope, Diet Culture, you will no longer dictate my ideal body shape.

My ideal body shape is whatever shape my body is when I am nourishing it without restriction and participating in movement without obligation.

Diet Culture, we’re breaking up. It’s not me. It’s you.

No longer yours,

Radical Acceptance

(This article was published in the December 27, 2018 Jackson Hole News and Guide).

We can stop apologizing for our bodies now

Repeat after me: “The body is not an apology.”

This mantra, coined by world-renowned activist, poet and author Sonya Renee Taylor, challenges us to shift away from shame for living in a perfectly imperfect human body.

Instead of viewing our bodies as problems that need to be fixed, we can heal from generations of body shame created by cultural messaging based on assumptions about health and perfectionist body ideals.

We can dismantle body shame by understanding its origins and the myths that cultivate it, by learning to separate wellness from weight and celebrating body diversity as part of the human experience.

‘Crappy inheritance’

First, we need to remember that we weren’t born feeling ashamed of our bodies. We learned it.

A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found 50% of girls internalized the thin ideal by the age of 5. In my practice clients can easily pinpoint when they began to feel shame for the bodies, and, yes, it’s predominantly during childhood.

Body shame is a “fantastically crappy inheritance,” Taylor said. We continue to pass it down generation after generation, but we aren’t obligated to keep it.

We’ve been programmed to believe a culturally created idea that we should attain this “perfect” body type, at any cost, if we want to be viewed as healthy and attractive. It puts us at war with ourselves, according to “Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Leave Out, Get Wrong and Just Plain Fail to Understand About Weight,” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor.

“Our culture perpetuates the anti-fat myths that keep people depressed and at war with their own bodies: a war where little battles might be won in the short term with a diet, but then lost overall because those who turn to dieting can rarely maintain long term the look that is accepted as norm — one that is not necessarily the best weight for them and they feel worse about themselves for their failure,” the book states.

When we understand that health comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, we can dismantle the myth that thin equals healthy. Health improvements, such as changing diet and exercise habits, are beneficial independent of weight loss.

In addition, weight and BMI — body mass index — are poor predictors of disease and longevity.

Millions of people became “overweight” overnight when in 1997 a panel of nine medical experts chosen by the National Institutes of Health voted to lower the BMI cutoff from 27 to 25 in order to stay in line with the World Health Organization Criteria. They argued that a “round” number like 25 would be easy to remember, according to Harriet Brown, author of “Body of Truth: How Science, History and Culture Drive Our Obsession With Weight and What We Can Do About It.”

Furthermore, the bulk of epidemiological evidence suggests that five pounds “underweight” is more dangerous than 75 pounds “overweight,” according to the Health at Every Size Fact Sheet.

We need to remember the reason we see so much weight-loss messaging: It’s big business. BusinessWire reports it an industry worth a stunning $72 billion in 2019.

Changing your future, today

I challenge our community to see weight and health differently, whether for our own mental, physical health and emotional health, or for our children or patients.

Instead of basing your health “success” on the number on the scale, create exercise goals based on improved strength, balance, agility and cardiovascular gains. Skip the restrictive 30-day eating plan and practice improving your nutrition without strict “no’s,” as there’s a place for all foods on your plate. And, of course, wellness is not just physical health. How are you caring for your mental and emotional health?

Finally, we need to see and accept body diversity and body changes as part of the human experience. Imagine a world without body judgment, a world in which we no longer had to apologize for our bodies. How would you live differently?

Here’s what Jacksonites had to say:

• “I would enjoy my glass of wine and chocolate guilt-free and not stress over trying to get back my six-pack abs.”

• “I would have breastfed in public instead of hiding myself in my house for days on end, going crazy with boredom.”

• “I would wear a bikini and try a sport I’ve always wanted to try: surfing.”

• “I wouldn’t hate my body and think of normalcies such as stretch marks and cellulite as hideous and disgusting.”

• “That little number on the inside of my clothes wouldn’t be a trigger for disordered eating.”

• “Doctors wouldn’t be worried about my body not returning to ‘normal’ after pregnancy.”

• “My growing sixth grader wouldn’t look in the mirror and say she’s fat and needs to lose weight.”

• “When I get dressed, I would no longer feel like I had to strategically hide body parts.”

• “There would be attractive outdoor clothes that fit me, whatever my size.”

• “My daughter would look at my ‘mom belly’ with its loose skin and stretch marks with wonder and respect for its ability to create a baby.”

• “I would stop obsessing over the 5 to 10 pounds that I am constantly gaining and losing and realize that it’s where my body naturally wants to be, just part of living my life, enjoying a scoop of ice cream with my kids, going for brunch with my girlfriends.”

• “I would finally feel relaxed, at peace, accepted and attractive, just as I am. I would feel liberated.”

There is no wrong way to have a body. Repeat after me: “The body is not an apology.”

‘Fit and ripped’ male ideal breeds body image misery

Fit. Lean. Ripped. Strong.

Men use those powerfully masculine words to describe the “ideal” male, which many Jackson Hole, Wyoming men feel is expected as the norm in our fit-centric mountain town.

Masculine, as defined by Google, is “having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness: muscular, well built, brawny, shredded.”

Yet many men struggle with worries about their appearance, trying to maintain or attain that “perfect” masculine body type.

Here’s what I heard from men in an anonymous body image survey I shared online last month:

“I have always been insecure with my body even when I was 25 years old and 7% body fat. I still felt fat and unattractive with my shirt off.”

“Age is starting to catch up with me even though I don’t want to admit it.”

“Hate it. Can’t lose weight no matter what I do. I’m on Weight Watchers for the second time.”

“In my late 30s, when I stopped competitive sports, I realized that all of a sudden I developed a gut.”

“I’m starting to get a double chin and my jeans are getting tighter around the waist.”

“I hate my love handles and feel like I have man boobs.”

“I need to lose weight in the mid-section.”

Clearly many men suffer from body anxiety.

The effects of male body dissatisfaction

“Men worry about their appearance more than they worry about their health, their family, their relationships or professional success,” according to a 2014 Today/AOL body image survey. “Only finances topped looks, with 59 percent of men worrying about money weekly.”

• 63 percent of guys said they “always feel like (they) could lose weight

• 53 percent don’t like having their picture taken

• 41 percent said they worry that people judge their appearance

• 44 percent feel uncomfortable wearing swim trunks

Unspoken anxiety

Let’s dig deeper into male body image anxieties and the harm they’re causing, why it’s not discussed, toxic masculinity and, finally, why we need to work together to redefine healthy for men as well as male body image.

“As is the case for women, men’s body dissatisfaction has been linked to health consequences, including excessive exercise, eating pathology, steroid use, depression and low self-esteem,” wrote Elliot Montgomery Sklar in his study “Body Image, Weight, and Self-Concept in Men.”

The men in my recent survey agree:

“My body dissatisfaction affects my emotional wellbeing. I feel self-conscious, even if I know nobody cares.”

“I exercise obsessively and have for 25-plus years and have had weird ‘diets.’”

Even though we rarely hear about male body image challenges, they are affecting men’s health. Furthermore, men have been taught that it’s not OK to talk about their bodies. Or, as one local guy said, “We’re not allowed to talk about our feelings about anything.”

Men feel that expressing themselves and being vulnerable is weakness, which is the opposite of the words used to define masculinity and an ideal male body image. That is part of toxic masculinity.

And when men do talk about their bodies it’s quickly brushed aside.

“Dude, I feel fat.” Met with, “Oh, you’re not fat,” or “You just need to get in the gym more and stop drinking so much beer.”

But that’s the extent of the body conversation for men. There’s no discussion of the real emotion they’re feeling, as fat is not a feeling.

According to researcher Sarah Grogan in her study “Body Image: Focus Groups with Boys and Men,” “Men linked being fat with ‘weakness of will,’” while being lean and muscular was associated with “feelings of confidence and power in social situations.”

More than muscles

And male body image isn’t just about muscle. It includes male anxieties about balding or receding hairlines, too much body hair and being considered short for a man.

“It shouldn’t be extraordinary for men to talk about their bodies,” Huffington Post reporter Tyler Kingkade wrote in the article “I’m a Man, and I’ve Spent My Life Ashamed of My Body.” “We shouldn’t need a goofy term like ‘dad bod’ to admit we aren’t in perfect shape.”

Though the ideal body type may be more commonly seen in athletic Jackson Hole, Wyoming – many of our men, particularly as they grow older, find it increasingly difficult to attain or maintain. Just as life shifts and changes, so do bodies.

Becoming a husband and father, dealing with financial and career pressure, coping with injuries and other responsibilities may take up more time, making less available for exercise or recreating — the main “go-to” to be physically in “good” shape.

But health isn’t as simple as “eat this, not that, exercise more,” which is where most men focus. Health is multifaceted. It’s particularly important for our men and boys to embrace a broader definition of health beyond having a certain masculine aesthetic and to openly discuss how they feel, to include their mental and emotional health.

A healthy body image for all

Together we can redefine a healthy male body image because it’s important for all bodies to be radically accepted.

To do so, we must be mindful of the language we use to describe any body.

“It doesn’t somehow balance the scales for us to ridicule men for being short or tall or bald or too hairy or overweight or too scrawny or any other bullshit social stereotype of masculinity,” wrote Liz Pardue-Schultz in her article “All this body positivity is total BS if we’re still body-shaming men.

“Insulting a male body is just as problematic as belittling a female’s,” she wrote. “Mocking men who don’t fit some arbitrary assumed ideal of ‘perfection’ is not only insulting to both sides, it’s holding us back from escaping these superficial paradigms that keep us miserable with ourselves and each other.”

We’re in this together.

“I bare an incredible amount of respect and admiration for the movement women have created in the direction of love for all shapes and sizes, from plus-size models to the beauty of stretch marks, wrote Euan Findlay in the article “We Need to Talk About the Male Body.” “I want to ask, on this journey women are taking towards self-love, that you take us men with you.”

Men, you’re invited. You don’t need to be “fit, lean, ripped, strong” to be considered a healthy and worthy man.

And the men in my survey feel the same way.

Here’s what the advice they wanted to share with the younger generation about being a healthy male:

“Accept who you are. We all have different body types.”

“Moderation is probably best. Life is short, don’t deprive yourself, develop healthy habits but be reasonable.”

“Surround yourself with good people, good things, and … eat well and exercise.”

“Don’t sweat it. Have fun. Take care of your health, but don’t worry yourself sick over it.”

Let’s openly discuss and redefine healthy male body image. When we live and teach an elevated definition of health, no matter what our gender, all human bodies benefit. This is radical acceptance.

(This article was published in the July 10, 2019 edition of the Jackson Hole News and Guide).