12 Steps to Health At Every Size®

Spiral staircase12 Steps to Health At Every Size
by Peggy Elam Ph.D.

HAES is a registered trademark of the Association for Size Diversity & Health. 12 Steps to HAES is © Peggy Elam Ph.D.

1. Stop weighing yourself.

Shift your focus from weight & body fat to healthy behaviors and fitness.

2. Fire the food & body police.

3. Stop critical self-talk.

Would you speak to a friend or loved one the way you do to your body?

4. Increase positive self-talk.

Talk to and treat yourself & your body the way you would a cherished friend, loved one, or child.

5. Clean out your closets.

Give or throw away or sell everything that doesn’t fit, is uncomfortable, or that you haven’t worn for years. Fill your closets with beautiful, comfortable clothing in your present size.

6. Eat well & mindfully.

Enjoy your food. Let nothing be off-limits; there are no forbidden foods. Don’t restrict what you eat in order to lose weight, and those behaviors and attitudes have negative physical and emotional consequences. Focus instead on eating & living well.

7. Be active.

Find, create, or rediscover activities you enjoy, and engage in them regularly.

8. Listen to your body.

It is the means by which your subconscious communicates with you. No one can discern your body’s messages better than you can, although you may need to re-learn its language. Pay attention to “gut feelings.”

9. Respect your body.

It is a manifestation of and conduit for your soul. Ensure that others respect it, too.

10.  Reconnect mind & body.

Increase your body awareness through yoga, walking meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, massage & bodywork, and/or movement therapy (such as Feldenkrais). Focus on what your body can do and how good it can feel.

11.  Shift the focus from “emotional eating” to “compulsive eating,” and address any compulsive eating independent of weight change.

It’s normal to sometimes eat for emotional reasons — comfort, celebration, etc. — and to enjoy eating. Feeling compelled to eat or unable to stop eating, however, can be unpleasant and is often a consequence of restrictive or weight-focused eating, a rebounding from or reaction to restriction. Stopping restrictive eating may in turn decrease any compulsive eating. That may ultimately result in weight change (increase or decrease), or it may not.

12. Invest in and support yourself rather than the weight loss, pharmaceutical, healthcare, fashion, or beauty industries.

For more resources supporting your well-being, check out

12 Ways to Love Your Body by Peggy Elam, Ph.D.

10 Steps to Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are) by Pat Ballard

Fat Studies & Fat Friendly Books & Resources