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  • Concepts & Terminology
    Ultimately, Haven is about finding peace in body, mind & movement. I love sharing concepts I’ve learnt on my own journey that I’ve found really valuable in having a more peaceful relationship with my body, and this is what Haven is built on. So here’s my own take of some of the terms and concepts you’ll hear around the studio!
  • What is a self-compassionate, intuitive approach to movement?"
    Our self-compassionate, intuitive approach to movement means treating your body with care, checking in with yourself as you approach movement to recognise how your body is feeling and what it is that you need to nurture both your physical and mental health, rather than an approach which follows a rigid plan and expects adherence no matter what. Rather than pushing your boundaries because that's what you've been told it takes to shrink your body, because you think of exercise as punishment for what you've eaten and you have to ‘feel the burn’ to get any benefit, because your ego tells you to, or because it’s means you deserve your “naughty” foods, our approach asks you to take a moment to pause and asking yourself ‘how do I feel today, what do I need to nourish my body, mind and soul today?” Sometimes you’ll be energetic and charged and want to explore your body’s boundaries in a hard workout that offers stress relief, and sometimes your body will call for an easy pace or something completely different - this answer fluctuates daily and is flexible. The answer should marry both body & mind to help cultivate a connection between the two rather than let either take the driver’s seat.
  • But I'm worried that I won't push myself, that I'll 'let myself go'"
    At Haven we encourage you to be inquisitive and notice what feels best for you at that time. We want you to find your authentic energy levels. We’ll work with you to help you read your body's signal's and recognise what you need from a holistic perspective that encompasses both body and mind. Sometimes you’ll be energetic and charged and we'll encourage you to explore your body’s boundaries in a stronger session and sometimes your body will call for an easy pace or something completely different - this answer fluctuates daily and is flexible - all is valid! The only thing you’re really letting go of is the pain and struggle of trying to manipulate your body size - which is largely dictated by genes, not to mention a whole bunch of other things - into something that might not be natural (or even possible!) for you. Consider this - we have less control over our bodies than the (multimillion dollar!) fitness and diet industries lead us to believe. Bodies are always, constantly changing. Rather than wasting valuable mental real estate on aesthetic goals, we'll gently & warmly support you in cultivating helpful behaviours and having fun with movement you enjoy – all things that will help improve your health – and drawing the focus back to intrinsic inspiration that lasts.
  • What is self compassion?
    Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies, self-doubt or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. Know that perfectionism doesn’t exist - we’re human, right?! Just like we would offer kindness and soothing to a loved one experiencing these thngs, you can gift this to yourself rather than beat yourself up. I discovered self-compassion years ago and has become a valuable tool. Each day provides plenty of opportunities to soften my inner critic with compassionate thoughts! The thing I love about it is the science behind it, and that you can offer it to yourself, at any time. Learn about the 3 elements to self compassion and listen to Dr Kristen Neff's TED talks and meditations here.
  • What is diet culture?
    It's much more than dieting! Think of diet culture as the culture that surrounds, that values thinness over body diversity and equates thinness with health and morality. Diet culture oppresses those that don't meet this. It makes no room for the inherent diversity of bodies, shapes, textures and sizes! Diet culture can keep many of us trapped in a war with food and our bodies. It's the voice that silently counts macros or turns down the birthday cake or feels tremendous guilt for missing a workout - and it's all wrapped up in a giant big fear of fat. We're absorbing society's messages everywhere that thin equals attractive and healthy, and fat does not. We're led to believe that fat is the culprit of many diseases and that intentional weight loss is the answer, and we don't often stop to question this, or to examine the 'research'. We are so, so, so terrified of fat in our culture, that kids as young as 8 years old are dieting. Shocking, isn't it? Besides weight control and diets not actually working, controlling our bodies rob us of connection with our internal wisdom and can have serious impacts on fully participating in life. One of our favourite podcasters, Christy Harrison of Food Psych, has a great way of explaining this here: 'Diet Culture is a Life Thief'. For many, dieting is an eating disorder waiting to happen, or at the very least disordered behaviour or some level of unhealthy preoccupation with food and body. Any way of eating, whether that be the latest food fad (eg Paleo Pete or intermittent fasting), counting macros or simply a 'healthy meal plan' is a diet if it is done for the purpose of weight control. If it is to control your body size, it's a diet. Often the most painful thing is, that dieting ultimately leads to the very thing it claims to solve...weight gain. Chronic dieting, weight cycling and weight stigma have been proven to have worse health outcomes than being 'overweight'. Body Positive Australia define diet culture as: “Diet culture encompasses all the messages that tell us that we’re not good enough in the bodies we have, and we’d be more worthwhile and valuable if our bodies were different. Our culture is SO embedded with body- and weight-centric messages that they’re sometimes imperceptible. Diet culture is deeply ingrained in our everyday existence and prevents us from living our most full and meaningful lives. To break away from diet culture, we need first to expose it, then find alternative ways to feel connected to ourselves, each other, and the world in a way that moves away from defining our worth according to our body shape, weight or appearance.”
  • What is Health At Every Size (HAES)?
    HAES is a weight-inclusive approach to health, rather than one that is weight-centric. HAES professionals advocate that a focus on healthy behaviours, rather than a focus on reducing body size, is the most useful way to support people of all sizes to take care of their health. HAES is an evidence-based paradigm for personal health and healthcare where, realising that “health” is complicated, multi-dimensional, not a barometer of worthiness, not an obligation, and not entirely within our control, the focus is on giving people information and options and respecting their decisions about healthy behaviours, and creating environments that are conducive to health, rather than on manipulating body size as a path to health. HAES can be also better understood by exploring the resources from ASDAH (The Association for Size Diversity and Health) and in reading Health At Every Size by Dr Lindo Bacon which breaks down weight science, dispells myths around weight and suggest ways to approach health from a compassionate angle. You can also read more about HAES and size inclusive care in Australia here. I choose HAES as my personal and professional approach to health because it is evidence-based and compassionate, and aligns with my personal experience with trying to control my body as well as what I've learnt working with a variety of folk and their relaionships with the bodies. Adopting a weight-inclusive approach feels most ethical, aligning with the studio's values, and helps us here at Haven to work with integrity and authenticity.
  • What Health At Every Size ISN'T
    We often come across some confusion about what's at the heart of HAES. The acronym HAES stands for Health At Every Size - not to be confused with 'healthy at every size' - HAES doesn't suggest that all bodies are healthy, rather that all bodies have the right to seek healthful behaviours and receive equitable care & treatments if they wish, free of stigma. It's in no way 'letting go of yourself' or having 'an excuse to overeat' or having 'an excuse to stay fat'. It's about recognising that health is much more than just diet and exercise, that weight is less in our control than we're taught by diet culture, that intentional weight-loss can be extremely harmful in many cases and it's about seeking health in ways that are helpful and nourishing for the individual, irrelevant of whatever weight they may be. It's about respect for all bodies!
  • What is body positivity?
    At Haven we help women work towards body positivity, something that I myself am constantly working on day-to-day, and something that can be really, really, really challenging given that we're all swimming in this society that so strongly values the thin ideal (which isn’t achieveable, healthy or realistic to maintain for many unless it happens to be their natural body type). Body Positivity is ultimately about accepting and honouring the interesting diversity of bodies that make up our world and challenging the ‘thin is better’ narrative. Body Positivity is about accepting the body you have as well as the changes in shape, size, and ability it may undergo due to nature, age, or your own personal choices throughout your lifetime. Body positivity means you don’t define your value according to what you look like, and you appreciate what your body can do, rather than allowing it’s size and shape dictate how you participate in your life and your feelings of self worth.
  • What is intuitive eating?
    Intuitive Eating is an approach developed to help people find peace in their relationship with food, often healing from the side effects of chronic dieting. An intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honours hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.” Check out The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. It’s also a great book and members are welcome to borrow a copy from the studio!
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