Revamping Fitness: An Inclusive Approach to Movement and Health Beyond Outdated Standards

Approach to Movement and Health Beyond Outdated Standards
Photo Courtesy: Big Day Besties

For decades, pursuit of “health” has been synonymous with a quest for aesthetic perfection. While the standards for an ideal physique might shift according to trends and tastes over time, the idea that healthy bodies must look a certain way has become a sort of given for most people. As a result, those who don’t embody a physical ideal–let’s be honest, that’s most of us–often end up feeling unwelcome in typical wellness spaces. This perpetuates a cycle of exclusion such that those most in need of movement—the very individuals grappling with chronic pain and discomfort—cannot access the benefits of regular physical activity. It’s time to confront this hypocrisy head-on and reimagine what it means to foster well-being through movement, without body shape or size having anything to do with it.

What we need is a shift away from diet culture and weight loss obsession towards a model of wellness that celebrates movement as an accessible, enjoyable, and essential component of health for everyone. Dana Karen Ciccone, author of “You’re Meant to Move” and founder of Movement Remedies, champions this paradigm shift. Ciccone refrains from even using the word, exercise; instead, she focuses on helping individuals maintain mobility through life’s inevitable pains and aches without succumbing to them. Her philosophy stems from understanding that while chronic pain sufferers might not achieve complete relief from their symptoms, a regular movement practice can ensure that pain doesn’t dominate one’s existence.

The traditional metrics used by many fitness professionals—most notably body mass index (BMI)—are increasingly recognized as flawed indicators of individual health. Extensive research, including studies highlighted by Harvard School Public Health, questions BMI’s validity as a health metric, suggesting that our collective fixation on weight is misguided at best. Yet, despite mounting evidence, many in the health and wellness industry continue to equate thinness with healthiness, alienating the millions whose bodies don’t fit within these arbitrary standards.

The emphasis on aesthetics over actual health benefits misses the point entirely: regular movement is vital not because it molds our bodies into socially acceptable shapes but because it nourishes every system within us. From improving cardiovascular function to enhancing mood through the release of endorphins, exercise offers myriad benefits unrelated to weight loss.

Yet, for many individuals facing chronic pain or discomfort, entering a gym or fitness center can feel like stepping into an unwelcoming world where their worth—and right to move—is judged based on their appearance. This environment not only discourages participation but also reinforces harmful narratives about body image and health.

Ciccone’s message is clear: “Dieting reinforces mistrust in our bodies, which may be exacerbated by abuse, abandonment, and other negative experiences in our adolescence.” She argues that overcoming chronic pain involves rejecting the toxic aspects of diet culture that promote food restriction as healthy behavior. Instead, cultivating trust in our bodies allows us to embrace movement as a source of strength and comfort rather than an obligation or punishment.

Movement Remedies represents more than just an alternative approach to fitness; it embodies a call-to-action for society at large to prioritize well-being over superficial markers of health. By creating spaces where all bodies are welcomed—and where movement is celebrated as beneficial for everyone—we can begin addressing the root causes of chronic pain epidemic rather than merely its symptoms.

In embracing this vision for inclusive wellness communities free from diet culture’s grasp, we stand at the precipice of redefining what it means to be truly healthy. As Ciccone aptly notes: “If you have a history of dieting discontent with your body shape or weight-based stigma from your healthcare providers your journey must include ridding yourself of an unrealistic notion of food restriction health practice.” It’s about building new relationships founded on trust with our bodies—one step at time.

For those inspired by Ciccone’s insights or seeking guidance on embarking upon their own journey toward embracing movement without fear or judgment visit Ciccone’s website, Movement Remedies. Engage with her transformative narrative further through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or explore her book You’re Meant To Move, available on Amazon for deeper understanding how we can collectively foster environments supporting every body’s right move toward betterment holistic well-being beyond constraints imposed outdated ideals.

Published by: Holy Minoza


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