I’ve loved the website More of Me to Love for a long time. It’s a positive and inspiring space that provides valuable insight on building a healthier body image and life — for everyone. Its blogs are written by experts who offer tons of helpful tools on everything from nourishing your body to finding movement you love.

So today I’m thrilled to present my interview with its co-founder Jay Solomon. As Solomon says, More of Me to Love is “a place for people of all sizes to learn to love their bodies and themselves.” Along with his wife and team, Solomon has spent three years building this valuable site.

Solomon has studied and written about the importance of rights, respect and acceptance for all people. In addition to writing about religion and popular culture, including his first book, The Zen of South Park, Solomon writes and blogs about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size to stop discrimination however he can.

Below, he reveals why he started More of Me to Love and clears up the many myths behind Health At Every Size.

(By the way, here’s more info about that picture up top.)

Q: What inspired you to start “More of Me to Love”?

A: My wife, Eszter, and I started More of Me to Love because we were tired of watching the larger people in our lives hate themselves and their bodies because they were bigger.

We watched them diet weight off and gain it back again, over and over. And with that weight cycling so cycled their self-esteem and self-image. It was terrible to watch, and it didn’t make any sense to us. I actually believed that I was going to help these loved ones by finding “the diet that worked,” and so I began my research.

What I ultimately discovered was the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement and network. After reading the research supporting HAES and looking in greater detail at dieting and the diet industry, I became an ardent supporter of an intuitive eating, enjoyable body movement and unconditional body love approach to health and life.

Q: I absolutely love your tagline “Size doesn’t matter. You Do.” What is your message with this tagline and your website overall?

A: It’s in part a play on words of the risqué question, “Does size matter?” We’ve opted to declare definitively that size — body size — doesn’t matter.

What matters is the individual. This goes back to what inspired us to start More of Me to Love. It was this misguided notion that people couldn’t love their bodies and by proxy themselves unless they were thin — the whole, “in 5 lbs” attitude (i.e., I’ll buy that dress/go on vacation/start dating when I lose 5 more pounds).

We call shenanigans on that attitude, and believe that you have to start from a place of self-love — of believing that you, as a person in mind, body and spirit, matter. To do that and as a result of our weight-obsessed culture, we have to accept first that size doesn’t matter.

Once we accept that size doesn’t matter we strive for greater happiness and healthiness, knowing that neither depends on our weight or size.

Q: Unfortunately, there are many myths about Health At Every Size. What are the biggest myths that you’d like to clear up? 

A: The biggest and most heinous myth is that Health At Every Size is a “non-diet way to lose weight.” First of all, there’s no such thing as a “non-diet way to lose weight.” That’s a sophist’s way of saying “diet.”

Health At Every Size is a weight-neutral approach to health that promotes intuitive eating, enjoyable body movement and positive self-image. While slight fluctuations in weight can happen as people learn to listen to their bodies about hunger and satiety, these fluctuations are neither the goal nor “progress.” In fact, some people gain weight when they adopt a Health At Every Size approach because they cease the disordered eating that kept their body weight unnaturally low.

The second myth I dislike is this misguided notion that Health At Every Size condones and encourages obesity. Setting aside my distaste for the medicalized term obesity, this idea of “encouraging obesity” is absurd.

That’s like saying that eating food encourages obesity. Neither of these ideas makes sense because obesity and Health At Every Size have surprisingly little to do with one another.

Health At Every Size is an approach to health for people of all body sizes, shapes and weights. Hence the inclusive word “every.”

The approach is a behavior-centered weight-neutral one rather than a weight-centered one. In this way, Health At Every Size recognizes the natural diversity in bodies, does not prize any one shape or size over any other, and allows everyone to pursue health in a natural, personal and egalitarian way. That’s not encouraging obesity — it’s encouraging health.

Q: Our society seems to think that having people of all sizes appreciating and loving their bodies will somehow lead to being unhealthy and neglecting self-care. What do you think about this notion?

A: I think that it’s absurd, as I imagine my previous answers indicate. The number one thing I’ve learned working on More of Me to Love is that people who love their bodies take care of their bodies and strive to be healthier.

People who are dieting and trying to lose weight — whether fat or thin — do not love their bodies, and they are not actually taking care of their health as much as they are trying to lose weight.

Moreover, the actual act of losing too much weight (more than about 15 pounds or 10% of body weight) has been proven to be damaging to one’s health both in and of itself and as a result of subsequent weight cycling.

That is, whether or not being thinner is healthier than being fatter, the actual act of dieting is unhealthy. Therefore, it’s better to be the size one is — accept, embrace and love one’s body at that size — and strive for health through healthful behaviors.

Simply by virtue of loving your body you’ll be more inclined to do the behaviors that make it healthy. Once again, a behavior-centered approach to health starts with body love.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of our interview!