How to Move Away from the "Summer Body" Goal
If you’re like me, you’re a “I need practical steps to do what you’re telling me I need to do” kind of person. I can read and research something all I want, but what I really love are some step by step ways to put into practice what I’m reading about. So, if you read my post about having a summer body, here is a follow-up to that post with practical things to do to help you get to a place of appreciating your all-seasons body.
These are things that work for ME. If something sounds uncomfortable to you or like it wouldn’t help you, please disregard it!! I’m just sharing the things that help me feel comfortable in my skin, in the hopes that at least one things resonates and helps you, too.
Think about what your perfect summer looks like.
And no, not what your perfect summer BODY looks like. Your perfect summer. For me, that includes sipping a Rum Runner while lounging on a beach in Tahoe, hopping on a paddleboard and heading out to the jumping rocks, and doing a couple hikes. It also includes trying out new restaurants around town, enjoying frozen yogurt on a hot day, and lots and lots of swimming.
Now, think about if restricting your calories, feeling shameful about your body, or not believing you deserve to wear a bathing suit allows you to carry out your dreams for summer. I have a feeling the answer is no.
For me, if I was on a diet, I definitely couldn’t enjoy the things I love to do each summer. When I ate keto (yep – I followed the ketogenic diet for about a year. More on that later.), I remember STARVING at the Tahoe beach because low carb options were so hard to come by. I remember feeling so so sad when I realized that drinking a Rum Runner was going to take up my entire allotted carb amount for the day. I chose to drink it anyway because #rulessuck, and then I felt incredibly guilty. That was definitely NOT a summer where I was able to engage in my favorite things. I left the beach feeling upset, anxious, and like a failure. Oh, and still hungry. How’s that for a fun beach day? And guess what. My body was at the smallest it’s ever been that summer. AND I WAS STILL HAVING A BAD BEACH DAY!
We have to recognize that whether or not we enjoy being in our bathing suit has nothing to do with the size of our bodies. It is all about our mindset and where our focus is. Instead of focusing on your body, focus on those things you love to do during the summer. Remind yourself that you will most likely not be able to engage in those things joyfully if you are on a restrictive diet. I do this in the form of mantras.
Something I repeat to myself on hard body image days is “This is the body that is a result of me living my best life. Yes I could try to force my body to change temporarily, but everything I love would have to disappear. I’ve done that before, and I wasn’t happy. I refuse to do that again.” I repeat this every time diet culture starts to sneak into my brain.
In the summer, my mantra is something more like “This body may be a different size than I desire but it still allows me to do all of the things I love to do in the summer. I am lucky to be able to hike spontaneously, and my body allows me to do that. Not everybody has that luxury. Not counting calories or restricting food groups allows me to spontaneously eat whatever food sounds good to me and the group that I am with. This body gives me freedom.”
Reframe your thoughts about bodies.
When I am uncomfortable with my body, I start telling myself that I already know what everyone is saying about me. I know they’re looking at my not-so-tight bum, my cellulite, saying “wow that suit is not flattering on her, why’d she choose that?”
Why am I imagining what people are saying? Because, sadly, in the past I was saying those things about people. Right? The things we tell ourselves that other people are saying are in our minds because WE have said those things. We have judged someone for wearing a certain clothing item, so now we tell ourselves that people are saying that about us.
This cycle has to be stopped.
The best way to combat your own body-hate is to learn to see all bodies as neutral. Stop staring at people’s bodies. Immediately shut down judgmental thoughts. Recognize that when you have a harsh thought towards someone, you’re really just projecting your own insecurities. And then work with those insecurities. Get to the root of it. This applies to yearning after other people’s “perfect” bodies as well. Stop looking through the Victoria’s Secret bathing suit magazine or at pictures on Pinterest. Quit the jealousy. As soon as I began to take the focus off of people’s bodies and instead focus on their beautiful characteristics and personalities, I started focusing on those things about myself as well.
Wear clothes that you are comfortable in.
I can’t tell you how many times I bought something that was a size (or two) too small because I hoped that I would magically fit into it by the time I needed to wear it. All that ever did was make me feel like crap when the time came and I still didn’t fit into it. I did this with bathing suits wayyyy too often.
Stop wearing things that you feel uncomfortable in but feel the need to sport anyway. Buy the size that your body fits into TODAY. Not the one you’re hoping you fit into. Not the size you used to fit into when you were in high school and you feel you should magically still fit into today. Not the size your friend wears.
Size is just a number. Seriously. It’s a numerical label for a piece of fabric. Do we really need to be starving ourselves to fit into a piece of fabric?? The size that fits you is most likely much more comfortable. And when you feel comfortable, you will stop focusing on your body and focus on all the things that a fun day in the sun brings you.
I know that this is not easy. I’m definitely not an expert at it. But I want to be. I want to be at a place where I don’t think about my body every time the weather changes. Where I don’t hesitate as I take off my bathing suit cover-up. A place where I don’t imagine all of the things I think people are saying. Will you join me?