It’s that time of year when ALL over the place (social media especially) you see people trying to help you get ready for summer. Most people’s New Year’s resolutions to lose weight have probably fallen by the wayside and we’ve all most likely settled back into normal life and habits again. But here comes the next panic-inducing season: summer time.
“Do you have your summer body?”
“Get summer ready!”
“Get your beach body!”
“Are you bikini ready?”
“Summer bodies are made in the winter, so sign up for my program today!”
And other such taglines.
This year, all of this hype about summer beach bodies has really bothered me. Because it’s all based on a lie. It seems that people in the health and fitness industry are capitalizing on – and exaggerating– the fear and insecurity that many women feel putting on a swimsuit and going out in public.
Instead of encouraging women and changing the social expectation around what a woman should look like in a swimsuit or at the beach, most people in the fitness and nutrition industry seem to be promoting it.
The idea of a “beach body” or a “summer body” is a false reality designed to lure women who are self-conscious and embarrassed about the way they look to fork over money for diet and weight loss programs and products, all the while perpetuating their self-hatred and shame and keeping them locked in the dieting spin cycle.
What I want to say is this: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BEACH BODY. Your summer body is the same as your every-other-day body. Not one that is or should be different from a winter body, a fall body, or a spring body. You don’t need to change your body based on what season it is, and you don’t need to be afraid of how you look just to put on a swimsuit.
The problem with this entire mindset is that it’s not AT ALL about a desire to be healthy or fit or to feel good. All those are good, worthy goals that I encourage everyone to work for. The problem with the “beach body” mindset is that it perpetuates a shallow, superficial view of the worth of a woman. When you buy into this fear-based mindset and worry about getting your body ready for summer, you’re fighting a losing battle. Instead of focusing on who you are as a person and all the wonderful things you have in your life, you suddenly become terrified of what people will think of you and your extra body fat.
Guess what–nobody cares about your extra body fat. Nobody cares what you look like in a swimsuit, because they’re all too worried about what they look like in a swimsuit. And instead of engaging fully in our lives and being present for these wonderful summer memories with the people we love, we spend all of our energy worrying about our thighs jiggling or our cellulite showing or making sure we’re always sucking in our stomach. It’s tragic, when you think about it. What a waste of energy!
Hillary and Dana from Be Nourished said, “Efforts that are rooted in body shame are not capable of truly improving your overall health and well-being…Bodies do best with consistency, predictability, and reliability. They don’t benefit from a plan you can follow for a few weeks or months before the ‘screw it’ phase of the cycle begins. Bodies benefit from what you do consistently over time. That is what matters. We encourage you to shift the focus to sustainable, weight-neutral self-care practices; choices that are rooted in kindness, compassion, and respect for your body. This is what will ease the panic and return you to your normal self.”
I LOVE THAT. Health comes from long-term, consistent practices of self-care – including a nutritious diet and movement. It can’t be reached in a few weeks or months in time to slip into a bikini and wow all your friends, no matter how good the advertising for that idea is.
3 ways to stop the anxiety around getting a summer body
So here are my top 3 tips for stopping the bikini body insanity and refusing to accept the fear-based mindset of the “summer body” ideal.
1. Stop judging other women’s bodies. Starting today, right this minute, every time you see another woman, practice looking at her body with compassion. No more judging people based on their appearance. This is a vicious cycle for women–you judge other people as harshly as you judge yourself. So if you don’t feel ready to love your own body, practice loving other people’s bodies. Start accepting the other women in your life (whether family or strangers at the grocery store) and giving them compassion regardless of their body type.
2. Stop judging yourself based on your appearance. Try to tune out all the fat-shaming that goes on in every facet of the health industry. Don’t allow yourself to be afraid of what will become of you if you never lose weight. Let go of the entire idea of losing weight, and let your focus be instead on how you treat your body. Eat and move out of love for yourself and a desire to FEEL good–not to look good. Because the way you feel is really all that matters.
3. Next time you put on a swimsuit, don’t allow yourself to think about how you look. Don’t even look in the mirror after you put your swimsuit on. Don’t look down at your body and wonder what people will think of you. If you feel those old fearful thoughts creeping in, stop them and refuse to let them play their script of shame. Choose to focus all your attention on outward things, things other than you and the way you look. Think about the feel of the sun, the sound of your kids laughing at the pool, the sound of the waves, the smell of the grill – anything at all. Get outside of your own self-centered thoughts and just try to let go and have fun.
Don’t punish yourself for not having “the perfect body” by refusing to engage in your life. Don’t spend a single minute this summer wishing you looked differently or feeling embarrassed about your shape. It’s just a waste of time. Don’t compare your body to other women’s. Just do your best to take amazing care of yourself and let all the fear and anxiety about how you look evaporate. Enjoy making memories! Have fun! Get your hair wet, like Amy Poehler says. Engage fully in your wonderful, miraculous life. I promise if you do, regardless of how you look, you’ll have the best summer of your life.
Now I want to know – what experiences have you had around being afraid to get in a swimsuit in public? Have you ever tried a “summer body” diet or exercise program? How did it go for you? I want to hear your story! Leave a comment below in the comment section, and let’s talk about it!
P.S. And if you want more tips on how to feel amazing, grab my free “Eat Happy Every Day” guide. It gives you 5 habits I use personally to take incredible care of myself and feel amazing every day.