Hot tip: you already have a summer body! It’s now summer, you have a body, done – SUMMER BODY!

Let’s get another one of these out of the way: If you’re wearing a bikini on your body, then you already have a bikini body. Yes, you guessed it, same goes for the beach body. Take your body to the beach and ta-dah, you have a beach body.

We just welcomed summer and with this season comes thoughts of beaches, swimsuits, BBQ’s and body image. This is normal to think  of these things but the idea of pressuring oneself to look a certain way for a certain season and that certain season alone is ridiculous and not fair to yourself.

I propose we ditch the term summer bodies and bikini bodies all together! How about we acknowledge our bodies as bodies no matter what time of year. Simple. This is my body. Done. We don’t need the labels and pressure.  How about instead we invite in all seasons with our body as it is at the time of the season? I’m going to call it, let’s make that happen!

I googled summer body and 3,550,000,000 results appeared. Shocking, or is it? The dominant culture of the diet industry is powerful and promotes this ideal standard of beauty that is simply a myth and quite problematic. This idea of a thin ideal can cause women to compare themselves to this expectation and lead to feelings that they don’t measure up. Some studies suggest that women who over-internalize the thin-ideal image experience increased body dissatisfaction, decrease in self-esteem and develop eating disorders.

When it comes to the impact on women’s self-esteem, we don’t need anyone telling us what kind of body to have. It’s time to reclaim our bodies as our own. The dictation of “achieving” summer bodies and bikini bodies are now out!  I’d like to introduce my pro tips of 5 ways to focus on taking care of yourself this summer (and all year long) instead of working on a “seasonal body”. Shifting your mindset from changing your body to focusing on how you want it to feel can be a powerful step to building body confidence.

5 ways to Move Towards Body Acceptance

1. Find joy in the movement you choose.  It’s key to liking what you choose for movement and physical activity. You don’t have to love it but explore enough options to find something that you look forward to and enjoy. Try finding an environment you feel welcomed in and Surround yourself with people that support your true self.  

2. Listen and respond to body signals. Tuning into your body and its sensations that it offers you is one of the best ways to ensure you are giving it what it needs and wants. Hunger, pain, thirst, sleepy, etc. being able to recognize and in turn act on these helps you to live in a way that you honor your body instead of ignore it.

3. Have fun no matter the season. Do the thing! A lot of people are waiting. Waiting until they are a certain size, weight, etc. before they sign up for the thing, do the thing or fill in your blank here. Go, have fun, see what happens! Your value is not dictated by your body, shape or weight, never has been and never will be so don’t let it be the thing to hold you back.

4. Eating is more than fuel. Food is fuel yes but it’s also pleasure, nutrition a form of celebration, nourishment, an important part of culture, and fun. Explore all aspect of food and try mindfully enjoying food.

5. Gratitude Attitude. Practicing gratitude for what your body does for you, and what it has done for you to get you where you are in life is a positive way to enforce self-love. Recognize your body’s strengths, qualities and abilities and regularly practice gratitude for these things.

Building body confidence and letting go of terms and ideas like “Summer body” and the popular “New Year, New You”, is not easy. They are part of our society and we have been sold by the 70-billion-dollar diet industry that we need to look and be a certain way. We don’t. Be you. You are great just the way you are.

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that I do benefit from thin privilege. Fat discrimination is real, and living in a body that isn’t the “thin ideal” and not accepted by some makes some of my above ideas hard to adopt or even consider. My thought is that you are the boss of your body, you get to choose what you do and don’t do with it. That includes deciding to change it or not.

If you do decide to change your body, I offer you this brief self-reflection exercise:

Why are you attempting to change your body? Is it coming from a place of love or hate, compassion or shame or confidence or doubt?

Who benefits from the diet or program you might be buying into?

What sacrifices or lifestyle changes will you make? How will this impact you and those around you?

Is there another way you can take care of your body that would support your health or goals that you have?

More Insight: Check out this cool article on the Japanese word “Kokoro” and what if can do fro your life!

Author: Doris Ward is mind-body fitness coach that helps others build their fitness, body confidence and resiliency through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is an award-winning fitness professional who leads workshops, as well as specialized yoga classes for chronic pain management and for those who have experienced trauma. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine. You can read more about her work here: fortheloveoffitnesspei.com

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