This Summer, Let’s Ditch Bounce Backs and Beach Bodies

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are creeping up, and summer is here. Many past versions of myself would take this as a cue to go on a diet or ramp up my fitness routine in order to get my “beach body” ready for summer. As women, we are under constant pressure to be “in shape.”

It seems to get worse around summer each year and around any life event like a trip, your wedding, or right after you have a baby. You spend the better part of the year GROWING A HUMAN BEING and the day you get home from the hospital, you are expected to be actively “bouncing back.” My e-mail inbox and newsfeeds are currently being blasted with messages and posts promoting magic weight loss solutions.

I, for one, would like nothing more than to unsubscribe from that narrative.

I am several years into eating disorder recovery and healing my relationship with food and fitness. It is a life-long journey and incredibly difficult work. We hear so much these days about body positivity and rejecting diet culture. The hard truth is that there is a huge difference between thinking, “You go girl!” when you see a plus-size model in a bikini, and actually accepting or even loving YOUR current body.

Loving your body is hard, and will take a lot of growth and work. There is nothing wrong with eating in a way that makes your body feel good or having a daily movement practice that involves whatever kind of exercise you enjoy. The real problem centers on diets and exercise routines that are torturous and unsustainable, especially since recent research makes it clear that most diets just don’t work.

Summer in the Past

In past summers, I might try on hundreds of swimsuits trying to find the magical unicorn bikini that would cover the parts I didn’t like and accentuate the few parts I did like. I would sign up for a new trainer or buy a membership for expensive new fitness classes. The Myfitnesspal app would reappear on my phone, and I would dust off my food scale.

Weeks into the new routine, I might lose a couple pounds, but it would be at a huge cost. There would be nights I skipped out on events because I knew the food wouldn’t be compliant with my diet. My budget would be extended to afford the new food, supplements, and classes. And worst of all, my mental health would suffer because in the end, I still wouldn’t like what I saw in the mirror and made myself miserable in pursuit of an impossible goal.

It is widely reported that diets just don’t work long term. If they did, we would do one diet once in our life and never have to do it again. I refuse to allow diet culture and fat phobia to continue to drain my money, energy, time, and joy!

Summer in the Future

What if we did something different this summer? Let’s add up all the time, energy, and money we might usually spend on changing our bodies and instead spend it on actively loving and pampering the bodies we have!

Out with:

  • aspirational clothing
  • books on diets
  • diet apps
  • fitness classes I don’t enjoy
  • juice cleanses
  • meal delivery services
  • plastic surgery
  • shapewear

In With:

  • clothes that are comfortable and make me feel confident
  • enjoying the warm weather
  • fitness classes I enjoy
  • focusing less on my physical appearance and more on spending time with the people I love
  • food that makes me feel good–physically and mentally
  • long walks
  • yoga and meditation

I was put on this earth to do more than weigh food on a tiny scale and do burpees. You were too. We don’t need to bounce back, because our bodies can go to the beach just the way they are. This summer, join me in reinvesting our energy, time, and money towards creating the best life we can!

For more mental health inspiration, read Carm’s ideas for how to put mental health first for the whole family.


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