Summer Body Image & 5 Steps to Healthier Thoughts

Recently I made the following post on my Facebook page: It’s July and all of the sudden it’s Summer. This is important, so listen closely. You don’t have to be a size zero or have a thigh gap or a 6 pack to be allowed to Summer. You don’t have to be skinny or toned to wear a swimsuit. YOU are bikini ready simply by wearing a bikini. The people who judge others at the beach harshly are the ones that are deeply insecure. While you may be out there thinking “OMG I’m fat” chances are so is everyone else. We all should strive to be healthy and keep up with our fitness, but just because you haven’t reached your ultimate goals yet, doesn’t mean you are allowed to punish yourself mentally and deny yourself the joys of Summer time. So take a deep breath and be proud of yourself for who you are inside and out. Because life will be a lot more rewarding if you start living it NOW and not “when” something happens or “when” you have a certain body.

Weight loss and fitness can draw a difficult line in our lives. We want to stay motivated and with all of the different ways to do that now with Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or whatever means you use to look at progress pictures or healthy food, it can become overwhelming. It is easy to fixate on someone else’s body, someone else’s thighs or flat stomach and then use that as our motivation. While it’s great to find motivation through different means, it’s important to keep ourselves in check and make sure that we are striving for OUR OWN bodies and our own shape and unique appearance. It’s also important to truly work on creating peach within ourselves.  I love this article I came across on the Huffington Post that shows pictures of women (not supermodels) in bikinis and bathing suits.

Sometimes I have moments where I’ve been working out and I try on my swimsuit and expect to look like some photoshopped, at-the-gym-all-day, supermodel. And when I’m not, it’s a HUGE let down. Suddenly those feelings of insecurity and failure start creeping up and I have to observe them and not let them take over.

Be easy on yourself. We can’t all just snap out of our habitual thought patterns, but we can make strides and start with small steps forward. Don’t deprive yourself of the beach or any summer activities just because you aren’t where you want to be yet. Your body is beautiful and amazing, period.

The next time you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed about your body or any aspect of yourself, take a moment to run through these suggestions:

  1. Take a few slow, deep breaths and calm your mind. Notice how relaxed you become after consciously taking a moment to slow your pace, clear your mind, and truly let yourself visualize and hear your own thoughts.
  2. Let your thoughts flow but try not to attach yourself to them. If you feel “fat” and “worthless”, let your mind roll that thought away. Then observe how that thought makes you feel. Realize that you don’t have to let every thought you have dictate your emotions or your responses. This is the practice of mindfulness and allows you to let your negative thoughts flow through and out of you. Trying to just stop your negative thoughts
  3. Avoid the All-or-Nothing mentality. When we tell ourselves that we have to be perfect in every way to meet a goal it leads to every little mistake becoming a huge failure. Set realistic goals and ways of praising yourself.
  4. Try to get away from “should”, “can’t”, or other negative suggestive words. While it’s important to observe our thoughts, the next step is changing the habits of past negative thoughts. When you think you “should” do something or “can’t” do something, your mind adapts to that mentality. You suddenly can’t see the small positives and feel too overwhelmed to take steps forward, ultimately feeling stuck and discouraged.
  5. Work on incorporating positive thoughts into your mind to replace the negative ones. Over time, you will make new habits of positive thoughts in the same ways you used to automatically come up with negative ones. Re-affirm your positive self-image. Focus on what you like and love about yourself and your body when you look in the mirror. Work on complimenting yourself, thinking about the good aspects of your body, and learn to accept compliments and say “thank you!” instead of down-playing something nice someone is saying to you.

Remember that Witnessing = Observing + Non-Attachment