5 Tips for a Healthy Summer Transformation
It's that time of year again. Spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, the sun is shining, and we’re shedding our winter coats and mittens in favor of cute tank tops and sandals. But instead of worrying about how quickly we can make it from the office to the beach, some of us are hung up on something else: our bodies.
Every year around this time, gyms get the influx of new members wanting to get “beach-ready” bodies in time for summer. We go crazy trying to find the perfect “30 Days to Perfect Abs” workout and the right fad diet that promises to make us fit and fabulous by the time we need to get into a bikini.
Is there anything wrong with that? I mean, at least people are trying to get into shape, right? There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to shape up for summer, but it’s important to go about it in a healthy manner that promotes your overall wellness and doesn’t push you toward unhealthy fad dieting or injury from overly intense workouts. Here are 5 simple rules for getting into summer shape the healthy way:
1. If a program offers “instant” results—AKA, 30 days or less—it is probably either complete nonsense or extremely unhealthy. As fabulous as it would be to go from size 12 to size 6 in one month, it’s simply not feasible or sustainable. The kinds of diets that promise this kind of impossibly fast change are usually those that encourage you to starve yourself and deprive your body of essential nutrients in favor of dropping pounds. This is unsustainable because your body can’t function off of gummy bears or cotton balls for long before it starts deteriorating. You’re also pretty much guaranteed to gain back the weight afterward.
2. Quit following those impossibly hot “fitspiration” people on social media. Instagram filters are magical. If you’ve ever used one you know that it can make your photo look 100 times different that it did when you originally took it. Combine that with good lighting, proper dehydration and flexing skills and you’ve got a formula for a pretty awesome #fitspiration collection to awe your followers. While it’s okay to look for motivation from people you admire, it’s unhealthy to obsess over images of professional fitness models and people who get paid to work out for five hours everyday.
3. Think beyond the bathing suit. Getting into shape is great for beach season, but it’s also much more than that. Eating clean and exercising regularly won’t just make you look good—a healthy lifestyle should make you feel better all-around. So while getting bikini-ready might be a good starting point for your fitness journey, it shouldn’t be the sole reason for the changes you make to your lifestyle. We’re always going to be under-impressed with our own bodies. It’s human nature to constantly feel like we could do more and look better. But if your perspective is to focus on how you feel more than on how you look, you’ve got a much better chance of sticking with your goals. Besides, feeling good is addicting! The more energized and productive you feel, the more you’re going to want to continue doing the things that are contributing to your wellbeing.
4. Don’t compare your journey to everyone else’s. Let me clarify. It’s okay to be in friendly competition with your gym buddies. It’s not okay to get so caught up in trying to be the best that you become discouraged when others seem to be making more progress than you. Everyone is different. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, with differing metabolic rates, body fat percentages and capabilities. The best thing to do is to judge your own progress. If you’re doing better than you were last month, or last week, then you’re doing something right.
5. Stop criticizing your body. Get off the scale. Quit grabbing that extra pudge on your waist and staring at it angrily in the mirror. And stop complaining to your friends about how much you hate yourself for not looking exactly the way you want to look. Stop! None of this is helpful. Just like obsessing over how great some fitness model looks is unhealthy, obsessing over how un-whatever it is you’re trying to be you are is only detrimental to your health. If you continue to beat yourself up over your imperfections, you’ll never be happy with yourself.
“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business?” Dr. Gail Dines
Takeaway: Getting in shape is a great aspiration, and getting started on it in time for summer is fantastic! But do it for the right reasons, the right way. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you get, so do your best to love it. Embrace the body you’ve been given, imperfect as it may be, and put your overall well-being ahead of any aesthetic details you might be unsatisfied with. The better you feel about yourself, the less those little things seem to matter in the long run.