It’s summer time. Warmer weather means fewer layers of clothing between our bodies and the rest of the world. You might sigh deeply as you look in the mirror on your way to the pool. Body positivity is an upward movement right now and becoming a trend, but even if we really want to be body positive, it’s easy to feel the pressure to look a certain way. So what is the perfect beach body?
The perfect body is one that is healthy and strong. There are a few key ways we can be healthier and love our bodies more in the process. You might find that if you take a step back from focusing so much on restrictive diets or weight, it’ll be easier to hit your health goals.
Body positivity actually increases health.
Let go of the shame and guilt you feel about your body. There is pressure from what you see in magazines, on your social media feeds, and from your own inner critic telling you you're not good enough. But the truth is, you are good enough. You can want to improve and be healthier and still be happy with where you are at.
Reduce stress and your body will thank you. Increased levels in cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to weight gain. Cortisol can raise insulin levels, which causes your blood sugar to drop and will result in stress eating or cravings for sugary and fatty foods. These foods become known as "comfort foods" because eating them has a momentary calming effect.
“Someone’s always going to have a critique, someone’s always going to have some negativity to say about me. So all that matters is what I think of it. And I had to go so deep inside myself and look in the mirror. Looking in the mirror and accepting what’s in the mirror is very, very difficult. And right now, I love it every time I look in the mirror.” -Lizzo
Health comes in all shapes and sizes.
We often wrongly assume that the skinny, cellulite-less bikini-wearing bodies we see in ads are the epitome of health. However, weight and body mass index are not perfect indicators of your health.
"you don’t have to learn. how. to love yourself.
you just have to remember there was nothing wrong.
with you. to begin with.
you just have to come home."
— black, nayyirah waheed
Beauty isn't skin deep. As you feel good about your body through healthy food choices and staying active you will radiate something much more powerful than outer beauty.
Self-love is a process that may take much longer than you want, but here are some ways to look and feel better almost instantly.
Tips for loving your body.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Easier said than done, but remember that magazines are airbrushed and your Instagram friends post the best photo of their best angle on their best hair day. Everyone is comparing themselves to other people. While you might hate on one part of your body someone else might be envious of it, so it's best to just not worry about what someone else looks like.
Unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. You know the one, the one person that you most want to be like, but never will because they come from an entirely different gene pool than you do. Just unfollow them.
Meditate to ground yourself.
Learning mindfulness will ground you and help you focus on who you really are. What really defines you? Is it your looks? Or is it all the things you're capable of? Your talents? You're so much more than your outward appearance.
“Insults about the way I look can’t be the thing that harms me and my heart the most. It has to harm me the least...Far too many women are much more hurt by being called fat or ugly than they are by being called not smart, or not a leader. If someone told me that I was stupid or that I wasn’t a leader, or that I wasn’t witty or quick or perceptive, I’d be devastated. If someone told me that I had a gross body, I’d say, ‘Well, it’s bringing me a lot of happiness.’ Like, I’m having a fine time of it. Having my priorities aligned like that has helped me have a happier life, I think.” - Mindy Kaling
Ask for help. If you are severely struggling with body image seek the guidance of a licensed therapist or healthcare professional. There are some conditions that make it impossible to pull ourselves out of negative beliefs about ourselves without help.
You aren't bound by trends.
What is beautiful varies throughout history, across culture, and even from individual to individual. It's a waste of time trying to force yourself into a box that may not exist in a couple years.
Remember how thin eyebrows were all the rage and everyone tweezed their eyebrows down to thin lines? Now people are micro-blading in their eyebrows to make them thick and dark.
In the 18th century a pale look was all the rage. People would paint themselves with makeup--that was often filled with toxic things like lead and mercury. Looking pale and skinny was also how some who was dying from one of the many rampant illnesses at the time would look. The beauty trend was literally "on your deathbed."
“I’ve always been clear that it’s important for me to remind myself and remind others that I have agency over my body. I get to decide when, where, how, and not live by anybody else’s interpretation of what they thought I was." - Janelle Monáe
Wear what you love.
While we still see many of the same body types over and over in the media, many brands have worked to include more diversity in their advertising.
In 2014 Aerie stopped retouching their photos and included more diverse models. Since then they have included body types of all kinds, sizes, and colors, including people with diabetes and disabilities. From large corporations to smaller brands, more and more companies are including a range of body shapes.
Old Navy, Target, Soma, Dove, Glossier, Modcloth, ASOS, eShakti, Girlfriend Collective, Lime Ricki, Senita Athletics, and more beauty and fashion brands have made their clothing accessible to more sizes and have included that diversity in their advertising. It's a trend that is catching on.
"I'm never massively concerned about what somebody is wearing, as long as it makes them feel really good about themselves." -Tan France
There are "rules" that have been put upon us when it comes to fashion. You might feel like when you go shopping, specifically swimsuit shopping, that you have to find a way to cover up all your flaws. But you don't! You might find that you feel more comfortable in a well-fitting bikini than a conservative tankini.
Don't be afraid to try styles or prints that you feel are "off limits." You might find you love the way you look. Don't put off wearing what you love or doing what you love because you're waiting to look a certain way.
"I think being fashion forward is stepping out of your comfort zone with just even a single piece - an accessory, footwear, a dress - something that shows your style but is just a bit outside of your comfort zone." -Tan France
Focus on nutrition.
Your body needs fuel. If you want to turn weight into muscle you need the great nutrients that come from food. Set achievable goals to improve your nutrition.
Hanger (the combination of hunger and anger) is a real thing. If you're depriving yourself of food, or not eating enough you will be irritable. And no one feels beautiful when they're hangry.
- Introduce a new food you haven't tried before.
- Eat one more serving of vegetables a day.
- Replace one dessert or snack a week with a healthier option.
- Drink an extra 16 oz of water a day.
These seem like small things, but by starting small you will realize how easy it can be to change your habits and you'll notice that the small changes add up to big changes.
It's okay to indulge.
Diets don’t work when you deprive yourself of what you love. You can be healthy without being miserable.
Eating can be a form of self-care and meditation. When you eat mindfully and take time to enjoy what you’re eating you are treating your body well.
Release yourself from any guilt and shame you might feel for an indulgence. A small snack isn’t going to derail you and even a couple bad days can’t keep you from your health goals. Guilt, however, will do more damage if you let it discourage you from your progress.
At Lakanto, we have developed products and recipes that taste like a treat, but don't have the negative side effects of sugar. You can indulge without feeling guilty.
Find a way to be active that you enjoy.
Exercise shouldn't be a chore or punishment. Find something that you enjoy to be active each day. Not only will you feel the benefits physically, you will feel good emotionally.
Exercise is so much more than running at the gym. New classes are cropping up all the time. There are a plethora of activities you can try to be active.
Here are just some options for activities:
- Goat yoga - like regular yoga, but with cute goats. You can try reindeer yoga if you're in Alaska.
- HIIT - you will definitely feel a difference after this workout.
- Pole - not as scandalous as you think (though it can be, if you want), it's a great workout for your abs and legs.
- Roller Derby - get your knee pads, this contact sport is not for the faint of heart.
- Rock climbing - you can do it inside or outside, it works so many of your muscles and makes you feel hardcore.
- Aerial yoga - look elegant and face your fear of heights at the same time.
“I feel most beautiful when I’m empowered. I feel most empowered when I’m on stage. I had to dig really deep and discover the thing that truly made me beautiful and sexy and cute.” - Lizzo
Body positivity is contagious.
Instagram accounts like @i_weigh, @beauty_redefined, and @heytiffanyroe have created communities where body positivity thrives. Recently, Nike added plus-sized mannequins, which inspired many women to share their stories of how weight has not kept them from being active.
The more you love your body, the easier it gets, and the more the movement spreads. Your physical body is just one part of what makes you you. Stressing about your body image will prevent you from what's important in life--living it! You are a physical, emotional, and spiritual being with so much to offer that has nothing to do with how you look.
Don't wait to love your body until it fits into a specific look or specific measurements. Don't wait to wear or do what makes you feel good. Love it now and treat it right with good food and good exercise.
Here’s to a summer filled with happy, healthy bodies. What are some ways you love your summer body? Let us know in the comments.