You know what’s better than summer? Spending an entire summer down at the beach, making new memories, living life to the fullest, and not having a care in the world! That includes not caring what other people think of your “summer body” – or the lack of it. It’s a great mindset to have… you know, not being pressured by society’s obsession with a perfectly toned, beach-ready body by summertime.
Here are 5 reasons why you DON’T need a summer body…
No one’s talking about getting the perfect “winter body” or “spring body” or “autumn body”. But the concept of getting a “summer body” or “bikini body” is pushed down our throats all the time! I get that it feels great to have people rate you as a 10, but you don’t need their validation to make you feel amazing… you can do that on your own! That said, here’s why you should stop this unhealthy pursuit:
1) It can lead to anxiety and depression
It’s all fun in the beginning, right? Your motivation is through the roof (you still have several months to go – you can do it!). You start dieting and enroll yourself in the gym. But after a week or so, you start ‘cheating’ and slowly go back to your old ways. After a couple of months, you stop completely.
And the dark thoughts come – you’re a loser, you’re never going to get that hourglass figure like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian. Or if you’re a guy, chiseled abs like Chris Hemsworth’s.
Well, stop right there! Comparing yourself to celebrities is setting yourself up for failure. They’re paid to look good and they pay good money to keep looking the way they do. So, unless you have the same resources as them, you’re better off loving your body just the way it is.
But what does science say about it?
According to one study, depressed people with higher BMI (being overweight or obese) are largely dissatisfied with their body image, which can cause them to develop unhealthy eating habits (1). Another study found that body image dissatisfaction isn’t exclusive to females, even men experience this too. Researchers say there is a likely association between anxiety, depression, and body dissatisfaction (2).
2) You’re supporting a billion-dollar industry
Did you know that in 2018, the US weight loss industry was worth $72 billion (3)? That’s a lot of money spent by people wanting to get fit – think meal replacements, weight loss pills, fad diet plans, and even weight loss surgeries – all to look good and achieve a bikini body.
Now imagine what will happen if everyone had high self-esteem and accepted their body as it is (yes, even the excess fat, extra curves, and unsightly wrinkles)… this industry will go poof overnight!
3) Getting a supermodel physique isn’t easy
You’re probably not going to get a supermodel physique in half a year, unless you’re genetically blessed with the right build and only need to shed a few pounds. But if you’re like most folks, you’ll need to do a LOT of work to achieve your ideal summer body. This means going on tough diets and working out religiously – for a few years!
People with enviable physiques watch what they eat. No matter how good they look now, if they eat more calories than they burn in a day, they’re going to be gaining weight. It’s just a fact of life (check out other nutrition facts here). So, counting your macros are an absolute must.
And what about the toned muscles? Well, you don’t get those by sitting on the couch all day! You have to put in the work. That means hours upon hours in the gym. Ask for help from a personal trainer so you can target the right areas and don’t injure yourself in the process.
So, as you can see, getting a supermodel physique will take time, effort, and money. And good genes, yes, which you can’t buy and will need to be born with.
4) Aiming for a summer body can lead to a poor mindset about fitness
Some people think it’s okay to not be fit when summer ends… well, it absolutely isn’t! Your body deserves plenty of TLC year-round. Just because you’re covered from head to foot during non-summer months doesn’t mean it’s okay to revert back to an unhealthy lifestyle. Good health should last the entire year. In fact, if you want to live a long life, it’s highly advisable to stick to a healthy lifestyle your entire life (4).
5) It can be unhealthy and risky
With a hard deadline coming up, a lot of people are forced to take shortcuts. For example, in their quest to lose weight quickly, they’d be more prone to go on fad diets (cabbage soup diet, anyone?). Some of these fad diets do work in the short-term, but as soon as you stop, you’re right back to where you started!
And for those who can afford it, there’s an even faster – albeit a more risky – option. People go under the knife to have their physique sculpted. They get liposuction, tummy tuck, upper/lower body lift, arm lift, etc. These body contouring surgeries can cost thousands of dollars, so it’s not for lightweight wallets (5).
How to be fit and healthy year-round
Enough with the concept of “summer body” already! Here are a few tried and tested tips to help you get a fit and healthy body that you can be comfortable in no matter the time of year.
1) Set realistic goals
Aim for small goals at first. It’s far easier to reach goals when they’re more realistic and more attainable. For example, instead of aiming to have a 6-pack in 6 months, how about you start by aiming for 15 sit ups a day? The next week you double that and aim for 30 sit ups with a 10-minute plank every day. As you gain more strength, you can add more reps and/or other routines. Before you know it, you’ll have the abs of your dreams!
2) Follow a habit change approach
A habit change approach is needed if you want long-term results. By replacing your bad habits with good ones, you’re more likely to succeed. Here are a few habit changes you can make:
|Bad habits to replace…||… with these Good habits|
|Eating junk food when stressed||Eat a serving of fruit when stressed|
|Smoking a cigarette after lunch||Go for a 10-minute walk after lunch|
|Late night snacking||Eat more filling food at dinner|
|Drinking soda or juice after a meal||Drink water instead|
|Buying too much junk food at the grocery||Replace with more healthy food options|
It’s no secret that habit formation takes time. According to research, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to turn an action into a habit (6). Do the action consistently and you’ll soon be doing it automatically, without even thinking about it!
3) Commit to a healthy lifestyle
People who live healthy lifestyles don’t get there overnight. It takes months and years of hard work and discipline to truly let go of unhealthy habits. By changing your habits for the better and committing to a healthier lifestyle, you’re setting yourself up for success, which will bring you much closer to achieving your healthy, year-round body!
4) Lose weight or build muscles at your own pace
Don’t compare your progress with others. We don’t all have the same body types, discipline, and work ethic. Some people lose weight or gain muscle faster. There’s a lot of factors at play, so comparing yourself to others is futile. Instead, compare yourself to yourself.
What achievements have you achieved so far? You’ve lost a few pounds in a month? That’s great! Or your old clothes suddenly fit you again? You can jog without wheezing? These are all achievements you can be proud of! Celebrate every little milestone and give yourself a pat on the back for the job well done!
Final thoughts on the so-called “summer body”
Having a body that doesn’t conform to society’s ideal “summer body” or “bikini body” doesn’t mean you’ve got no right to hang out at the beach. Our society as a whole needs to stop the practice of body shaming – we’re all special in our own little ways. Instead of aiming for a supermodel physique, aim for a healthier and happier you!
(1) Paans, Nadine P G et al. “Contributions of depression and body mass index to body image.” Journal of psychiatric research vol. 103 (2018): 18-25. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.05.003
(2) Barnes, Mathew, et al. “Associations between Body Dissatisfaction and Self-Reported Anxiety and Depression in Otherwise Healthy Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” PLOS ONE, edited by Martin J. Tovée, vol. 15, no. 2, 2020, p. e0229268. Crossref, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0229268.
(3) LaRosa, John. “Top 9 Things to Know About the Weight Loss Industry.” MarketResearch.Com, 2019, blog.marketresearch.com/u.s.-weight-loss-industry-grows-to-72-billion.
(4) Thomas, Samantha L et al. “”They all work…when you stick to them”: a qualitative investigation of dieting, weight loss, and physical exercise, in obese individuals.” Nutrition journal vol. 7 34. 24 Nov. 2008, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-34
(5) Bouchez, Colette. “The Facts About Body-Contouring Surgery.” WebMD, 13 Oct. 2006, www.webmd.com/beauty/features/the-facts-about-body-contouring-surgery.
(6) Lally, Phillippa, et al. “How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation in the Real World.” European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 40, no. 6, 2009, pp. 998–1009. Crossref, doi:10.1002/ejsp.674.