I partnered with Dr. Sanam Hafeez, New York City based neuropsychologist and Teaching Faculty Member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College to give us some tips on how to boost body image despite the number on the scale. All opinions are 100% my own.
It never fails. Summer rolls around, and I begin counting the rolls on my body. Three below the belly. Two above. What is that cellulite crap on my thighs? Christ! My thighs are huge. That’s it! I’m not going anywhere near the lake or beach for fear someone might harpoon me while I’m in the water. Swimsuit Anxiety during the summer season is enough to make me crawl into a hole and wait until winter.
Women everywhere are bombarded with ads and commercials urging us to “slim down” and get our bodies into shape by summer. The pressure is just too much. And while I don’t knock those trying to live a healthier lifestyle or meeting their weight-loss goals just in time to slap on that bikini. The truth is there is nowhere for me to hide when invited to that BBQ Pool Party. So what can women do to beat the stress of putting on that swimsuit to step foot in the water with all eyes watching?
Tip #1. Stop The Fat Shaming!
“Women are notorious for commiserating when it comes to body image,” says Dr. Hafeez. We tend to compare ourselves by comparing our bodies. “I’m the fat one.” oh wait, no says the other woman. “I am.” This even happens with women who don’t feel negative about their bodies. I can’t stand it when I see a woman in shape, looking great and she calls herself “fat.” I want to punch her lights out. Yet, I know as women this is something we do, and I agree with the good doctor. The fat shaming must stop!
Tip #2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
I know that it’s dumb to compare my body to someone else’s. Everyone is built differently, and I’m me. So comparing ourselves to those beauties on Instagram we’d all like to look like does nothing to bolster our self-esteem. Instead, follow photos of healthy gorgeous food that makes your mouth water. You want to encourage yourself to push toward a better lifestyle, not make it so you’re sitting in the closet hogging that last doughnut you don’t want anyone to see you eating. Embrace your inner and outer fluffiness!
Tip #3. Focus on Improving Yourself
The good doctor explains that when it comes to our body, it’s important we focus on what we would like to fix. Our problem areas so to speak. Like for me, I hate my arms. I have linebacker arms that would make any CFL player jealous. I would love to have skinnier arms. I just have to remind myself that losing the weight on my arms is going to be a work in progress. Working out raises our endorphins which helps induce feelings of pleasure and reduces anxiety naturally – says Dr. Hafeez. I’m with her on having a stress-free, less anxious life.
Tip #4. Be Kind to Yourself and Commit to a Lifestyle Not a Size
Do something for your body and you, not anyone else. “You want to stay focused on the bigger picture. Losing weight is about living a healthy lifestyle not looking like a swimsuit model,” says Dr. Hafeez. Lately, I’ve been checking out healthy recipes to try out at home. I’m trying to cut back on the sugared drinks and drink more clean water to keep my body hydrated. It’s also important to praise myself for the good stuff and treat myself to time out for me, such as an uninterrupted soak in the tub or a pedicure. Emotional balance in life is just as important as physical balance. Don’t forget that.
Tip #5. Focus on The Fun!
Summer only comes around once a year. I’m tired of feeling bad about myself. So what if I wear shorts and a tank top and someone thinks I’m fat in it? You need to feel good about yourself to promote positive changes in your lifestyle. Enjoy the sun. Listen to the waves roll up onto the beach. Soak in those rays (using sunscreen) of course. And remember life is too short to let negativity get in the way of enjoying the time you have here.
5 Tips From Dr. Hafeez on How to De-Program The Negativity About Our Bodies. Ask Yourself Several Questions when feeling low or anxious about hitting the beach.
- How would it feel to savor the sensation of warm sun on my skin?
- How would my body feel immersed in water on a stiflingly hot day?
- How might swimming help me relax or exercise more?
- What am I willing to do to reach my goal weight?
- What 3 things can I appreciate about my body right now?
Most of us feel anxious or nervous at the beach, yes even skinny people. But we are much more than our bodies. We are confident women, mother’s, daughter’s, sister’s and it’s time we stop focusing on how many rolls we have and start enjoying life. Feeling good is more than just how you look on the outside, it’s about feeling inside, too. Do these things and you will quickly realize you have more to offer the world than a 24-inch waist size.