Summer is upon us, and for many of us, this means
- judging the shit out of ourselves over whether we can or can’t fit into last year’s clothes
- feeling pressure to lose weight before we hit the beach, the pool or the family barbeque
- restricting what we’re eating, which results in feeling an internal chaos around food that we feel we must control or all hell will break loose!
So how can we handle the thoughts and feelings that rush in at this time of year? Here is my top 5 list for how to handle difficult summer feelings:
- Take time on a regular basis to remember that bodies change. They are actually supposed to. It’s called growth. It’s called the privilege of aging. We are human animals who expand and contract. This is literally what happens when we are gifted with being alive.
- Make sure you have some fabulous summer clothes that make you feel like you. Yes, this might mean you have to buy things that have a higher number sewn into them than the number last year. That is a psychological leap you can coach yourself through in order to get some garments that make you feel the way you want to feel, whether it’s sexy, safe, comfy, or bold. (And if you are struggling to coach yourself around it, then we should talk.)
- When you’re considering turning down an invitation to a social gathering because you don’t want people to see your body, remember this: no one is thinking about you. They are too busy thinking about themselves. It’s true they might look at you and think a judgemental thought. Let them! Literally, just LET THEM. It’s a sad commentary on them that they look at your that way, but you’re not in control of their thoughts anyway. And you know what? Two seconds after they think that thought about you, they’ve gone back to thinking about themselves. So let this one go, babe. Let people think their thoughts and then get back to just being the fabulous snack that you are.
- Reflect on your priorities for the summer. Are you going to connect and re-connect with people who fill your bucket, who really know and love you? Are you taking advantage of your paid time off? How will you be engaging all of your senses in the pleasures that only summer offers?
- If you’re considering going on a diet to lose weight (including Noom, WW, a “lifestyle change,” “portion control,” “cleanse,” etc, etc, etc), please remember that this is an intervention that fails 95 – 98% of the time. If you had a headache, menstrual cramps or a disease, would you accept a treatment that only had a 2 – 5% chance of working over the long term? Would you take a treatment that could actually damage your health, compromise your immune system, and give you an eating disorder? No. So why settle for dieting as the completely inadequate solution for your problem?
Listen, I get it. I’ve been there. I know what it is to feel desperate about HAVING to lose weight in order to have a good summer. The thought of imposing my uncontrolled thighs on the world felt equivalent to walking onto the pool deck with a bomb in my hand. Knowing that diets don’t work made those feelings even WORSE—because if it was true, what was my recourse???
Here is the thing: the release and relief you are looking for has not and will not ever come from losing weight. It comes from something much less marketable or profitable, certainly not to the billion dollar diet industry that takes advantage of your self-hatred and insecurities.
It comes from surrender.
The reality is that your attempts at controlling your weight are what’s making you feel out of control in the first place.
It’s the belief that you have to battle yourself to be okay with your body that makes you feel insecure in your body.
It’s the efforts to restrict your food that make you feel out of control around food—which leads to binges, emotional eating and “over-eating,” with a side of guilt and increased anxiety.
It’s the attempted imposition of willpower over your food and body that give rise to that internal feeling of chaos.
But try putting that on the cover of a magazine or a yogurt container in a grocery store.
If you are feeling out of control around food, or feeling desperate about changing your body, we should talk. I coach women and other people assigned female at birth how to access the freedom and relaxation that dieting promises to deliver…minus the dismal failure rate.