We're quickly approaching peak "beach body" season, and if you think about it this is what diet culture builds up to all year. Diet culture basically tells us to spend 8-10 months of the year dieting, so that we will be "beach body ready" and acceptable for other's viewing pleasure!
Is the "beach body" the most successful diet marketing trickery ever?? Because they have managed to create this "ideal" that all people are expected to live up to if they want to wear a bikini/swimsuit or go to the beach/pool (which is of course BS!). I've been thinking about how this all started and how it managed to get so huge, and I have a feeling Baywatch may be involved! Think about it- there are certain people that we hold up as having the "ultimate bikini bod" and Pamela Anderson 100% mentioned there. She is one of the original beach body goals- she is the "ideal". So, someone saw Baywatch (& other shows/media), and said "hey, I can totally sell something to people who want to look like this and make a tonne of money!".
And now there are sooooo many diet plans/books/shakes/supplements/bookcamps that promise a Baywatch bum or killer abs, or whatever is trendy at the moment- but the effectiveness of these things has to be questioned. All these beach body diets are 100% based on aesthetics, not health, and when that is the case, we HAVE to ask ourselves whether the diet is doing our health a disservice.
Most beach body diets are very restrictive- restrictive of food, energy and joy! So, sure, you might lose a few pounds in a week or 2 but remember:
-restricting to extremes is not healthy for your mind or body.
-diets like this can really damage your relationship with food.
-the weight you lose if mostly water (possibly some muscle).
-you will regain the weight.
Restriction will always lead to over-compensation in humans. And after a period of restriction binge eating behaviour is likely- and is a normal human response. Binge eating behaviour can be associated with negative emotions for most people- guilt, shame, embarrassment etc. These emotions when associated with behaviour around eating can be really damaging to our relationship with food and our bodies, and are probably going to impact our mental health.
So here's the key:
-the beach doesn't care what your body looks like.
-the people you go to the beach with love you how you are.
-99% of other people on the beach won't look at you or care what you look like either (they're probably too worried about how they look too!).
It isn't bad to want to want to look good- but you have to consider how much precious life you are missing out on to look a little different for a short period of time. So many of us fall into the dieting trap and become so focused on weight and how they look that put off living "I'll go when I lose Xlb", "I'll buy the dress when I can wear X size", "I'll apply for the job when I look X way" and it goes on and on and on. There is never a perfect time to buy a new bikini or wear it- but you have to do it sometime!
So go out and enjoy summer, bikini or not, beach or not, just enjoy it. Remember that all bodies are beach bodies, and all bodies are perfect just how they are.
If you need help navigating this time of year, please reach out and find out how I can help by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or giving me a call on 0833260216.
Lots of love,
Little O x