Summer is upon us which means the fitness industry wants to talk about getting a beach body! It’s usually marketing for a short-term weight loss plan, accompanied by a picture of someone wearing a bikini. Looking lean, tanned, and gorgeous, with the promise that you too can achieve the same look.
As someone who struggled with my relationship with my own body for many years, and who has come out the other side, I’m here to help you call BS on diet culture messaging. But it’s sneaky, and everywhere! And the fitness industry bloody LOVES IT!
Here’s where I am seeing it at the moment:
- Comparing where someone is now to pre-lockdown. This oversimplified messaging doesn’t recognize the impact that lockdown and Covid have had on people’s lives and nervous systems
- Why they should be following a specific set of rules (which may work well for the personal trainer but probably not for those who struggle with dieting. Or have a history of weight loss and weight gain)
- You’re not working hard enough or you don’t want it enough – gaslighting at its best!
The thing is, the dream body isn’t found at the end of an 8 or 12-week plan. It’s a long-term (or even lifelong) approach to how you feel about yourself, and how well you manage your thoughts and emotional state. Plus the helpful, effective, and compassionate habits you create. THAT WORK FOR YOU!
Let’s explore the above messaging in more detail
"You've let yourself go over lockdown"
No-one saw it coming! We were dealing with a totally unknown and anxiety inducing situation. It’s no wonder you struggled to stick to your previous healthy lifestyle. Or found it challenging to create new healthy habits for your fitness and nutrition.
You may have been dealing with one or more of the following:
- working + homeschooling
- putting your own needs to one side to care for loved ones
- losing loved ones
- the anxiety of keeping everyone safe
- getting ill and recovering
- never knowing if schools and nurseries would be open or shut
- not being able to see loved ones or friends
- losing a job or feeling insecure in your job
The world is gradually processing the trauma of the last 2 years. Treat yourself with compassion, kindness and curiosity as to what small (and easy for you) changes you can start to make.
"Follow these food and exercise rules to get your beach body"
Let’s start with calories shall we? Calories matter but you don’t need to count them! There are so many flaws in the accuracy of calorie and calorie tracking. Plus it creates a narrow definition of success. For many women (but also men) going over a calorie target creates a “sod it” moment where the exhaustion of thinking about food all the time, meets the daily or weekly perceived failure of being able to “stick to something”.
This is often followed by the creation of more rules
- I’ll be “good” tomorrow
- I’ll do 2 hours in the gym to burn it off
- I’ll skip dinner because I’ve already exceeded my calorie target
Creating helpful principles versus rules is much more effective for weight loss.
These may include:
- I’ll eat a nutritious breakfast and maybe a pre-workout snack because I train at lunch and I’m always ravenous afterward
- I’ll do more walking meetings to increase my step count
- I’ll create balanced and satisfying meals that include all the macronutrients (no low carb diets here)
- I’ll book my gym classes at the start of the week and put them in my work and personal diary
I don’t know about you but this feels totally different than trying to hit an arbitrary number in an app!
"You're not working hard enough" or "you don't want it enough"
We are led to believe that hard punishing workouts will yield the best results. Even pro athletes aren’t training hard ALL THE TIME!
There are so many reasons why you might need to move away from these and/or create more variety in the style of workouts you do.
These might include:
- hormones – whether you are perimenopausal, menopausal. postnatal or at a certain stage of your menstrual cycle
- how much sleep you are getting – whether you’re a new mum with a baby or an older woman experiencing insomnia or hot flashes at night. Your sleep quality matters. Poorer quality sleep means more cortisol and more pressure on your adrenals. Combined with the last couple of years, a daily HIIT workout may not be the most appropriate option
- for how well fuelled you are – eating is not cheating. Undereating and exercising will make you hungrier and more likely to overeat.
- lack of sex drive
- loss of periods
- inability to sleep or stay asleep (tired but wired)
- propping up your energy levels with stimulants such as coffee
Moderation, consistency, and patience over intensity are unsexy and harder to market but are the key to your year-round healthy and happy body.
I have a free download on 5 reasons why you’re struggling to stay consistent – click here to download
Fancy working together?
If you’ve enjoyed reading this “beach body BS” blog post and you’d like my help, you can book a free 15 minute chat by clicking on the link
I’m a qualified nutrition and intuitive eating coach and work with a small number of female clients who want to break the diet cycle and create long term food and fitness freedom.