We have hit that summer mid-point, where some days you are soaking up the heat and sun, and other days, you feel like you are doing a whole lot of “fall prep.” As we sit in the tension between the two, we can also recognize that at this point in the summer– some hot days, pool days, beach days, maybe some vacations and outings behind you– you may have had a few tough body image days. 

If you tune in regularly, you might have seen our pre-summer post offering tips for applying the Health at Every Size (HAES) principles to your summer body image mentality. If you missed it, this is a great place to help adjust your summer mindset if you need some helpful reminders and tips to reorient your body image for the remainder of the summer. For a lot of people, the very presence of summer feels like a daily body image challenge. And its important for all of us to remember that we will have days where we struggle with our body image, even if you are well into eating disorder recovery, even if you do not have an eating disorder at all. These struggles can be normal and are even to be expected. 

So, for wherever you are on your recovery journey, your relationship with your body, and your relationship with food, these body image reminders and reflections are for you.

7 Mid-Summer Body Image Reminders and Reflections 

1. For when you feel anxious about your body right after you eat:

Food takes up space: Just like food takes up space outside of your body, it will take up space inside your body. Your stomach will expand when you eat, so it is normal to feel like your body has “changed” in the minutes and hours after a meal because it’s working on digesting food and nourishing your body!

2. For when your reflection in the mirror prompts a series of body critiques:

 Remember that criticizing your body won’t change how it looks. And also try to remember that having negative thoughts about your body on hard days is not an indication that your body needs to change, and it is also not an indication that you would feel better about your body if it did.

3. For when you feel fear about the way a meal or day of eating will impact your body composition:

It is impossible for your body to actually change from one meal or even a day or two of meals. If you enjoy ice cream on a summer night, a meal out with a friend, or a day of snacking at a summer get together, there may be temptation to do some intense body checking over the next several days to “assess the impact.” Please remember that a meal or two will not generate lasting impact on your body and also that you are allowed to talk back to that voice that tried to rob you of the enjoyment that comes with eating without restriction at a summer BBQ. Along with this, please know that while one meal will not change your body, it is ALSO ok for your body to change over time. Bodies do this, and it is allowed!

4. When you feel insecure about others’ opinions of your body or appearance:

Reflect on someone you love: Think about a person you love, and consider the things you most love and admire about them. Are the things you love more about them physical characteristics? More than likely, they are not. Remember that this is how others think about you, too!

 5. If there is an instance where someone’s love or acceptance hinges on your appearance:

a. If there is someone in your life whose love for or acceptance of you is contingent on how you look, run. That is not love. You are more than a physical vessel, and you deserve to be loved accordingly. And, as a segway into our next point, their judgment is not at all a reflection of you.

6. If people make comments (positive or negative) about your body:

Comments on your body (positive or negative) are an outward projection of  someone else’s internal biases and insecurities. These comments are a reflection of them, not you. Even positive comments can be hurtful if the comments are made when you are struggling with your body image, when you are feeling insecure, or when your lifestyle is not sustainable.

7. When a “positive body image” feels like an illusive, unattainable end:

Consider this: Has there been a time when your body was “enough” and the lifestyle you were living was also sustainable? For me, this was a resounding no. And I’m not sure I ever felt my body was “up to my standards,” but in times that my body was at its smallest, the lifestyle I was leading was suffocating. It was helpful for me to retrain my brain to remember that a positive body image does not actually depend on my appearance at all.

Embrace Your Body and Savor the Summer: Final Thoughts and Encouragement

As we head into the “wind down” phase of summer, adjusting (or maintaining) our body image can allow for you to more fully enjoy those BBQs, days in the sun, and get togethers with family and friends. And remember, a bad body image day here and there does not mean you have lost the progress you have made; this is normal, and we are here to lift you up with tips, tools, reminders, and reflections to help you continue striving toward the best version of you. 🙂

By: Erika Muller, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC

All images via Unsplash

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