Summer Satisfaction: Nothing to Do with “Beach Bodies”

As we shift towards summer, many people will start diets. In addition to dieting being a potential trigger for people biologically susceptible to eating disorders, the difficult part of this is that diets have been proven to not work. Add this to the focus on “beach bodies” and “swimsuit ready,” and we have a recipe for feeling bad about ourselves.

First, our bodies and brains are built to not want to starve and may not agree with a person’s decision to diet. Brain and body are both geared to maintain a predictable fuel intake, so when we behaviorally change that, both get affected. Know what I mean? For example, I remember when I used to do diets, I couldn’t stop thinking about food, next meal, what I couldn’t have, etc., etc., etc. There are actual evolutionary and scientific explanations as to why we likely do this.

According to an article by Sarah Haskins in U.S. News & World Report, “Thirty percent of Americans are trying to lose weight, while another 30 percent are just trying to maintain their weight. Nearly two-thirds of Americans who lose weight on diets gain it back within one year, and a whopping 98 percent of those people gain back their weight and more within two years.”

That’s a whole lotta people struggling to control or restrict their food intake instead of eating for hunger, fullness, and what makes them feel best.

On that note, let’s shift the focus of this blog to non-weight/body focused pursuits of satisfaction or fullness during this summer.

What do you think are aspects of satisfaction or fullness that are specific to summer/hot months? Some things that come to mind might be social, fashion, and activity opportunities. 

What social opportunities happen in the summer that don’t in the winter? Are there parties, birthdays, vacations, and other people-focused events that happen special during these months? Are there opportunities to talk, listen to, and connect with others at these gatherings? For many, social connections contribute to feelings of satisfaction in life.  

*If you ever miss social events because of the food or you ever feel more focused on dieting than the people-connection, I encourage you to consider talking to a professional about how to potentially experience more satisfaction and less food-focused distraction. You may have some disordered eating stuff getting in your way. 

Let’s talk clothing and bathing suits…  What do you get to wear during the summer that you don’t usually get to? What do you actually LIKE fashion-wise during the warmer months? What makes you feel most satisfied and most you? For example, I have always been a bit out there in clothing taste (you’d never know if you meet me because I dress very business conservative at work, but I love vintage and will opt for a vintage-like bathing suit anytime over modern—I feel most like “me” in them).  What summer clothing and bathing suit styles do you LIKE—feel MOST satisfied—most comfortable—most “you” in? 

*If you ever find yourself staying inside or isolating because you “feel fat” or “too ugly,” I encourage you to consider talking to a professional about how to potentially experience more satisfaction. You could have some disordered eating, body image, or self-esteem stuff getting in your way. 

Finally, activities… What opens up in the heat that is less available the rest of the year? Beautiful clear sunsets? Hikes? Paddle boats? Water sports? Tennis? Taking nature pictures? What do you feel like doing or experiencing?

*If you ever find yourself wanting these experiences but saying no to them because you feel too self-conscious, I encourage you to consider talking to a professional. You may have some stuff in the way that a professional might be able to help with.

I remember reading an article called the Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Joe Martino, that appeared in Collective Evolution and Huffington Post. Among the five, people wished they had lived a life “true to myself, not the life others expected of me,” hadn’t worked so hard, and had let self be happier. So my question to you is… Will you someday end up wishing you had done whatever it is you are waiting to be thin enough to do?  What might help you to it?

So often the effort to change our bodies and shapes can take away or even erase other feelings of satisfaction, fullness, and memories in the making. What opportunities and experiences does this summer offer you?

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