“Are you beach body ready?”
“Got those bikini abs?
“3 Ways to get killer thighs!”
Over the past month you’ve probably seen articles urging you to scramble and get your “beach body” ready for summer. I saw one magazine cover that said, “Get a great beach body in 3 days!”
Three days. No kidding.
I’m 66 years old and even when I was younger I always thought these Cosmo-type articles were annoying. I know this appeals to the desire to comfortably wear bathing suits, shorts, and sleeveless clothes. I get it. But fitness is for all season long, not just for summer. Wearing fewer clothes in hot weather can feel intimidating enough to those who already lack confidence with their bodies.
I have an alternative.
Instead of fretting about getting your beach body ready, how about making friends with your body all year long? Here are five promises to make to your body this summer… and to keep forever.
1. I promise to speak to you kindly.
Negative thoughts create stress in your body. Loving thoughts heal. When you catch yourself saying “I look awful” or “I hate my body,” simply notice, without judgment, and say to that thought, “OK, here I am again.”
Take several deep breaths. With each inhalation, imagine breathing in loving energy from your Higher Power (or Wise Self, Spirit, God—whatever word you associate with a higher spiritual energy). With each exhalation, imagine releasing negativity from your body. Then say to your body, “I’m sorry for talking to you this way”. Forgive yourself and move on. Stay determined. Changing habits of thought take time. By creating a space of love, self-compassion, and forgiveness, the cycle of negativity wanes and eventually stops.
2. I promise to accept you the way you are and hold you with pride.
(Head held high; shoulders back.)
It may feel hard to think of accepting your body if there are aspects of it you don’t like. But when you stop fighting against your body, your relationship strengthens. One step you can take to feel more accepting of your body is to carry it with self-respect. If you feel self-conscious about your body, holding it with pride may feel unnatural at first. That’s OK. Sometimes you need to “fake it ’til you make it.” Research shows that when you straighten your posture, you also improve your mood. Add a smile to your face and the feel good hormones in your body come alive. Your body does a lot for you. Acknowledge its gifts by carrying it with dignity and respect.
3. I promise to nourish my body with healthy food and movement.
(And not so healthy food in moderation.)
You already know the importance of healthy nutrition and exercise, right? But sometimes the challenges of emotional eating leave self-judgement and shame. And while you know that movement is good for your body, you may struggle to consistently follow though.
Here’s a tip to help transform health-enhancing behaviors into a daily habit. After doing something that typically feels challenging, say to yourself, “That was easy.” For example, say this after eating a wholesome meal and enjoying dessert in moderation or after taking a morning walk before work. Saying “that was easy” helps train your brain to naturally encourage new habits because your brain links to ‘easy’, linking a positive association to something that previously felt difficult.
4. I promise to attend to my soul.
(Activities that calm my mind and bring joy to my heart.)
The philosophers of ancient times knew the importance of caring for the soul to heal the body. Plato said, “If the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul.” What cures the soul?
Start by taking time to do those things that bring you joy and inner peace. For me, that means meditation, movement, reading inspirational books, and knitting. Prioritize daily “me” time because it’s vital to your health that you nurture yourself with soul-enriching activities that relax your body, quiet your mind, and fill your heart with joy. This peaceful state activates healing energies that help protect you from illness and also help liberate you from relying on food for emotional comfort.
5. I promise to go within and ask you what you need.
(Together we’re a blessed team.)
There is a spiritual power that is both within you and also expands beyond your body. This power communicates to you through your intuition and body wisdom. Learn to listen to it. While it’s important to keep educating yourself from sources that you trust, only your body knows what’s best for you. Here’s a suggestion:
Every morning ask your body, “What can I do for you today?”
Then, honor what you hear and let the whispers of your body show your way.
As you disregard the “beach body” mentality, you’ll discover what matters most about this sacred partnership with your body. And to help you along the way, here’s my favorite:
“I promise to forgive myself for the times I stumble. I’m human and I’m doing the best I can.
Will you keep these promises to your body…and to yourself?
(Photo Credit: Adam Birkett/Upsplash)