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15 Tips For Surviving Bikini Season Intact

Rev up for summer, hold the self-loathing!

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Having a really complicated relationship to one's body and the idea of "body image" is, for me, a year-round pastime. But right before "bathing-suit season," the Diet Industrial Complex really hits its stride in terms of making me feel self-conscious about my body and how it's failing to live up to any number of standards.

That is why it seems like a good time to re-up my commitment to ignoring all that garbage while also not punishing myself for sometimes not being able to ignore that garbage. Here are some tips I recommend (and will try to follow) for surviving the time of year when it's somehow even more OK than usual to tell people how they should look (and how they should feel about how they look).

1. Rethink your ~relationship~ to certain health, beauty, and celeb magazines. YOU KNOW THE ONES.

Becky Barnicoat / @comics / Via

For example, I already know — and talk frequently about! — how unattainable standards of beauty are bullshit. But I also might idly flip through a women's magazine and — even as I'm thinking about how problematic it is — reflexively think, OK, but maybe they do have a point about muffin tops.

Even if you're wearing your critical analysis and self-esteem hazmat suit, reading this stuff really can infect your thinking and undermine your goal of having a more positive and generous relationship with yourself. Just don't expose yourself in the first place if that's the case.

2. Just say no to get-fit-quick plans.

Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News

If I told you that losing weight or getting a killer bod in like two weeks wasn't possible, maybe you'd think I am biased or have an agenda, that I'm a shill for Big Body Positivity. So, I asked Boston-based personal trainer and fitness expert Tony Gentilcore to be really honest with me about what it actually takes for people to make major body changes (like significant fat loss, shredded abs, a lifted/rounder butt, etc., all of which BuzzFeed Health has reported on here, here, and here, btw).

Here's what he told me via email: "[It takes] brutal, meticulous consistency. Those that attain their goals (and keep them) are consistent with staying on task, sticking with a program for several months, and refraining from being seduced by that latest fad." Basically: Major changes aren't going to come quickly.

Of course, you might just like the idea of a 30-day plan that gets you started with working out. We've even created a few (like this 5K training plan or this 30-day workout plan). But keep your expectations realistic. Will they radically change your body in a super short period of time? No. Will they help you get stronger and fitter, make you feel like a badass, and build a great foundation for getting in even better shape? You betcha.


3. Unfollow fitspo that actually makes you feel worse.

Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed News / Via

IMO we use the term "fitspiration" and "fitspo" waaaaay too loosely. Like, lots of accounts that call themselves "fitspiration" are basically just the social media platforms for people who are selling a workout or diet plan, or building their own brand. And lots of times they're doing this by showcasing their "aspirational" way of life — showing you all the healthy food they're eating, humblebragging about their hard workouts, saying stuff like "#NoExcuses," etc. If following these accounts ~inspire~ you to feel like you're not doing enough, or guilty that you missed a workout or whatever, stop following them.

Fortunately, there are plenty of social media accounts to follow that legit exist to build people up and get them excited to experience health and wellness and exercise in an all-new way. (Not saying you have to follow them; just saying they exist.) For instance, here are some Instagrammers who are about the work, not the bod:

Jessi Kneeland

Anowa Adjah

Alexia Clark

Emily Schromm

Liberation Barbell

Massy Arias

And here's some more fitspo that will neither enrage nor shame you.

4. Stop talking about food/eating as good or bad, an indulgence, or a guilty pleasure.

@trainerpaige / Via

I'm not here to tell you how to think or not think about food. BUT HAVING SAID THAT have you noticed how casually people say something like "I was so bad yesterday; I ate those doughnuts" or "There was pizza at the meeting but I was being good so I didn't have any."

This kind of talk makes YOU good or bad for eating something or not eating it, which, when you think about it, is pretty harsh and reductive. And it's a mindset that implies you have to earn food or be punished for eating it. IDK about you, but I don't like to think of myself as a naughty toddler.

So for now, I am restricting debates about the ethical considerations around food to conversations about animal welfare, the environment, and the human labor responsible for our food supply. Please join me!

5. Follow social media accounts that are really, truly, legitimately about body diversity and fat acceptance.

Twitter: @ohkayewhatever

Our culture is so hellbent on equating thinness with virtue and beauty, and fatness with vice and failure that you actually do have to put thought, intention, and work into decolonizing your mind from that way of thinking.

IMO it helps to immerse yourself in the words and thoughts (and social media posts) of people who are really bringing the ruckus in terms of challenging mainstream norms around bodies and beauty.

Some people and accounts to follow:

• Your Fat Friend

• Sara Benincasa

• Jessamyn Stanley

• Louise Green

Big Gal Yoga

• Ok2BeFat


7. And get rid of stuff you're keeping around till you can wear it again (when "again" is a pretend time somewhere in a future that doesn't actually exist).

Charlotte Gomez / Jon Premosch / BuzzFeed / Via

The stuff that you haven't fit into in years, that you'd have to do something majorly extreme to fit into again, that makes you nostalgic (yet self-loathing) for the good ol' days when your body was "better" — get rid of it. Its only purpose is to sit in your closet or dresser emitting the low hum of self-flagellation that only you can hear. Donate it to a good charity and give someone else the gift of your great style.

If you need some inspiration for how to go about this, read Getting Rid Of Clothes I Hated Helped Me Love My Body.

8. Eliminate elimination diets.

@poetic_desire83 / Via

If you avoid a food or food group because it makes you feel terrible (gassy, skin troubles, lethargic, etc.), sure, great. But keep in mind that avoiding particular foods because you think they're "bad" or "fattening" is not considered a best practice by dietitians. In fact, depriving yourself of stuff you actually want generally leads to bingeing (not to mention cultivating a pretty punishing attitude towards yourself and your desires).

In conclusion, people don't lose weight and keep it off because they discovered that one secret food or food group causes inexplicable weight gain. People lose weight and keep it off because they've cultivated sustainable lifestyle changes.

9. And don't do a juice cleanse or detox.

Destroyed by Science / Via Facebook: destroyedbyscience

If you want to rid your body of toxins, you're in luck: Your liver, kidneys, and intestinal tract are responsible for doing that job. So, if your aim is really and truly detoxing yourself, maybe just lower your gaze to your abdomen and go, "Give 'em hell, guys!"

On the other hand, if you're thinking that a juice cleanse would be a great way to drop some weight quickly, keep in mind that that is not a super recommended thing to do. You're likely to feel woozy, hangry, have to poop a lot, and quickly regain any weight you lose.

10. #NoExcuses and #NoDaysOff are better as hashtags than they are as actual approaches to fitness.

@mariabfit_ / Via

Ok, yes, part of the fun of working out is pushing yourself by going faster or heavier or harder than you did the last time.

But getting fitter is a matter of gradually/progressively doing more work, not crushing yourself as hard as possible as often as possible. Going hard all the time leads to feeling fatigued and might make you susceptible to getting sick or injured. This will not lead to fat loss, muscle gain, or getting swole AF. Going reasonably hard and being consistent is better for results and your state of mind. So, take it easy.


11. If you're ever choosing between a workout and sleep, choose sleep.

Working out is great and, to belabor the point further, if you do it consistently you're likely to get some great health and fitness results. But it turns out that sleep is essential to gainz as well as your mental and physical health. Being sleep-deprived totally sucks and wreaks havoc on every part of your life and your body. It makes it tough to concentrate and focus, and it makes you super hangry and crave calorie-dense foods. It saps your will to be active and to make better choices for your health and wellness.

Never sacrifice it for a workout. One extra nap or solid night of sleep will do more for your body than one workout.

12. Shut down (or politely ignore) conversations about who ate what.

Twitter: @LouisPeitzman

Stuff like this seems innocent enough:

"I wish I could eat like that!"

"Eat a sandwich, you're so skinny!"

"She got the cheeseburger AND the fries."

"How can you not want these cookies??"

"Ugh, why did we eat like crap all weekend?"

But they're not just observations. They're judgments about what people choose to eat or not eat, and whether that person being judged is you or someone else, it still puts us all in that territory of making food and eating — and therefore bodies and weight — stuff that's EVERYONE'S business to obsess about and comment on. (Side note: Comments like these can also make anyone who has or has had a disordered relationship with food feel super put on the spot or even triggered.)

OK, sure, maybe expressing distress at how much you ate lets off some steam about your own complicated feelings about and relationship to food, somehow. But it's all at the cost of perpetuating a pretty toxic mindset.

Try this:

Them: Ugh, I ate so much at brunch.

You: *blinks*

13. Also, enough with saying terrible things about your own body.

Yoma Wear / Via

There have been studies — a few of them! — showing that saying disparaging things about the way you look actually makes you feel worse about your body and is also contagious, as in, it encourages other people to do it about their bodies, too.

A good rule to live by: If you'd be hurt by someone else saying it to you about you, that's a great sign that you shouldn't say it to yourself.

14. Related: Say buh-bye to people who comment on bodies.

http://@winding.wheel / Via

Whether the comments seem neutral ("She's lost a lot of weight"), positive ("I'd do anything to have her legs!"), or negative ("Wow, she should not be wearing a halter"), it all just makes it OK to comment on and judge people's bodies, including our own. It's not.

Burn it all to the ground.

15. Reject every single body-related rule or norm that doesn't enhance your life and mental health. Then make up your own.

Twitter: @AmberTozer

Including everything in this post, honestly. Make up all your own rules about how you want to look and feel and what you'll do to get to and stay in that place where you're the boss of your body and mind.

Easier said than done, I know, but it's totally worth it (I imagine/have heard). This healthy, self-loving mindset isn't going to cultivate itself!