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Mental health

Summer is for every body: Embrace movement with the body you have

Summer is meant for soaking up the sun, having fun and spending the season’s longer and warmer days with family and friends (ideally by getting physically active together). But it’s also a time when we’re flooded with stereotypical “summer body” images, dieting advice and workout plans on social media, in magazines and on TV.

woman in a poolThe terms “summer body”, “beach body”, “bikini body” and “bathing suit body” suggest that there’s just one body type suitable for wearing tank tops, shorts or swimwear and that people must change their bodies to be ready for summer. Not only is this triggering for those with body image insecurities and eating disorders, but these terms may also cause us to avoid taking part in fun, health-promoting summer activities, like swimming, beach volleyball, park workouts, paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing.

We sometimes think that others are looking at us and judging us, but if you live in the moment and enjoy different activities with different people, you’ll realize that most of us are just doing our best to get by. It’s important to keep in mind that any body, no matter what shape or size, is a summer body.

6 ways to embrace movement with the body you have this summer

1. Surround yourself with positivity

Take advantage of the warm summer days doing activities you enjoy with people who make you feel good about yourself and comfortable in your own skin. Avoid spending time with negative people who bring you down, even if they don’t intend to.

2. Be aware of what media you consume

A 2016 study revealed that being even briefly exposed to media messages depicting an “ideal physique” was linked with increased body image concerns and eating disorder symptoms. So, if you follow any social media accounts that make you fall into a comparison trap and feel bad about your body, simply unfollow or mute them. Instead follow body positive and body neutral accounts that help you feel accepted, empowered and inspired.

3.  Talk kindly to and about your body

Often, we’re our own worst critics. We would never say the negative things we may tell ourselves to a friend, family member or co-worker. Remember to treat yourself as you would others and try using helpful tools like positive affirmations, quotes and mantras. Focus your attention on the aspects you like about your body and accept the things you don’t.

a woman and a man doing yoga in a park4. Keep a gratitude journal

List aspects about your body that you’re grateful for. Try going beyond just your physical appearance and think of all the incredible things your body does for you each day. For example, it allows you to express your sense of humour through laughter, show affection for your friends and loved ones through hugs, walk your dogdance like no one’s watching, and read interesting articles like this one!

5. Focus on what you can control

While you can try to control how you fuel your body and how much you move, keep in mind that we’re all more than a number on the scale. Instead of concerning yourself with your weight and looks, aim instead for nutrition and to get adequate physical activity and sleep, as outlined in the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for adults.

6. DOMO: Don’t miss out!

Most of all, don’t miss out! Refuse to let negative thoughts and feelings about your body prevent you from enjoying memorable active experiences and the company of family and friends this summer.

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