Rev up for summer, hold the self-loathing!
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).
Rethink your ~relationship~ to certain health, beauty, and celeb magazines. YOU KNOW THE ONES.
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.
Becky Barnicoat / @comics / Via instagram.com
Just say no to get-fit-quick plans.
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 keeps you accountable and tells you exactly what to do or eat. That's fine! 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.
Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News
Unfollow fitspo that actually makes you feel worse.
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:
And here's some more fitspo that will neither enrage nor shame you.
Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed News / Via buzzfeed.com