- It's summertime, and the living is easy. What's not so easy is facing those bulges, rolls, and ripples that are suddenly so much more visible. That's right. For many women, the proverbial "summertime" blues revolve around swimsuits, shorts, sleeveless tops, and other revealing garments that put the pounds you gained (or failed to lose) last winter on full display. According to Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez
, what should be a time of joyful abandon has become a season of self-loathing.
"Too many women spend the summer obsessing over the way they look - or more accurately, the way they think they look," says Rodriguez, author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management" (iUniverse, $14.95). "It's a real shame. Instead of enjoying this wonderful time of the year, they waste it on self-conscious, frustrating, self-defeating thoughts about body image."
If you're kicking yourself because your cool weather dreams of slimming down into a svelte summertime goddess haven't been realized, here's some good news. According to Rodriguez, it's never too late to start getting fit. Start today, and you can enjoy what's left of the summer and prevent the same frustration and disappointment from creeping in next year.
She offers three simple tips that can help you end your summer body image blues - and start your journey toward better health and fitness:
First, Stop The Self-Loathing
It hurts more than it helps. Many women think that if they beat themselves up enough about something they feel they've done wrong, it will motivate them to make improvements. The reality, though, is that the more a woman reprimands herself the harder it is for her to accomplish her goals.
"Imagine a child who is learning to tie her shoe," suggests Rodriguez. "If she is put down every time she makes a mistake, she'll become anxious and frustrated. The stress caused by the criticism interferes with her concentration and motivation and makes it difficult for her to learn the task. However, if she is praised and encouraged, she will be motivated to keep trying, and eventually the confidence she gains will lead her to success.
"Adults are no different from children in this respect," she adds. "Everybody needs positive reinforcement, not punishment, in order to be motivated and achieve goals. This is especially true when dealing with body image and weight loss expectations."
Forget All The "Shoulds"
Start where you are. How we talk to ourselves about our bodies is important. Using "should" statements such as, "I should have lost all the extra weight by now," "I shouldn't be in a bathing suit," or, "I shouldn't go to the beach looking like this," is how we beat ourselves up. Engaging in "should" statements makes us want to give up and guarantees that we'll find ourselves in the same emotional place next summer.
"It's better to accept where we are today, set aside the past, and focus on what can be done now," says Rodriguez. "If we do this, we'll be in a better place at the end of the summer than we are right now - even if it's not where we originally wanted to be. Remember, some progress is better than no progress at all, which is what will happen if you give in and give up!"
Practice Positive Self-Talk
It's never too late to change how we talk about our bodies, says Rodriguez - to others, yes, but more importantly to ourselves. Try these statements on for size and then create some of your own:
• "It's never too late to start positive changes."
• "I want goals that are achievable. I'm not going to set deadlines for my body. I will follow something that I can keep up for a lifetime
• "I want to improve my body image by first accepting my body where it is and then going forward - one step at a time."
• "Thinking about the past or what I haven't accomplished will not get me anywhere. I'll look ahead, not back."
"You can make the summer body image blues a thing of the past," promises Rodriguez. "Positive thoughts lead to positive behaviors. When you change the way you think about your body, you'll simultaneously change the way you treat your body, and you'll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you."
About The Author
Rodriguez is a clinical psychologist and an expert trained in treating eating issues and weight problems. For more than 30 years, she has observed how people set themselves up for failure through unrealistic diets and exercise programs, as well as through buying into out-and-out scams designed to take advantage of individuals who seriously want to improve their health and lives. She is concerned about people being misled regarding the most effective ways to lose and manage weight over a lifetime.
For more information go to www.fatmatters.com