6 Ways to Beat the ‘Bikini Body’ Blues

6 Ways to Beat the ‘Bikini Body’ Blues

With these tips, say no to body image stress this bathing suit season.

By Maria Mora

Beach season is approaching, and for many women that means stress about wearing a bathing suit. This year, make it your personal mission to enjoy beautiful weather without feeling bad about your body. Here, six expert-approved strategies for hitting the beach without suffering a case of the body image blues.

1. Stop judging your own body. Michelle Lewis, the clinical director at Salt Lake Weight Counseling and a therapist who specializes in body image and emotional issues related to weight, says women need to start by dropping judgmental terms about their own bodies. When she’s working with a client, she asks the woman to think of five things she loves about her body for every critical remark. Grab a piece of paper, and see if you can write down five things you love about your body right now.

2. Focus on how amazing bodies really are. Your body is amazing. Give it some credit. “When we berate our thighs for having cellulite, we forget that those thighs help us walk, run, sit, and stand,” says Lewis. “By putting our energy into remembering what our body does for us, we are less likely to be critical.” No matter what kind of swimsuit you throw on, your body is still an incredible machine. Celebrate it!

3. Don’t obsess over so-called problem areas. “Practice looking at yourself in the mirror without concentrating on the areas of your body that you don't like,” says Lewis. “See yourself as a whole person, not just the parts that don't look the way you want.” If you’re always poking and prodding at the parts of your body you dislike, that’s all you’ll see. No one else sees the flaws you see, so cut yourself some slack.

4. Focus on what you’re doing, not how you look. Kaila Prins, a health coach who recovered from an eating disorder and exercise addiction, believes women need to focus on the beachy activities they’re participating in -- not on their bodies. “Is the body in that bathing suit playing in the sand with her children?” she asks. “Is it learning how to swim? Is it volunteering to clean up a beach? It's not about what you look like. Period, the end.” Focus on doing things you love so much you forget you’re in a bathing suit at all.

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5. Stop comparing your body to other bodies. Stanford psychologist and body image expert Megan Jones helps women build and maintain positive body image. She says that women can sometimes be their own worst enemies -- by comparing their bodies to friends, celebrities, and strangers. “It may take you some time to learn to stop comparing yourself with others, but with practice it becomes easier to catch yourself and break this habit,” she says. “When you catch yourself, try to focus on something completely unrelated. Better yet, think about something you like about yourself.”


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6. Recognize that fat isn’t a feeling. If you’re feeling fat, and you’re unhappy about it, there’s more going on than the way you look. “Fat isn't a feeling, but when you catch yourself ‘feeling fat’ it is a clue that something else is going on,” says Jones, who recommends digging deeper. “Maybe you're feeling tired because you didn't sleep well. Perhaps you're feeling sad because your partner was distracted and didn't seem to be listening to you. When our true feelings go unrecognized, they can show up in the form of negative body image thoughts.”

None of these solutions are a quick fix. Instead, they’re a framework you can use to love your body and love playing outside when the weather is beautiful and the only thing you should be stressing about is putting enough sunscreen on.

How have you boosted your body image around bikini season?

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

Image ©iStock.com/t.light

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