Summer’s coming and we can all feel it: warm weather, sunshine and swimsuit season. In addition to the changing of the seasons, advertisements of all sorts are popping up on your feeds reading, “Bikini Body Challenge,” “Slim Down Juice Cleanse,” “Top Weight Loss Tips for That Summer Bod.” You’ve likely seen them; we all have. Ads with all kinds of enticing tag lines and promises plague our day to day, with one main message behind them all: that one should lose weight to look good for summer.
This has been the standard for as long as I can remember; all forms of media telling people that they need to look a certain way to feel good. Women, in particular, have become conditioned to think that slim is what we all need to be — especially for that oh-so-cute swimsuit some of us have had our eye on for summer — it’s time to change the rhetoric.
Ladies, slim or skinny should not be your goal. To look like your favorite celebrity or fitness influencer should not be your goal. Your goal should be overall health and happiness. Your goal should be to be your own body goals; to feel good in your own skin. We are all uniquely ourselves — and that is beautiful. Happiness isn’t a synonym for skinny, and that idealistic mindset and deception should be left in the past. We’ve been bombarded with six-week challenges, skinny teas and waist trainers; all promising rapid weight loss or a dream body with very little results and not much else. Instead, let’s work to promote whole, fresh foods, movement/exercise, mental health and rest/recovery — all of which is more important.
Educating women on the aforementioned allows for a transition into a healthier lifestyle, free from crash diets and quick fixes. The daily combination of eating whole, fresh foods, exercising, improving your mental health and getting enough sleep can exponentially improve your happiness and overall body image.
Instead of a restrictive diet, try opting for foods such as lean meats, vegetables, sweet potatoes, fruit and eggs that provide the body with the nutrients and energy it needs. Consuming too many processed foods, full of ingredients you can’t pronounce, can leave you with cravings, feeling bloated and often lead to overeating.
No matter your physical fitness level, one of the greatest ways to improve health and self-esteem is through exercise, and the key is to find an activity you love doing. Whether that’s walking, hiking, running, biking, weight lifting, yoga or playing a sport, each of these activities can improve your health and have you emitting contagious, feel-good vibes.
Exercising can help support positive mental health, but I encourage you to also do one thing that brings you peace each day as well: Give yourself a moment — or a few — to reflect, meditate, read, set goals, get organized, take a bath, get a massage, get your nails done, etc. Doing something you enjoy and allowing yourself to feel good doing it fosters personal strength and self-love — something we all need a little more of.
Last, but certainly not least, one of the most underrated forms of improving health and happiness is getting enough sleep. Each of us needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night … and most of us are likely not getting anywhere near that. Sleep is important and vital for your body’s recovery and daily cognitive and physical functions. It may not be easy for some as we all have outside factors that may interrupt our sleep, but having a set daily bedtime and wake-up time is something that has significantly helped me in this area. Waking up feeling refreshed can leave you exuding confidence, and ready to conquer whatever the day has in store.
Practicing these simple lifestyle changes can bring on a mindset you may have never thought you had. It can leave you feeling empowered and confident as you start recognizing the progress you’ve made. You’ll soon scroll past the outrageous, quick fix, fad health and fitness ads. The idea that you as a woman needs to be skinny, to feel good about yourself, will be something you laugh about. You’re reaching new heights. You are your own body goals, Summer 2021.
Meagan Germaine is a competitive bikini athlete in the WBFF and NPC. Germaine is passionate about empowering women to be mentally tough, learn how food is life, and how to be their own body goals. Germaine currently works as a women’s fitness coach and is a certified elite trainer at her company, Megs Body Shop.