Don’t let your workout environment trap you into believing your body is not enough. Here’s how to stop yourself from getting caught up in the summer body hype.
It is officially the season for “beach bodies”, “summer shape-ups”, and getting “bikini-ready”.
Couple that with the warmer weather, and you may be in preparation mode to wear clothing that reveals more skin. For many people, that means they start defaulting to their annual habit of focusing intensely on the size or shape of their “summer body”.
It’s also during this time that you’ll hear more body-image focused language as a “motivator” for getting active leading up to the summertime. It’s something that many fitness professionals use because the concept is so pervasive in our culture.
While it may be well-intentioned, this type of language can in fact cause more harm than good.
Here’s what you can do to mitigate the impact of diet culture language at your gym or fitness studio.
1. Be aware of how it’s impacting you.
As a consumer, it’s important to recognize the type of support you need to best care for your health with physical activity. That means surrounding yourself with a teacher whose language and support will truly help you be your best.
Start thinking about who you are trusting to say those words and what sort of weight they hold for you. If you are someone who is entirely unaffected by the language of your fitness instructor, great!
Enjoy your workout and move on. However, the reality is that many of us take to heart the advice of people we trust with our health, including health care providers, fitness professionals, nutrition professionals, and more. Awareness is the first step, so you can thoughtfully react and decide if an environment, fitness instructor, or trainer is right for you.
2. Use a different motivator.
When it comes to using language that’s more in line with your true health pursuits, it has to go beyond the surface-level changes that dominates the fitness world. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of why you’re engaging in the activity to begin with, not just because you want to attain some self-perceived ideal summer body.
Here are a few mantras you can use in place of your fitness instructor’s if their message affects you negatively.
- This activity makes me feel stronger.
- I love the energy this class gives me.
- My mental state is so much clearer when I leave this workout.
- I enjoy the endorphins and feeling healthy when I do this movement.
- I’m caring for my future self by moving my body in a way that I enjoy.
- This is a great way to meet up with my friends and grow my community.
3. Find a new instructor, gym, or studio.
Don’t be afraid to be an advocate for yourself and keep searching until you find a place or a person that fits your needs. Just like any other human interaction, not everyone will be a match for you, but that doesn’t mean you should stop searching altogether.
If you have a trusted circle, ask around for recommendations of teachers or classes to check out. Consider searching reviews online. Or be bold and talk to the instructor about what you hope to get out of the experience, and see if their views align with yours.
If not, that’s OK. Amy Poehler’s advice of “good for her, not for me” rings true here, but know that you can find a place that makes your pursuit of health truly about health –
Physical, mental, and emotional all included.
HEADER IMAGE: SABEL BLANCO
Autumn Ehsaei, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT is a private practice dietitian and owner of Perennial Nutrition, based in Cary, NC. Autumn’s passion is to help others approach nutrition from a place of abundance, teaching them to integrate more nourishment into their lives rather than focusing on restriction. She fights against fad diets, de-bunks myths, and works with clients where they are to find sustainable solutions to their nutrition concerns.