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Suzanne Manser, PhD

Licensed Psychologist

22 Iffirmations to Get a Beach Body (nope, that’s not a typo)

No one talks about having a “mountain body” or a “camping body,” but lots of people talk about having a “beach body.” It has become important to us, as a society, to shrink our bodies by June so we can look “acceptable” in our summer clothes. For this reason alone, millions of us dread summer instead of being able to enjoy it.

It is now firmly summer, and too many of us believe our bodies aren’t small enough. We believe our arms, legs, bellies, etc. are “too big” to be seen by others, so we won’t wear short sleeves or shorts or bathing suits. We will suffer in the heat rather than show our bodies. We will decline invitations to the beach and pool parties. We won’t go with our friends to the river because they would see that we have failed to achieve a beach body. They would see just how unacceptable we are.

We feel ashamed, so we stay home and hide. We punish ourselves for not having someone else’s body. This is internalized weight stigma. We don’t have to wait for someone else to judge us for our body; we’re doing it to ourselves. 

To be clear, society has trained us to stigmatize ourselves. People get complimented all over the place when they lose weight, but never when they gain it. Thin people in bathing suits are called “beautiful,” while fat people in bathing suits are called “brave.” No wonder we’re so focused on our bodies not being good enough!

It’s time to stop hiding our bodies. It’s time to stop missing out on summer.

It’s time for a radical mindset shift.

Are you ready?

Let’s start with a few questions: What if you don’t have to change your body to be able to enjoy the summer? What if you can do all the fun summer things in the body you currently have? What if your body is a beach body and a camping body and a mountain body and a backyard body right now?

These questions are iffirmations, and they are the key to a better summer.

You know about affirmations – statements that tell your brain to believe something different than what it believes. “My body is acceptable as it is” is an affirmation.

Affirmations tend to make our brains defensive and closed off. Brains, just like the rest of us, don’t love being told what to do. They prefer to be asked.

Iffirmations are “What if?” questions. They gently invite our brains to consider a different perspective. The question format is iffirmations’ special sauce. It kicks our brains into creative mode instead of defensive mode.

“What if my body is acceptable as it is?” is an iffirmation. Once asked, we find ourselves considering the question. “What if my body is acceptable?” Suddenly it feels a little more possible.

Iffirmations will help us change our mindset about what a beach body is. We are going to invite our brains to consider the possibility that our bodies don’t have to look any certain way to be acceptable or to be seen. [1]  We are going to gently question the need to be a certain size before engaging in summer activities.

 

Here are 22 beach body iffirmations. Note the ones that resonate with you.

  1. What if I consider that it is not my body’s size but my belief about my body’s worth that stops me from enjoying the summer?
  1. What if I can enjoy doing summer activities while in my current body?
  1. What if I show up to the party in short sleeves, and no one says anything negative about my arms or treats me any differently?
  1. What if I believe that my worth has nothing to do with my body size?
  1. What if I put on a bathing suit and go into the water? What if the water feels amazing?
  1. What if I decide to stop judging my body and start appreciating what it does that allows me to enjoy life? What if I focus on the feel of grass under my feet or sun on my skin? What if I focus on the smell of the ocean?
  1. What if I intend, every morning, to appreciate three things about the summer day?
  1. What if everyone else cares less about my body size than I do?
  1. What if my friends and family would enjoy me more if I joined in on the summer activities instead of hanging back by myself? What if they miss me when I am not there?
  1. What if I would enjoy life more if I joined in on the summer activities?
  1. What if the important part about the summer is what I do during it, not how I look during it?
  1. What if I don’t have to feel bad about my body, no matter what I’m wearing or what size it is?
  1. What if my body does not need to be attractive or thin for me to have a good summer?
  1. What if I put on shorts, short sleeves, a bathing suit, or whatever I’ve been reluctant to put on, and I allow my body to be comfortable in the heat? What if I prioritize my comfort over other people’s potential judgment (or my own)?
  1. What if what others think of my body says everything about them and nothing important about me?
  1. What if I don’t have to take responsibility for what others think of my body?
  1. What if I don’t have to feel embarrassed if I see someone for the first time after gaining weight?
  1. What if I can enjoy the summer instead of feeling anxious about it simply by choosing not to focus on my body?
  1. What if I choose one thing to do this summer to make it memorable? Maybe go to a concert, make a special summer meal, watch some sunrises, go swimming, travel, or plant a garden.
  1. What if my enjoyment of life and my sense of fulfillment are more important than looking a certain way?
  1. What if I’m willing to be in the pictures? What if I can focus on the reason the photo is being taken rather than what I look like in it?
  1. What if I realize that I already have a beach body and a shorts-wearing body and a going-on-a-picnic body? What if I don’t need to change a thing about my body?

 

Your body is not the problem, and your body does not have to change. It’s your mindset that needs to change. You need to stop making your body a problem and start focusing on what you want to get out of this moment, this day, this summer. That’s what these iffirmations will help you do.

These iffirmations will help you shift your mindset from focusing on what your body “should” look like to focusing on what is meaningful, fun, or enjoyable about the summer. They will help you move your focus away from judgment about your body, whether that judgment is other people’s or your own.

They will remind you that your body size has nothing to do with your worth or with your ability to engage in and enjoy summer activities. Your worth doesn’t ever change, and your ability to engage in and enjoy summer activities is largely about mindset.

So let’s get down to brass tacks: How do you change your mind?

Choose at least 3 of these beach body iffirmations (or create 3 of your own). Each day, select one of these iffirmations and make a plan to ask yourself the iffirmation at least 4 times each day. Put an alarm on your phone to go off four times to remind you or write it on a sticky note and put that on your computer. Do whatever you need to do to help you remember to connect with today’s iffirmation.

The more you connect with it, the more you consider the question, the more your brain will start to imagine that scenario. It will start to feel more familiar and less foreign. If it feels good while you are connecting with it, your brain will want to connect with it more. So really feel what it would be like to stop seeing your body as a problem and to start enjoying the summer.

This is how we change our minds – we repeatedly offer our brains a new mindset to consider. It helps if the new mindset is realistic. I’m not asking you to believe in the Tooth Fairy. It is possible to separate your body size from your worth. It is possible to enjoy the summer even though you are in a body that people might be judging. It is possible (and even probable) that your body is already a beach body.

 

Try it! What if it works?

 

[1] If you are not aware of the information about weight being largely based on genetics, about diets being both ineffective and harmful, and about health not being related to weight, please read “Ditch Your Scale for Better Health: The true connection between weight and health.

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