I don't know about you but by this time of the year my newsfeed is flooded with everyone talking about swimsuit season, or bikini season, and how they are going to diet or exercise in preparation for summer.
It can be easy to get swept up in the general excitement of these posts. Everyone is so confident that they are going to be "bikini ready by summer". Even at work one can't escape the talk of diets or workout plans to be ready for the often loathed swimsuit season.
"BIKINI READY BY SUMMER" PITFALLS
Most of these diet and workout plans hold the interest of the participants for a couple of weeks, but then the plans often begin to go by the wayside as the participants begin to feel deprived without seeing much results yet. And you can understand why they feel this way because the latest summer workout or diet plan promises such tempting results. It isn't hard to look at the ads and think, "This is it. This is the summer I wear my bathing suit proudly. This plan will finally get me there." But then, just like every other year, the results don't happen as quickly as we had hoped, and as the start of summer rapidly approaches we get discouraged and chalk the whole thing up as another failure on our part.
But here's the thing, it often isn't a failure on our part. Everyone's body is different with different genetics, different metabolisms, different life stages, and different needs. But yet we have bought into a "one size fits all" approach to fitness and diet. When we stop and think about it, it really is no wonder we see such varying results. And yet we still compare our results to the "one size fits all" expected results and when we come up short, we feel that we are failing.
I have a proposition for you. How about we do it differently this year? How about instead on focusing on taking away from ourselves by focusing on dieting and losing weight, we focus instead on adding to ourselves?
Let's add mindfulness in our food approaches with each meal, listening to what our body needs and when it has had enough. This sometimes takes an extra step of looking beyond the initial message and see what is driving the message. The driver of the hunger message is what we want to address.
For example, oftentimes we think we are hungry when in fact our body is actually asking for energy because we have been skipping on sleep. Sure, we could give our body food for an energy source, but it still isn't going to address the driver behind that message and we will continue to crave energy, particularly foods that can be converted into quick energy, like sweets and starches. But if we make a routine sleep pattern with adequate amounts of sleep a priority, we will begin to have less cravings for energy. Then we can focus on eating well at each meal and not be undone by the cravings between the meals.
Let's add strength to our bodies instead of focusing on diminishing ourselves. A strong body is going to serve us so much better than one that has been deprived and beaten down by punishing workouts or diets. A strong body will give us the energy to go out and enjoy all that summer has to offer; hikes through the forest, long walks on the beach, playing in the backyard with our kids.
A strong body will also build our confidence. And a healthy confidence will help us make choices that are good for ourselves because we will see the value in caring for our bodies. Think about the last time you did something that made you feel extra strong. Did you carry your head higher? Did you feel better about yourself overall? Chances are you did. And if you can't remember ever feeling this way, now is a great time to start and find out what I'm talking about!
Let's add awareness too. Cultivating awareness will enable us to exercise our body in a way that is beneficial for our body and in a way that serves our body, doesn't punish it. Growing awareness in our bodies will help us nurture our mental and emotional health, in addition to our physical health. Because really, what good is a perfect body if we feel unhappy or stressed or out of sorts on the inside?
MAY FWFG YOGA CALENDAR
I used these thoughts to make the May yoga calendar for the Yoga with Adriene community. I chose practices from Adriene's library that will tone and strengthen the body. You will see some videos for the month that come from her "Weight Loss" series too. Before you knock the videos for being focused on weight loss, try one or two before you make your opinion up. I know that you will be pleasantly surprised by the approach she takes to weight loss. I love how Adriene brings her gentle and encouraging FWFG approach to all her videos, including the weight loss ones.
So this year, instead of hoping that this will finally be "the year" you put that bikini on, how about you commit to this year being the year you practice mindfulness and awareness while building strength? And forget about comparing results at the end of the month. I guarantee you that you and I could both adhere to the May calendar and eat the same foods for the whole month and still we would look different from each other at the end of the month. And that's okay; we are different. Let us each strive for our own personal results and focus this May on becoming Yoga STRONG!