Three Changes for the Perfect Bikini Body
Spoiler: no fad diets involved
Endless pictures of people with all the right curves in all the right places…as I scroll on Instagram, it feels like every other post is telling me to get ready for summer by working on my bikini body. Constantly seeing these images and messages can create pressure to fit the image of a perfect body with the deadline of Memorial Day (Oops! Missed that already). If I’m going to start now or level up, where’s the how-to for achieving it? Fasting? Hours of cardio? The newest cleanse? What’s the best way to achieve a perfect body? Is it actually possible?
What I’ve learned, through my own weight management saga and then helping countless clients over the last 14+ years, is that the perfect beach body does exist — it’s one that belongs to a person who is healthy and happy! OK, I know you’re rolling your eyes but for real. You can’t measure health and happiness by an Instagram photo or TikTok video. Scrolling on IG and comparing yourself to every model can only lead to despair. Detox teas can’t give you the nutrients you need. Photoshop and filters aren’t how to measure weight loss or progress. Health must always come before appearance and in order to be healthy; we must reframe our mindsets. When thinking about weight loss to achieve a summer body, we need to talk about the inappropriate barometers of success we often use to gauge our progress whether that be the scale, calorie intake, or comparison.
Numbers Add Up To Nothing!
First of all, appearance isn’t an indicator of health — and most numbers aren’t either.
Let’s say you and a friend started your fitness journey at the same time, but after a few months, you end up comparing yourself to them and realizing the difference in results. When you step on the scale, your first thought may be “oh no.” But don’t be discouraged. Instead, think: what are all the factors combined to give you that number? Everyone has different bone densities, organ sizes, amounts of fluids, muscle mass, and body fat. One person can be 170 lbs. of muscle, and another could be 170 lbs. of fat (these two people would have the same BMI, by the way, and very different health outcomes). So throw out the scale — a pound is not a pound! You both started at different places and besides, you’re both still getting healthier! Fixating on numbers distracts us from our own progress, and the true progress is learning; it’s not about the numbers at all, it’s about the journey and how you feel.
Why doesn’t fixating on numbers work? You may have heard about “calories in, calories out” — the go-to weight loss philosophy. This theory tells us if we burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight. Fitbits, Apple watches, and websites tell us how many calories we’ve burned, and even restaurants can tell us how many calories are in their meals. In everyday life it looks like we splurge on overloaded mac n’ cheese now and promise ourselves we’ll burn it off later. Or we justify our food choices because we worked out. The reality is: it just doesn’t work that way — calories are deceptive, because all calories were not made equal. 300 calories worth of cereal is not the same as 300 calories worth of eggs — one has an excessive amount of sugar and processed grain, while the other has protein, some fat, vitamins and minerals. Odds are, your caloric deficit means you aren’t eating enough, and what you are eating probably provides calories devoid of nutrients. Also, your body can’t choose which specific foods it wants to burn (wouldn’t that be nice?! Hey body, burn those jelly beans. Go!). Bottom line: you can’t undo your food choices with your workout.
So should you just start fasting or reducing the amount of calories you consume? Answer: No. It’s not “calories in, calories out,” it is “quality in, quality out.” Fasting or reducing the amount of calories you eat can negatively impact your health and long-term goals. Not eating consistently or ignoring when you’re hungry can cause your blood sugar to drop, even if you’re eating something like steamed chicken and vegetables. Low blood sugar puts your body into fat storage mode because it believes you’re in a time of famine and need to hold onto everything you get. Achieving sustainable, long-lasting, and healthy weight loss means stabilizing your blood sugar because your body will realize that it has a reliable stream of fuel. Thus, with a “quality in, quality out” approach, you can safely burn what you eat without the worry of survival. Keep your blood sugar stabilized by eating low glycemic foods consistently throughout the day. Remember: eating protein and fiber at every meal makes removing fat no big deal!
Burn Fat, Not Your Lifespan
So we’ve established that using the scale and calories to measure your progress is bad — but why? As we’ve said before, a pound is not a pound, so it’s important to make sure our body is using the right stuff as fuel. When we cut calories, or even whole food groups, to look slimmer, we can enter starvation mode in an effort to survive. Sure, the number on the scale goes down, but what are we losing? — muscle, water, sometimes bone and, frankly, overall health. Not only is this harmful to our long-term health, it can also stagnate further weight loss and make achieving our goals even more difficult!
Muscle dictates metabolism because it is always burning fuel, whether we’re lifting weights or relaxing on the beach. This is part of why you don’t want to burn muscle instead of fat. Implementing resistance training into your workout routine can help you lose body fat and increase metabolism more so than cardio. Don’t worry, ladies, you won’t look like a bodybuilder! That takes months or even years of specific training, dieting and high levels of testosterone. Having muscle is healthy and can help you achieve a body that you feel confident in.
Fad diets and overworking yourself may seem like they can give you the results you want faster, but they often don’t last and can harm both your weight loss and health in the long run. Building muscle and consistently eating low glycemic foods keeps your body in a fat burning zone for the long run.
Targeting Perfection? Adjust Your Aim!
You have to ask yourself if you want to spend your time stressing over image rather than being healthy. If you’re still with me, I assume you’re choosing health and a healthy body begins with a healthy mind. Oftentimes, the first step in loving yourself is starting from where you are and being aware of the relationship you have with it. Notice the things you say when you look in the mirror and note when your self-worth is impacted by the number on the scale.
Consistency is king! Every morning you get the chance to wake up and make the choice to be happy and to love yourself. Part of making this choice comes with recognizing all of the magical things that our body is doing every day! Consistency with affirmation and small habits aligned with our goals will bring you closer to the results and happiness you desire. So how can we make something into a routine?
Years ago, one of my mentors taught me the “bullseye of change,” which has altered the way I think about making changes in life. The bullseye consists of three concentric circles. The outer ring is behaviors or the things we do. The middle ring is habits which are our repeated behaviors. Lastly, the inside ring is our identity, who we believe ourselves to be.
Making long-lasting behavior changes is not easy but there are two helpful ways with the bullseye. We can first start from the outside in. By making subtle changes to our behaviors every day, we can turn them into habits. Being consistent with our behaviors is important! If you look in the mirror every day and say positive words to yourself, this behavior can turn into a habit. All of a sudden it will be a part of your daily routine and boost your confidence.
The other way of going through the bullseye is to work from the inside out. In order to work your way out you must adopt the habits of the identity you are searching for, then figure out what behaviors create that habit. It’s sort of like the idea of manifesting, that we hear so often these days. If you tell yourself, “I am healthy, happy, and energetic,” often enough, you will believe it.
Setting goals for yourself is always important, so aim to create habits that encourage positivity! For example, look in the mirror and talk positively to yourself! Every day your heart pumps, your lungs take in air, and your cells create the energy you need to live and get through the day. Your body is AMAZING!!! Look at all it does for you! Focus more on all it does right instead of focusing on what’s “wrong” with it.
Key Takeaway? Follow Your Heart Insta-d of Instagram Models
Making a change in any aspect of life is strenuous, but with time and effort anything is possible! Learning how to set goals for ourselves and working on changing our mindset will only benefit us in the long run.
Next time you’re scrolling through IG and despairing over the perfect bikini bod, remember that appearance, calories, and scale are not indicators of health. Recognizing the fascinating things our bodies are doing each day, reminds us that achieving the perfect summer body starts with the brain! Now that you know this, you’re ready to put on your bikini and feel confident!
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