It’s that familiar time of year. Everything is about “getting ready for bikini season,” and the pressure is on to slim down and tone up.
When I used to obsess over my weight and constantly diet, I used to have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. On one hand, I loved it, because the possibility of losing weight and showing up on the beach looking toned and skinny sounded exhilarating. Every year, I’d tell myself, "This will be your year. This year you’ll finally be able to lose the weight.”
However, after a few exciting weeks on a fresh, new diet, I quickly began to hate this time of year. The calorie counting got annoying and confining, the miles on the treadmill became dreadful, and constantly watching what I ate became overwhelmingly stressful.
And that’s always when I’d fall off the wagon. All of the foods I'd been denying would come flooding back in, I would pig out, feel bad about myself, and search for a new diet to start on Monday.
After years and years of going through pre-bikini season like this, I decided to do things differently. Obviously diets weren’t working. They made me feel like I couldn’t have any fun, had a horrible impact on my self-esteem, and were proving to be unsustainable.
So here are my tips for how to slim down without going into crazy diet mode. You don’t need to diet in order to have a fabulous summer and feel amazing in your skin!
1. Focus on reducing emotional eating.
Rather than focusing on every single calorie that you put in your body, if you focus on reducing emotional eating and overeating, you’re going to naturally cut down on the amount of food you consume. Most of us eat when we aren’t hungry, and therefore we eat more than we need. Focus on how often you’re eating when you’re bored, uncomfortable or stressed and work on finding other ways to cope with these feelings other than with food.
2. Add IN healthy options instead of taking OUT unhealthy food.
We don’t do well with removing foods from our diet. We feel restricted, those foods feel forbidden and all we want to do is stuff our faces with whatever food we aren’t “allowed” to have. Instead, make it a point to add IN more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Having pizza? Great, but get a salad too. These foods will help fill you up so that you naturally refrain from eating as much of the less nutritious food.
3. Make exercise fun and reconsider your “why.”
We tend to duck out on exercise plans when they feel boring and like a chore. The more we can make our movement interesting and fun, the more likely we are to stick with it. Change up your workouts, get outside, try a new class or get a group of friends together to move. Also, reconsider your “why” for exercising. If you’re working out to look hot in a bikini, that’s not an empowering reason because it sends a message to yourself that you’re not enough right now. Instead, reframe exercising with a more empowering “why.” Do you want to exercise so that you can run a 10K with your boyfriend? Do you want to feel strong in order to keep up with your kids? Hone in on an empowering “why.”
4. Have more fun.
This one is pretty simple. Have more fun in your life on a daily basis, and food won’t matter quite as much. You’ll naturally eat less without even realizing it. Think back to a time when you were having a blast — maybe on your wedding day, on a vacation, or when you lived abroad. Many clients tell me that during these times they’ve “naturally lost weight.” Focus on having more fun and enjoyment in your life, and food won’t need to play as big of a part.
5. Make it social.
When we start slimming down for the summer, we tend to withdraw from social activities. Happy hour? No, I can’t do that — I need to go to the gym! The problem with feeling the need to diet and exercise all the time can make our lives boring. Instead, create community around your goals. Go for morning walks with a friend, get your girlfriends together for a healthy dinner party, or commit to taking real lunch breaks twice a week with a co-worker (real lunch breaks = more pleasure = less food needed!)
If you want to learn more about Jamie's philosophy on slimming down, check out her website here.