Summer is here and Atlanta is bringing the heat! With the rise in temperatures, we often decrease the amount of clothing worn, which can cause a lot of pressure or dread for some people. The focus on the perfect “summer bod” and expectations for the diet and exercise that lead to a beach-ready body can be overwhelming and unhealthy.
Many people use a crash diet in order to get their desired summer look, but according to Men’s Health there are a several reasons that these diets will not work. When we cut carbs, our bodies retain less water and give off the illusion of being thinner. Unfortunately, it is just water and not body fat that we are losing and eating a carb-heavy meal will have us looking exactly the same. Studies have shown that crash dieting can increase a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. Crash diets are also not sustainable; summer activities are typically about socializing and enjoying the company of friends, which is hard to do if a person is unable to eat certain food groups or are so hungry that they have become irritable. Registered Dietitian, Jim White, instead suggests that we watch our portions and make little swaps to cut calories from our day such as: drinking milk instead of cream and sugar in our coffee, selecting a leaner cut of meat or eating extra vegetables instead of extra rice with our meals.
Furthermore, switching our attitudes about what a “good” body is can go a long way. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) outlines some ways to become a bit more body positive:
- Focus on your bodies abilities. Let’s appreciate all of the things that our bodies can do: walk, dance, breathe, laugh, dream, etc.
- Create and reread a list of the things you like about yourself – especially those things that are not about your looks.
- Redefine attractive: attractiveness should incorporate confidence, self-acceptance, openness not just physical appearance.
- Surround yourself with positive people that like and support you.
- Cleanse your social media accounts: be aware of the content you see and how it makes you feel. If someone or something makes you feel bad about yourself, take action to respond, block or unfollow.
- Switch negative thoughts to positive ones through affirmations that build you up.
- When you find yourself worrying too much about your food intake or body, do something kind for yourself or others to boost your mood.
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or disordered eating and do not know where to start, Georgia State University has options. The Student Recreation Center has personal trainers, fitness classes, and fitness equipment to help students exercise and be healthy. The Student Health Clinic has a nutritionist who can help students make a health meal plan that is right for their dietary needs. The Counseling and Testing Center has counselors who can help students learn body positive skills and they also have a Client Advocate who can assist students who need referrals in the community.