Happy New Year! Here we are into those lazy, hazy days of summer that (hopefully) come post-Christmas. Along with that summer weather, comes the message that after our indulgences at Christmas we now need a 12-week body transformation programme or a 10-day detox to slim down and get our bikini body rocking.
Personally, I find these messages insulting. They assume that just because for a few weeks we maybe happened to have been eating and drinking more and exercising less than usual, our bodies have gone to wrack and ruin and will be highly unsightly if taken to the beach. So now we should be feeling guilty and punish ourselves with diets and exercise.
These “get your beach bod” messages thrive on convincing us that there is a problem to be fixed – specifically that our body isn’t right. Then we’re sold a pricey, short-term solution – selling impossible body standards, that leave us feeling like we’ve done something wrong when we don’t end up looking like the “after” photos in the advert. We are left feeling bad about our body – a body that was never a problem to begin with.
An ongoing belief that our bodies aren’t good enough leads to body dissatisfaction, which is not good for either our physical or mental well-being. When we are dissatisfied with our body, we don’t give it the care and support that it deserves. We can become distracted from doing things that empower our well-being in the long-term.
We end up following rules that punish our body, instead of listening to what it needs to flourish. Such as a “no pain,no gain” workout when already exhausted, rather than a gentle walk or an extra half-hour in bed. Having a salad or smoothie for lunch, when you really need a fully-loaded sandwich because you are planning a workout later. Not eating when hungry, if it’s not a scheduled meal time, because you figure hunger is just a distraction trying to stop you reaching your goals. But in reality hunger is actually your body communicating that it needs something – like when your body tells you that you need to pee.
Imagine trying something radical this New Year. Instead of feeling guilty about your festive indulgences and then starting some short-lived detox/transformation, how about learning to embrace and respect the amazing body you have with all its lumps and bumps and dodgy bits.
My “get back on track” health advice for 2021 is to find ways to nourish your body rather than punish. Find a way of eating that leaves you feeling nourished and satisfied, and a way of exercising that makes you feel energised and motivated.
One last radical New Year’s thought: what if you simply took your body as it is and made your way on to one of our stunning local beaches? Ta dah! You now have a beach body – for life!
Nicole Wilson, Nutritionist (NSNZ)