It is that time of year when you are going to see a flood of ads and people talking about getting beach body ready. We have been conditioned to believe that only certain body types are allowed or OK to wear bathing suits or enjoy the beach. Well this is simply not true.

As an eating disorder therapist, body image, self-esteem and eating disorder recovery coach I help people learn to deal with living in a triggering world. There are sources all over the place telling you, and me too, that we need to change our bodies. Here are my tips to survive the summer.

You can enjoy the beach just as you are today. There is nothing you need to do to be ready to have fun this summer. But it is challenging to know how to deal with the all the added pressure that you need to change your body in order to enjoy the summer.

  1. Accept you already have a beach body. Your body can enjoy the beach just as it is today. You do not need to change it in order to have fun and soak up some Vitamin D. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and take your body to a space and enjoy some fun in the sun! You and your body deserve to be there and you are entitled to enjoy catching some rays just like any other person in a different size or shape body.
  2. Hide all ads on social media. As you scroll through your Facebook or Insta feed fight the urge to click on the click bait and hide any ad promoting weight loss, exercise, or diet plans. If your friends are sharing things, it is OK to hide them from your feed. You don’t have to delete them, you can simply ask the Facebook and Insta Robots to kindly hide their summer “beach body” posts for a while.
  3. Remove yourself from beach body talk. If you are out with friends or family and they start talking about how they need to or plan to get beach body ready, you have a few options:

– change the subject. Say something like “Hey, girls did you hear about the new restaurant in town? I heard it was fun. Would y’all like to plan a date there?”

– be honest that you are triggered and don’t like talking about dieting and weight loss. You can be very direct if you are with supportive people and let them know that conversations are triggering for you and that you wish to not talk about these things. You don’t owe them any more of an explanation then that so don’t worry about what to say if they start asking questions. If they do ask more questions you can just say something like, “I am just working really hard in my recovery right now so I am very protective about things I talk about”. You can leave it at that.

– Walk away. If you are hearing other people talk about triggering things you can get up and walk away from the conversation. If someone asks what happened, see above, and let them know you are just being protective of your recovery. However it is also OK to tell a white lie here. You can say you had to pee, or that you had to take a call, or that you saw a friend you needed to say “hi” to, or that you needed to tell the waitress something, or that you forgot something in your car. You don’t have to be gone long, because if you stay away for a few minutes it is possible they have changed the conversation. If they haven’t, when you return, feel free to try another option or use another white lie to excuse yourself.

You owe noone an explanation of why you are taking action to protect yourself and your journey to self-acceptance and self-love. It can seem scary to do some of these things because you fear upsetting someone, but know that their life will go on. They will continue doing what they need to do for themselves. You protecting yourself will not keep them from living their life.

These are also not selfish things. We have to make decisions that are in our best interest at times, and you have the power to put your recovery first, at times. You can still be a supportive, loving, and compliant friend, sister, mother, wife, employee, and community contributor AND take care of yourself at the same time.

So do you have a success story? Would you reply back and tell me how you were able to avoid something triggering? Pretty please. Maybe you feel like you haven’t been successful in this area, and that is OK. This is hard and I have worked with many clients around this. So reply back and let me know how you plan to avoid summer triggers. Don’t you know I like hearing from you?

Can I also ask a favor of you? Do you follow me on Instagram? I’m @swaitt. My favor is that you follow me. I post a shit-ton of health at every size, body positive, and recovery resources here. Then if you feel like doing so, do you mind sharing things that you like? You see disordered eating, body image, and self-esteem are often times silent struggles. People are too ashamed to ask for help, but sharing a post may let someone know they can reach out and get some support.