The title of this installment could be a summer blockbuster movie. You might think it’s a comedy…….maybe it’s a horror flick…….but it should be a fairy tale which leads to the predictable “and they lived happily ever after” ending. The challenge that lies before us is making that fairy tale ending a reality. How to take on that challenge is up to each individual. Here are a few different ways to deal with the summer swimsuit season: 1) Avoid it completely; 2) Accept yourself with a positive body image and hit the pool/beach; 3) Make frantic changes in your lifestyle that includes exercise to be ready in 2-3 weeks. The answer probably lies somewhere between numbers two and three.
Avoiding the summer fun of swimming pools, lakesides, and ocean beaches is one way to deal with the anxieties of swimsuit season, but who wants to avoid summer fun!? The best way to attack the season is to disregard what other people think and make the changes you know you need to make and make them for life.
First, if you have second thoughts about going to the pool because of what other people might think, here’s a little secret…….those same people are probably worried about what you think about them. At the risk of impersonating a psychology professor, allowing your self-esteem to win out over your anxieties is a simple way to reduce stress in life. Worrying about what strangers think, say, or do is only setting up roadblocks for yourself. It allows situations or people you don’t even know to control what you do. In this example you should go to the pool because you want to as opposed to staying home because you’re afraid of what a stranger might think. In reality it’s what you think you look like in a swimsuit. Have the confidence to enjoy not only a trip to the swimming pool, but life in general.
Second, a way to increase that self-esteem and confidence is to make strides to improve health and your own body image. The instant fix that many of us try to achieve is really a disaster waiting to happen. The common scenario is as follows: Timmy is an average guy. It’s 3 weeks until a vacation to the beach/best friend’s wedding/class reunion and Timmy decides to start exercising to get in shape for the big day. He exercises every day for a week and is either so sore that he decides that exercise is overrated or continues for the next two weeks, doesn’t reach his goal and goes to the beach worried about what everybody thinks.
You may have experienced the above scenario with some minor tweaks, but the same result is inevitable and your good intentions are vanquished. One of the most important benefits of an exercise program is to make you “feel” better. Not just being free from sickness and disease, but being mentally fit with an increased confidence. Before reaping the self-confidence benefits of exercise, you must first begin and sustain a program. This is where something called self-efficacy comes into play. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in his/her ability to achieve goals or complete tasks. A high amount of self-efficacy must be in place for you to achieve goals, especially the lifelong goal of regular exercise.
In order to change your own body image and self-confidence, incorporating exercise into your lifestyle must be part of the story in that fairy tale. To make the fairy tale a reality you must increase your level of self-efficacy. You just have to believe.