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Stay cool — and sane — this summer

June 8, 2012

Trigger warning: Mention of dieting, exercise and weight-loss.

Summer is around the corner for those of us living in the US, and that means trips to the pool, cookouts, vacations and spending more time outside. As the weather heats up, so does the media’s obsession with weight loss and body size. Our sanity levels can really take beating from now until mid-September with reports on what to eat and what not to eat, how to lose weight while on vacation, and how to lose weight overall during the summer. So here are four tips from me on how not to lose your mind this summer:

  • Find an activity you like to do and don’t fret if it doesn’t involve physical movement The media, in its zeal to slim down the public, forgets about those who aren’t able to constantly workout because of disabilities or physical conditions which limit mobility. Keeping your mental and your emotional health strong is just as important, if not more, as your physical health. When the weather gets too hot, it’s not safe to do strenuous activities. Doing crossword puzzles, word searches, reading a favorite book,  playing board games or cards with friends and loved ones, sewing, or working on a hobby you like is also beneficial to your general health.
  • Let yourself wear cool, breathable clothing — If you’re not prohibited from cultural, religious or health reasons to show some skin, do it. There’s a reason plus-size retailers make tank tops and shorts for us fatties. We need to stay cool during the summer too and we shouldn’t have to always cover up because fashion experts and random trolls don’t want to see our flesh. During Memorial Day weekend in Maryland, temperatures were in the 90s and it was humid. While outside, I wore a tank top, shorts and, later in the afternoon, a bathing suit while cutting grass. I never saw any stares or heard any nasty comments from people. Ignore internet comments — I think the majority of people out and about just don’t have the time or the concern to insult fat arms and thunder thighs, even though some of us have been targets of drive-by bullying. People have places to go and things to do, and you’re not going to be the only fat person in tanks or shorts. I’ve seen fat women wearing strapless dresses that go above the knee in the last month, so not everyone is hiding their bodies under bulky fabric. If you’re allowed to wear it, go for it. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Be body positive and enjoy eating during summer parties — Ragen from Dances With Fat posted a good Memorial Day-themed topic on how to survive family BBQs and I’m incorporating some of hers here. When a bunch of people get together, and food is all around, there’s sure to be self-loathing diet talk. Someone will always be on a never-ending diet, someone will take it upon themselves to be the calorie police, and someone will bring up how so-and-so has gained weight. You don’t have to be a part of that insanity. Only you know what’s best for your body, and you should enjoy the food that’s being served. Don’t feel you have to have a helping of everything to please the cooks;  you know what you like and don’t like, and you know what foods negatively effect your body. If someone does attempt to give you diet advice, makes a comment about your eating habits or wants to make snide remarks about the weight of other guests, politely, but firmly, tell them you’re not interested, it’s none of their business and you’re here to have fun.  Family and good friends shouldn’t have to get a pass on shaming your body.
  • Avoid mainstream magazines — I know it’s hard when they’re at the checkout stand, in the doctor’s office, at the hairdresser or at work, but they do nothing for our self-esteem. The covers send out nothing but mixed messages: a picture of a delicious summer desert with a headline next to it that reads “Lose 10 pounds in a week with this diet trick!” or blathering on and on about a celebrity’s weight loss. The health sections always have some weight loss plan or tip in it, and it seems they’re all going to Dr. Oz to have him promote a crazy fad diet he’s come up with or heard about every month. And if the magazines aren’t geared toward people of size, they never include them in their fashion sections either. I’d rather read a computer programming textbook.

If you have your own tips for surviving summer while being fat, please share them here!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    June 8, 2012 12:10 pm

    Great tips for surviving the summer, and I use a lot of them when DH and I go to the local baseball games or the drive-in movies.

  2. June 8, 2012 8:37 pm

    Whenever I see a fellow fatty out in a tank top I want to say something like “good for you”, but I resist, because why draw attention, you know. Sometimes, I’ll just say something about how much I like their clothes, or how flattering the color is and leave it at that.

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