I will often say to clients, ‘If all the working out that you did, and all that eating … if your body wasn’t going to change, would you still do it?'”
We think we’re doing it to be healthy.
We’re working out. We’re watching what we eat. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
Body image coach Summer Innanen knows exactly how that feels. She used to be a nutritionist and a fitness enthusiast.
“I thought it was normal to always be on a diet,” she says. “I thought it was normal to think that you had to go and work out so hard every day. I thought it was healthy.”
Then she had a wake-up call…
She started having health issues. Her doctor explained that it was caused by the stress she was putting on her body through dieting and overexercising. She needed to eat more, not less. She needed to exercise less, not more.
“It was in that moment that I really realized that I had a problem,” she says.
Today, Summer helps women feel good about who they are, no matter what they look like. She’s the best-selling author of Body Image Remix and host of Fearless Rebelle Radio.
In this week’s YBTV interview, Summer explains why we can’t stick to a diet, how to stop policing your weight, and why you don’t have to like how you look to love yourself.
What You’ll Learn
“Like most people, I don’t remember a time that I ever felt comfortable in my body,” Summer says.
She was a chronic dieter. “I spent decades of my life thinking that the pursuit of thinness was my purpose and that my weight defined who I was—and it did. If the scale was down, I felt better about myself. If it was up, I hated myself. All of my emotions and mood were tied to the size of my body.”
At the time, she didn’t realize any of that. She thought she was just trying to be healthy.
It wasn’t until her diet and fitness routine started affecting her health that she started asking herself why she was pushing herself so hard.
“The pursuit of fitness takes up so much mental energy,” she says. “It takes up so much time. It takes up all these resources financially, too, if you think about how much money we spend on superfoods and exercise classes.”
She adds, “It’s not to say that exercising is bad—I would never ever say that—or that eating certain foods is not going to be beneficial for you, but I think it’s how we are approaching it.”
Are we trying to be fit and healthy because we want to be really good to ourselves…
Or are we doing it because deep down we don’t like our bodies and don’t feel good enough?
Tuning Into Your Body
Today, Summer helps people “feel better about who they are and really not care so much about how their body looks.”
She wants us to “take our weight out of the equation and focus on how things are actually making us feel.”
Instead of following rigid rules about diet and exercise, we should be tuning into our bodies and asking ourselves what our bodies need at this moment.
Maybe what your body needs is rest. Maybe it needs extra calories.
How would it feel to give your body what it really needs, rather than what it’s “supposed” to need?
So many of us have bought into the diet myth, that we have to follow a diet to stay slim.
But diets don’t work, Summer explains.
In part, that’s because our bodies are as unique as we are. “There’s not one proven form of long-term weight loss that works for the majority of individuals,” she says.
But diets also don’t work because our bodies are designed to push back.
“When we physically restrict our food, our body fights back,” Summer says. “Our body wants to keep us in homeostasis. And so when we bring our caloric consumption down, our body puts compensatory measures into effect.”
We binge. We give into emotional eating. We can’t resist snacking late at night.
Is it because we have no willpower?
“No,” Summer says. “Your body is probably trying to protect you.”
Restriction doesn’t work. But one thing that can work is changing the way you relate to your body.
Let Go of the Mental Weight
Caring about how your body looks is draining.
“We’ve been programmed to feel negatively about our bodies,” Summer says. “It’s the messages that we receive from the time that we’re born, that being thinner is better and that our worth as a woman is in our appearance and our desirability.”
Those negative messages are hard to block out. We internalize them.
“If you think about the amount of energy and time that goes into critical thoughts, and the emotions associated with those—the shame and the frustration and the disappointment—it’s a lot of stress,” she says.
What would it feel like to let go of all that?
“The negative thoughts we have—none of that is our fault,” Summer says. “And yet we can still put in effort to try and unlearn the harmful messages that we’ve learned and relearn a new belief system that honors who we are and supports the belief that we are good enough as is.”
Summer has seen her clients transform as they let go of their body image concerns and relax into themselves just as they are.
They have more time and energy now that they’re not constantly pursuing weight loss goals. They’re more at peace with themselves. They feel grounded and confident.
What’s surprising, though, is that Summer’s clients feel that way even if they don’t like the way they look.
You Don’t Have to Love Your Body
If you’ve tried to love your body and failed, Summer wants you to know this…
This isn’t about loving what you see in the mirror. It’s about loving yourself.
When you feel pressure to love your body, the emphasis is still on how you look. “I would love for us to take the focus away from the body, away from our appearance,” Summer says.
Besides, our body is going to change. “We’re going to age. Things are going to sag. We’re going to look very different,” she says. “We want our our worth to be completely detached from our appearance.”
That’s why she helps women find confidence in other ways than focusing on how they look.
When I work with people, it’s not about having them like the way they look. It’s about having them be able to look in the mirror and maybe like it, maybe not like it, but go on with their day and not give it a second thought.”
Want to find out what that feels like?
Then get your free 10-Day Body Confidence Makeover.
While you’re there, check out Summer’s podcast Fearless Rebelle Radio and her book Body Image Remix!
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:58 We’ve been programmed to feel negatively about our bodies
3:00 Summer’s own body image journey
5:58 Why diets don’t work
9:16 Would you still diet and exercise if your body never changed?
10:20 It’s not about liking your body
11:29 Envisioning your Future Badass Self
13:28 How it feels to lose the self-criticism
17:15 Dealing with comments about your body
19:14 10-Day Body Confidence Makeover
Summer is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix and host of Fearless Rebelle Radio. She’s a professionally trained coach through the internationally renowned Coaches Training Institute, and she’s worked with hundreds of women all over the world to overcome self-doubt and stop thinking negatively about their bodies. Get your free 10-Day Body Confidence Makeover!