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Feel better about your body this summer

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

5 steps to summer body confidence

It’s summertime and the living is easy. Or is it? For many of us, the thought of hitting the beach in a bikini or wearing skimpy shorts and flimsy sundresses can cause some serious stress. It’s not always easy to show more skin than you’re normally comfortable with, but unless you want to hide out in your air-conditioned house until Labor Day or opt for pants and long sleeves despite the soaring temperatures, you’re going to have to find a way to embrace your body. We’ve put together some simple strategies to help boost your body confidence, just in time for summer.

Friends going on hike

1Get moving

The first step to feeling better about your body is to get moving. We're not talking about setting goals to lose a certain amount or weight or fit into a certain size – this is just about making your health a priority and getting a little sweaty in the process. The more you make exercise a part of your life the better you'll feel about your body and what it can do. Your body's only job isn't to look good in a bikini – it has a myriad of much more important purposes – like walking, running, jumping, stretching and otherwise helping you make the most of your life. So with that in mind, it's time to fit in some fitness and move your body this summer. We have some ideas to get you started.

  • Go for a hike. Find a friend and a trail, and get moving for a vigorous but enjoyable summer workout that doesn't really even feel like exercise.
  • Make it a family affair. Round up the troops and hit the park to toss around a Frisbee for 45 minutes or get on your bikes and go for a ride through the neighborhood.
  • Walk more. Walking is great exercise and it's also the easiest way to fit fitness into your day. Still not sure? Enlist a friend or your spouse as a walking buddy to make the transition to moving easier.
  • Do something fun. If you don't like the gym, don't force yourself to go. Instead, find an activity you love and that helps you get moving more often.

2Wear what suits your body

If you don't feel comfortable wearing an itty-bitty bikini – don't. There are no rules that state you have to wear only skimpy, revealing clothing all summer. There are a broad spectrum of looks that suit a variety of body types and the trick is to try on enough things so you figure out what works best for you. If you don't like showing too much leg, opt for a long, flowing maxi dress rather than something mini. If short-shorts aren't your thing, go for a style that hits just above the knee. If bikinis make you nervous, go for a one-piece or a tankini instead. The idea is to dress in a way that flatters your figure and leaves you feeling comfortable and confident.

3Focus on fun

Summer is short – we're talking eight to 10 weekends if you really want to break it down, which is not a lot of time to enjoy the sunshine. So rather than spend much of that precious time fretting about how you look in this outfit or that, focus on having fun. Try to be in the moment as much as possible. If you're at the beach or a pool party, instead of thinking about how you look in your bathing suit, focus your attention on having fun with your family or friends. Trust us, they don't care how you look in your two-piece – they're just hoping you're having a good time.

4Say no to negative thoughts

It's time to tell that little voice in your head telling you that you can't wear this or you're not skinny enough to wear that to shut up. Negative thoughts come in all shapes and sizes and they can be loudest when it comes to how we look. This summer, take a stand and say no to all those annoying negative thoughts that run through your head as you go bathing-suit shopping or try to pick out something to wear to a pool party. This is your summer and you want to make the most of it, so defy the little voice that complains about your weight or how you look in a bikini. When you hear it, immediately counter it with a positive thought about yourself. It may take a while to break your negative thought pattern, but the more you make an effort to switch to a more positive body outlook, the better you'll feel.

5Stop comparing yourself to others

We all do it -- take one look at the gorgeous, perfectly tanned and ultra-toned woman on the beach wearing a barely-there bikini and sigh. We wonder why we can't look like her or chastise ourselves for not looking like her. But this line of thinking is only going to make you crazy. Just as negative thoughts are a bad habit that we're suggesting you break this summer, so is comparing yourself to others. The only rule we have is this: Just don't do it. Stop yourself when you feel it happening and think about something else -- and remember that everyone's body is different. If you want to make comparisons, look around at everyone – not just the bodies you wish you had or feel you should have. Short, tall, big, small, curvy – people come in so many varieties. The more you remember that, the better you'll feel this summer.

More summer body boosters

Think yourself thin: 5 Ways to use your brain to change your body
Avoid diet disaster this summer
Workout tips to get fit for bikini season

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