10 Debunks and Fresh Perspectives to Consider this “Summer Body” Season

Happy Springtime!

View from Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, AZ

I hope all has been well, and things are heating up wherever you are… it’s a beautiful time of year!

Now, I know this is the time of year where we’re starting to exchange our pants for shorts, our sweatshirts for short sleeves or tanks, and we’re thinking about what our bodies look like… aaaand we might not completely be thrilled with them.

We MIGHT even be considering a diet of some sort. Maybe it’s one we’ve done before and hated, but it did the job. Maybe not… maybe we’re feeling pretty good but just want to tone up a little bit. Or maybe we’re just totally overwhelmed and thinking: “it is what it is… and I’m not happy about it, but I’m too busy/old/tired/overwhelmed/etc to do anything about it. I’ll find the right style of clothes and deal.”…. Can you relate to any of these?

But, fear not, I have, as always, a little tough love, a little science, and a little encouragement to offer you as you go into this uneasy season of body awareness! (and if you’re perfectly happy with your body, congrats! But, read on for some great tips that can be applied to weight management as well!)

In fact, these 10 tips are ones that I have learned and been surprised by throughout this past year of healing, and I want to share them with you, as they are very contrary to many lines of thought that the average American may have.

These are the 10 points I want you to arm yourself with as you head into this summer, sometimes weight loss focused season. Hopefully you find them empowering, perspective shifting, and refreshing!

  1. You cannot simultaneously put on muscle as you lose weight… and with this, if you do not have a lot of muscle, you will not somehow become “toned” simply by losing weight… you will just look like a smaller version of what you look like now.
  2. Protein is queen. If you do not get adequate protein (.7 – 1g protein/lb of body weight), you will not be able to maintain your muscle… especially if you’re cutting calories- muscle tissue will be lost vs fat if you don’t get enough.
  3. If you are serious about weight loss, ask yourself if you are in a stable place to lose and maintain the loss:
    1. Have you maintained the same weight you’re at now for at least 6 months?
    2. Do you have a good idea of how many calories you are consuming a day?
    3. Do you feel like you have a good relationship with food?
    4. Are you getting an adequate amount of protein each day?
    5. Is the diet you are choosing sustainable or will it leave you without an exit plan and gaining it all back again?
  4. The best two ways to increase your metabolism: 1) lift weights (while eating enough, especially enough protein to build muscle) and 2) up your lifestyle movement (walking, gardening, cleaning, going up and down stairs, taking the stairs, parking further away)- steps on an activity tracker is a great way to measure this! *Cardio can be helpful in burning calories and improving our heart health, but it can actually work against muscle gain (and therefore overall metabolism gains from muscle gain) if muscles are not fully recovered from lifting. Take care not to overdo it, eat enough protein and calories, and rest enough if you are doing cardio for optimal recovery! Cardio ups our cortisol (which is good only to a point, so if you’re stressed, maybe consider keeping it 20 min or less)- cortisol is a hormone that in high amounts makes us hang onto fat and break down and use our muscle tissue as a source of energy… not what most of us are going for!
  5. Your exercise needs to match your goals. Ever cycled, ran, or cardio’d your butt off and wondered where the muscle tone was? Even lifted in a cardio fashion (with little to no rest between lifts) and thought why is my muscle mass not increasing, my strength staying the same, or no extra tone is to be seen? The answer is that you aren’t doing the correct exercise to increase muscular strength. Yes, you are improving your heart health and your muscular endurance with these exercises, but neither will give you a “toned” look. This is because of how cardio increases cortisol and makes us hang onto fat at the expense of muscle. In order to improve your muscular strength, you need a weight lifting program that focuses on muscle growth. Lift weights that challenge you to the point of being unable to lift more and then giving yourself ample rest to recover your heart rate and muscle function before you do another set. This will increase strength, muscle mass, and give you the toned look you’re looking for….eventually. But, remember, while you’re lifting weights in this fashion, you’ll need to also be eating enough food and especially enough protein. So, in this building muscle phase, you will not see the muscular toned look yet. That comes next…
  6. If/when you choose to lose weight, you should do it for a short period of time and then return to maintenance. This is when the new muscle is revealed. Think in the ballpark of 8-12 weeks. Focused on losing without over restricting, but consistently cutting calories… while keeping protein high to preserve muscle as much as possible. And then, back to maintenance for a good while (usually double the time you were in a cut) to let your thyroid recover. Our bodies are amazing systems that will always try to adapt to their environment, which includes periods of feast and famine. In periods of calorie excess, our bodies will retain those calories as fat. During periods of calorie deficit, our bodies will slow its metabolism. This period of a cut or fat/weight loss should not consist of any cleanses or crazy shifts in eating that is unsustainable either. Smaller portions is key… if you notice inability to adhere, sleep disturbances, drastic energy decreases, or intense mood swings, it is time to pull the plug and go back to maintenance!
  7. Establishing the healthy habits you want, creating the lifestyle you want to have, having the health you want and having the body you want will take a whole lot longer than you want it, and there will not be an end to it– it’s a journey not a destination. It may mean seasons of being purposefully unhappy with your body as you live in maintenance and build muscle but are up a pants size… And it may be a whole lot harder than you think, mentally and physically, especially at first. But, what would you be doing instead? Something harder: staying in the same, less healthy lifestyle that you aren’t happy with or that is keeping your quality of life less than ideal. It’s worth the hard work for your overall fulfillment, happiness, and longevity.
  8. Walking is the most underrated form of movement. Do it as often as possible, especially outside. It’s easier on your body than most exercises, it’s one of the most natural movements your body can perform, it’s simple to perform, it’s inexpensive, it’s mindless, and can even be rejuvenating.
  9. Lifting weights and keeping/building more muscle mass is the holy grail of health. When we get into our 60s and beyond, muscle will decrease at a rate of about 3-8% a decade if adequate protein and resistance training isn’t happening. Bone density surprisingly decreases at similar rates if no interventions are introduced. Luckily, weight training is a means of preventing bone loss as well. We can start early on to combat both types of degeneration and establish healthy habits that we can continue on into our later years, BUT we can also start when we are already in those later years and STILL receive ample benefits… there was a study conducted on 90 year olds who introduced weight training and were STILL able to generate new muscle!!!! In other words? It’s never too late to start preserving/improving that muscle mass and bone density, and with it, our ability to move, lift, recover from surgeries and falls, and live our lives independently for as long as possible. Our entire quality of life as we age depends on it!
  10. I had to reserve this last spot for an insightful mindset approach we can take as we ease into the summer months: Our bodies will never appear perfect to everyone. I’ve personally gained weight this last year due to a healing hypothyroidism, PCOS, and adrenal fatigue. Healing required eating more, moving in different ways and figuring a lot out (as you can see from the above 9 insights). Recently, I posted a picture of me in summer workout clothes as I began swimsuit shopping, and these are the thoughts I had that I feel are a great summary to this whole “summer body” time of year we’re all combating:
Muscle and bone degeneration with subcutaneous fat increases over a 50 year span in the femur/quad/hamstring

 I just started swimsuit shopping for this summer… 👙🩱

And let me tell you, after a year of healing from PCOS,a hypothyroid, & adrenal fatigue, my bod is not looking quite like it did last year. And, of course, it is not easy!

But, let me tell you something you might not have considered before:

These are some of the thoughts others may have while looking at this photo:

“She’s gotten big!”

“She’s still so toned!”

“I wish that was my unhappy/I gained weight body'”

“Whoa… That doesn’t look like healthy weight gain”

“Aww that’s too bad after she got in such good shape”

“Yeah she’s always been bigger”

“She’s always been fit”

Truthfully, I bet all of this and more will be thought.

Everyone will scrutinize, compare, belittle, analyze, judge, envy, or assess in some way…

But, guess what?! It is impossible to look perfect to everyone… The pressure is off!

On the other hand, do you know what actually matters- what is in your control and what will help you to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks?

Fixing the narrative of yourself in your own mind… Your own assessment of your body.

And this is mine:

“I am renewed! I have the energy to play with my kids, I am stronger than I have ever been in my life-college vball career included, my thyroid is healed, my PCOS is in control, I’m more knowledgeable in health, nutrition, hormones, & wellness than ever before. I’m getting prepared to help other women in similar journeys, & my body will never be perfect… But I love it for all it has done for me & for all it will. And for the fact that it is the body God gave me to carry me through my life, so I will take care of it and love it as best I can forever. It is beautiful to me.”

May your internal narrative be as loving & meaningful…

I’d love to hear what your narrative is as you go into this season armed with a few more facts, perspective shifts, and empowerment… Give it some thought and share it below!

Happy Summer!


If you haven’t already purchased my book, you can get it here: Women’s Cyclical Health Guide

Follow me on Instagram: @wholeehealthy

Follow me on Facebook: Holistic Health Coach Jess

1:1 info: https://wholeehealthy.com/one-on-one-coaching/

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