When the weather gets warmer the phrase, “I need to work on my summer body” can often be heard as people prepare to put on their bathing suits and head to the beach or lake.

Whether it’s intended to be motivating or not, drastically altering your lifestyle to prepare for the summer months is not a healthy or sustainable approach to fitness. In fact, seasonalizing fitness into 'swimsuit season' versus 'sweater weather' promotes unhealthy habits and unsustainable fitness practices that can have damaging effects on both your body and your mind⁠. Here's why: 

It messes with your metabolism
If half your year is spent eating clean and routinely working out, and the other half is spent binging on unhealthy foods and lounging, you’re bound to cause some disturbances in your metabolic processes.

Rapid weight loss can send the body into starvation mode, slowing your metabolism and limiting the number of nutrients that get distributed to your tissues. A restrictive diet is usually a nutrient-deficient diet, which can take a toll on your digestive system and your overall health over time.

The best way to maintain proper metabolic functioning is to make moderate changes progressively. Someone with a relatively healthy lifestyle will be able to recover from a week of lounging on vacation without losing much progress, so there is no need to crash diet or detox.

It feeds anxiety
Striving for physical perfection can affect your self-esteem, your mood and your relationships. Terms like “summer body” and “beach bod” suggest that there is a need to alter your body in a short period to reflect modern standards of beauty.

Usually, being consistent with a healthy lifestyle is the best way to look and feel great year-round. Unfortunately, people who are looking to achieve the same outcome in a short period often resort to drastic measures that can lead to anxiety, guilt and shame—all of which aren’t conducive to a long-term healthy lifestyle.

It can damage your relationship with food
The search for instantaneous physical perfection is a problematic concept from not only a physical standpoint but from a psychological perspective. 

Just as there is no perfect body type, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to combat the seasonal fitness narrative. To create a healthier, more sustainable version of fitness, try these two tactics:

  1. Form healthy routines all year round
    Focus on maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle year-round. Form routines that include proper nutrition, rest days, recovery periods, comfort foods and regular activity. Ultimately, it's consistency that helps you reach your fitness goals.
  2. Work on your mindset
    Remember to be kind to yourself and edit your internal dialogue to combat negative self-talk with positive reinforcement. You can reset how you view fitness by choosing activities that bring you joy and make you feel confident, strong and powerful in your own skin. Exercise should be considered an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s time to start reinforcing that eating is a positive thing. It gives your body the nutrients and energy required to function at full capacity.

When you get right down to it, the only things you need to have the perfect beach body is your body, a beach and the right mindset. It’s time to stop striving for physical perfection and start focusing on being healthy and happy.