Article By: Rachel Ignomirello, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LDN
Rachel Ignomirello is a Bariatric Dietitian and Board-Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management.
Just because someone loses weight, it doesn’t mean they automatically gain confidence. We’ve all looked in the mirror and immediately started judging ourselves. Bariatric patients experience significant weight loss. As their new bariatric body adjusts, patients’ self-perception needs time to adjust too. Confidence is not automatic; it grows. Having a positive body image is important when it comes to self-esteem and happiness. Summertime can be a challenge for many patients struggling with confidence. Warm temperatures and outdoor activities mean there’s no time to hide. Here are a couple tips to help you love the skin you’re in during the summer!
1) Redirect negative self-talk. It’s a losing game if you only focus on what needs improving before allowing yourself to feel confident. It’s helpful to remember that you are likely the only person focusing on those perceived flaws. Everyone around you is probably more focused on how you’re feeling or if you’re having fun. When those negative self-talk moments occur, find ways to pause and redirect to a positive thought. For example, you could stop the negative thought, “I don’t like my stomach in this swimsuit” and change it to, “I can see my collarbones this year.” The more you focus on perceived imperfections, the more you will continue that pattern and maybe even start to believe they’re real. So, apply kindness to yourself instead. Loving the skin you’re in means accepting your body and freeing yourself from whatever insecurities hold you back. Once you realize how strong and healthy your body is, you’ll feel a lot better about being more exposed in summer outfits and swimsuits.
2) Choose a swimsuit that fits. Bathing suits are not everyone’s cup of tea, but feeling confident in one is not about having a supermodel body. Confidence is about feeling good and wearing clothes that fit. That means shopping, whether in-person or online. If shopping online, make sure to take measurements for sizing guides. If shopping in-person, don’t be afraid to ask the store workers for assistance or suggestions. You should try on lots of different brands, fits, and sizes to find the perfect match for your body. Most swimsuits are now offered in mix-and-match options, which means you can choose different sizes and designs for tops and bottoms. If you have a larger chest, choose something with thicker straps and underwire for better comfort. You may even surprise yourself with the bottoms and go for something cheekier this year. It doesn’t hurt to try something new! Don’t stress about what’s fashionable; find the colors and designs that make you feel your best!
3) Try on coverups. If you’re not fully comfortable with swimsuit exposure, then a swimsuit coverup will be a great accessory! You can show off what you feel proud of while concealing what you may not be comfortable showing off [yet]. Sarong-style skirts that wrap around the waist can help cover up the thighs and waist. Sundresses flatter every body and offer better sun protection too. If you’ve experienced hair thinning, a big brim beach hat is a fashionable accessory that hides your hair and protects your scalp from burning.
4) Practice makes perfect. You may have clothes that scare you because of how revealing they are. Instead of shying away from those swimsuits or shorts, wear these “forbidden” clothes. Spending more time in the outfits that make you uncomfortable may help you realize they weren’t that scary to begin with. Mirror exposure therapy is real and can be helpful for those with body dysmorphia. Lean into these outfits and build courage to be seen.
5) Go outside. I know you hear about the importance of exercise year-round, but it’s much easier to enjoy exercise when it’s outside in nature. Hiking, going to a nearby park, playing sports, and camping are fun ways to exercise in the summer months. Being outside can reduce negative feelings like stress and anger while increasing positive emotions like happiness and optimism. This positive impact on the body also has a positive impact on the mind and confidence levels.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.