I thought of this saying and all of the accompanying airbrushed pictures that often go along with it:
Let me start off by saying that if this motivates you, then go with it. If you find something that works for you, go for it.
But to me, it's crap.
Summer bodies are the bodies we have in the summer. And they rarely, rarely, RARELY look like that. I mean, .000000000000001% of the population might be a huge exaggeration. RARELY!! Summer bodies are the bodies we have in June, July, and August. The ones that wear shorts and t-shirts because it's hot. The ones that wear swimsuits because we're at the beach. So for goodness sake, put on a swimsuit and swim with your kids or build a sandcastle. If you don't have kids, sit at the beach and read a book and soak up some Vitamin D. If you have a significant other, splash in the waves and flirt a bit. Don't wait for that someday when you have a "summer body."
Does that mean I feel smokin' hot when I wear a swimsuit? Ha. Ha. hahahahahaha. Friends, let me remind you that I am currently breastfeeding my fourth child that was born from my body. My body parts have been flatter and perkier and smoother and rounder in all the right places than they are today. But I still put on the dang swimsuit and slide down the waterslide and splash in the waves and get buried in the sand. Because it's fun, silly time shared with my sweet kiddos and because, please, sweet Jesus, let my sons and daughter know the difference between airbrushed, pretend perfection and real live women's bodies. The ones with dimples and curves. The ones that feel and show the effects of gravity and time. The ones with muscles and cellulite all right there mingled together in a beautiful, human body.
But this body has birthed and nourished our four kids. It has run races. It has come back from injury. It has shot hoops. It has hiked rugged trails. It has made mistakes and loved and forgiven. It has done hard things, all the while looking not one little bit like the picture above.
All of that to say that it's safe to say having a "summer body" doesn't motivate me to get out and run when it's cold and stormy and my book and blankie are an option. Here is what motivates me.
Health: I want to be part of my family's life for as long as possible and I want to be active for as long as possible so I am doing what I can to stay healthy and fit. So long as Monster Cookies are part of the equation. Seriously. For the most part, we eat at home and fill our bellies with lots of fruits and veggies and healthy fats. We play together and move together and think together. Mental health plays a role in this, too, because I am my very best version of me--a kinder, calmer, more productive, energized human--when exercise is part of my week. So I run.
Finishing what I start: Medals are handed out on race day, but medals are earned when we train in the five degree, snowy weather and the 90 degree, steamy weather. I do not have grand goals for my races this year. I am training and racing new races in a new place with new altitude and new terrain. My goals are to run happy and finish strong. I want to be physically and mentally prepared. That requires my time and effort right now. So I run.
Family: I want my kids to see women and men as strong, capable, kind, loving people. I want them to see fitness and health as part of every day life, not a way to lose weight for a reunion or fit into a dress. Not as a test to pass to see if they are worthy of wearing a swimsuit and saying they have a summer body. My kids will never play in the big leagues of any sport, but they can lace up shoes and run or play a game of horse or ski down a mountain. They can find an activity they love and keep moving and shaking for as long as their bodies allow. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it! So I run.
I was playing with my kids at a park while we were in Arizona and I overheard a conversation between two moms. Their little kids were playing in the sand a few feet away. The mom turned to her friend and said, "I used to at least be able to photoshop myself to look good. I can't even do that anymore. Why can't I look more like Jennifer Lopez? I know she has personal trainers and cooks and help with her kids. I just can't look good anymore no matter what I do."
I was so sad. I was sad for that mom and the story she tells about herself and believes hook, line, and sinker. I was sad for the day her kids are old enough to overhear that and get a false picture in their heads of what beautiful is. I was sad for women and the toxic thoughts we have about ourselves. I was sad for men and the images they are bombarded with and the times they tell us we're beautiful and we don't believe a single word they say. I was just so sad.
Maybe running isn't your thing. No big deal. Find your thing. The thing you love. The thing that makes you smile when you talk about it. The thing that leaves you happier when you're finished than when you started. Then do more of that thing. Gardening or pottery. Walking or yoga. Cross country skiing or swimming. Biking or martial arts. Strength training or hiking. Dance or kickboxing. Something that gets you moving and makes you feel whole.
Then do it. And feel your life expand. Your capacity for good. Your outlook on life. Because you are filling your life with strength and beauty and good and then you are better able to share your strength and beauty and good with others. At least that's the plan. I like to think that it's working for me. Some days better than others. But I'm going to keep at it. I'm going to keep moving and working for my health and my goals and my family.