Summer Wellness Challenge: Dropping The F Word

Summer is here and with that comes shorter shorts, bathing suits, and bare arms. I love summer clothes (my summer capsule collection is coming tomorrow!) and not having to bundle up, but I have a history of body dysmorphia including an eating disorder in high school. Historically I’ve never loved my body, but something shifted after I had a baby. I’m in awe of what I could do as a woman, and although I’ll never look the same again in certain places, I feel stronger and more beautiful than ever.

Despite that, I find myself shrugging off compliments about the way I look and using the f word (not that one!), fat. With an impressionable young daughter to raise, more than ever I want to support the body positivity movement not just from afar, but at home too. Anel and I are very conscious about not putting down our own or anyone else’s bodies in front of her. But then I thought, why don’t I try harder to do that all the time? I would never body shame anyone else, but for some reason, I think it’s ok to do it to myself.

I know I’m not alone in this because I hear friends and family do the same thing. Here are some examples of how I’ve heard other people put their bodies down in the last week alone.

My arms are too fat for that shirt.
I ate so much, I feel so fat.
I could never wear that bathing suit.
You’re so skinny, I’m jealous!
I’m so not beach ready.

We can do better, you guys. I know we can. No matter what shape or size we are, let’s do our best to be healthy in whatever way works for our lives, and then lift ourselves up the way we might lift up a sister or best friend. I know that I have a strong and healthy body, so why do I continue to put it down? Sometimes it feels like I have to because taking a compliment would be rude. How insane is that? Have you ever felt that way?

This is how I plan to make a change this summer:

Remember back in February when I vowed to break a bad habit with these tips? I’ll be using them again for this challenge. Specifically, replacing the bad habit with a good one. Whenever I start thinking negative thoughts about my body or say something negative out loud, instead of beating myself up over failing the challenge, I plan to say or think something really positive about the way I look, but it can’t be about weight. Here are some good examples:

I love the way my legs look in these shorts.
I feel really strong today.
Look at those biceps, girl!
You look great today.

Here are 7 tips for giving body positive compliments and 100 positivity-boosting compliments (not all body related but still helpful).

It might seem shallow to keep this contained to looks but my challenge is specifically about body positivity. It’s oftentimes harder to compliment ourselves on the way we look than how we act in my experience.

What is Body Positivity Anyway?

Body positivity can mean different things to different people but the definition that resonates most with me is this one:

“Body positivity means accepting the body you have as well as the changes in shape, size, and ability it may undergo due to nature, age, or your own personal choices throughout your lifetime. It’s the understanding that your worth and what’s going on with you physically are two separate entities — that no matter what’s happening inside, outside, or to your body, you’re still just as worthwhile as the person next to you.” (source)

Scroll down to read about April’s wellness challenge where I vowed to cook more (hint: it was a huge success) and for some interesting reads about this topic and body positivity. Will you join me?

Reformation dress (restocked in all sizes!) I also love this dress in the same pattern / M.Gemi flats (sold out in red but similar here on sale) / Tuckernuck hat (gifted) PS the reason I used these specific photos for this post is because this dress makes me feel really beautiful!

Cook More Recap

My April wellness challenge was probably my most successful one yet. Meditating daily was kind of a bust the month before, and it felt good to get back on track with my challenges. Giving myself a specific goal of cooking at least 5x/week was what made it such a success. I found myself planning out meals before I went to the grocery store, and writing down what I would cook all week, instead of winging it 30 minutes before dinnertime.

I didn’t always hit the 5x/week goal but I didn’t beat myself up when I missed a night. This exercise also helped me realize that sometimes the simplest, easiest, recipes are the best ones. You don’t have to use a lot of ingredients or do anything fancy for a great dinner at home. Now that it’s grilling season, this is even easier. We love to grill up chicken, fish, or shrimp with veggies for healthy weeknight meals that come together in a flash.

When I really realized how much more I was cooking than ordering in was last week when I threw out my back and I literally couldn’t stand up to cook. I had to order in on a weeknight and it felt really weird to do. My bank account is quite pleased too. I’m going to keep up this challenge as much as possible over the summer.

How did it go for you?

Read More About This Topic

10 Reasons You Should Stop Calling Yourself Fat (Thought Catalog)
When You Call Yourself Fat, You’re Not Only Insulting Yourself (Flare)
The Body Positive
The Problem With Body Positivity (New York Times)
It’s OK to Want to Lose Weight (Greatist)
What Does Body Positivity Actually Mean? (Psychology Today)

Previous Wellness Challenges

January: Dry January
February: Break a Bad Habit
March: Daily Meditation
April: Cook More

Photos by Julia Dags.


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  1. annette said:

    I’m in

    5.28.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Yay! So happy you’ll be joining me.

      5.28.19 · Reply
  2. Libby said:

    Girl, you do look gorgeous in this dress!! So cute, I love how you styled it too!! I am so excited for this challenge. It is something I try to do now, but I think it is good to make body positive thoughts a secure habit. We all need some positivity in our lives!

    Also, I was really good at cooking at home until finals hit, then it was dairy free Halo top right out of the carton ahahah! But I did make the Pasta Primavera, and it was SO good! Thanks for having these wellness challenges!

    xx Libby

    5.28.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks Libby! I think Finals are a good excuse to not cook. But not too late to get back on track 🙂

      5.28.19 · Reply
  3. Anne said:

    I love this so much! I have also been challenging myself not to make any compliments about how people look and rather focus on things like “you seem so happy in this picture” etc. Shifting the conversation to things that aren’t about appearance at all is a tough exercise, but helps me focus on things that are really important. I especially try to do this with my 8 year old daughter. I don’t comment on her body (or my body in front of her) at all – not in positive or negative way. I don’t want to her to think her worth comes from the way she looks.

    5.28.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That is a great challenge. I’m trying to do the same with Amalia but I oftentimes can’t help but tell her she is beautiful… So I try to also say and you’re strong and amazing when I do it.

      5.28.19 · Reply
  4. Inna Pishtoy said:

    You dress is super cute!

    5.28.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks! One of my favorites this summer so far.

      5.28.19 · Reply
  5. Guest said:

    This would even more believable if you provided more clothes from brands that do inclusive sizing. You dress (all sizes ) goes to a 12 68% of women wear a size 14 or above

    5.28.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That is a good point and I will try my best to keep that in mind going forward. I love Reformation in general because they have a lot of their pieces in extended sizing. This dress is similar to mine in red and goes up to 3x:

      But not sure what you mean by believable. I’m sharing my own personal journey!

      5.28.19 · Reply
  6. Claire said:

    Love this! Thanks Julia. Much needed today!

    So I was in a mommy and me yoga class with my 2 month old today and the (well meaning and very kind) yoga instructor remarked at how thin and fit we all look post partum. What followed was a discussion of dieting, restricting dairy and sugar, how many calories breastfeeding burns and how we can’t eat because our newborns demand so much care and both hands, etc. Now totally innocent right? But it took me out of my zen space w my smiling baby boy and reminded me of the looming greater number on the scale, the wrinkly loose skin on my tummy, the new hips I never knew I could grow, how I forgot to rub bio oil on my stretch marks, that my fav denim shorts won’t close for all those summer BBQs, and what my game plan is to fit back into my dress pants before returning to work, because what will people think if I come back not having it all together.

    It’s really hard, the internal pressures to keep it tight (lol) and the cultural influences that remind us that thin is good, and that fit is valuable and impressive. Needed to breathe through that one!

    Your candor is lovely. You are awesome. I appreciate the way your blog lifts women up!

    5.29.19 · Reply