This week’s Self-Care Sunday post continues the back-to-school theme. I confess, August isn’t my favorite month. And not just because it’s hot.

Plump and Missing Tail Feathers

An odd-sounding hummingbird zoomed in to the feeder and spread its tail feathers wide—what few he had left. His plump body looked like he’d visited the feeders repeatedly over the past few weeks. Maybe more often than he should.

I snapped photos of him and his sorry tail, and thought about how I felt just like that little guy looked. Plump and missing a few tail feathers. Ok, not tail feathers, but four inches of hair I’d lost in a run-in with a high-priced, communication-skill-lacking ‘expert’ stylist.

I can blame the missing tail feathers on the stylist. The plumpness? That’s all on me. Tell me I’m not the only one to end the summer out of shape and a few pounds heavier. As a teacher, I have about nine weeks off each summer. In May, I dream big.

I dream of starting the school year in shape and weighing the same as I did in June, maybe even less. It never seems to happen. Driving 10,000 miles didn’t help with my exercise program. Nor did the inordinate number of Starbucks stops to stay awake whilst driving those miles.

Don’t get me wrong. I love vacation and I love long, solo road trips (I can stop and take photos of whatever, whenever). But once I arrive at my destination, things change. It seems as if trying to accommodate everyone else’s schedule leaves me with no time to take care of myself.

Honestly, I start every summer believing that I’ll keep on running, or doing exercise videos, or eating healthfully the entire summer long. I even lugged my running shoes and yoga mat along with me. They never saw the light of day.

Playing the Blame Game

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I even let my family play scapegoat (they don’t know this). Our grandson got up too early. Everyone stayed up too late (easy to do in Alaska

Do you struggle with body image? Learn how to stop beating yourself up over weight gain. #bodyimage, #selfcare, #weight

in the summer). It wouldn’t stop raining. Blaming other people for my lack of motivation won’t help change things, though. In reality, I COULD have exercised consistently.

In looking over my FitBit stats for June, July, and August, I realized that out of nine weeks of vacation, I didn’t meet my daily step goal consistently for all nine weeks. Forty-three weeks of the year I manage to get 11,000 steps a day (usually a lot more). Something about summer seems to hog-tie me with inertia.

When I return home after a summer of roaming all over the country, I feel fat, out of shape, and grumpy. I feel especially grumpy because the thermometer hovers between 90 and 100 every day. The humid air sticks to my skin like burrs in a horse’s tail. I get up at four in order to exercise early and avoid the heat of the day (which starts at six a.m. and lingers until midnight).

But enough whining about the five pounds I gained. Enough feeling sorry for my lack of motivation and the ensuing results. I’ll even quit griping about the weather. Maybe. No, really, I will.

That little hummer didn’t seem bothered by his lack of feathers or his rotund shape. Maybe I need to think link a hummingbird (who has no time to waste with negativity).

My takeaway lesson from yet another summer of inactivity? Physical health plays a huge part in my mental health. The motivation to exercise consistently and eat healthfully should have nothing to do with weight loss. If weight loss becomes my focus, I put myself in a feast or famine deprivation mindset. And that just a creates a cycle of bad choices.

How to Stop Beating Yourself up Over Weight Gain


Instead, I should focus on filling myself with what nurtures my body and my mind. Practice talking positively to yourself.

I don’t feel like exercising. I exercise because using my muscles feels good.

I’d rather eat bread. The summer bounty of fruits and vegetables gives me what I need to fight illness and disease.

I don’t have time to stretch. When I do yoga or PiYo, I hurt less (once the initial soreness wears off).

Why can’t I look like her? Maintaining my physical fitness, makes it easier to have a positive attitude.

I don’t have enough energy to exercise. I love keeping up with my students when we go mountain biking.

Maybe I don’t need to exercise today. Exercising every day helps me sleep better at night.

I’m so out of shape. Running makes me breathe deeply.

I can’t eat chocolate. A little bit of dark chocolate a day will make me smarter.

The world does a pretty good job of telling us to compare ourselves with others. But peace of mind comes when we ignore the world. We are responsible for our choices. And we can choose to nurture ourselves and ignore the meanie on our shoulder that wants to belittle us.

We can choose to ignore the meanie on our shoulder that wants to belittle us. #selfcare #exercise Click To Tweet

And like my hummingbird visitor, my tail feathers will grow back. Settling into my normal routine will melt off a few pounds. Most of all, my commitment to nurturing my body with things like exercise, stretching, strength building, and good food will help me feel at peace with the world. Even if it won’t cool down for another two months.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

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  1. This is great, Anita. When I had my physical, I was doing the same kind of lamenting, and the nurse practitioner had a similar message that was so welcome at the time: “Don’t beat yourself up. You’re healthy.”
    And while I really want (and need) to lose weight, she’s right.
    God is gracious.
    Michele Morin recently posted…Praying the Words of Jesus for Your TeenMy Profile

  2. “Instead, I should focus on filling myself with what nurtures my body and my mind. Practice talking positively to yourself.” This is definitely the more motivating route to take. I don’t always take it though, so I’m glad to see your reminder here, Anita. 🙂 It’s amazing how just a few extra pounds can attempt to steal our joy.

  3. I love your vulnerability and practical-mindedness in this post, Anita! The statements that you reworded are powerful, girlfriend! I didn’t gain weight all summer until the last couple of weeks when I got some bad news. It sent me into a depressed feed-my-face frenzy! Lol! Now I’m trying to get back on the bandwagon and know that, like you, it will help me to feel better in so many ways! Thanks for this inspiring post!

  4. I am always surprised how much my mental health is impacted by my physical health! I loathe exercise but it is of tremendous value to me – probably even more mentally than actually shedding pounds! But oh how quickly I forget that as I mentally try to excuse myself from another attempt at exercise. Thanks for the great inspiration!!

  5. Love this post, Anita! I plead guilty on the issue of beating myself up about plump and exercise. Your better solutions are right on target.

    (Not sure what happened with my linkup post and the error message. I know the length of the title did not seem to go well when I copied it in. Thanks for letting me know….not sure I can fix it as far as I can tell, but did add a new one that works.😊)

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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