I’ve heard a few friends comment recently about the weight they’ve put on over the summer, the diets and exercise regimes they are planning for autumn.

I know many people stay fit all through winter with the specific goal of feeling beach body ready for summer. Strutting confidently around the beach in their skimpiest clothes is their reward and they should be able to enjoy it without feeling this extra pressure, guilt, or shame.

A couple of others have been through some really hard times in recent years. Their (perceived or actual) added weight is a physical reminder that they are happy now, and for me it’s beautiful to see these people healthy and smiling after they may have been looking unhealthy, skinny, sad, drawn, and pale.

I am lucky to have a healthy relationship with food and my body. Of course, I’d love my belly to be a little (OK, a lot) flatter, but to me it’s a souvenir from my pregnancies, a gift from my babies, and it will never stop me wearing a bikini or crop top.

Recently I ordered myself a new dress for an end-of-summer holiday. When I tried it on, I was disappointed that it wasn’t more flattering. My first thoughts were around how many gym visits I could squeeze in before the holiday and regret for having eaten almost an entire box of after 8s the day before (they weren’t even mine!). I tried it on again a couple of days later and asked for my husband’s advice. A brave man, he actually gave it. He told me I was right: it made me look fat. He then suggested that I send it back. And just like that, I didn’t need to attempt a stupid and doomed crash diet any more and I could get on with being excited about my holiday!

To me, the keys to health (unsolicited advice alert!) are: eat loads of fruit and veg; eat dinner early and brush your teeth straight after to discourage evening snacking; drink tons of water; go to bed early; get out for walks in nature every day; check in with people you know are struggling; eat as little meat and dairy as possible; never say no to dessert when offered or you’ll be regret filled for the rest of the day; and admire your naked self in the mirror every day.

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If you’d like help being more comfortable with your body, please get in touch to find out how coaching could help. If you’re local to Teignmouth and Dawlish, check out Wholelife, a free course provided via your GP to help you try a whole foods plant based diet for one month. This is the first NHS-funded course of its kind in the UK and has already had fantastic results.