We spend a quarter of our lives in summer (or more if you’re from Australia).Summer can be a difficult time to embrace your body. With swimsuit ads everywhere, bikini body diets and fitness advice slammed into our brains a million times a day. We are bombarded with the message that our bodies aren’t good enough to enjoy summer. Aren’t bikini ready. That we should avoid summer until we are perfect. Most of us will never look like a bikini model (fun fact: the girl in that bikini/diet/fitness ad doesn’t look like that in real life either). Do you want to avoid summer and all the awesome adventures it brings just because you don’t look like the cookie cutter ideal of a bikini body?
Say you get the average life expectancy of 80ish years. That’s twenty years of avoiding the beach, hating your body, feeling self-conscious in a swimsuit, or forgoing summer adventures entirely. Fu-get that. I’m not spending 20 years (please think about how long that actually is for a moment) of my life hating summer because I have thighs that rub together, a little pot belly when I sit down, cellulite all over my legs, and shiny stretch marks on my hips. I’m just.not.interested. 20 years man, come on.I would rather frolic (yes, I frolic quite well) on the beach in my new red bikini, eat melting gelato for lunch, bare my belly to the fading afternoon sun (bathed in 30+, don’t worry Mum), and take photos with my family where we are salty and sweaty and happy. I could spend hours in the gym working on my ‘summer body’. I could deprive myself of the foods I love, throw my version of a healthy balanced diet out the window, turn down social occasions where the food isn’t ‘clean’ enough for my precious bikini body, and forgo date nights where we eat popcorn and m&ms for dinner (it has to happen sometimes folks, it just has to).
I say no. I say I’m going to embrace this summer, stretch marks and all. These thighs that rub together, they run half marathons, they climb mountains, they balance spotty-bellied puppies them. This little belly gets filled with ice cream, chickpeas, veggies, fruit, and chocolate. It’s not a concave place, it’s satisfyingly rounded, like a Venus of old. These legs that have cellulite, these hips with shiny tiger stripes, they are my reminders that I am human, not perfect. I am a healthy woman who had enough nourishment to grow into an adult. And what my body looks like in a bikini doesn’t matter because I am not here to adorn the world, my body is here to carry me over it, under it, around it and through my journey.
So when the barrage of ‘Bikini Body’ diet tips and ‘Summer Body Workouts’ starts filling your Facebook feed take my advice:
- Detox your social media. Unfollow people or sites that make you feel bad about your already awesome body! Find some awesome body positive people to follow that show you bikini bodies come in ALL sizes!
- Nourish yourself with foods that make your body feel good, not what some 12 week meal plan makes you think you should eat. All foods fit into a nourishing diet. From spinach to ice cream there’s room for it all! If you need help sorting out your relationship to food talk to a dietitian!
- Find joy in movement. Exercise increases your body confidence regardless of its affect on your weight! Try out different ways of moving your body and find what makes you happy! I love running and yoga, but maybe you’re a zumba dancer just waiting to bust a move, or a cyclist, or you love kicking a soccer ball with your kids. Whatever it is, find something that makes exercise a happy experience, not a chore.
- Don’t make your beach or pool time all about what you look like! Play Marco Polo, volleyball, or beach cricket, or see who can find the prettiest shells on the beach. Try stand-up paddle boarding, or fishing, or surfing. Find out which family member does the best bomb dives! See your body as a wonderful vehicle that lets your brain and heart have all these exciting experiences. Engage all of your senses when you go to the beach and take the focus away from what your body looks like in your swimmers. Because the swimsuit tan lines will fade but the memories and stories will last forever.
What are you going to do this summer (or did you do for my northern hemisphere peeps) to love your bikini body?
(For another great post about summer ready bodies check out this post from Body Positive Australia)
Wellness Wednesday is a new series on the blog. Every week I’ll be writing about a health or wellness topic, book, conference, or experience, I have had recently. If you have a wellness question please send it through to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!