It’s finally summer! The long-anticipated warm weather, longer days, and relaxed schedule are upon us. High fives all around! We made it!
An old familiar wave of dread hits me in the midst of my elation…I’m going to have to take my kids to the pool. They are probably going to ask at LEAST once this summer. Ugh, I need a new suit.
I’m no longer in an age and stage where I can buy something off the rack. Swimsuit “try-on expeditions” now require extra preparation in the form of pep-talks, fasting, tantrum breaks (for me, not my kids), and built-in time to stop at MULTIPLE stores. I usually leave empty-handed or with 3 suits that I ultimately return, begrudgingly returning to my stretched out, faded suit-of-old.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I battled a body image/eating disorder. Summertime used to be a major trigger for me and I’ve had to do a lot of work in this area. Here are some tips to help you to get over the dread and in to that suit:
Unpack your mindset. Are you focusing on your faults and imperfections? Worried about peoples’ opinions? Comparing yourself to others? Whether at a “healthy” weight or way past it, wearing a swimsuit is something most of us don’t enjoy.
As our own worst critics, we tend to assume that others share our internalized attitudes and beliefs. Here’s the deal: people don’t view us through the same lens, so let’s chill out. Even if someone had a negative opinion, do THEY define you and give you worth? My friend, we have been given a priceless status by our Creator. No one, and no amount of cellulite, can change that.
The comparison game is dangerous, stealing our joy and distracting us from embracing life. I wrote about this in another post, Your Body Isn’t the Enemy.
Speaking of distractions, what are you missing out on because of your mindset? I realized that my unwillingness to put on a swimsuit and take my sons to the pool was compromising my relationship with them. (If I had daughters, the impact could be more profound.) They aren’t going to understand that “mommy has some body image issues, and that’s why she won’t take you swimming.” They’re kids! They want me…not me with a six-pack. I want to be that confident, active mom who cares more about connecting with my boys than what I look like in a swimsuit.
Focus on relationship-building instead. Sometimes I nail this mindset and other times I need reminders. And that’s ok! (I’ll just re-read this post.)
Boost your confidence. Set some goals that help your body feel healthy, and the mind will follow. If you’re currently less active, start walking and moving intentionally. Strive to eat cleaner in the summertime when fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant. If you exercise regularly, mix it up and try a new program. Personally, I’ve found that strength training is a huge confidence booster. If you haven’t tried it, gradually add it to your routine. If you’ve been dabbling in it for a while, increase your weights and challenge yourself with every workout. Perhaps running, yoga, dancing, or being able to do push-ups are your goals. If it’s a healthy goal, go for it!
Fake it till you make it? Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, suggests that this adage should be rephrased, “fake it till you become it.” Even though we are mentally in one place, it doesn’t have to be our destiny. Our nonverbal behavior has a significant positive impact on our self-confidence. Try this: put on your suit, forget the mirror, and start behaving confidently…try it at home regularly. Pair this with positive internal dialogue to drive the point home. If you are also implementing healthy habits (previous strategy), your self-talk could sound like this: I respect my body and am taking excellent care of it because I am worth it. I’m feeling stronger and healthier. The outside will soon reflect the inside.
If you’re still stuck, buy an amazing suit. Most of us feel self-conscious about our “trouble zones” because they don’t seem to change quickly enough for our liking. The solution? Buy a suit that addresses some of your concerns (suck-me-in-spandex is a blessing) and then get out there! I’ve seen gorgeous swim dresses, skirts, wraps and cover-ups on the market. There are SO many options. Remember: you get what you pay for. I’m not being compensated for recommending these sites, but I’ve been impressed with Swimsuits for All. Here are 2017 coupon codes from RetailMeNot. Honorable mentions: Modcloth and Venus.
Not seeing what you like? Get creative! I couldn’t find any swimsuit bottoms like my favorite exercise shorts, so I bought a second pair and used them as a suit. I have a muscular upper body; many of the tops on the market make me look like an adolescent boy, so I Googled sports bras and found something cute that could double as a swim top. I’m also “thigh-strong,” so I often opt for skirts or shorts.
If you’re tempted to sit on the sidelines this summer, I truly hope that you’ll give these strategies a try. Don’t miss out on life, my friend. It’s time to behave your way to a healthier you…mentally, relationally, and physically. Get into that suit!