Alternatives to a Successful Bikini Body Season

Cropped shot of a woman's hand holding a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses at sunset on a beach
Cropped shot of a woman's hand holding a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses at sunset on a beach

Spring is in full bloom. Summer is right around the corner. That means warmer temperatures and less hiding inside your clothes. It means sundresses and shorts and the dreaded swimsuit season. And if you're anything like me, this has been a difficult time year after year not feeling great in your body and wondering how you can enjoy summer without the judgments and insecurity screaming in your ears.

Granted, you could continue to hide inside your baggy black sweaters all summer long, but your soul longs for more than an existence made of hiding and avoiding. You want to have fun, to participate, to be fully engaged in your life.

Maybe you set a New Year's resolution to transform your body but you left that resolution somewhere back in the middle of February and now you're feeling defeated, deflated and like a failure once again. You aren't happy that yet again you are trying to figure out how to navigate the warm temperatures and the short shorts, short sleeves and sundresses that are oh so cute and make you feel oh so less than.

As I noticed spring take full bloom these past few weeks, that old familiar dread rose in me. I hadn't done what I needed to do... yet again. The cellulite still remained firmly attached to my legs, the pooch on my belly still hanging out. But this year is thankfully, different than years past. My body is much different than it's ever been, but my mind is a whole lot different.

I thought of all the other women in the world who were probably feeling this same amount of dread, this same self-loathing and disappointment with themselves.

And then I remembered, I actually like my body. I like how it feels, the way it supports me, how it allows me to do all the things I need to do in my life. I like how it moves, the curves of it, the way it looks in clothes and how it keeps going no matter how mean or judgmental I am of it.

My body is right for me because it works well for me. I'm guessing your body does, too. Even if we've been taught not to like it because it doesn't look the way culture tells us it should look, your body is still strong, capable and willing to do what you need it to.

Then it hit me: What if instead of bikini season and the impending stress of having a bikini body, we made this the "Be Your Best Self" season?

What if it wasn't about getting a toned tummy and sculpted thighs, but instead about the strength and awesomeness your body already exudes?

What if we switched from needing to tighten and tone to appreciating and supporting the awesomeness that already IS our body?

It all hit me like a ton of bricks: When women choose from this mindset, something radically shifts. Suddenly who you are and how you show up in the world is less about what you are supposed to look like and more about who and what you WANT to be. The locus of choice gets focused on your experience of your body (and life); how you want to feel, what you want to include or discard, what you want to do, be and spend your time and energy on.

You may be cringing right now. Certainly, many people want to lose weight. But what I know to be true is that we want to lose that weight so that we can live the life we dream of; to have the fun, the joy, the connection and acceptance of who we are and how we want to live.

What I also know to be true is that you don't have to lose weight to have that. In fact, it doesn't really work that way, like AT ALL.

Being your best self starts NOW, not 20 pounds from now. Because you already have an awesomely strong, functioning body now. And who you are now is who you will be 20 pounds from now. Confidence, self-love and acceptance begin here and follow you into losing weight, not the other way around.

Start today by looking yourself in the mirror and being grateful about one thing about your body and your life every day:

- Your heart is beating and your lungs breathing without you having to do anything
- You have great hair, cute clothes and a great sense of humor
- You are warm and compassionate
- You choose authenticity over artificial-ness

These may seem overly simplistic, but they are actually the daily things that are part of you and make up your lived experience. Gratitude and acceptance are the keys to living even more of the life you want. You are more than your pant size or what you look like in a bikini.

When you choose to make this season about being your best self, your power resides with you, not in the latest diet plan, or in whether others will think you look good in that bikini or whether you think you belong on the beach at all. All that matters is that you feel good in that bikini, you like being on the beach and if you feel empowered and at ease with what you're eating, how you're showing up in the world and if you truly like the way you're living your life. Not to fit into the cultural paradigm of what a good life is, but a true deep in your bones satisfaction that no matter what the path is for you, it is the right path for you.

This could mean that you do realize you've been neglecting your well-being and health, that you've been burying your emotional experience under lots of bread or sweets. But it could also mean that you get to flip the bird to the endless tirade of exercise and diet fads, the constant monitoring of what you had to eat that day or how much exercise you've been doing.

No matter what the choice you make is, the only question that matters is, "Am I making this choice to be my best self, or am I doing this to be a version of what I think I'm supposed to be?" Listen carefully to the answer that lives inside your body. It is the ticket to having this summer be unlike any other.