As summer approaches, I find myself wondering how my 53 year old body is going to look in a bathing suit this year. It’s an annual anxiety fest that I quickly try to squash by filling my mind with positive thoughts. On a good day, I am able to refocus on the fun I always have being in, on or around the water.
I love to swim and paddleboard. Either activity, whether in the ocean or in a pool, makes me feel happy. Those activities are more fun when shared with family and friends. The water makes my body feel good and free from whatever self image or mobility issues I may be struggling with at the time.
When the negative voices start to creep into my thoughts, I reflect on those positive things I appreciate about my body. I remind myself that my body can do some amazing things. I can run, walk, cycle, swim, hold grandchildren in my arms or by the hand, help aging parents get around and freely offer bear hugs to people I love. Think about the amazing things your body does for you everyday.
As my thoughts become more positive about summer, the question still nags: Am I ready to put on a bikini? I struggle with the self image issues that many of us do when the weather warms and the layers of clothes come off. Even with the excitement and anticipation of standing on my paddleboard in the surf, I still worry about how my largely bare body looks to others.
There is a choice to be made. Do I allow self image issues to keep from enjoying time with nieces, nephews, spouse and grandchildren at the beach? Or, do I figure out how I can comfortably dress for any water related activity and have fun?
You guessed it, I opt to participate in the fun. I look for items of clothing that will make me feel comfortably exposed without deflating my self-confidence. I also find a good self tanner (thank you Jergens) that gives me a slight glow to offer camouflage to lumpy or crepey skin. I often wear cycling shorts under running shorts to cover more of my thighs and derriere, especially on the paddle board. Sun shirts or rash guards also provide extra coverage around my midsection and added sun protection.
I do this because, I am yet to have a completely healthy body image. I still feel better a little less exposed. It helps bolster my confidence knowing I am not revealing too much when I am active. I try always to look my best and for me that means showing a little less skin, tanned or not.
If you follow the Embrace Movement (https://embraceyouonline.com), you know that Taryn Brumfitt offers a 4 week course to improve your body image. I think she is an inspirational, positive body image pioneer and I admire her. Still, I am not ready to appear on live television in a bikini as she did. I may get there one day, but today I want to move my body and feel comfortable in how I look. If I choose to wear clothes or use cosmetics that make me feel more confident when moving my body, that’s ok. I refuse to let my concern with judgment from others make me feel badly if my body isn’t swimsuit model svelt. Being active and enjoying life is what’s important. I don’t want to miss out!
Set your goals, just for today. Whether your goal is to learn to swim or simply splash in the ocean with your children, find a way to get there that works for YOU! There is no rule that says you have to wear a skimpy bathing suit to have fun in the water. You don’t have to get your hair wet or put your face in the water. You can sit on the edge of the pool completely covered and dangle a toe in it. Set your goal, break it down into tiny steps and start today.
This summer don’t allow a lack of confidence to rob you of the joy that outdoor activities can bring. Even if being outside isn’t your thing, don’t allow the negative voices in your head to keep you from having fun. Here are a few useful tools to help you feel happy and confident at the pool or on the beach.
If you need swimming instruction, look around your area to find swimming lessons or water safety classes that will empower you (SwimRVA). If you want to hire a personal trainer to help you feel more confident and fit, search the Fiteeza Directory for a fitness professional in your area. Start small, take it slow and build your confidence. That my friends is what is truly beautiful.