I know. It sounds too good to be true. I promise though, I have the secret. To getting that bikini body that everyone starts talking about once the spring rolls in. I know the way and here it is. How to get a BIKINI BODY:

Have a body, and put a bikini on it.

Not quite what you were looking for? Well, it’s the truth. Let’s just get something straight. Your body does not need to be any one thing in order to be ‘allowed’ to wear a bikini.

These are some things I hear on the regular:

“I wish I could wear a bikini.”
“I wish I had the body to wear a sports bra to work out. It looks so comfortable.”
“I wish I could wear _______, but I can’t with my body.”

Let me start this off by saying that I get it. I do. I really do. I’ve absolutely been there before. Crying in the dressing room every spring. EVERY. SINGLE. SPRING. When I would try on a bikini for the first time. Thinking about how everyone who saw me was going to think I was gross, and, fat, and not want to be my friend. The boys wouldn’t like me. I would be the loser in the group because of this fucking body of mine that wouldn’t just look the way it needed to.

I wish that I knew then what I’m about to tell you now, because it would have saved me a lot of grief. I spent YEARS wasting time that I could have been hanging out having fun with my friends or family, or simply enjoying the sun on me relaxing at the beach or the pool, so preoccupied with getting myself positioned in the exact right way so that no one would see the rolls on my belly, or so that my thighs didn’t look too big when I was sitting down, or making sure I had a towel or shorts within a few feet of me in case I needed to get up from my perfectly angled beach chair to quickly cover up when I dared to walk past someone in a bikini. I didn’t want to hurt their eyes, after all!

Here’s the big secret that I wish I knew sooner:

YOU CAN WEAR WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT.
Your body does not have to BE any kind of way to wear any kind of thing!

I feel that I need to preface this whole discussion with a disclaimer of sorts. When I tell people in my life that they can wear a bikini if they want to the response is often ‘yeah well that’s easy to say when you have your body.”

When we talk or body acceptance, neutrality, image, whatever, it’s important to make an effort to relate as opposed to compare. This is the inherently tricky thing about this conversation. It’s easy to be dismissive. The thing is, you can never know what is going on inside someone’s head by looking at their body. Remember that how YOU view someone else’s body, is not at all a reflection of how they see themselves. Just like how comfortable you think they should be doesnt matter to their reality.

You need to remember that you have no idea what someone else’s history, thoughts, or feelings are.

I’ve been around a lot of conversations that go like this:  one woman is saying that she’s uncomfortable in her bikini,  another tells her “you’re not allowed to feel that way. It’s really rude of you to say that. You have no idea what it’s like for me. I’m bigger than you. I would kill to have your body.”

Relate. Don’t compare.

There is no better or worse or more or less valid. Everyone’s truth is just that- their truth. The girl you see at the beach with what you think is a “perfect body” may have spent an hour in the car crying to herself because she had to go to the beach and show it. She may have stared in the mirror for just as long, counting all the “wrong” parts. Pinching every bit of fat. Documenting every perceived flaw. I know that because I’ve been that girl in the car.

I can tell you one thing for sure. I am much happier, more confident, more comfortable in my skin, and less self conscious now at 30 years old at 145-150lbs than I was at 17 when I weighed 120ish and was housing weight loss pills while refusing to eat at lunch. I see picture of me now from back in high school and I remember being convinced that I was fat. I was far from it. It’s amazing what our minds can convince us to be true.

Even just a few years ago, my now fiancé and I went to a Russian bath house for a steam and a sauna. He must’ve waited for me for 15 minutes while I was in the locker room. I was in there, literally crying in a bathroom stall because I was so embarrassed about how I looked. I was sure he would think I was gross.

It’s not about the weight, or the body fat %, or the muscle mass. It rarely is.

I tell you all of this because I need for you to understand that we can never all walk in one another’s  shoes. Your struggles, your experiences, your feelings. They are valid. So are mine. So are hers. I will not compare mine to yours or yours to mine. I will, however, relate.

The thing I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, is that it wasn’t even ME who didn’t like my body. It was what I thought that other people weren’t going to like about my body, and in turn, about me.

If you’re worried about what OTHER PEOPLE are going to think of you when you wear whatever it is that you want to wear…FUCK ‘EM. It DOES. NOT. MATTER. I repeat – what some random schmuck thinks of your body DOES NOT MATTER. If they’ve got faces to make, or eyes to roll THAT IS THEIR PROBLEM. You just keep doing what YOU want to do.

Imagine how much energy THEY are wasting by spending the minutes of this very fragile, finite, and fleeting life that we have, with a commentary of what your body looks like. In truth, we should feel sad for those folks. I find that those who are hyper-critical of others, do so because there is sadness in their own lives so they need to bring everyone else down with them. Misery loves company – remember that.

You do not need to world’s permission to wear a bikini.

or a sports bra. or shorts. or any of the other 5000 things we’ve managed to convince ourselves that we ‘can’t wear’.

No ones opinion about your body matters EXCEPT your own. Your body has nothing to do with anyone else. Like, nothing. At all. Instead of spending time worrying about what everyone else might think, spend that time working on what you think. How you relate to and respond to your body. How you talk to yourself. How you live in the world. The truth is that is takes work to build that relationship with your body. It takes conscious effort. I would argue that it’s never even really over for most of us.

I used to immediately feel my stomach, pinch the fat, stare at it in the mirror. From the front, side, sucked in, pushed out. Every which way. Until I shrugged my shoulders and conceded that yet, again, I was gross and I should probably eat a little less today.

I would say that these days, most days, I wake up not even thinking about my body. I even have days now where I catch myself in the mirror and I’m like, ‘fuck yeah!’. Not all days. Not every minute. I still have moments of feeling crappy about myself and my body. I do. The difference between then and now is that I recognize those thoughts as untrue, and recognize that my body is just my body. It’s not everything I have to offer to the world. It’s not the thing that gives me value, or makes me worthy, or allows me to be in the world. To me, this whole ‘body acceptance’/body-neutrality’ thing isn’t about NEVER having negative thoughts or feelings. It’s more about not letting them take over you, stopping them in their tracks, flipping them on their head, and moving on from them. That isn’t something that happened over night for me. It took time. It’s still taking time.

Here’s a tactic I learned this last weekend at the Girls Gone Strong Women’s Strength & Empowerment Summit:

Stop using disparaging language when you talk to yourself about your body. Instead of, “My belly fat is gross.”, perhaps opt for, ‘That is body fat.”. Swap, “My cellulite is disgusting”, for “This is cellulite. I have cellulite there.”. It’s not gross, or disgusting, or bad, or a reflection of how good of a person you are. It simply is. Taking the emotional language out of it, helps to keep our thoughts and in turn, feelings, in control.

Another way to look at it. Consider how you talk to yourself about your body. If you’re like I used to be (and sometimes still am), you pick apart at every little thing. Now, think of how you view and talk to your friends. Probably with love and complements aplenty. ‘I love your hair!’, ‘Your freckles are so pretty.’, ‘Your ass looks great in those shorts!’. We would never pick apart the people we love the way we do ourselves. Try thinking of your body like that: A girlfriend that you love, and tell her all of the things that are awesome.

 

Someone recently told me that your skin feeling the sun and wind is a part of the life experience. Don’t rip that away from yourself for fear of what some stranger thinks. Really, what ANYONE thinks.

Part of what helped me move on from crying in dressing rooms was the switch I made to how I approached my health and fitness. When I started CrossFit, all of a sudden I had these goals that weren’t about fat loss. Sure, I still wanted to loose weight, but it wasn’t 100% of the reason I was there…which was new. I mean, no one gets on an elliptical for 60 minutes for FUN. I was in this new world where people were talking about getting a heavier deadlift, or getting a pull up, or how they did in a workout…not talking about they new diet pill they tried or how much weight they were trying to lose.

Eating nourishing foods and working out for a purpose that wasn’t to look a certain way changed a lot for me.  I’m going to let you know now, that this post is very much a stream of consciousness. As I write it, I’m thinking of more things that I want to share, so it’s not always going to have sweet transitions. This is a blog after all, not a novel.

About that sports bra you want to work out in: If you’re in a CrossFit gym, despite it’s ‘douchey’ reputation, There’s a reason people take their shirts off. It’s COMFORTABLE to not have a sweaty shirt sticking to your stomach while you try and flail yourself through toes to bar. It’s actually not all about showing off abs, or getting attention, or being loud (sure…sometimes it is…let’s be real here). The first time I did it, I was at least 10 lbs heavier than I am now, and it was hot AF, and I had really just had it. I finally said ‘screw it’. Shirt came off. No one gave a shit. No one looked at me side-eyed. No one went blind. They all just kept going about their own business, going through the workout. Afterwards, the regular high fives, and ‘good shit’s. I wasn’t a social pariah. When I realized that I was the only one who gave a shit…I stopped giving a shit.

I had another ah-ha moment with one of my first nutrition clients. She was telling me how terrified she was to go to the beach. She avoids it. Her friends invite her and she doesn’t want to go because she knows that people will be looking at her and thinking, ‘Why is she wearing that?! She can’t pull that off.’. I told her that I actually see those women and feel more envy than judgement. I look at them, confidently walking down the beach in their teeny bikinis and I think to myself, ‘Shit. Look at her go, and here I am hiding my belly. I wish I had that confidence.’ Her response surprised me:

“Oh, no. I look at them and think why the fuck are they wearing that.”

That’s when it hit me. She was worried that others would be judging her for one simple reason: She was judging others.

We tend to think that our inner thoughts mirror everyone else’s. So, clearly I we are looking at her women, judging them for their size, shape, or what they are wearing…obviously we are going to assume they are doing the same and thus, not want to be on the receiving end of that. If we can let go of our own judgements on others, we can free ourselves from worrying so much about others judgements. This also allows us to understand that those who DO make comments, stare, or have shit to say about how we look…be that too skinny, too muscular, too fat, too pale, too tan, too whatever…have insecurities of their own that is causing them to push that negativity outward. We can try to let go of the hurt, and possibly even look upon them with compassion. Hope that they can find the freedom that we are working towards.

Are there days when I don’t feel awesome, maybe I’m feeling a little thicker than usual, or a little bloated from eating too many cinnamon rolls in Seattle and having a few too many cocktails? YES.

Do I hesitate sometimes, wondering if I can show that belly shirtless? YES.

Do I quickly remember that I now hate the feeling of a sweaty shirt on me during workouts? YES

Does it come off anyway, no one gives a fuck, and I don’t either? YES!

You don’t have to wear a bikini. Or workout in a sports bra and booty shorts. Maybe that’s not your style and that’s totally cool. The point isn’t to force you to wear anything. The point it to tell you that you CAN, and you don’t need anyones permission.

So in closing on this way too long Facebook post…

WEAR WHATEVER THE FUCK MAKES YOU HAPPY.

EVERY BODY IS A BIKINI BODY IF IT’S IN A BIKINI.