Pre-S: I’m hosting a free 4-day workshop series in May – Boost your body love. I’ll share tips about increasing and embodying respect, care, joy, and authority, so if you’ve been looking for a bit more of those things in your body and life, sign up. Keep reading for how it came about and how this process can make a real difference in your everyday experiences.
I mentioned recently that my husband and I went on vacation. Like, an actual vacation to an actual place we had to travel to in a plane, not a car. It was pretty magical.
I mean, it was magical just because it was vacation, and we had a few days away together to just be. It was magical because it was the beach, and how can that not be magic? (Seriously, there’s a meditation here of closing your eyes and breathing in, smelling the ocean, feeling the wind in your hair and the sand in your toes, the sunshine on your skin. Anyway…) And it was magical, for me, for a reason I didn’t quite expect, but definitely welcomed.
Naturally, a beach vacation means being near-naked for most of the day, in public. Sounds weird when you put it like that, but it’s pretty much the truth. At the very least, it means slightly fewer or different clothes than you would wear at home.
Not gonna lie, I love prancing around in a swimsuit.
I 100000% recognize my thin privilege in saying that, but hear me out for a few more minutes, please. Yes, I understand I have a body that conforms to societal standards of female bodies. I’m petite, fit, and white. That typically makes it extremely acceptable to walk around in two teeny tiny pieces of fabric that cover only the necessary bits and not much more.
But that’s not why I like it so much. It has nothing to do with being looked at or admired or the opposite of admired. You might see it coming here, but I like wearing a swimsuit as an outfit because it strips everything nearly bare. There’s a naked freedom to that in about a hundred ways.
Like, for instance, that naked freedom forced me to see that up until the last year or two, every previous time we went on a beach vacation, it was about being looked at. I’m embarrassed to scroll through old photos and see these vignettes of me asking Marty in fourteen different ways, “Take a picture of me!” Abs on display, cheeky bottoms flaunting cheeky bum, sometimes even a beach flex. (Seriously, I’m fucking mortified by this behavior several years later.)
I’d spend weeks, sometimes months, prepping for these vacations. “I’m gonna be in a swimsuit,” I’d tell my coach. “Let’s make sure I’m jacked!” And inevitably, I would be. I’d crush it in the gym, be super disciplined with my diet, amp up the cardio. And then, I’d show it all off, as noted above. I’d also spend the vacation relaxing on that discipline and then sucking in my tummy to make up for it, all the while panicking inside my head that I didn’t look perfect.
Obviously, things have changed in the last several years.
I don’t regret my focused phases. I don’t regret spending time working on hypertrophy and getting lean. I don’t even think it was a vapid thing. It takes a lot of commitment to decide to do that work, and honestly, that’s not always my strong suit. I’m proud of the work I did and what I learned along the way. Plus, it helped me to find the workouts I love to this day, and I can’t possibly regret that.
It also helped me to understand more deeply how we evolve as humans and as bodies, and how that is completely natural, and actually, welcome. A good thing. Despite what the fitness and wellness industries would have us believe, we’re supposed to go through phases and seasons and changes like this. We’re not supposed to be the girl flexing on the beach forever.
Or, I mean, I guess we can be, if we choose. But that’s the thing about it – allowing seasons to change and receiving change as it happens lets us see our choices more clearly.
In the last couple of years, I’ve chosen to live a fuller life.
And what a phenomenal choice it’s been! I’ve chosen to find a better baseline of physical movement and intuitive eating that doesn’t consume my being, doesn’t entirely shape my identity. Is fitness still a huge part of my life? Yes, absolutely. Am I obsessed with big arms anymore? Nope, I’m not. (What’s three levels below obsessed?) I’ve got way more going on, way more I want to do, way more that matters to me, than spending hours a day beating myself up mentally and beating myself into submission physically.
Ultimately, this is a choice to love myself and love my body.
And to be totally up front, that choice wasn’t (isn’t!) always easy. I had to work at it just as much as I ever did in the gym. But the payoff of all that mindset work is beyond the words in my descriptive repertoire.
Like, on this recent vacation, I noticed my thighs were chafing on our beach walks. I noticed my belly was a little jiggly. I noticed some rolls when I sat down. And I saw a lot of softness in general.
I noticed. That’s all. I didn’t judge myself. I didn’t scream at myself with disgust inside my head. I didn’t pinch the rolls or suck them in. I didn’t cover up. I didn’t vow to exercise and diet and lose weight as soon as I got home. I strictly noticed without judgment and then went on with enjoying the gift of another day alive on this earth. I had all the mindset tools to love my body, no matter what my fitness looked like. I’ve been preaching body neutrality for a while now, and wow, is it truly powerful in practice.
Prancing around in my swimsuit laid it bare.
One thing keeps sticking out in my mind as I reflect – the thing about my thighs chafing. I remember years and years ago, almost a decade ago now, when I was training for marathons and working in a gym. I had a friend I was fairly close to there, and we often talked about body positivity related things. I can distinctly remember telling her in one of these conversations that I wasn’t purposely trying to have a thigh gap, I just physically couldn’t get my thighs to touch, like this is just my body, and don’t judge me for being too thin either.
LOLZ. What a jerk.
Or, well, the 27-year-old product of her upbringing in a shitty culture that brainwashes women and places value on all the wrong things. I’m not the only one who thought and said crap like that.
As my thighs kissed, I couldn’t help but think of this comment, and my attitude about it, my incredible weight bias. 37-year-old me is slightly ashamed, but on the flip side, also surprisingly proud. Did I ever think I’d be walking down the beach quite a bit bigger and softer and at the same time exponentially happier and less insecure and judgmental of myself? No. No, I absolutely did not. And what a gift. This change, this choice, has opened up my life immeasurably.
I get that from the outside, much of what I’m talking about is barely noticeable. But if I’ve learned anything about body image in the last five years, it’s exactly that – many times, the havoc it wreaks in our minds and our lives, and on our bodies too, is as quiet as it is terrible. This is a struggle that silently steals.
It steals time. It steals energy. Love. Hope. Meaning. Attention. Care. Capacity. Advocacy. For ourselves, and for others.
And since time is the one thing we’re always lamenting we never have enough of, tell me how it makes sense we waste it on this.
Listen, I get it. Really, I do. This conversation is deeply complicated. It’s not simple at all. It’s much, much simpler to keep ramming at the fitness stuff instead of looking at the mindset stuff that makes a difference, first. For the 25 years it took me to learn what my body was supposed to be and how much I was supposed to hate it anyway, it took me another 10+ to unlearn all of that and relearn love.
But I got there. I keep getting there even more every day. I know there’s a way. I know it works. And I’m passionate about sharing it.
I know the way involves a similar near-nakedness to that of a bikini-clad beach vacation. But somehow, it makes all the nakedness easier, eventually. It can even make it feel better, more natural, if we’re lucky – effortless.
And it’s so, so worth the sometimes uncomfortable work to lay it all utterly bare.
So, OK, as awkward as this may sound, let’s get bare together. (Just imagine we’re all hanging on a topless beach together like fancy French people. It’s fine. In fact, it’s going to be fun because there will be wine and baguettes.) Summer’s coming, bikinis abound, and I want you to be in yours without any reservations or judgment. That doesn’t mean I’m about to offer you a kickass new workout program to transform your body. It means I’m going to extend you an invitation to try a better way – the way that’ll transform your mind, your life, and how you feel in your body.
In four days of (TOTALLY FREE) mini-workshops, I’m going to teach you four of the best and most effective ways I know to cultivate more self-love and self-confidence. All you have to do is sign up and give yourself ten minutes a day for a body love lesson.
This is the start of a journey. An introduction to the how of choosing self-love. Before you know it, you’ll love near-naked prancing too. (Seriously, you will.)
Here’s to laying it all bare.
If your instinct to all this is that you don’t need it because you’re 100% confident in your skin and you don’t need any more body love, 1) I think you’re a badass and we should totally be friends, and 2) maybe it’s worth signing up for the days that aren’t 100%, or for learning new tools you can use to support other people in your life who aren’t always 100%.
If you know anyone who’s struggling with body love right about now, please share the event! It’s free, obv. The more the merrier. Copy and paste this sign up link, and let’s boost each other up.
If you’re interested in learning more on the regular, sign up for weekly emails from me. And if you’re interested in doing this work 1-1, schedule a free chat about it directly below.