I well remember the trips that we took to Panama City Beach, Florida when I was a child! I LIVED for those vacations. By the time that I was about 4 years old, I had figured out that I could delay the anxiety associated with leaving the beach if I thought about Christmas when it was time to go back home. Until then, I cried like my heart was broken every time that we had to leave that perfect world. The sand there is crystalline white and the water is usually turquoise. Nothing is as exhilarating as the salty breeze gently caressing your face while your hair wafts in the wind. I was convinced that Heaven had to be on Earth every time we went to that pristine paradise.
Many of you know my story about my mom telling me that I was fat at the age of 4. I weighed 40 pounds, so I wasn’t fat. After her remark to the contrary, however, I began to feel self-conscious in a swimsuit. Since we hardly ever went swimming anywhere except on those vacations, I had to have a new swimsuit to get ready to go on vacation every year. Those trips were dreadful.
I would ransack the clothes racks for suits that I liked and my mother would tell me why I couldn’t wear them, one by one. Eventually, I would leave the store with a suit that my mother had picked out to help disguise my “problem”. I also had to appease the standard that my dad’s church people had put into place. The suit had to be exceedingly modest. Every year, I wore a “nice girl”, one-piece, structured suit that I didn’t like. After all that hoopla, the beach became my testing ground instead of my paradise. Looking forward to paradise would forevermore be tainted with anxiety and way too much self-awareness.
Do the Work!
Once we become self-conscious, it takes years of hard work to find the balance that will allow us to accept the idea to “Be the best that YOU can be.” (David Yochim) The pressure to be beautiful is even greater now with Instagram burning altered images of “perfect” bodies into our brains all the time. Even if we don’t look for those images, they will still flood the feed. Those images are what sells Instagram. I could write an entire article about how the models get those pictures but I would be even farther off course if I did that!
Along with fighting anxiety and low self-esteem, as we struggle to be rock star impressive, we better be on guard against the self-lovely idea that regardless of what shape we’re in, we’re still “lovely”. That idea is an excuse to let ourselves get fat and unhealthy. Balance creates an inner peace that cannot be obtained if we constantly bounce back and forth between mouse and diva. Odds are, neither persona is accurate.
Most of us will navigate our way around the edges of life, waiting for someone “important” to tell us that we’re a writer, or an athlete or even a good mom. In order to create balance, we have to find ways to cope, behaviors that create whatever we want to achieve in life. If you are like many people who dread that swimsuit, there are still ways to feel better about the way that you look on the beach and have a great vacay! Get a good restorative respite under your belt and commit to count your calories and this time next year, you’ll have a different attitude when you go shopping for your suit. A good vacation will lower the fat-depositing hormone cortisol, so it’s a great way to get a little boost to start your program with confidence.
When we wear clothing that exposes parts of our bodies that seldom see the light of day, we need to make sure that we have prepped our bodies. By spending a little time in the three weeks or so before vacay caring for ourselves, we will walk out of the motel room with much more confidence and swagger than if we just wriggle into the offending piece of clothing at the last minute and hope for the best.
1-Remove body hair. Yes, I know, some cultures don’t do this. Okay, that’s fine. Unless you are from a culture that doesn’t remove superfluous hair, make SURE to remove all hair from your legs, arm pits and bikini area. You choose the method that you are most comfortable with but remember, sunlight will find every single one that is left behind. Even check your toes. Hair can sprout up ANYWHERE. Consult your doctor for his advise about what method to use and make sure to keep antibiotic ointment handy. Every hair follicle is a potential infection. Be clean and careful and smooth as silk.
2- Find a suit that makes you feel AWESOME! That doesn’t mean the suit you saw on Instagram or one like your friend has. It means the one that shows off your best assets in a way that makes you strut!
3-Just as your suit should enhance your best features, it should camouflage any body part that you aren’t quite ready to put on display. If your legs are your best feature, choose a suit with a high-cut leg with attention-getting, colorful features around the leg. If you don’t want to showcase your breasts, stick to the more modest necklines in muted colors. Work your best features!
4-If you know that certain foods bloat your belly then DON”T eat those foods when you are going to be wearing your swimsuit! I quit drinking Diet carbonated drinks solely because of the bloating effect that they have on my body. There are good, whole, healthy foods that I also avoid in order to be more comfortable in my skin. I work hard to be healthy and have body confidence, I’m not willing to impact the look that I have so meticulously worked for just to appease a craving or appetite. Although at one time I would have doubted it, I can live just fine without carbonation. When I eat dairy, I take dairy enzymes that help to digest dairy products easily with no bloat. Always consult your medical doctor about any supplementation that you might want to take.
5-Exfoliate in the shower with whatever method that you choose. I like one of those net scrubbies. You may use body scrubs or even a good coarse washcloth. Whatever method you choose will make you look more toned and healthy as the exfoliation accelerates blood flow and your skin takes on a rosy glow.
6-Stick to your workout schedule! Exercise causes a temporary “pump” in your muscles that looks great and it is associated with less depression, elevated mood and increased self-esteem.
7-Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!!!
8-Wear sunscreen and reapply frequently. Burnt skin is not attractive.
9-Although natural tans damage the skin, self-tanners and spray-on tans do not. There are also waterproof body make-ups to hide any bruises that might mar your canvas. These products give your body a smoother appearance and make you feel great!
10-STRUT! True confidence is attractive! After you have bought THE suit, prepped your body, beat the bloat, pumped your muscles and finessed your canvas, hold your head high and ENJOY YOUR VACATION! It might only come once a year. It does for most people. DON’T MISS the benefits of getting away by stressing and raising your cortisol levels.
Avoid alcohol, over-eating, excess salt and sugar to keep your work on display and not only will you look amazing while you’re on vacation, you will be well on your way to wearing a smaller size suit next year.