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Find Bikini Bliss

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Memorial Day is officially a holiday to remember the men and women who lost their lives fighting for our country and we hope that you will take some time on your day off to remember these people and give genuine thanks. The other thing that this weekend represents is less formal, though somehow more ingrained in many of us, and that's the (unofficial) beginning bathing suit season. Unfortunately, for many of us, the fear and trepidation that comes with the thought of going out in public in a bathing suit overshadows both the true meaning of this holiday and the excitement of having a day off to relax and drink margaritas at a barbeque, pool party or beach.

It's no wonder that so many of us dread putting on a bikini; they reveal every imaginable flaw, leave nothing to the imagination and expose all of the insecurities that we have about our bodies. Every year around this time, the tabloid magazines run a "best and worst" beach body story, with pictures of emaciated actresses with ribs poking out labeled the "best," and women with patches of cellulite or fleshy hips the "worst." To add insult to injury, they take a petite and perfectly toned woman that most of us would kill to look like and add some commentary about how brave she is to bare her "curves." When faced with these images day in and day out, it's hard not to wonder what it will take for all of us regular women to feel confident revealing our bodies. Well, the diet industry has an answer - dozens of extreme diets and cleanses that promise to have you swimsuit ready in no time!

Between the tabloids' mixed messages and these fad diets with their unrealistic claims, a lot of us end up expecting ourselves to look miraculously perfect and live up to some beauty standard that none of us really agrees with. And it seems like all of us women have made a silent pact to disallow ourselves from having any fun until we do. Well, we are sick and tired of seeing so many women torture themselves over things that are supposed to be pleasurable. Let's not go through another summer feeling insecure and dreading trips to the beach that are supposed to be relaxing and fun, and let's start enjoying them, instead! Life's too short to not spend some of it basking in the sun (wearing sunscreen) feeling confident and carefree. Here are a few ideas for how to find your own bikini bliss.

1. Focus On the Positive

Of course we want you to focus on the parts of your own body that you love, whether that's your slim calves or long hair or strong arms, but we also want to remind you not to dwell on other women's imperfections, either. First of all, Hot Chicks (by our definition) do not compete with each other, but furthermore, by focusing on another woman's flaws you are putting your mind in a negative place where nasty thoughts about yourself can more easily infiltrate. When you're at the beach or by the pool, do not to compare yourself to other women or silently cut them down, and instead think about the fact that no matter what they look like in their bathing suit, they probably feel just as insecure as you do. Help put an end to women's body image issues by being compassionate and focusing on the beauty of other women instead of their flaws. You'll end up feeling more confident your own bikini, too!

2. Do Your Job, Not a Super Model's

So what if Heidi Klum had a perfect body the day after giving birth? It is her full time job to look like that and you can bet that she works at it just as hard as you work at your job. Unless you're a bikini model, it's not your job to look perfect in a bikini, so cut yourself some slack and stop comparing yourself to celebrities with trainers, nutritionists, chefs and home gyms. Until Heidi Klum is expected to know how to do your job perfectly, stop pressuring yourself to do hers.

3. Eat Smart

We will never tell you to cut carbs, count calories, or do any type of cleanse that involves maple syrup, but if you want to look your best you need to feel your best, and we're pretty sure you won't feel your best if you eat a bucket of fried chicken and chase it with a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Now that it's warmer out, take advantage of summer's healthy, natural and delicious offerings. Drink lots of water, snack on strawberries and blueberries, grill up some fish for dinner and eat it with a giant salad. You will not only look and feel better in your bikini, but you'll have more energy to run around in it, too.

4. Talk Nice

If you make one change this summer, let it be that you stop saying mean things about yourself, either out loud or in your head. Every time you are tempted to complain to your girlfriends about having to put on a swimsuit or ask your husband to confirm your suspicions that you "look fat in this," just stop it and do something else instead. Just by changing the way you talk to yourself, you'll change your energy and the way you appear to others. Make this your summer resolution and you'll be happier in that bikini than ever.

5. Wear It All Day

Okay, this one's a little wacky, but don't knock it 'til you try it. Think about it this way - of course you won't feel comfortable in your bathing suit if you only wear it a few times a year! It can feel foreign and therefore weird and awkward to be out in public in so little clothing, so get used to it by cooking dinner in your bikini, cleaning the house in it, and even relaxing in front of the TV wearing your swimsuit. Eventually, it will feel so natural that you'll love your body in that bikini as much as you do in your favorite pair of perfectly worn-in jeans.

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