As sunny skies and warmer temperatures promise to banish any lingering winter sweaters to the back of the closet, we'll soon be welcoming the beginning of swimsuit season -- which also means it's only a matter of time before we're besieged with advice about how to obtain the elusive "beach body."
You'll find clues in clever magazine headlines ("Make 'Em Swoon this June with a Toned Tummy!") and lurking in every unwelcome pop-up on the Internet, as if attaining this "beach body" is a high-stakes, low-calorie scavenger hunt whose success predicts how much fun you'll have this summer. One article will guarantee the fat-busting powers of this or that super fruit! An esteemed blogger will extol the virtues of bodyweight exercises! That one famous personal trainer will insist that following his two week plan will whittle the waist of your dreams!
Without disputing the efficacy of any of those methods, I want to fill you in on a little secret that you may have forgotten between pomegranate and plyometrics: You already have a beach body. Believe it or not, you're in it right now.
This alleged "beach body" is actually the same as your "lounging-on-the-couch" body and your "sitting-in-a-boring-meeting" body. Your "beach body" is not being held hostage anywhere, and a month of healthy eating and exercise isn't required to rescue it from its carbohydrate-crazed captors. The truth is, unless you have an open wound, a sand allergy or you ate less than 30 minutes ago, you are qualified to slather on some sunscreen, put on a swimsuit and head to the beach.
Summertime may be the season of fun in the sun, but it's also the time of year when body consciousness is at its apex. Despite acknowledging that our insecurities are something we all have in common, all too often we'd rather pursue vague body ideals rather than take an honest look at ourselves in the mirror and determine what we need to do to be happy in the body that we have. When it comes to our physique, we're quick to prioritize the value of what we could have over what's already ours. It certainly doesn't help that countless entities have made a business of making us feel as though our bodies must be a constant work in progress, devalued by an endless list of finishing touches that promise to bring us one step closer to confidence, a six-pack, or a "beach body." The trouble doesn't lie within having insecurities about how our bodies look in our swimsuits; the issue is that we allow third parties to make that distinction on our behalf.
Striving to feel and look your best at the beach (or anywhere) is a positive goal, but using this "beach body" balderdash isn't the right way to achieve it. Instead of worrying about some transcendent beach body that could be yours after a week of crunches or adhering to a stringent juice cleanse, embrace your body. Accept the body you have that exists right now -- the body that thanklessly gets you around everywhere, the body that you scrutinize unkindly and the body that will still be around once the swimsuits are gone and the sweaters triumphantly return from the shadowy depths of your closet.
If you go to the beach this summer, I promise you that you won't see two bodies that look exactly the same. You will not be an outsider looking on from the sidelines while everyone in the "beach body" club plays volleyball. There is not one definitive "beach body." There's your body, what you do with it and how you treat it. Don't let anyone else's perception of a "beach body" determine whether you wear a tee shirt or a cover-up.
Most importantly, instead of looking for methods to achieve a "beach body" this summer, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and enjoy the sunshine.