We’re approaching a big holiday weekend in which I, and I’m guessing many of you, will be in a swimsuit.
Oh, the anxiety that comes with being in a swimsuit.
The process to even GET a swimsuit. Dieting. Working out. Spray tan. New bikini for a new season after trying on what seems like 400 of them. And, of course, it’s best to try on bathing suits right after you’ve eaten a big meal and in bad lighting. That’s just a personal tip from me to you.
For the Fourth of July, my husband and I always travel down to his family’s house in coastal Alabama. We always have SO much fun - this is one of the trips I look forward to every year. We get to see family we haven’t seen for a while, drink on the pier, eat delicious food, play board games - it’s one of my very favorite weekends.
Because I’ve been going to Pure Barre for a few months, I decided I’d really kick it into high gear and get into my best shape for the 4th - my best bikini body. I’ve been going to as many classes as I can, eating clean - you know the drill.
Over the weekend, I had a little flare-up with an old ankle injury (you can read about that here). My ankle has been really bugging, so I’ve been tentative to work it out in case that led to re-injury.
So here’s where I get vulnerable and confess something kind of ridiculous. For the last three days, I’ve been fixated on how disappointed I am that I wasn’t able to get my last week of hardcore workouts in. I’ve been thinking about what my body could’ve looked like, and probably won’t now, without those last few calorie-burners to (as we say in PB) “lift, tone, burn.” I went to bed thinking about it last night. I woke up thinking about it this morning.
What. The. Hell?
When I got up today and one of my first thoughts was insecurity about my figure, I realized how out-of-control I’d let this obsession about my “4th of July workout goals” spiral. The fact that my physical appearance is driving whether I can imagine myself having a fun weekend is so silly.
It is really easy for me to get sucked into thinking about “bikini occasions” as moments when, if I don’t look my best, I won’t have a good time. It’s even easier for me to get so wrapped up in looking my best that I forget that IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY MATTER.
When I think back on vacations when I was in a bathing suit (my bachelorette party, beach trips with my family, my honeymoon with Jordan, etc.), my first thought is never about how much I weighed or how I looked. It’s about the hysterical laughter shared among best friends, card games around the kitchen table, the incredible sunset meal we shared in St. Lucia, respectively. Not one of my first thoughts has anything to do with my appearance. I was way too “in the moment” to have time to worry about the way I looked. I was living my life! And that’s what I remember.
I’ll admit: there have been times when I’ve looked back at pictures of myself in a swimsuit and thought, “Yikes. Could’ve tightened that up, Mary Catherine.”
But the truth is, that’s not what’s important. The other truth is, NOBODY ELSE CARES.
Nobody’s memories of you being at a specific event are going to be colored by what you look like in a swimsuit. No one’s. They’re going to remember the time they spent with you, that joke you told, you spectacularly falling off a paddleboard, the great new game you introduced to everyone.
If you, like me, are fixating on your bikini body this weekend, here are some things I’m going to be doing to combat that. Maybe they’ll work for you, too!
- Don’t talk about it. I don’t mean the off-handed, subtle complaint to your boyfriend/husband/mother. I mean the talking about it where you drop a little remark about how you “wish you were in better shape,” or something similar, into each conversation you have. You know this trick, ladies. It’s the whole “I’ll point out I have a zit before anyone else has a chance,” thing. Let’s just skip that, shall we?
- Treat yourself. There are certain things that always help me feel a little more “together” when I’m in a bikini. Getting a spray tan is one of them. Throwing on a pair of earrings or bringing a great cover up is another one. Maybe style a funky braid! It’s funny how taking that extra time to show yourself a little love can make you feel like a million bucks. Make it a “look,” then work that look, girl!
- Choose gratefulness instead. Because, are we alive? Then we should be grateful. We’re beautiful, wonderful people, and though it’s easy to get wrapped up in the airbrushed/Facetuned/color corrected universe of Instagram where no one has so much as a frown line, LIFE is what happens in the messy, imperfect, non-photographed moments. We have air in our lungs, and strong legs to carry us from place to place, and arms to reach out and hold people, and eyes to see the faces of those we love most ― not to mention having a weekend where we celebrate the blessing of freedom - yeah. Suddenly a bathing suit seems pretty insignificant. We’re alive. We’re here. What good does it do us to waste time with the silliness of something as impermanent as physical appearance?
So, whatever your bikini body looks like - whether it’s exactly what you wanted or far from it - can I just say something to you (and to me)?
You look great. You are so loved. You’re full of moxie. Now go have a margarita and jump in the pool, because that’s just the sort of thing you’ll always remember you did.
Happy (early) 4th of July!