Do you remember that summer when you didn’t think about how much of your bottom was sticking out of your tankini bottom?
Do you remember those sun-soaked, scorching hot days when you would go to the pool and spend more time thinking about how fun it was to play in the water than how humiliating it was to be out in a swimsuit?
Do you remember when summer meant ice cream cones with hardened chocolate tops and three-flavors mixed snow cones instead of liquid diets and extra workouts?
I do. I think I was eleven.
The truth is, moms, most of us have been missing out on summer’s finest for years. And, what I find most ironic is how now, when I look back on all those wasted beach days and ice cream truck stops, and can clearly visualize my teen or twenty-something self, I think: I wonder why I was so obsessed over my body?
Motherhood didn’t find me until I was over thirty and that’s when my body started some of its irreversible changes that so many women stress over.
In other words…all those summers…wasted feeling bleh about a body that really wasn’t that bad…
My fight with my physique wasn’t really about my body at all. It was about my brain. It was about my thoughts. It was about buying a lie that I’d be happier, freer and more secure if only I wore a smaller size or looked more like a magazine cover.
None of these things were or are true.
I’m a fitness instructor and a body image blogger and I know, for certain, that I’m not the only woman whose struggle with her physical appearance has consumed many a summer (or winter, or spring, or fall…) night. As I approach my fortieth birthday, I’m thankful for the journey I’ve been on to get a better perspective on my own body image. I want other women to know there is hope for them to find freedom from the trap of constant worry about their body, too.
But, if you insist on ruining the rest of your summer fretting over the way you look, here’s three ways I suggest you do it:
Refuse All Invitations to Events that Require a Swimsuit
Say, “Oh, sorry, we can’t make that pool party. I’ve got a movie from 1997 on Netflix that I really need to watch that day.” I’ve done this only to then sit at home and wonder if we would have had more fun had we just gone and not worried so much about my squishy stomach. If you are tempted to ruin the rest of your summer in this way, please remember this truth: you weren’t invited to the party because your friends were hoping everyone could see that top part of your thighs that’s only half as tan as the rest of your leg. The pleasure of your company was requested because they are your friends. They love hanging out with you and your crew and don’t really care what number your swimsuit tag reads.
Try to Get the Perfect Summer Selfie
Everyone needs a fantastic summer photo of themselves for Facebook, so why shouldn’t you try to get one too? Set your standard so you only attempt this on that rare day when your skin looks perfect, you don’t feel fat, and the sun isn’t so hot that it melts your make-up. Oh, you’ll also do better on a low humidity day (good luck, Louisiana!) so your hair looks Hollywood great. Fellow mom, may I encourage you to relax in front of the camera? That shot of you and the kids laughing in the water slide line might not make you look like a supermodel, but it’s all you’ll have to remember these special summer days in the decades to come. Don’t hide from the camera and don’t be afraid to include a few “real life” summer photos in that Facebook album.
Spend Your Evenings Thinking About What Diet You’ll Start…Tomorrow
You know the way it goes. You enjoy your evening out with friends or family and you enjoy the dessert…until you get home. And, you feel guilty. And, your brain starts to plan what you’ll do in the morning to work off or erase all signs of the chocolate decadence you just enjoyed. If you really want to ruin the rest of your summer, I suggest you spend every day thinking about the next diet you should go on or how you should be working out more. Nothing does more to help you feel guilty and lousy about yourself, all day long, than to focus on these two subjects. Or, alternatively, you can resolve to be healthy. You can make peace with the fact that sometimes a dessert is just part of the fun and there’s no reason for a guilt trip to ensue.
The truth is, worrying about your body – short of getting healthy to feel better and live longer – is a waste of time. I don’t want my obituary to read, “She looked great in a swimsuit.” I want my life to mean more.
What about you?
About Heather Creekmore
Heather is passionate about helping women who struggle with their body image and has recently completed her first book on the topic. She’s a group fitness instructor, speaker, mother of four, wife to Eric (a Marine fighter pilot-turned-pastor), and public relations representative for the Dallas Moms Blog. During her single years, Heather spent more than a decade working in politics and non-profit management. She much prefers being a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom (but thinks it’s more difficult!). Follow her blog Working Out Love about body image, motherhood, and faith or connect with her via Facebook or Twitter.