a new approach to bikini season

A New Approach to Bikini Season | www.natalie-dressed.com

It’s that time of year – bikini season! We’re all hustlin’ our buns to get in shape and tone everything up. I love seeing the enthusiasm behind exercising and making healthier choices. Those things are, after all, some of the best things we can do for our health and wellbeing. However, the mentality that often accompanies this push towards fitness is often not a healthy one.

Listen, I’ve been there myself. I’ve had a pretty healthy body image my whole life, but there have definitely been times where I berate myself about how my body should be different. I would workout with the sole intention of changing the way my body looks. The intention held an underlying negativity and self-loathing. Needless to say, that mindset never sustained me and every time I felt as if I failed.

There is so much pressure to look a certain way and somehow hating ourselves has become an accepted norm. When we get together with our girlfriends, we all talk about what we need to fix and tighten.

I’m so fat. I need to lose ten more pounds. My stomach is disgusting. I look terrible. I’m so gross. What is she doing? I want to look like her. How do I get rid of this pooch?! If I could just trim a little off my thighs. I’ll be happy with my body when…

Somehow we’ve accepted this terrible, hateful dialogue. Our approach is to push through blood, sweat, and tears to make our body look a certain way and hate ourselves through the entire journey.

I’m proposing a new approach. An approach of self-awareness and self-love with detachment from the outcome.

Here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with trying to better ourselves or get stronger or tone up. Those things are great and will make us healthier. Who doesn’t want a flat stomach? For real. The problem arises when we place our happiness and self-worth in the outcome.

What if we thought about the outcome we really wanted and then worked towards that in a positive way without our level of self-love being dependent on how close we get to achieving that outcome?

Think about what you want your body to look like and how you want to feel. Close your eyes and feel how you would feel if you had that body. Guess what? You are now experiencing how you ultimately want to feel with the body you have at this very moment. Our mind doesn’t know the difference between an actual experience and a thought so that means we have access to how we ultimately want to feel right now and all the time. You just have to take your mind there. And you know what? The more you feel that ideal feeling despite your physical reality, the closer your physical reality will get to reflecting that ideal feeling.

On the more physical side of things, we can set our intention and work towards it in a loving way. In order to sustain a healthy lifestyle, our underlying motivation must be self-love rather self-hate. 

+ Choose to workout because it’s good for your body, your mind, your overall wellbeing, and your vitality.

+ Choose what workout to do based on what you feel your body needs. If your body needs a break or needs a slower pace, honor that. I promise you’ll be better for it.

+ Focus on how you feel. Feel yourself getting stronger. Feel how light and detoxed you feel after an intense sweat sesh. Remember that euphoric feeling of pure health. It will keep you going.

+ Have fun. Get a buddy. Try new things. Don’t take it so seriously.

+ Find something you love. This comes with trying new classes and different workout methods. Finding something that really resonates with you will get you excited to go back.

+ Don’t deprive yourself. Different ways of eating work differently for different people, but don’t take the enjoyment out of life. Having a glass of wine or piece of cake at someone’s birthday isn’t going to kill you.

Think 80/20. Healthy eating 80% of the time, indulging 20% of the time.

The most important thing of all:

+ Shift your dialogue and self-talk. Celebrate every positive decision you make. Tell yourself you’re doing a good job. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful. Tell yourself you’re perfect the way you are. Thank your body for supporting you and showing up. Thank yourself for showing up. We must be kind to ourselves.

There isn’t a single positive thing that comes from self-hate, self-loathing, and negative self-talk. Don’t compare yourself to the performance and look of others. Be extremely proud of yourself for simply showing up and putting in the effort. And if you get off track or eat five cookies, it’s okay. Gently make your way back on track without berating yourself for making a “mistake.”

The way we talk to ourselves is huge. No matter how hard we work and no matter what we look like, if we continue the negative self-talk, we will never feel like we’re enough. Nothing will be good enough. We will never love ourselves. Love and acceptance of our bodies and ourselves comes from within not from what our bodies look like. Our internal dialogue and self-care and self-love practices will dramatically affect how we feel about ourselves.

So we have two options. We can push as hard as possible and hate ourselves in the process. Or we can honor our bodies, do what will make us feel best (whether that’s pushing a little harder or pulling back), and choose to love ourselves despite the end result. (Side note: This post is as much for me as it is for you. This is all stuff I’m working on too. There are plenty of things I want to change about my body, but I’m working on loving it the way it is.)

Keep working hard but don’t be attached the outcome. Don’t let whether or not you love yourself depend on what your body looks like. You are more than your body. You are perfect and beautiful. You are enough the way you are in this. exact. moment.

Essentially, it boils down to this:

Changing our dialogue and mental scripts to positive, loving self-talk allows us to love ourselves no matter what – our self-love is not dependent on how our bodies look. In fact, making healthier decisions gets easier when we can feel the love for ourselves and our bodies.

So let’s move and sweat and drink our green juice in a loving way. Let’s celebrate ourselves and each other in the process. And, hey, if we have some ice cream along the way, it’s totally okay. ;)

Image: Tone It Up, Graphic: Natalie Dressed