hands cutting lemon on a wooden board with mango and carrots

Summer is just around the corner, which means that women the world over are filling with anxiety over presenting themselves in a swimsuit around friends and family. Such a small thing, a swimsuit (literally – are they getting smaller or am I just getting older and more conservative?), yet such a huge stink we make about having to wear them.

So we console ourselves in a plate of nachos. Then in a panic, we rush to the internet/bookstore/magazines, hoping to find a way to shed 5, 10 or 25 pounds so you can be “bikini ready”. What makes me most upset about this?  You are already “bikini ready”. All you have to do is put on the bikini. Perhaps shave the legs. Up to you.

When I think of all the creative, brave, talented, successful, intelligent women I have known or met – I can’t believe that we do this to ourselves time and time again. That somehow, after all we accomplish, we are still not adequate if we don’t look like some idealized version of ourselves. That we will always be somehow ‘better’ if we were just 5 pounds thinner. It’s holding us back…and not just from enjoying a couple of poolside margaritas.

This type of anxious self-criticism impairs our ability to be truly healthy. Stress and anxiety alter your digestive processes and can exacerbate disorders such as reflux, IBS and a healthy bacterial balance. These negative thoughts also prevent us from truly being present and joyful and enjoying our lives – which is critical to our mental and physical health. And thinking these kinds of thoughts gets in the way of healthier eating habits too.

It might seem counter-intuitive but the only way to truly reach a healthy weight and a healthy body is to start from a place of self-love and acceptance. The more you fight with your body, the more it will fight you back. The more you honour the absolute, bloody miracle that this body of yours is, the more you will want to feed it nourishing, wholesome foods. The more you love your body, the more your body will love you back. Feeding yourself well is an act of love. Self-doubt leads to midnight trips to pantry to finish off the all dressed chips. Love makes kale and berry smoothies.

So this swimsuit season, wear that bikini with pride. Worship the skin you are in because it has carried you far. Nourish your body with fresh, wholesome foods out of love. And stick an umbrella in your drink, just for fun.

Five of my favourite ways to bring health and to honour your gorgeous fleshy temple…

  1. Do yoga. It will bring you back in touch with your flesh, calm your fears and make you more self-aware.

  2. Paint your nails. Most people don’t have any emotional attachment to their digits. Choose a flashy, look-at-me colour and pamper yourself with some good music, a glass of wine (or carrot juice!) and paint away. In a similar spirit, buy a foxy pair of shoes.

  3. Drink water…lots of it. Nothing makes you feel more vital than a flushed and hydrated body. Drink until the water coming out looks like the water going in; it will carry out the sludge that all those negative thoughts and bad food put in.

  4. Walk in nature. Without an iPod. Breathe, listen, move and realize how amazing it is that you live this life.

  5. Eat fruits and vegetables with luxurious abandon. These are foods fit for the gods (and goddesses) – have you ever seen a photo of food offerings at a temple? Lavish, exuberant piles of produce. If the gods are feasting on produce…so should you.