Why I Hate "Bikini Body" Pressure + How To Get Over It For Good

Spring is almost here, which means it’s time for my least favorite rite of spring: everywhere you look, online or off, women’s publications out there are touting a bikini body fix.

A recent sampling:

“Try our bikini body diet now!”

“Twelve weeks to your perfect bikini body!”

“Get fit in time for bikini season!”

“Get rid of your cellulite before bikini season!”

A quick survey among my friends revealed that, more or less consciously, we’ve been tripping ourselves up on those lines ever since we were old enough to start flipping through fashion magazines. Let the freakout begin!

But, let’s face it: it’s not really about whether anything jiggles (unavoidably, it does). It’s about what others will think of us — and therefore how we think of ourselves. The good news is that usually others aren't as cruel with us as we are with ourselves.

Do I wish women’s media would stop using these cover headlines? YES!

Are they wrong on so many levels? YES!

But I’ve given up daydreaming of an annual anti-Bikini Body campaign, and decided to ignore it instead. Rather than worry about my arms or my rear, I’ve decided that being healthy is the only way to stay happy (regardless of that bikini, if you own one at all).

What those headlines fail to convey is that fitness and health is a journey, not a bikini-ready destination. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite strategies for focusing on positive body image and overall well-being (and ignoring cover headlines):

1. Remember it’s about the journey, and that journey is your life.

Whenever I have an off-day (or off-week, sometimes it’s been an off-month), I just get back on the bandwagon ASAP.

2. Quit reading those issues.

Several years ago, I went cold turkey on women’s media that brandished those cover headlines. Instead, I tuned to positive media outlets (such as this one!). I don’t want to think about achieving an impossible body. I want my well-being presented in a positive light, with realistic and actionable information.

3. Ditch fear.

Five extra pounds? Just move more. Try ditching the scale and going by feeling, not numbers.

4. Accentuate the positive.

My younger self was “friends” with women who were obsessive about their looks and who constantly compared themselves to others. Invariably, I felt inadequate. Today, I choose to spend time with friends who make me feel great.

5. Know that nature heals almost all.

Spending time in beautiful natural surroundings has a way of putting life in perspective.

6. Get moving.

Walking, yoga, cycling on a beautiful spring morning — the feel-good endorphins will make you feel great all day long!

7. Take small steps.

Forget crash diets. Just change one or two small habits. It adds up to big change in the long run.

8. Indulge.

Deprivation has no place in long-term well-being. Make sure to leave room for treats in moderation. Life becomes that much more enjoyable!

9. Find positive role models.

Find female role models of all ages, sizes, shapes, looks, backgrounds, expertise. Amazing women come in all packages, not just what the media says they should look like. And thank goodness!

10. Celebrate.

Learn to embrace and focus on those attributes that make you unique, personally and physically. (PS: I’ve met enough beauty editors in my life to know that most are not beauty queens. But no use blaming the messenger.)

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