As I was debating what to talk about this month I decided to poll people on social media to see what topics they would like to hear about. What were the burning fitness questions that people had and what advice or guidance did they want as we head into the spring months? The overwhelming response was that people wanted to learn how to get ready for swimsuit season. I inwardly groaned as the feedback came in because in many ways this goes against everything I stand for. Quick fixes to change the way you look are not my strategy or specialty. The more I thought about it though I decided that this was something I could talk about and hopefully provide a fresh perspective.
What is the best way to get your body ready for bathing suit season, the beach, and upcoming vacations? Put a bathing suit on your body and go to the beach. Pick a suit that fits you well and OWN that suit. That’s it – that’s my advice. Groundbreaking, right?
These days we talk a lot about taking a stand against the idea that women have to look a certain way, have a certain kind of body, be a certain size or weight. As women we are also very good at subconsciously perpetuating those old body image ideals. When we start talking about changing our bodies just to look good in a bathing suit for 2 months that is exactly what we are doing.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to get healthy, improve our fitness, lose weight or get toned. Those are all valid goals and as a fitness professional that’s what I encourage and that’s what I’m always shooting for personally. I am suggesting that trying to make a bunch of drastic changes in March so that we look good in a bathing suit is shortsighted.
How many times have you said to yourself, “Oh no, bathing suit season is right around the corner, I need to get in shape!”? Probably quite a few. I’m guilty myself. Now, how many times has that worked? How many times have you actually whipped your butt into shape in 2 months and felt like a fitness model in your bikini when June rolled around and been incredibly proud of that accomplishment?? Probably never. We may diet for a few months, start exercising, lose a few pounds and feel better about wearing those suits on vacation. My guess is that those changes aren’t permanent and don’t last much past the vacation we were preparing for.
Instead of setting our sights on short-term goals related to how we look in a swimsuit, let’s focus on long-term goals that will get us healthy and fit and KEEP us healthy and fit. Changes that will truly impact the way we feel in our bodies. Let’s start making lifestyle changes that are sustainable past our upcoming cruise so we don’t find ourselves in the same dilemma next summer. Let’s make small but meaningful changes that we can ease into, get used to, and stick with. Little changes that will add up in a big way and become engrained in us as habits before we realize what has happened.
What does this look like? Instead of saying you will cut out all sugar for the rest of your life, start by cutting back your Starbucks habit to one day a week instead of 5. Swap your afternoon snack of chips for a handful of unsalted almonds and carrots with hummus. Stop eating sugar-filled processed oatmeal for breakfast and start making your own for the week in a crockpot. Cut back on eating out or ordering takeout. Find little things to change or swap slowly that won’t feel overly punitive or restricting. Those seemingly small changes really make a difference and you won’t feel like you are on a DIET. Those will also be changes that you can stick with even when life gets tough or you’re traveling.
Now, what to do in the exercise department?? Should we run to the nearest gym and start taking 6 classes a week?? Again, probably not the best strategy. Focus on exercising a few days a week and make it a non-negotiable part of your life. Pick a pace that you can stick with so you don’t find yourself throwing in the towel the first time life throws you a curveball. That could be 2 days a week or 6. Just be consistent and try to find something that you enjoy.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is from people who want to make big changes to their bodies but their gym routine consists of 30-45 minutes on the elliptical machine or stationary bike. That is certainly better than doing nothing and the benefits of moving your body and getting cardiovascular exercise are too numerous to list. The only way to truly change the shape of your body though is by incorporating some type of weight or resistance training. Whether that is using weights, bands, or just your own body weight. If you want to tighten, tone, shape, and lift you are going to have to do more than 30 minutes of cardio. Women often think that lifting weights will make them big or bulky but in reality, the opposite is true. Not only does resistance training help tone and build shapely muscles, it is also great for our aging bones and helps amp up our metabolism, turning us into calorie burning machines! Find a combination of cardio and resistance training that works for you and stick to it. Remember that you aren’t going to see results immediately. Those changes are happening on the inside first, but they’re happening!
It is perfectly acceptable to want to look good in a bathing suit. We all want that on some level. Don’t just limit your health goals to short-term wins for the summer months. When that vacation does roll around you should wear your bathing suit with confidence, knowing that you are doing the right things to get and stay healthy. Let’s show the next generation of girls that we don’t all have to look the same in a bathing suit. There is no ideal body type and we shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of what we look like on the beach. Healthy looks different on everyone, and that is by design!
Hadley Sorensen is a health and fitness coach who lives in Virginia with her husband and 3 boys. She is an avid reader, runner and fitness instructor who has a passion for helping others learn to enjoy exercise. Hadley uses one-on-one coaching as well as virtual accountability groups to provide support and motivation to her clients. Her guiding philosophy is that it’s never too late to take charge of your health and improve your level of fitness. Find her on Facebook @HadleySorensenFitness