It’s around this time every year we start to hear it. Two little words, one tiny phrase splashed across the cover of every magazine: bikini body. At the first mention of bathing suit season, many women start to panic and up the ante on their diet and exercise routines, anxious about how they might look on the beach. Thanks to the constant barrage of idealized images in the media, even the most confident woman has probably done a double take in the mirror after slipping into her suit. So how can we put a stop to such a small saying having such a big impact on how we feel about ourselves?
RELATED: Why Any Body Can Be A Runner’s Body
First, we should stop saying it. But since that only does so much, we need to change our focus when it comes to our bodies and that summer swimwear staple. As runners, we know it’s clearer than ever that athletes come in all shapes and sizes, no matter how much they run or what they eat. Unfortunately, we are also susceptible to body image issues, just like everyone else. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, and there’s no shame in using running as a tool to achieve that goal. But even if you start working out intending to shape your body in a certain way, here’s the beauty of our sport: Running eventually teaches you that it doesn’t matter what you look like. In fact, running gifts us with a few pieces of knowledge that obliterate the need to ever utter “bikini body” again:
A bikini body = your body in a bikini
Yes, that’s the big secret. Bikini bodies are nothing more than bodies in bikinis, or one-pieces, or swim shirts, or whatever floats your boat. The point is, the phrase “bikini body” doesn’t deserve to carry any more weight than that; it has no business defining how your body should look or feel and you’re doing yourself a major disservice if you judge yourself for not looking a certain way in your suit. If this is still a hard concept to digest, think about it from your perspective as a runner. Would you ever judge another runner because she didn’t look like an elite athlete? Of course not, and you know your fellow runners would feel the same towards you. The running community is about encouraging, supporting and admiring each other, not criticizing. So wear your bathing suit proudly, and if you take that bikini body for a run on the beach? Even better.
If you feel good, you look good
I’m a runner, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not thrilled about that first swim of the season. I’ve long since lost the baby weight from my son, but my body still looks a little different than it used to. I could probably be a little more diligent with my sit-ups and planks, if we’re being honest. And don’t get me started on my pale-beyond-pale legs. All in all, I could be feeling a little more confident. But every time I go running, that all melts away. After a few sweaty miles, I feel strong, fit and happy. And magically, I stop caring about what I should look like because I feel so damn good. Besides the immediate endorphin effect, running has a way of positively transforming the way you feel and what you see when you look in the mirror; it’s a lot harder to notice any perceived imperfections when you’re busy admiring your strong calves and toned thighs. If you need a boost before the beach, go for a quick run, put on your bikini and get ready to glow.
Confidence is your best color
Have you ever noticed that a confident person is a little bit more attractive? There’s just something about being self-assured that makes others drawn to you, and there’s no better source of confidence than a fantastic run. When you finish a great workout you positively glow (only partly from sweat); you can’t help but be proud of yourself, and that feeling radiates outward.
Think about it this way. The last time you were in the middle of a great speed workout, sweat pouring off your face, your heart beating out of your chest, were you thinking about how you could finally buy a crop top? Definitely not- you were proud of how much stronger your legs have gotten since you added speed intervals, or marveling at how it’s changed your pace. What about when you look back at race photos of yourself? I bet all you see is how big your smile was, not what size your pants were. Running gives you the kind of confidence to know that size has nothing on the power of sweat, speed and strength, and nothing looks better than that.