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4 In fashion/ ramblings

every body beach body

Ola from Tenerife!  In case you wondered if I’d found a particularly photogenic slogan wall and stripped off to my bikini in Preston.  Nuh huh.  I’m here with my family for 10 days of relaxing, eating, chilling in the pool, drinking Sangria and all that good stuff.  Which is, of course, an excuse for me to pack a ridiculous number of bikinis and spend every day in one.  Yes to all that warmth on my skin.

Timings worked out pretty nicely with a campaign Boohoo are currently running called ‘Every body beach body’, for which I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on body confidence, positivity, the ridiculous phrase that is ‘beach body ready’ and all that jazz.  Because obviously EVERY. BODY. IS. A. DAMN. BEACH. BODY, and that’s all there should be to say, but sadly we all struggle with body confidence sometime or other, especially when it comes to swimwear.

My thoughts on the matter can pretty much be summarised in a sentence: focus on what your body can do, rather than what it looks like.  I’ll preach this message forever and a day.  Focus on strength, energy, power, and all that good stuff more than you focus on inches or pounds.  This was where my interest in health and fitness all began – I needed to do something about my deteriorating posture and back pain due to scoliosis, so building strength became my priority.  It was all about what my body could (and needed to) do.  Lately I’ve seen many mothers on Instagram sharing photos of their post baby bodies with the message that yes, their body looks very different, but it’s achieved something incredible in growing a baby so that is absolutely OK.  I love this message.  When it comes to our bodies, function is so much more important than form, however easy it is to forget that sometimes.  And you know what, even if a body isn’t particularly strong, or fit, or healthy – if it’s alive and breathing, then it’s doing a good enough job to celebrate.

You may remember a couple of months ago I said I wanted to really push myself fitness wise this summer, and I think I’ve done a decent job of practicing what I preach and focusing on what my body does rather than what it looks like.   I’ve been trying a new personalised workout programme, for which I had list my main goals: gain upper body strength, and squat heavier (without knackering my already dodgy scoliosis back).  It happened to coincide with the lead up to a beach holiday, but that wasn’t intentional.

The 6 weeks isn’t over yet but I’m happy to say I’ve achieved all 3 already. I’ve increased my weights on all the upper body exercises, but more proud of the fact that I can do far more full pressups (not the ‘girly’ version) than I used to be able to do.  Yay for being to shift your own bodyweight around! I also hit a squat PB – not a particularly heavy one, but it’s a start.  And a personal best.

So yes, my ‘beach body’ is a gym 5 times a week, macro tracked one at the minute, and I have turned down lots of yummy food (although eaten lots of yummy healthy food) and dragged my butt to the gym when I’m not feeling it, in order to reach this point.  But hopefully you can see how this fits with what I’m saying here – the focus has always been what my body can do, rather than what it looks like.

I’m really glad that lately there seems to have been a backlash against all the adverts selling ‘beach body ready’ products like ‘flat-tummy teas; and all that nonsense.  There’s a long way to go until brands stop trying to make money from people’s insecurities, but it’s a start.  The whole concept of being ‘beach body ready’ really is just a money making stunt that rolls back around every summer.  Thinking of it that way makes it easier to ignore the pressure; they want you to feel that way so you’ll buy their (probably quick fix and faddy) products.  When have you ever seen an advert promising to make you healthy and strong by summer?

I really am rambling now aren’t I?  Anyway, part of the Every Body Beach Body campaign involves answering the following, so here goes:

1. What’s one insecurity you have overcome? My height.  It seems silly now because I’m only 5’10 so hardly the tallest girl in the world, but I was super tall super early and just stopped growing at around 13.  Being head and shoulders above all the girls and boys was NOT fun and I (regrettably) spent many years slouching in an effort to appear shorter – which may have contributed to the mild scoliosis that I now have for life.  The curve in my spine isn’t bad enough to warrant surgery or a brace, but it’s enough to give me pretty bad back pain.  Like I said, this was where my interest in fitness all started.

Other than this, I haven’t struggled too much with body confidence (yet).  This almost feels like a dirty phrase to say – social media often gives the impression that you’re not allowed to express confidence if you haven’t fought a gruelling battle with self doubt to get there.  I see girls saying every day ‘I used to HATE myself, and now I LOVE myself’ (which is obviously fantastic and self confidence is never a bad thing)  but rarely do I see ‘I used to LIKE myself, and umm, I still kind of LIKE myself, nothing new’.  It’s a bit of an odd one.

2. What physical attribute do you love about yourself? – I’d say my legs are my favourite part of my body, because they’re strong, and I think the strength shows most there!  Lil’ quad popping over there.

3. What makes you feel confident?  The post workout sore muscle feeling when you’re hyper aware of the muscles you’ve just worked.  Yes to feeling strong!  Again, this is much more related to how something feels than how it looks – a good workout can really boost my mood (hello endorphins).

4. What advice would you give to someone trying to build their self-confidence/ is struggling with body image?   I’ve already said it a good 50 times but focus on what your body can do, rather than what it looks like.  Your body allows you to do so many amazing things, and it would be such a shame to waste the opportunities due to concerns about the way you look.  Nobody else scrutinises you the way you do yourself!

Enough talk of bodies, now onto the bikinis!  I was asked to choose one that I’d feel my best self in, and one a little further from my comfort zone.  No.1 was an easy choice – I loved this red one straight away!  The strap details make it feel just that bit jazzier than a plain bandeau set, and the colour is nice and bold and simple.  Plus, I don’t tan quickly enough for wacky tanlines to be a problem.

Choosing a style out of my comfort zone was a little more difficult.  Personally I’m not mad on itty bitty string bikinis, not because I’m bothered about showing skin (I really couldn’t care less that the stretchmarks on my bum are on show), but because I just feel like chunkier styles suit me better.  So I guess the obvious choice would have been to choose the teeniest bikini I could find, but I decided to go the other way instead!  I do tend to go for simpler, plainer, more structured styles, so a frilly printed one is pretty out there for me too.  Hence the orange printed frills – you’d struggle to find another photo of me wearing orange, and a frilly cossie is the complete opposite of anything else I own.  I’ll be wearing it around the pool in the next few days though, and I’m looking forward to it!

Lily Kate x

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    jenny
    20th August 2017 at 8:57 am

    Really nicely written, Lily. I don’t have the confidence to wear bikinis anymore as my scoliosis, which was only diagnosed aged 22, makes me very self concious as one of my ribs juts out at a weird angle because of it, and I always feel like people are staring at it. I wish that I wish confident enough to not give af but really obvious hip stretch marks combined with the rib make me hate even wearing shorts haha. Great bikini choices, and sorry for the rant!!

    • Reply
      lily kate
      3rd September 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you Jenny! I bet nobody notices your rib or stretchmarks but you, honestly!

  • Reply
    Max
    14th September 2017 at 6:28 pm

    This is an awkward topic. I wish I looked as good as you do in a bikini, but maybe I don’t. When I was young, I was unfashionably skinny and everyone wanted those curves. And then came the waif look and suddenly, I was all “I love it, yay, but I am too brown to look so fashionable, oh boo!” Then I decided I did not care and I would become an intellectual instead.

    Now, after having 2 kids I find I care an awful lot! Maybe I don’t. I mean, I do more exercise weekly than ever, but I am still in the “fun activities” exercise mode: skating, ballet, bike riding, and I have done little or nothing to tone my belly to get it ready for the beach. I may have done plank 20 times in 2017, and maybe about 50 sit-ups in the year to date? That said, ready or not, I still wear bikinis. I find them handier for getting changed on the beach, going to the toilet, and faster for getting dry because sometimes the biting insects descend upon wet skin faster than you can wriggle out of a modest one piece. But photos of me in a bikini, uh, maybe not. But I wish I could. But it is not a priority. Like I look ok.

    • Reply
      lily kate
      15th September 2017 at 2:30 pm

      You can say that again! It’s ridiculous how trends change when the variety of shapes of the human body stays the same. Not caring and becoming an intellectual instead sounds like a good idea to me 🙂
      Fun activities are the best kind of exercise in my opinion, because you don’t realise how hard you’re actually working. I actually do far less work for my abs than I used to – other exercises use your core anyway. I agree with you on the bikini front! Especially when wearing a coverup over – it’s a pain to have to undress every time for going to the toilet. As long as you’re happy with yourself in a bikini (photos or no photos), that’s all that matters!

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