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