The Skinny on Health (aka A New Approach to Summer)

Aah, it’s May. Beach season kicks off in 27 days. And you know what happens when I say beach (let’s do it together). When I say “beach” you say “body”! Beach! ‘Body!’ Beach! ‘Body!’

So here we are, it’s body month. Bare-my-body, no-not-my-stomach, omigod-I-hate-my-thighs, I-know-my-body-looks-good-to-you-but-it’s-not-what-it-used-to-be, oh-man-I-am-just-one-Whole30-away-from-my-best-body body.

In January we fix our lives, in February we fix our relationships, in April we fix our homes. We fix our bodies all the time, but in May we go hard (and by hard, I mean throwing some shame behind it, because the quickest way to fix something is by bringing some shame into the mix):

Just do it! No excuses. Nobody is too busy, it’s just a question of priorities. If you have time to watch TV, you have time to work out. It’s your ass - move it!

There is no shortage to the barrage of slogans that will support our underlying thought which is this - if there is something I want to change about my body then that is on me. Because this is one thing that I can fix, and I am just not doing it yet. Because I am (check all that apply): too tired, too lazy, too resigned, lacking self-control, a loser (a real loser not a weight-losing loser. Obviously.)

But it’s 2018, and times have changed. Our Sports Illustrated models are a size 16 and people like Big Gal Yoga are stretching our ideas of what yogis look like (see what I did there?). So now you can embrace your curves, accentuate your assets and love the skin you are in. Yay! Oh, wait.

As long as you’re healthy.

Because these days, health is the new skinny. You don’t have to be a size 2, but you do have to be healthy. You don’t have to diet, but you do need to hit your ten thousand steps. You don’t have to hate your curves, but you do need to monitor your numbers. It’s like wearing SPANX - the shame didn’t disappear, it just got moved from one place to the other.  

That’s why we detox, cleanse, spin and hit our hundred. It’s not to change our beautiful bodies but to change our lifestyle and improve our wellness. I’m not arguing against the benefits of health (or wellness). Nor would I argue against the advantages of having a smaller body (it is still easier to shop for clothes with one), or a bigger wallet (also easier to shop with), or a better job, or a fabulous partner, or a de-cluttered home, or a bigger life. I don’t argue against any of it because I think they are all good things. What I argue against is how much we are willing to diminish ourselves in favor of something we are not. How harshly we judge ourselves, how cruelly we treat ourselves, how insidious this treatment is of ourselves, so that we don’t even notice when we have allowed it.

At the gym last week, a woman described how she was feeling about the upcoming beach season; her bathing suit didn’t fit, so she was going to work out like a fiend for the coming month, and if that didn’t work, she would just cut off the parts that were still hanging out.

Seriously?! I puffed from the treadmill beside her, why don’t you just get yourself a new bathing suit?

Her jaw dropped (as did mine). I've spent many a May undoing the sins of my winter to make it back into last year's bathing suit (or buying a new one in last year's size). I know firsthand the stress and sorrow of trying to squeeze a winter body into a summer skin. It's awful. This year, I will be taking my own advice and buying myself a new bathing suit. A size bigger (or two). From the Ashley Graham collection, I imagine. The bright red bikini, I hope.

A new approach to summer that takes away my stress and anxiety and leaves me feeling beautiful and whole. What could be healthier than that?