GET A BEACH BODY FAST
The weather here in the US is starting to warm up, and that means I’m starting to see the inevitable “beach-ready body” memes … the articles that ask “is your body bikini ready?” … and the resurgence of magazines publishing “The Body Issue.”
Polers wear tiny clothing year-round–in fact, some beach wear is less revealing than what we sport on a regular basis to pole! We are still no less susceptible to the meme brainwashing, though. I think part of the reason is that, in our studios or on our home poles, we are safe. We don’t feel judged. We appreciate our bodies for what they can do. We concern ourselves with how strong we feel.
But when we start to think of buying a bikini and heading to the beach…….ummmm……..errrrrrr……that is something entirely different. We stand under unflattering lights and scrutinize. We scrutinize every little bump. Every. eensy. dimple.
And we start to consider crash diets. Diet supplements or pills. Cleanses start to look downright reasonable. After all, check out those befores and afters!
Once upon a time, two personal trainers took on the “transformation photo” phenomenon, with fascinating results. Here are excerpts from their stories, along with their own amazing before/after shots:
“I decided to take my own transformation photos to see what was possible with just a few easy tweaks. About six months ago I was around 185 pounds and about 16 percent body fat. I was feeling particularly bloated on the day, so I asked my girlfriend to take a before shot. I then shaved my head, face and chest and prepared for the after shot, which was about an hour after I took the before shot. I did a few push ups and chin ups, tweaked my bedroom lighting, sucked in, tightened my abs and BOOM! We got our after shot.”
For her first picture–the before version, the trainer ate a big breakfast, wore tight bottoms and let her body sag. But within 15 minutes, Ventura transformed herself into a lean and fit glamazon just by employing these tricks: she changed her bottoms to a size bigger & black for its slimming effects. Then she smoothed on some bronzer/body glow lotion. She clipped in hair extensions, stood up taller, sucked in her stomach, stood with legs wide and her hand on her popped hip, pulled back her shoulders and smiled. The before picture is zoomed in and is done with unflattering lighting. The after? Zoomed out and uses a filter to compensate for the funky lighting.
The fact is that our bodies need fuel in order to perform. What we put into them is important. If we deprive them of proper fuel they will begin to shut down. You may lose weight, but what good is that if you can no longer hold yourself up in a simple spin? And you might think “oh, I respect my body too much, that will never happen to me.” I hope that is exactly the case. You should know, though, that no one is immune to the issues of body dismorphia or eating disorders. The Olympic Committee and NCAA have both addressed these problems, and the results of their investigations are alarming. So many elite level athletes struggle with body image issues. And let not even get into other forms of dance and movement.
NEWS FLASH: YOU ARE NOT A NUMBER
You are not your weight
You are not your pants size
You are not your age
You are none of those things. You are a human being.
Be kind to yourself. In fact, be as kind to yourself as you are to total strangers. That doesn’t mean you have to be all unicorns pooping glitter as they jump over rainbows. It just means that you needn’t shame yourself or punish your body for what you see as its shortcomings.
Train hard, yes! Push yourself physically and mentally, yes! Pay close attention to your eating habits, yes!
But be realistic. Provide your body with the best possible tools –training, food, psychological– to help you reach your training goals. If you want to muscle up, consider your training regimen and food intake. Same if you want to get more lean. And know that if, say,you’re built like I am, it will be MUCH easier to muscle up than to lean down. I would have to starve myself to get “skinny.” Luckily I have passed the point where that interests me. Which leads me to my final point: at some point the whole question of body image and resisting the urge to fit into the beach body meme stereotype becomes about acceptance of what our bodies ARE by nature.
AND REMEMBER THIS, ALWAYS: YOU ARE NOT A NUMBER.