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The Full Yield Blog

Celebrate swimsuit season!

June 08, 2011 | Tags: Exercise , Featured , Food , Health | Post comment

Celebrate swimsuit season!

Now that it’s June, it’s swim season in my little town in Massachusetts.  While the town lake doesn’t officially open until school is out mid-month, when the lifeguards return to their perches and the docks go back in the water, we hardy souls are already jumping in.

For so many people, trying on, putting on, and wearing swimsuits out into the world creates real angst.  The media reinforces this, with magazines exhorting us to hurry and get “swimsuit ready” bodies and providing guides for “figure-flattering beach wear.”  Some of you may have seen the headlines in May about the Diet Chef survey in which the majority of the 2000 women surveyed said it was not acceptable for women 47 and older to wear bikinis to the beach and that those over 61 ought not to wear a swimsuit in public at all.

We seem to have our bodies and our selves all mixed up.  We give our selves the dominant voice-- I need to eat these chips….I need to have those shoes.…I am too ashamed of my body to go to the lake/beach/pool--and our bodies the submissive voice.  Our selves—which we often think about and talk about as our minds, our hearts, our feelings, have all kinds of needs and wants that have nothing at all to do with our hardworking bodies, our active brains and pumping hearts and ready muscles.

We can experience life very differently—and live much more comfortably—if we can distinguish the voice of the self and the voice of the body and respond supportively. Our bodies need health-supporting food, water, fresh air, sunlight, physical activity, real rest, and good sleep.  Our selves need connection, comfort, play, intellectual stimulation, a sense of purpose, stress management, anger management, boredom relief, engagement in the natural world, and some silence.

It’s a lifelong practice to distinguish between the voice of the self and the voice of the body and to figure out which set of needs makes more sense in the moment and in the long term.  My self wants to get more work done before I call it a day; my body needs to go to sleep.  I can push my body harder and over time I’ll become irritable, I’ll forget things, I’ll make poor judgments. My self feels deserving of a pound of almonds to quiet my anxiety; my body is saying, thanks but I’m not hungry. And sometimes, my body would like to lie down for an hour and my self would much prefer to go out for a run while I’ve got the time.  

It’s very useful and very health-supporting to tune into this negotiation between the needs of the self and the needs of the body and balance them out.  You can.

This year’s photographs of lost homes, cars, beloved photo albums, music collections, and myriad mementos as an earthquake and then a tsunami rocked Japan, flooding subsumed Louisiana, and tornados hit Missouri, remind us that, no matter how many and how fine our accumulated material possessions, and no matter the demands of our selves, if we are alive at all the only sure possession and home that’s ours over time is our bodies.

So please, celebrate swimsuit season, practice gratitude for your body and your self and help them be good friends.  Take them out to play in the water, the sand, the sunlight, celebrate your very own precious home and nurture it well and kindly with all of yourself.