The Swim Suit Dilemma: Do You Care?

My 3/21 post is at at Find out why and how you should get started with strength training!

It’s reassuring to know that with so many variables in life, there will always be some things that remain constant. Sunshine in March feels good. Lying on a sore back hurts. And taking pictures of yourself in a bikini makes you obsess about your body.

About this time of year, many of us women start to realize that we’ll soon be spending time at the pool, on vacation, or at the very least lying out in the backyard to get some sun (yes, people still do this).

So with public exposure in a swim suit looming, some women feel the need to actually assess the situation beforehand. For me, this means pulling out my swim suits to see 1) if they fit, 2) if they finally fell apart from the chlorine, and 3) what exactly my body has been doing for the last six months.

Men may not get this ritual. When the time comes for a man to put on his swimming attire – the kids want to go swimming, for example – it’s really about whether the trunks still fit, not so much how they look. And if they don’t fit? Ah well, they’ll do this time. Gut hanging out a little more than last year? No time to think about that now!

I could be generalizing (a little), but clearly women care more about how they look in a swim suit. The positive of this is that the goal of fitting nicely into a swim suit propels many women to get on that fitness routine.

When I pulled out my swim suits yesterday I’m not sure what I was expecting. I gained a couple of pounds over the holidays and my self perception was a little skewed for awhile there. I decided it might be instructive to take pictures of myself to get the real deal… a more objective view. After all, cameras don’t lie, right? And if I walk the talk of loving yourself and flaunting it, I shouldn’t be afraid to show myself in a bikini, good or bad.

In the end, the pictures were a morale booster. I looked better than I thought, which should be expected after consistently lifting weights, doing cardio, and eating healthy.

But I also realized that the simple act of trying on the suits had made me uncomfortably focused on the way my body looked. Taking pictures magnified every flaw (and rumor has it, everyone has them, despite pictures in magazines). So I put the swim suits and pictures away and got on with my day.

If you have fitness goals – especially those tied to a certain date or season – it can be quite instructive to take a good look at your body. Putting on a swim suit is a reality check that can provide some serious insight into what you have to accomplish. Will it compel you to amp up your fitness routine and meet your goals?

But if donning a swim suit right now is something you don’t want to do, then skip it. You probably have a good idea of where you’re at and where you want to go. Just make sure you have something to wear when it’s time to go swimming (no pressure of course)…

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  1. I totally agree that the “swimsuit test” is a great way to gauge fitness/physique. I put mine on several times a year just to take stock and make sure that I’m where I need to be.
    Paige @ Two Runners And A Brown Dog recently posted..One DayMy Profile

  2. For me it’s not much of an issue. I got in a suit at 250 pounds and swimming was how I lost all my weight. I got over being self conscious pretty fast. Funny thing- now at 110 pounds lighter I’m more self conscious about the idea of a getting in a bikini!

    • Lisa, that’s very interesting that you’re more self conscious now than when you weighed 250. That’s fascinating actually. Maybe a body image awareness that wasn’t there before? I’m floored by your drive and motivation, as always.

  3. Dudes have it too, just not so much on the suit part of it. The taking off the shirt thing was hard when I was 220++lbs. As my weight dropped I got a lot of self confidence and didn’t care as much. When I had to get in the pool or whatnot it would be in a t-shirt.

    I was terrible and I feel awful that I wouldn’t go to waterparks and things my wife really wanted to go to because I was too embarrassed over something so silly. Wish I could go back in time and just HTFU and roll with it.
    Sean recently posted..2011 Tentative ScheduleMy Profile

    • Hey Sean,
      Men having to take off their shirts in public is something I’ve never even thought about. Just goes to show how out of touch we are with the opposite sex. I’m with you though – being too concerned with our appearance can seriously detract from our lives. Thanks for writing.

  4. I think the bathing suit test is also a great gauge to determine how much of self love you really have. It’s one thing to write about and tell people that you love yourself. It’s another being able to stand in front of the mirror, look at your body, and still think you are beautiful. Great article!

  5. For all that is holy! You are amazing. I’m still just hoping for some board shorts and a tankini top..

    In any case..I might not ever have that mirror body..but I WILL have a better one.

    I just have to keep coming here to get my inspiration on.
    ragemichelle recently posted..5 Things I Can No Longer DoMy Profile

    • Thais, perfectly said. “Still” thinking you are beautiful, flaws and all. It took me a long time to get to this point. The media feeds us so much crap about what we “should” look like, we can’t see that we are actually beautiful.
      Thanks Michelle, LOL. You WILL and I don’t even have to push you – you’re doin it, nasty shoulder injury and all.

  6. i like that you took pictures. Its far better than mirrors. We need to see the real deal, and appreciate it too!
    lindsay recently posted..A Successful Runner……My Profile

    • I’m glad everyone doesn’t think I’m freakish for suggesting it ;). Pictures can be an upper or a reality check, and both can be valuable.

  7. For YEARS, my swim has been a real one, but the bottom looked more like shorts. But Nope! not this year. I’m so excited about swimsuit season. I’ll finally be wearing what I want to wear instead of what I’m forced to wear. 😉
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Photographic Evidence Of The Greedy Family’s Overactive Food TrapsMy Profile

    • To me, there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing a sister celebrating what she’s accomplished. The commitment you have to your health and body is hot stuff, Josie. I’m proud of you for KILLING IT – the benefits are yours to have!!

  8. I agree with this except for one thing, a picture adds ten pounds. Just throwing that out there. Otheriwise, I loved it. 🙂

    • I believe you’re right on this. I took pictures of myself head-on and my hips looked MUCH bigger than they must be. Either that or I’m way more voluptuous than I imagined.

  9. Do I care? Let’s put it this way, I wear a t-shirt when I take my daughter swimming at the Y!

  10. Fabulous post as always.

    I’ve been dreading the swimsuit issue since last year. And since I didn’t make my goal of the weight loss (140lbs) this year it saddens me again. However, the bright side is I’m much more comfortable wearing shorter shorts now due to the fact that I lost more inner thigh fat and cellulite. That’s awesome! I may do a one-piece this year, but a sexy one..maybe one that shows off my sides.

    You look nice in the photo. YOU ROCK GAL! ALWAYS!

    • You know, and that’s part of accepting where we’re at. If you can wear a sexy one-piece this summer then be proud of that. Truthfully, I have such high standards for myself that I’d have to have perfect abs to be happy in a bikini. I’m going to wear whatever I feel comfortable in. Once you’ve had a C-section things are never quite the same anyway ;). I love that you’re a fighter, yet know you have to be gentle on yourself when you don’t reach a goal. You’ll get there in the time it’s meant to take.

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