So there it is, in black and while. The one sentence that describes the one thing this season that crystallizes and escalates all my fears, shame, self-loathing, self-doubt and rocky self-esteem issues. Just hearing about “swimsuit season” and “get your body beach ready” cause me to start breathing into a paper bag.
I’m Nowhere Near Swimsuit Ready
The sad twist of cruel fate is that my favorite season is summer and I love the water. I love the beach, swimming and being out in the warm sun. Well, I love the idea of it. Summer is my favorite season and I have lived on or near water for a greater part of my life. The cruel irony is that I have spent the majority of the last decade of beach seasons wearing long pants and sleeves because I have not felt “swimsuit ready”. And I am not, heck I may never be ready. But does that mean I am going to avoid swimming and the beach for the rest of my adult life and not enjoying something I love?
This Even Involved An Inner Tube
I hope not. That’s the best answer I’ve got but I took a huge first #FEARLESS step. I wore a swimsuit in public. It was at night and not only did I wear my swimsuit (which of course is dreadfully black because black clothing hides everything, right?) but I wore my swimsuit AND got into an inner tube in front of strangers. There were so many levels of discomfort and awkwardness and I kept looking around to see who was looking, laughing or disgusted. And here is the thing, I didn’t die, throw up and I was not subject to any public mocking or at least that I could hear.
Let me provide a little more context. It was a screening of a movie I love and live for watching each year and this year, the movie was held on the water, like a giant group of strangers dive in style movie. I knew I wanted to go and bought tickets right away. Immediately, after purchasing the tickets, my fear started to kick in and I began planning all the things I could do that night that didn’t require me to go in the water.
How Can I Go And Not Be Seen
I invested a lot of time in devising a way that I could chicken out and still participate in a dive-in movie that well, I was too ashamed to dive in and enjoy. I researched all of the other activities that I could enjoy and wanted to figure out the perfect time to arrive to either a) find a spot where I could at least put my feet in the water or b) arrive after dark so no one would think I was actually going in and avoid making a spectacle of myself. It’s a really terrible way to prepare for something you really want to do.
Oh No. Do I Even Have A Swimsuit That Fits?
The day of the movie arrived and I was equally excited and terrified because I couldn’t wait to see the movie, wear all my themed accessories and enjoy then it hit me like a wave. I don’t know if I even have a swimsuit that fits, do I even have a swimsuit? So now I might not even have the opportunity to get in the water because I don’t even have a swimsuit. It’s funny how your mind plays these games: all this time I was trying to devise ways to avoid swimming but when presented with the fact that I might not be able to I was furious.
The Bottom Drawer
As soon as I realized I might not have the right gear to enter the water, I turned closet into a tiny tornado diving in and out of drawers looking for a swimsuit, swimsuit parts, Umbro shorts and a tank top that I could get wet and bring back up clothes…I was frenzied hot mess. And then, at the bottom of the deep drawer I never go into – there they were, parts of a black swimsuit that were my only hope to because water bound. I pull out like 4-5 mix and matchy type pieces and know I am doomed. So without any other options, I pick the two pieces that I think might be less frightening to the other movie goers and I tugged and pulled them on. To my surprise, I didn’t break a sweat putting it on and they looked a lot less bad than I thought and most of all, they didn’t cut off my circulation. I didn’t even look in the mirror because I know I would have bailed on the whole night but I started to layer other clothing over my suit that I “might” consider taking off “IF” I try getting into the water.
Golden Girls Arms
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t look like a swimsuit model but I felt so good that it even fit. I could finally see the in real life why I have been working out in the cover of early morning darkness each and every day. My body is starting to change. I have a long way to go but I am finally seeing that first wave of progress. I was less #TeamBelly than I could remember in a long time. There is the slightest bit of definition in my legs, my arms are less Golden Girls second wave on the bottom. I realized in that moment alone in my closet tornado, that all of the hard work I have been putting in at BodyBusiness and all the ways I have been challenging my body in Tribe, the weight room and making better food choices, I am starting to win the battle. I know WHY I am doing this and in that moment of maxed out lycra wearing, I was never more motivated to achieve all of my fitness goals and maybe, just maybe I can do it.
Unpeeling The Layers
So with my swimsuit hidden under my strategic layers, we went to the Dive-In movie. My swimsuit underneath was like my own hidden superhero costume because if I actually shed the layers and get in, I will feel like a superhero or at least one in training. I enjoyed face painting, a picnic, giant lawn games, l picked up our inner tubes (will this even hold me? – went through my mind like a million times) and as the night grew darker so did my fears. We were perched close to the bank of the water and the announcer invited everyone into the water.
It’s Go Time
I watched people of all shapes, sizes and swimwear make their way into the water and all I could think about was how brave they were to just put themselves out there and how much fun they were going to have. The final call came for anyone floating to get into the water before the movie started. I jumped up and said, it’s dark enough, I am not missing this and I’m going in. No more FEAR.
We All Float On
I peeled off all of my layers and made my way into the water. I was scared and excited, proud and full of adrenaline. I then realized the next challenge was getting into the cool event’s custom inner tube. I struggled and wanted to get out, and thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the movie floating like everyone else. After many failed attempts, I made it into my float, I looked like an overstuffed taco in the middle of a donut but I enjoyed every minute of floating at the dive-in movie. and It was glorious and I am pretty proud of myself. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but I am so happy that I did it and didn’t have to regret not doing something else due to my own body shame. So I snuck out early because I didn’t want to be a spectacle in my swimsuit but it was a huge step.
I would not have had the strength to get in that tube had I not been training and working on push-ups, on my upper body strength with weights, and the VIPR work in TRIBE. I am so thankful for all those hours of work for what it enabled and empowered me to do and even more grateful to the BodyBusiness Trainers for pushing me, my fellow members and workout partners that have been a source of inspiration and encouragement every day. And a special shout out to the BodyBusiness Team members that texted me through my fears that night. There is no way I could have gotten far without all of this incredible support and you drive me to keep going each and every day. BodyBusiness is a special place, a fitness family that above and beyond what a fitness club is meant to go. They’ve got our back and I am so grateful to be a part of this fitness family. Sometimes all you can do is just keep swimming.
p.s – On Spotify? Look up the BodyBusinessAnderson profile and you can see my #FearlessFriday playlist. This week’s featured jam, “Cruel Summer” by Blestenation featured in one of my favorite FEARLESS female movies, Blue Crush.
See y’all back here next week and keep swimming!