Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zen and the Art of Swimsuit Season

The prospect of wearing a swimsuit in public can be daunting, though the fluorescent lighting often associated with trying one on in a private fitting room is often no less anxiety inducing. Rather than hit the tanning bed or show up drunk for your next shopping trip in hopes of baking away your skin's pallor or beer-goggling at yourself in the mirror, perhaps you might try a more holistic approach? Here are a few healthful tips to look and feel your best when wearing less this summer.

Eat sensibly. For most people, this tidbit is obvious; however, there's less consensus out there regarding the meaning of "sensibly" than one might hope. To that end, allow me to share the following simple equation: Crazy cleanses, diets that recommend burgers and bacon (minus the bun) over fruit salad, and starvation tactics of any kind= STUPID. You must avoid them like the swine flu. They harm your body, mind, and spirit. If you want your body to look and feel fabulous, treat it accordingly with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.

Guzzle water. Water is your friend. Buy a Sigg bottle; tote it around, and sip from it all day long. This habit will help flush toxins from your system and reduce the likelihood that you will overeat on account of being thirsty as opposed to hungry (you'd be shocked at how often people confuse the two). Furthermore, most beverages are filled with empty calories. If you're trying to lose weight, eat your calories; don't drink them.

Burn calories on the sly. If the colder months caused you to acquire some added, um, insulation, you'll find it easier to shed pounds and subsequently layers of clothing by sneaking in impromptu calorie blasts throughout your day (particularly if regular workouts are scarce). The I-Don't-Like-To-Workout Workout has some helpful tips, such as taking more opportunities to walk during the day and "becoming your own infomercial" at night while watching TV.

Scrutinize Your Suit. Looking your best is never solely about a number on the scale or the size on the tag of your bikini or board shorts. Exuding confidence trumps your measurements every time. Find a swimsuit that fits well and appeals to your personal style, and you'll feel better about baring it all. If your suit is too small, too big, faded beyond recognition, or sorely outdated, scour the Internet and magazines for designs that work for you; then, venture out to find the perfect suit by trying on a bunch. Plenty of magazines and style blogs outline which suits fit certain body types, like this pointed tip from People magazine, "Finding the right pattern for you is all about proportion. Bigger flowers flatter smaller bodies and vice versa" (May 2009), so scope out your resources. For gals who don't dig the prospect of a bikini, you're in luck! Cutaway suits and "monokinis" are huge right now. (Below, Volcom Cosmic Screen One-Piece and Nikster Eco Monokini).

Guys, pay close attention to the fabric of your shorts, and make sure they fit well.

Accessorize Strategically. Attempts to camouflage your figure with baggy T-shirts or over-sized beach towels usually send one message: "I am trying to camouflage my figure because I don't feel comfortable with it." Instead, try stylish sarongs, loose-fitting tunics, and relaxed button-down shirts. In addition to accent items that streamline your figure, you also have a plethora of fun summer options that draw attention away from, say, your tuckus and place the emphasis on your exceptional taste. A fabulous unisex option is the fedora. Wide-brimmed hats, head scarves, bangle bracelets, beaded necklaces, and embellished sandals provide om gals with an added flourish of fashion when desired.

Prepare a Picnic. Whether it's Fenway franks, monstrous frozen margaritas, tortilla chips slathered with guacamole, or the infamous ice cream truck, we all have a summer indulgence (or two, or ten) that wrecks havoc on our nutrition program. Of course, you should savor the tastes of the season; however, the bulk of your diet should be made up of healthy foods that you prepare at home. It's the easiest way to ensure that you're making smart choices. To that end, make sure you don't become stranded on a beach with your only lunch option coming from the snack bar fryer. If you're packing your bathing suit for a weekend jaunt, take along some healthy snacks as well. Trail mixes, Kashi bars and cereals, and mini cans of V-8 all pack well, take up minimal space, and provide healthful alternatives to vending machines, snack bars, and fast food. Remember, looking good in a swimsuit is an ongoing affair, not a two-week pledge to diet followed by a summer of stuffing your face.

Sleep It Off. More sunlight means longer days, which can also lead to later nights and less sleep. However, studies show that getting enough sleep is essential to our overall health and may even be a key factor in losing weight, particularly in women. Check out Sleep More, Weigh Less on

Practice Ahimsa Toward Your Body. Ahimsa or "nonviolence" is one of the fundamental tenets of yoga philosophy. While the most obvious interpretation is that we should not engage in acts of violence against others, the broader application of the term suggests that we should do no harm- to ourselves or others. This practice does not only relate to physical acts of violence but also hurtful thoughts or words. Thinking negatively about your body harms you; it's that simple. Therefore, it's important during swimsuit season and all year long to regularly recall all the amazing feats your body accomplishes everyday. Mentally say "thank you" to your physical being for the ability to walk with a graceful gait, swim to the farthest buoy out at sea, pick up a heavy toddler, or help a pal move into a new apartment. Focusing on the functions of your body will enhance its form. You'll stand taller, breath deeper, and smile bigger because you'll realize that your body doesn't just look good, it helps you live a good life, which is never more evident then when you are lounging beach or poolside, with sand between your toes, fresh air in your lungs, and the sun warming your exposed skin.

1 comment:

Eco Yogini said...

haha, this was a fun post- the fall down drunk idea is hilarious!

I like Michael Pollan's mantra: eat real food, not too much, mostly plants. pretty straight forward hey?