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F*@# Swimsuit Season

F*@# Swimsuit Season

Part rant, part inspirational, part informational, but primarily supportive and real. This is not an altogether clean-language article. You've been warned.

As I write this, Google searches (sorry Bing, let's be real here) for "How to get a Summer body", "Six pack in six days" and "Beach body workoutz" are in full swing. Instastars are providing more motivation (yay!), envy and resentment (boo!) than ever before. At least in the midwest, Spring is finally starting to reveal itself in all its glory, bringing about this train of thought in so many of us:

1) "OMG, I, like, haven't been doing anything all Winter"

and then

2) "Holy ass, how am I going to trick everybody into thinking I'm skinnier for the next three months than I have been for the past nine?!"

and then

3) "Ugh. I weigh like 50 pounds more than I want to. Better crash diet and workout til I collapse."


We're driven by appearance, as individuals and as a culture, now more so than ever. This isn't an inherently "bad" thing or a "good" thing (or a new thing for that matter). It's just a thing. Reality as it stands. But, clearly, this internal and external drive doesn't motivate us to action or self-appreciation as perfectly as it could or should. So in a practical sense, we can call it a “bad” thing. In reality, nowadays, we don't as much care about what we look like at the beach or the pool. We used to. But not no more, no sirree. Now, we have potentially millions of online eyes looking at every filtered, glammed-up, perfectly-lit photo of us. It's the fear of nameless, faceless eye sockets judging what we look like over the internet that now drives us. Hell, we’re so nose-deep in iOs and Android that we can’t be bothered about people actually judging us in person. Fear of ridicule is one thing. But, as we get older, we realize people generally stop being outright assholes to our face. The greater fear is of silent judgment. Because while people may not say anything, you know they're thinking it.

Denzel is the only person I'll allow to judge me

We're paranoid and trapped in this paranoia.

How many of us use the mirror to look at ourselves and say "Hey. You are so fucking cool. And you're beautiful, and you glow with an energy that others can't deny. I love you, and am so happy I am you and you are me and we are one"... and actually mean it? I'm not talking about the Narcissus complex. Nor positive self-affirmations. Those are great, but let's be honest. You only use them because you don't actually yet believe how fucking cool you are. And that's ok. I'm there with you at times. But we shouldn't have to convince ourselves of our worth.


So, back to the "it's not bad or good but the way it’s going it’s pretty much bad" idea concerning our obsession with appearance. I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t give a damn about what you look like. Even if this were a noble idea, you’ve heard it said before and chances are it hasn’t really changed your confidence, emotional status or worldview. Maybe you now even feel bad for caring about how you look to the outside world. What about this, then:

Can we make our obsession with appearance work to our benefit for once?

Can we make it a “good” thing? You have a choice, each time you step on the scale, look at yourself naked in the mirror, or take a not-at-all-concealed side glance at yourself in a storefront window as you stroll by to see your butt in dem jeanz. You have a choice at what you tell yourself, but more importantly, what you choose to see. Because as with affirmations, what you tell yourself when you look in the mirror is only as powerful as how clearly and deeply you see and believe it.

You can choose to identify all of your flaws. Fat ass. Flat ass. Chicken legs. Huge gut. Pencil arms. Ugly elbows (I'm sure there's someone out there who hates his/her elbows). And then, without a single damned doubt, these traits will define you, in your mind and maybe even others'. Because we are animals. We can sniff out confidence and the lack thereof just like bears can smell fear (they can do that, right?). And guess what? Once you trap yourself in these defined cages, you will not escape. Your mind won't allow it. It is too strong. The only way out is with courage and brutal honesty. And you must choose courage and brutal honesty. It is your call.

That's where we can flip the script. Just as you can choose to be trapped by your own Fat Ass cage, you can also be empowered by it.


1) Choose to see the good. Easier said than done, but this is a choice. There is not one person out there who has nothing going for them, even physically. Can't seem to get the scale to budge? "Good golly I am great at maintaining my muscle!". "I've got a big ass" is the negative way of saying "My glutes are incredibly strong". Chicken legs? "I've got great metabolism and do really great at keeping my weight in check. Others would kill for my lean physique!"

But it doesn't end with just saying it. And this is what no one else can do for you. This is where the brutal honesty comes into play. You need to see this as truth, because it is. You are strong as hell. I can objectively measure this with any number of strength tests putting you up against someone with a "smaller ass". So stop. not. believing. it.

We too often speak of brutal honesty under the guise of "being realistic" with ourselves, which normally brings about the clipping of the bird's wings, if you will. Honesty is not simply pessimism and rationalization, no matter how much of a realist you think you are. You might have a big ass, but is that the whole story? However, honesty is also not blatantly lying to yourself. If you’re clearly not thin, don’t keep telling yourself you’re thin. You won’t believe it. Tell yourself something you know to be true.

Dooming yourself to a life of obesity, skinny-fatness, weakness, ad nauseam is a failure to recognize and understand basic principles of human physiology. Given the right food, drink, lifestyle and exercise habits (barring a severe genetic disadvantage), virtually everyone can get stronger, faster, skinnier, bulkier, more toned, or whatever the hell they want. And that's OK that you don't explicitly know this; you're probably not a damned scientist. But more than misunderstanding the body’s potential, this is also and moreover a failure to choose to see the good in yourself. And a failure to...

2) Choose to see the potential. It's so easy to say "I'm gross, woe is me, I'm forever fucked." Well, fine, be that way. That's the way of the lazy and apathetic. I’ve got my own problems, and I can’t waste my time trying to convince you to be nice to yourself, because I can’t make you do that anyway. If you see it and say it, then so it is, and will remain to be. It's a lot harder, but so much more badass and powerful, to say "Yeah, I've let myself go a bit. But I have so much room for improvement, and I know I have the power to make the changes I want." This is honesty, and this is choosing to see your potential.

Why do you think the best leaders, bosses, managers, teachers, etc. rely on the compliment sandwich? Because it works. This is where a great coach can come into play. But the compliment sandwich also works on the self. Manage yourself as you would an employee. Take your emotions into consideration, but view them from an objective distance to be able to see the whole picture. "Denise, you are just God awful at your job." That's Denise's boss. Denise hates her boss. Go figure. So don't be Denise's boss, especially to yourself. Because you will hate yourself. You wouldn't say that to an employee, so don't say it to yourself (If you would, remind me not to ever work for you; or even hang out with you for that matter). Get used to finding your strengths, and problem-solve to see how they can be used to overcome weaknesses. You don't need to know where to start, or how. Just:

3) Be courageous. I read a fantastic quote about confidence recently, and it hit home so squarely with me that, for a second, I thought that everyone who ever put confidence on a pedestal was inane and blind to the real root of all the world's problems. In other words, it was an “ah-ha”. Debbie Millman, in an interview with writer Dani Shapiro, summarizes the latter’s beliefs that:

“Courage was more important than confidence. When you are operating out of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want. You are not waiting for confidence to mysteriously arrive.”

The value of courage comes from the presence of fear. It is not saying “I’m fearless”, but rather “I’m scared shitless and don’t know where to go, but I’m going anyway, because I know there is better to be had somewhere out there.” Confidence comes from a strong-enough belief in future success (usually based upon prior successes). Courage is required due to a lack of this assurance. If you care enough, and yearn strongly enough for a change, you will eventually have to say Fuck It.


So f*@# Swimsuit Season. Enough faking it for everyone else. Make a choice about what you want and go with it. Be vain and worry about your appearance for all I care. Just know who you're doing it for. Is it the voices "out there", or the one inside your head? See yourself in light of what you hate, and go on hating it without any hope for reprieve. Or go with seeing the good and potent. Do something, especially if you're scared shitless and unsure. Look in the mirror, even if you can't quite manage telling yourself how fucking cool you are. Maybe just start with a smile. Or maybe you look at yourself and need to cry. At least that's honest. Go with believing in yourself and all your glory. Then put your full force into a plan of attack. If you truly believe that you glow with an energy that others can't deny, you will. And you do. Is it time to say Fuck It?

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