The “Perfect Bikini Body”? No Thank You

By Shauna Harrison August 15, 2014

As a perpetual student, summer has always had a special place in my heart. That special place was called “time off.” Well, actually, that was the case until I wrote my dissertation over a summer. Then, it was a different kind of “special.” I digress. I love summer. Whether you are in school, have kids in school or have zero to do with an academic calendar, summer still gives us at least somewhat of a break in our normal routine. The days are longer, the sun is brighter (in most places), people are out and about and there is an air of repose amongst us all. How could I not love that?

Bring it the hell on!

You know what I don’t love, though? The, question and sentiment that abounds this time of year:

How do I get the perfect bikini/beach/dress body for [insert occasion]?

That, you can keep. Oh, my bad. Were you looking for all the tricks and tips to get that summer body you always wanted? Yeah, #sorrynotsorry, you came to the wrong place. As you may have heard me discuss a few times, (and if not, click here and here) I’m not that girl. Or trainer. It’s not that I’m anti-feeling good about how you look. In fact, I want you to feel awesome about how you look. All the time. Every damn day. Not because it’s summer and because you can fit into a particular bathing suit, but because it’s life and you’re beautiful.

And I want you take care of your body, treat it right, move it, nourish it, love it and rock it like it’s yours to keep forever. Because it is.

It’s Not You, It’s Them

So, this summer I think we should take a break. From the nonsense. This summer, let’s breakup with berating ourselves, from hopping on fad diets only to hop right back off, from attempting to spot reduce to get flat abs, from trying to be perfect for one moment in time or for one article of clothing, and from allowing industry to make us think we need all of these things to feel good about ourselves. We don’t.

Just like the New Year’s resolution revolution I mentioned, we need a new summer routine. Let’s call it a lifestyle, just for kicks and giggles. Let’s make gradual, permanent, healthy changes and let’s keep them. Into the fall and winter. And for many, many summers from now.

If wearing a bikini is what you want to do this summer, AWESOME! Wear it with pride. I would just love it if you didn’t mentally, emotionally, and/or physically beat yourself up to make that happen. It’s not worth it and it is not sustainable. Can we just let that all go? It doesn’t serve any of us, so break it off and make room for what does.

Summer Lovin’

Let’s instead fall in love with summer all over again.

Like when we were kids. Let’s love the time to play and explore and soak it all in. Or, in my case, sweat it all out. My summer love is summer sweat. Sounds delightful, no? (Or like I need to get out more!) But, really…summer sweat rocks. It is my absolute favorite. I’m talking about the “drenched to my socks, SPF pooling into the creases of my inner elbows (#wearSPF), permanent tank top tanlines, there ain’t enough coconut water in this can because this workout out in the sun is so effing hard” type of summer sweat. That is my ish.

There is an added level of mental toughness that you need to run up a hill or stairs in the blazing sun. But, there’s also more time and ease to savor that hard work. I love having more opportunity to train outside when the weather is so amenable. Granted, I live in California, so my “summer” involves little to no humidity or dry heat, but whatever. I love the early mornings of super hot days, the light and warm evenings. There’s just so much opportunity to be outside. And that makes me feel like a kid again (those street lights don’t come on for a long time in the summer!)

Maybe swimming laps in the pool, surfing, playing soccer or paddleboarding is your summer love. Awesome, get outside (or inside) and go for it. Or maybe you want to try something you haven’t before. Summer is a great time to mix things up a bit. Change is always good for the mind, body, soul and spirit.

Nobody and no body needs complacency; we need fresh and fun and consistently challenging. The change of seasons is a great time to do that. Take advantage of what summer has to offer. Sun. Water. Lighter evenings. Sunsets. Travel. Break out of your typical routine and challenge your body in different ways. Try new fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s markets. Take a class. Learn something new. Just be cautious of making huge, unrealistic changes if you want to make them sustainable.

Summer Stylin’

You don’t need to “get ready for summer.” You need to stay ready for life. Always.

Guess what? If you consistently make small changes, challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone and focus on taking care of your body, mind and spirit, suddenly you are lifestylin’ like a mofo. Boom! That’s what it’s really all about. That’s where the magic happens. Summer style might be a bit different than winter style, but they fall under the same “it’s a lifestyle” umbrella. So, unless you’re talking about buying stronger SPF, making travel arrangements or making sure your AC works, you don’t need to “get ready for summer.” You need to stay ready for life. Always.

Staying ready means that taking care of you and your body is just a given; it’s part of who you are. It means creating routine so that positive behaviors become ingrained, but not overly routinizing the fun and freshness out of everything. It means moderation. It means enjoying the things you love, putting in work, feeding your soul, feeding your body, taking time out, making “good” decisions, making “bad” decisions, loving yourself, loving others, allowing for moderation and freeing yourself from unnecessary external pressures. It means living. And living to the fullest, as much as possible.

So you really want my “tips and tricks to your best summer body ever”? Here you go:

Move in as many ways as you can. Eat nutritious, delicious food that nourishes your body. Find fun. Get outside (lathered in SPF – #wearSPF). Love. And keep doing these things all year long.

*This post was originally published on My Fit Station. For more from Shauna, visit

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