This Summer I'll Be Wearing a Bathing Suit

By Yonit Yermish  

This summer I will do something I've never had the courage to do before. Move to a new country with only one suitcase? Done. Run marathons? Done. Run with a double stroller from the Bronx to Battery Park? Done. This summer is about a different type of empowerment. I will go to the beach wearing a bathing suit.

I was six years old enjoying an afternoon with my mother when she suggested that from that day on I should not eat "Dani", which was a type of chocolate pudding that my dad used to bring with him from work each day. I remember not understanding why she suggested that, and innocently asking why. I vaguely remember her impromptu explanation, but I vividly remember how it made me feel (I know now that she was doing the best she could with the information that she had at the time).

Later in my life, when I was about seven years old, my sister and I had matching two-piece neon bathing suits that we loved so much (growing up in Israel, everything we got from the USA was glamorous). Our cousin who came for a summer visit told me (not suggested) that I should not wear that type of bathing suit. With the help of his tone and facial expression I did not need to ask him why not, but I had the same feeling when I was told not to eat pudding.

These are just the first of many times in my life that I was told what not to eat and what not to wear because of my size. I am in my early thirties now, and can count with one hand the number of times I was in a pool or a beach. As a teenager I disliked almost every inch of my body. I remember at the age of 13 my friend and I created a list of body parts we would change if we could. Her list was short, but mine looked like a family of five's grocery shopping list. It included almost every body part, head to toe (luckily, unlike Michael Jackson, I did not have the resources to follow through with this list). In addition, for years I was afraid that when, or if I ever have kids, they will resemble me.

When I was 25 years old I discovered a new love. I discovered working out, and I also thought I finally had it all under control. I stopped eating all desserts like I was suggested years ago. I also stopped eating almost everything else that I loved (or needed). I dropped a lot of weight and got that ripped figure that no one (including myself) ever thought I could get. I was focused, obsessed, and strong. For the first time in my life, I was a size 2 (even at lowest, a size 0) and I chose the gym over friends daily. Looking back, even at 121 lbs I went shopping for a bathing suit, but never had the guts to wear it.

It took me a couple of years (and a few side affects) to realize how to find that middle ground: the healthy combination of exercising and eating right (still a daily struggle). Today, as a personal trainer, I often advocate for that healthy balance. Not depriving ourselves, but staying focused on a goal with a healthy attitude. I am far from that size 2, but I learned to be OK with it. Meeting my husband and especially having my kids saved me and opened my eyes. Truth is, that when I found out I was having a girl I was thrilled, but also scared. How can I make her feel good about herself as she grows up? How do I protect her from that feeling I had over the years? That feeling that haunts me until today.

While training, I noticed over the years the way many of my clients refer to themselves. Our language is powerful, and the words women throw in the air to describe their own body can be so damaging. The beautiful, strong women I work with daily, no matter what size they are, too often use the "F" word when they describe themselves, even immediately after I compliment them. You guessed it, I'm talking about "fat". As a mother and a trainer, I feel obligated to ask them all to stop using that word. They sometimes look at me as if I am a bit crazy. But especially to my mommy clients, I tell them that their girls and boys are watching how they are talking about themselves; it may stick. I suggest using the words "healthy" or "unhealthy" when talking about food choices, rather than "fattening" or "bad". Also, it is not enough for us to tell our kids they are beautiful, we have to say that about ourselves, too.

Yes, I am in a business that focuses mainly on body image, aesthetics and goal weight (it is a billion dollar industry that thrives on these feelings). I know. But I have had numerous clients: young, old, women and men who are unhappy with their figure and will often ask to look like someone else. They will use many negative words to describe themselves. Especially the "F" word.

In the process of changing their lifestyle, as their trainer, I ask them to be kind to themselves, and not to use these negative words. If they enjoyed the weekend, and had a little too much to eat and too little exercise, that can be repaired. There is no need to give up and throw it all away. More importantly, there is no need to talk down about yourself and use harsh words.

Again, it is OK to have a goal to lose weight, get toned, and get into a smaller size (lord knows I had to do this a few times in my life). But let's try to be nicer to ourselves. Focus on the great things our bodies can do. Focus on how strong it gets, how it can do things you never thought you could. And if you have a child-say it aloud sometimes while looking at the mirror so they can hear some praises.

As for me, this past summer my challenge was to get over some childhood comments and I started wearing shorts. I can list a bunch of things said about my thighs while wearing shorts as a kid--the same thighs that can now run marathons. Next summer, my goal is to go out to the beach with my kids, wearing a bathing suit. In public.

Tips to Stay Motivated to Get to the Gym

If you want to get fit, going to the gym is a great way to succeed. All good gyms provide members with a range of different pieces of equipment which help to work a lot of different parts of the body. Whether you are seeking to build muscle mass or lose fat weight through healthy methods, the gym will be a great place for you, as long as you are motivated enough to go regularly. Here are some tips to help you to stay motivated:

Set a goal

If you want to get the most out of your gym sessions, you need to set an achievable goal for yourself. Knowing what your target is will encourage you to keep going to the gym, in order to achieve the goal that you have set for yourself. Once that goal has been realised, set yourself another one, which is a little harder, but still within the realms of possibility. It is essential that your goals are achievable, or you will be more likely to turn away from them. Goals can involve losing a set amount of body fat weight, or managing to run for a certain distance on the treadmill, or whatever other goals you think will keep you going back to the gym.

Buy a monthly (or yearly) pass

Deciding to buy a pass for yourself for a set period of time can help to encourage you to keep going to the gym. Knowing that you have already spent the money may make you go to the gym, because you do not want to feel as though you have wasted the money. If you have already bought a monthly pass, it may be a good idea to work out how many times you need to go to the gym in order for it to be better value than if you were to pay each individual time. Encourage yourself by acknowledging that every additional time you go will bring down the cost per session of the pass.

Get a gym buddy

Going to the gym with a friend will encourage you to improve both your attendance and your performance. Evidence has shown that people are less likely to pull out of something if they are due to attend with a friend. This is because they do not want to let their gym buddy down. Once you are at the gym, you can encourage one another to perform better by engaging in a little healthy competition.