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Overcome bathing suit anxiety and just enjoy yourself

It's a common concern of many women as summer approaches. They want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit and have fun, but are also anxious about the prospect. Life is short and everyone has the right to enjoy it. So buying a bathing suit should not get in the way of enjoying summer. Logical enough, but too many women let the shopping ritual ruin at least a part of their summer activities.

Come out of hiding

Believe it or not, being comfortable and happy — rather than beating up on yourself — makes it easier to lose weight.

And conversely, the more you hide away, anxious and depressed about your body, the more likely you are to fail at losing weight. Besides, it's impossible to have fun while being overly concerned with appearance.

Anyone, regardless of size, can choose to look and feel better or worse, based on how they approach decisions about life, including what to wear.

I once attended a gathering of large women discussing their weight and eating problems. One particular woman caught my attention. She was as large or larger than most of the other women, but that was not what I noticed.

She had done such a terrific job of putting herself together that my first thought was, "She's beautiful!" Her clothes and makeup complemented her body. The colors she chose enhanced her beauty. She held herself high and oozed confidence. Finally, she was all smiles and appeared to be enjoying herself. I've never forgotten that woman.

Waiting to buy a bathing until getting to the "perfect" weight doesn't make sense. That philosophy usually ends in another wasted summer. Instead, deciding to buy a bathing suit you like and getting on with the summer festivities can get you closer to getting leaner.

After all, hiding doesn't burn many calories, but having fun does. Laughing, walking on the beach and jumping in the water are all activities that require the body to burn energy.

make it pleasant

Are you ready to buy a bathing suit? Here are some tips for making it a more pleasant experience.

1. Think of your body as a room in a house that you want to redecorate. The size and shape of the room don't matter; just think of what would look best.

2. Select colors that look good on you just as you would choose colors for your new room. Have fun. Painting every room beige would be boring. Remember that when you reach for a basic black suit.

3. Select the style that looks the best on you, just as you would choose the right furniture for your room.

4. Select accessories — a broad-brimmed hat, sandals — that look good with your color palette just as you would choose pictures and pillows.

5. Consider comfort. It's important to feel comfortable in your swimsuit, just as you want to feel good in your new room. The better the suit feels, the less preoccupied you will feel with your body. It's hard to have fun when the straps are digging into your shoulders.

6. Now that you've selected the best bathing suit for you, forget about it. Go out and have fun. Let that be the end of the issue.

Don't worry, be happy

It's impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time, so by doing everything you can to be more relaxed you avoid anxiety. Here are tips to help with that mission:

• Focus on the beauty around you such as the sky, the cool water, the warm sand and the sounds of laughter and play.

• When you find yourself focusing on your body or wondering what people are thinking about you, talk to yourself. Remind yourself you're there to enjoy your time. And other people are no doubt focusing more on themselves than you.

• Remind yourself that your goal is to live a happy and fulfilling life regardless of any imperfections.

• Remind yourself that you've done the best job you can to "decorate your room" and now you're setting that aside and focusing on the present moment.

It's your responsibility to create a life of which you will be proud. Who wants to look back and think, "I spent all my life focusing on my body and never letting go enough to truly have fun"?

So don't let a bathing suit get in the way of your life. Choose one that works for you, and get on with having the time of your life.

Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a Tampa clinical psychologist who specializes in weight management. She can be reached at (813) 240-9557 or Her book, "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management," is available at

Overcome bathing suit anxiety and just enjoy yourself 06/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 11:03am]
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