I just got back from an amazing beach vacation with my family in a beautiful home, with a pool, near the beach with a dear friends. It was absolutely a perfect summer kick-off vacation.

But I have to admit, it wasn’t all easy-breezy.

I always get a bit stressed at the beginning of the summer, pulling out the bathing suits, the shorts, the tank tops and summer dresses. Three years ago I declared that I would never set the goal of losing weight again, that I would focus on exercising daily in a way that suited me each day instead of focusing on which workout would simply burn more calories, and I would retrain myself to break free from rules and restrictions and relearn how to listen to my body and figure out for myself what is best for my energy, my health and vitality based on trial and error.

What I learned:

  1. My body is not as toned and lean as it once was, but I still love to swim and play.
  2. I am not as fit as I used to be, but I can still enjoy waterslides and amusement parks.
  3. My size and shape is the least interesting part about me.
  4. I can have fun, enjoy summer, wear bathing suits and laugh and play no matter what size I am.
  5. No one really cares if I am a size bigger or if they do, it’s not my problem.

What I have also learned is that the road to self-acceptance is a bumpy one. Sometimes I look at a picture of myself and cringe, and then find a way to relax into it. Sometimes I put on a pair of jeans that are more snug than they used to be and I cry because of all of the years of being terrified of what would happen if my body wasn’t fit and lean or I wasn’t at least yearning for it to be. But what has been the best lesson for me is the lesson of learning that what dictates my happiness and my self-acceptance is the story I tell about what any of this means.

I have had to learn to upgrade my self-talk, to retrain myself to focus on feeling good, versus simply looking “good”. I have had to remind myself that the rules and restrictions that I have obsessed over for the past 20 years simply don’t work for me today.