Swimming is a great form of exercise for everyone, no matter your age or size. It is the activity that is most often recommended for pregnant women because of the way that the water gentle supports your body. However, for some people, it can be one of the most difficult sports to participate in because of the clothing (or lack of).
Swimming requires us to be wearing something that may offer little more coverage than underwear in a public place, which can cause stress. At least relaxing at the beach, there's the opportunity to stay covered up under a sarong or beach towel. If you pick the right swimwear, it can give your confidence a boost. There are now costumes available to suit everyone, so find something that flatters your figure.
It is important to remember that your body image is simply a mental representation that you have created and that it may not bear a close relation to how other people actually see you. I've struggled with my weight all of my life, and although I've managed to get myself to a borderline healthy weight, there are some parts of my body that I intensely dislike. On speaking with friends who I've asked to be truly honest with me, I've found that my perceived flaws are not things that they have noticed at all. Some of you may remember a particular television show that was on about 10 years ago, where Gok Wan asked women to place themselves in a line of women according to how they saw their size. Without fail, people overestimated how big they were.
Body image and self-esteem can be distorted by many factors, including our moods and emotions, early experiences, our parents' attitudes and impressions that we get from the media. So, what can you do about this? How can you improve your body confidence, so that the walk from the changing room to the poolside doesn't strike fear into your heart?
Here are my top 8 tips to help you improve your body confidence:
- Avoid media that exacerbates your fears. Nowadays there are so many magazines and television programmes that focus on appearance and do not go beyond the superficial. This barrage of information may make you subconsciously measure yourself against others. We know that many magazine images are airbrushed, but women still try to measure themselves against what they see.
- Consider how using social media makes you feel. Make sure that you seek out media forms and people that reinforce a positive self-image.
- Stay away from shopping centres and department stores. These locations are designed to play on your insecurities to make you buy more products that you do not need and will just lead to more insecurity.
- Spend time with positive people. These people will make you feel more positive about yourself. You should also avoid negative and disparaging conversations about appearance, whether this is your own or other people's. You should change your inner monologue and be your own best friend - if you wouldn't say something to your best friend, don't say it to yourself!
- Focus on the positives in life. Give compliments and mean them… and learn to accept compliments with grace. The more you smile, the more positive you will feel.
- Keep exercising as endorphins are mood boosters. Even on hectic days where you can't fit in an hour of exercise, a five-minute stroll in fresh air can make you feel better (although not as good as an hour in the pool!)
- Fake it till you make it. The more you confident you appear to others, then the more they will perceive you in that way. Give a smile as you stroll to the water's edge and others will focus on that.
- Find a purpose. If you're busy then you'll have less time to worry about how you look!