Summer.

Is.

Coming.

Are you ready for swimsuit season?

If your answer isn’t, “HECK YES, I AM!” then we need to chat about a little mindset shift.

beach ready body

For years and years and years – basically my entire existence from about puberty until now, I hated various parts of my body, and hated them even more in a swimsuit. Every year, there would be an agonizing trip to the mall to find a new bathing suit. Every year, I’d settle on one (key word: settle), and begrudgingly wear it to the beach. I would pose for photos with a beach towel on my lap, a boogie board in front of my body, or a baby strategically positioned, trying to hide the parts that I was ashamed of. I have never, ever felt that I had a beach ready body. Ever.

What a downer, right? We’re only here on this earth for such a short time. I have wasted so much time and energy being caught up in my “flaws,” that I forgot about being in the moment and enjoying life.

This body of mine has been through the ringer.

Four pregnancies.

One miscarriage.

beach ready body

Three births.

One c-section.

Two unmedicated VBACs. (one of them being almost 9.5 pounds…)

beach ready body

Full-term breastfeeding of three babies, a total of 65 months (and counting!).

beach ready body

Over seven straight years of being pregnant and/or breastfeeding simultaneously.

Postpartum depression and anxiety.

Severe diastasis recti.

Mild prolapse.

Weight gain.

Weight loss.

Crippling sciatica.

Stretch marks.

Gestational diabetes.

Agonizing reflux.

It. Has. Been. A. Trip. My body doesn’t look like it did ten years ago. Heck, it doesn’t look like it did five years ago. This past year, I’ve been on an intense wellness journey – finally learning proper portion control, and committing to clean eating with as much of an 80/20 balance as I can achieve on any given day. And getting exercise 4-6 days a week.

I’ve never been healthier. I’ve certainly been thinner. I’ve had fewer wrinkles. I’ve had smooth, non-stretch-marked skin. But, I’ve never been healthier. Even back in high school, I was “skinny fat” – when you eat actual garbage day in and day out, but have a fantastic metabolism.

beach ready body

This body of mine has gone through it. I can’t compete with the youthful high school and college girls in string bikinis at the beach.

But guess what?

I don’t want to compete. I don’t care. I wouldn’t go back to that life, and give up this life, this body, even if I could.

Going back would mean not having my three beautiful babies, who I love so much I want to squeeze them so their heads almost pop off. It would mean not having the knowledge I do now, about what’s truly important in life (family and happiness, for me), and the self-confidence I have gained in my 35 years around the sun.

Going back would mean not having that telltale c-section “flap.” It will never be gone, unless I somehow miraculously end up with the finances and cojones to go under the knife.

Going back would mean not having these stretch marks that are a beautiful reminder of the lives I’ve grown, carried, and fed, with my body and my body alone.

Mamas. Our bodies are freaking incredible. They are amazing. They grow and nourish children. Heck, they even grow entire temporary organs during pregnancy (don’t even get me started about that mystical, magical placenta, guys!).

I want to show my daughter what it means to love and honor your body, no matter what it looks like. I want her to understand that women’s bodies are magical. And I want my sons to know this as well. Should they ever have wives one day, I want my boys to treat them like the goddesses that they are, no matter what lumps and bumps and rolls and stretch marks come along the way.

When my children poke my stomach and say, “Wow, your belly is so squishy, Mom!” I say, “Yes, I know! Isn’t it amazing? It grew THREE babies in there! Pretty cool, huh?” And when they ask if I have another baby in my belly, I just laugh.

Why do we celebrate the #dadbod, but not celebrate our own glorious, miraculous #mombod? Our bodies are where the true power is. I honestly feel bad for men because they will never experience the miracle of carrying, birthing, and nourishing another human. I feel endlessly blessed and privileged that I have been able to do this not once, but three times.

I have learned to make my own health and wellness a priority. To squeeze in workouts between wiping butts and wiping tears, between providing endless streams of snacks and meals. To take the extra time to prepare healthy snacks and meals so that I’m able to make healthy choices more easily.

I’m incredibly proud of where I’ve been and where I am now, and this is part of what I mean when I say “honor your body.” It feels amazing to lose weight, but really, it feels even more amazing to feel strong and to appreciate what my body is capable of.

So. Do I have a beach ready body? HECK YES I DO. And so do you.

Have a body? Then it’s ready for the beach.

For more of my wellness journey, check me out on Instagram and please click here and be sure to follow my column, Heather Gets Healthy.

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