The Bikini Rebellion is a challenge spearheaded by wholehearted health coach: Neghar Fonooni. I participated in this challenge last summer as well as this year. The purpose of the challenge is to rebel against the current societal norm that says in order to have a bikini body, your body has to fit a certain "standard". Neghar encourages the practice of authenticity and vulnerability in each of the entries as well as sisterhood and connection within the bikini rebellion (instagram) community.
The problem is not that "bikini body" programs don't work, but that they encourage the pursuit of perfection and not the pursuit of growth. The "bikini body" mindset often means we deprive ourselves of pleasure and punish ourselves with exercise. As bikini rebels, we are rebelling and making steps to change this norm. The "bikini rebel" mindset means we accept ourselves for where we are in our health journey while pursuing positive lifestyle changes.
This is the mindset I teach from and encourage with all of my patients coming in for weight loss. It's okay for someone to want to lose some body fat or change their body composition as long as it's from a place of self-love and not self-loathing.
Bikini Rebel: a woman who accepts that in order to have a bikini body, all you need to do is put a bikini on your body.
The following entries are Days 1-7 of this year's Bikini Rebellion Instagram Challenge.
Battling my "shame demons" and my personal struggle/triumph
The last 4.5 months has been one of the hardest in my life. I was restricted to using only crutches, a walking brace, a cane and then finally my own two legs. For me, movement is such an inherent part of life. I am not afraid to admit that I was extremely depressed during the times that I was especially immobile and in pain. I shared some of that in previous posts just to show that this isn't always my "highlight reel".
Throughout this time, I’ve battled with a variety of “shame demons”. The ones that say “You should move more, you’ll feel better.” When really, I don’t. I just get more depressed. “You’re the person who people look up to for inspiration, you should be a better role model.” I’m just trying to do my best.
There were times where I numbed myself with TV just to escape my reality. And to be honest, there were times where I found comfort in good food because it distracted me from my current state of being.
Is that a bad thing? Potentially in excess. Did my physique show it? Yes. You can hardly see the muscles in my thighs anymore and I have probably more cellulite on my bottom half than I’ve ever had. Do I care? I try not to. And that’s the point.
The point is that I’m not “perfect”. I notice the cellulite on my bottom and sometimes feel a twinge of unworthiness. I don’t avoid sugar ALL the time. I’m not gluten-free ALL the time. My body is a dynamic being and I do my best based on the other things going on in my life. I gave myself permission to partake in certain foods simply because I needed some more happiness in my life.
The extra cellulite and the lack of muscle I have on my legs is a sign that I made it through one of the most mentally challenging times in my life. I see that and what I think is “Man am I glad to be able to use these legs again.” My mob-ability is worth way more.
When that random person sees me on the beach in a bikini, do I give them the power to determine if I deserve to wear a bikini? Does my fat make me less worthy of wearing a bikini? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Because I don’t subscribe to the belief that someone else can determine my worthiness.
"What defines you? What qualities make you the extraordinary woman you are today?"
I'm a Baha'i. I'm a wife. I'm a daughter. I'm a mom-in-training so I'm as prepared as possible when my turn comes. I'm a nutritionist and a coach. I'm an athlete. I'm a food forager (and sometimes thief)🍏. I'm a world citizen. I'm a damn good creator in the kitchen. I'm a role model for my peers, my patients, and my colleagues.
I care about other's successes. I know what I want out of life and I try to manifest that. I'm low-maintenance. I take care of myself but accept help when I need it.
My identity is defined by me. The qualities I manifest are developed by me. Any number, whether it be weight, body fat %, waist circumference, height, or BMI, is arbitrary. Why attach meaning to a number? Am I going to allow an externally defined societal norm take away my personal value?
Even though I love my body the way it is, Is that even a factor that I should consider when choosing to love myself as a human being?
"Do you find yourself comparing yourself to other women? How does it make you feel? How has comparison kept you from living fully?"
Appreciation of another woman means that we acknowledge her worth as well as our own.
While you may be comparing your abs to mine, I'm probably comparing my legs to yours. But how we should really approach this situation is not through comparison but simply acknowledgment and appreciation of the other woman. The whole woman.
if I look hard enough at my body, I am bound to find something wrong. I can look at myself close-up and look at each individual part thinking, “hey, it looks like I’ve got some more layers on my abs today” or “are my hips really that thick?”. What I like best about using a full body mirror is seeing my body as a whole and what an amazing being it is! I love how I my genetics gave me “abs”. I love my ability to put on muscle, even if it means being “thicker”. In isolation, of course we can find flaws but, as a whole, the human body is so beautiful! It can do so many things! I love being able to see the muscles that allow me to do all those amazing things!
I actually really do love all my body but now and then I fall into the comparison trap. I love admiring other women: their legs, abs, butts, hair, brows, shoes, clothes, or really any visible feature. Though, I always hesitate to say anything because I don’t want them to think their appearance is why I value them. I try to value other woman because of who they are and not what they look like, even though I may love their looks.
My fellow women, when you receive a compliment on your appearance, how do you feel? Does it increase your self-worth? Does it make you feel more important? Slowly we can try to detach the value that compliments give us and simply love ourselves for the good that we can bring into this world, regardless of the cage our souls live in.
My body’s story:
I’ve always had an athletic body. Growing up it allowed me run, jump and play all day. I remember in 1st grade I got the end of the year award for being the fastest runner in the class. Over the years I tried every sport available to me and did pretty well at all of them (except basketball because I couldn’t memorize plays or perform under pressure).
I was a late bloomer, body-wise. I gained my freshman 15 (read: 25) in high school and made the jump from pants size 0 to size 6 in 6 months. I’ve had “abs”, a small waist and a (relatively) large bottom half. Finding clothes was always a drag until I found #barbellapparell and #lululemon.
In high school, I broke (and still carry) my school record for long jump and triple jump. My thighs and butt were built for power. My 1RM squat was 275 at age 17. Somewhere toward the end of high school I contracted Lyme disease and it took me about 5 years to get diagnosed then treated. That changed my life.
I couldn’t exercise for 2 years because of chronic fatigue and weakness. I used to faint and get dizzy a lot (like, a lot). Thankfully, I have ways to regulate that now. I can no longer run the way I used to #asthma. I can no longer lift the way I used to #jointpain.
I dream of the day when I can lift 275 again. I dream of the day I can run 3 miles without starving for air. Would I trade my body for another? No. This is my story. I’ve learned so much from it and I know it will continue to teach me as I age.
I used to have a fear of, “When I get pregnant, I wonder if I will still have a 6-pack afterward.” To me now, that’s the least of my worries. Now they are more like, “Can my adrenals handle carrying a baby? Will I give Lyme to my baby?” Regardless of the answer, I can’t change that reality so there is no use worrying and I’m doing my best to care for myself until then. "Bodies inevitably change, and the more attached we get to their form, the more likely we are to suffer."
How can you love your body and still make positive strides in terms of health?
How is loving your body integral to caring for it?
How will you create sustainable, healthy habits?
Why is acceptance not the same as resignation?
Will you make the commitment to choosing a positive reality, every single day?
What is the difference between body awareness and body shaming/judgment?
If we deem body shaming unacceptable for other women, why do we insist on doing it to ourselves?
It crushes my heart to see friends, clients and colleagues who base their self-worth off of their physique. They see their body through a faulty lens. Their happiness and worthiness is NEVER going to change UNLESS they change the lens that they are looking through. I want so much to scream at them “Please just accept your body! It’s the only one you have!!"
Because I accept my body for what it is, does that mean I give up on making positive changes toward a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely not. BODY ACCEPTANCE DOESN’T MEAN RESIGNATION! Active acceptance means we are aware of our current reality but work to make changes toward a better life.
My changes come from a place of love and compassion. This body allows me to do SO much in this world. This body is no more worthy of love and respect than one that is skinny, large, or even shredded with muscle. Ladies, please love yourselves for your own sake. If we want to change the society we live in, we have to start with ourselves. Choose your positive reality.
Write yourself a love letter.
This image (above) is my practice of radical self-love displayed on top of the other person I love most in this world.
Self-love is the belief that you are worthy of your own care and affection, and that by loving and accepting yourself, you can fully do so for others.
Self-love does not equal selfishness, conceit, and narcissism; those are based on the belief that you are superior to others.
@negharfonooni says: "We often fall victim to the idea that 'putting ourselves last' is somehow noble and selfless--but it's actually incredibly damaging....consistently caring for others at our own expense is not love--it's neglect."
This is something I see ALL the time with my clients. So many mothers exhaust themselves (and their health!) by trying to do it all and forget their own needs. I'm not yet a mother, but I know that I can't give from an empty cup. We all need to do whatever it takes to make the time for self care while giving our families what they need.
My love letter:
Your drive for balance is admiring. When you are your authentic self with all across your path, you are infectious with inspiration.
You love your husband in the perfect way. You strive to create the marriage you want. I love how you try to be so efficient with your time and resources in the kitchen, making everything from ketchup to bone broth and always cooking from scratch.
You will be a very competent mother when your time comes keep your spirits up and keep changing the world!
"How you'll spread this message of the Rebellion and sisterhood..."
I could just post the photo on the left all by itself and give you the idea that I'm all abs....Or, I could also post the photo on the right and show that I'm also all ass. "Fat" ass, mind you. Unfortunately, my left glutes are not that muscular right now given I'm recovering from a severe injury. Does that mean I can't sport my bikini? No thanks, I don't subscribe to that belief system.
I don't belief in pursuing perfection. I aim for the pursuit of growth. If we only are okay with showing up as we are when we're "perfect", then we miss out on living life wholeheartedly. We are never good enough.
As a nutritionist, about 80% of my patients come in with a desire to lose weight, some realistic some unrealistic. It's my job to re-frame their mindset towards health and guaranteed, God willing, the weight loss will come.
Sometimes people will say "but oh you're skinny you have no idea what you're talking about." First of all, look at the photo. Second of all, staying healthy in this culture is not easy! I have to deal with the same temptations, the same busy schedule, etc. If we make health a priority and detach our physical outcomes from our worthiness, then we can continue to strive for the body we want from a place of LOVE!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience in reflecting on my relationship with my body and that no one person has the perfect body. If you feel like you could benefit from my coaching, please schedule an appointment with me!