Strategies for Finding Peace When Swimsuit Season Approaches [Grace in the Mess of Body Image]

Gold Brush Stroke

Spring is such a lovely season, but it harbors a time of insecurity for many.

During this time of year,  the inevitable campaign to “look good” grows strong. The extra pounds and flabby abs were easier to hide under the multiple layers worn in winter. Spandex and “cinching up the belt” no longer suffice with shorts and swimsuit season upon us.

Every extra pound gained and each untoned muscle seems to scream look at me. That leads to the age-old curse of comparison. 

I adore spring, but I struggle with the season because I’m an inconsistent exerciser, especially over winter. So when it’s time to put shorts on, I’m a bit hesitant.


Built to Be Slim and Trim?

Everywhere I look, it seems, I see ladies with killer legs and flat stomachs jogging the sidewalks or biking the streets. And I cringe a bit inside. That should be me, I chastise myself. 

Have you thought the same thing?

Should it really be you and me out there? Maybe … but maybe not.  

Just like we are different people emotionally and personality-wise, we differ physically as well. And we all have different health needs, energy levels, and abilities. 

In other words, we are all made unique in every aspect of our being, including physically. And we need to honor and embrace that, even in fitness.

In a nutshell, we aren’t all created to be slim and trim, and we aren’t all cut out to be joggers or swimmers or bikers. So we need to quit comparing ourselves to those that are. 

We Need to Exercise

Don’t get me wrong. Our bodies are a gift and “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We need to take care of them (“glorify God in your body” [6:20])—just not all in the same way. 

Some of us find release and enjoyment in jogging. I actually wish I were one of them. But to me it’s near torture.

Some of us swim every morning. My poor body freezes stiff if I swim when the air temps are less than 90 degrees.

Some of us walk daily, participate in Zumba, do Boot Camp exercises, lift weights (or heft little children), run steps, wog, swim, bike….

Some of us have yet to find what works for them. 

That’s okay. The point is endless ways exist for maintaining a degree of fitness. You don’t have to feel guilty, and you don’t have to compare! [←Tweet this.]  

Strategies for Finding Peace in Exercising

I’m no fitness trainer, but here are a few strategies I incorporate to care for this body of mine. Maybe they will encourage you and alleviate some of the pressure of looking good.

  • Just start. A bit over a year ago, I wrote the post Wogging Is the Best Strategy for Success. In it I highlight the importance of beginning with small steps to have success over the long haul. Just begin somewhere and build up slowly. 
  • Experiment. There isn’t one best plan for exercise. Try different activities, ones perhaps you wouldn’t think of. (tennis, wogging, biking, dance exercises, water aerobics, etc.)
  • Recruit a friend, even if only occasionally. My walks are always more vigorous and enjoyable when I go with a buddy.
  • Incorporate little differences. Park a bit farther away from the store. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Walk down to get the mail instead of driving.
  • Change it up. There is no reason to only incorporate one form of exercise. You might want to change them by season, month, or even day. For me, some days I feel like wogging, others I just want to hike, still others I may do some Boot Camp exercises, work in the garden, play tennis in the summer or ski in the winter. The variety keeps me from burning out and gets me moving in some fashion.
  • Don’t compare. I believe we’ve covered this, but it’s so important I had to add it to these bullet points. You are uniquely you; don’t try to be something or someone you’re not! 

Just find some form of exercise that fits you.

I’m learning to let go of my desire to look like “that girl” and find satisfaction in “this girl”—the one God made me to be. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll compete in a triathlon or even a 5K, but it will be because I want to, not so I can look like the next super model. 

I pray you, too, find a measure of peace in your body as you honor God in caring for it … in the way that fits you. 

“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:14).

Reflections: When it comes to fitness, do you struggle? How about with your body image and comparison? 

For the next month or two on Mondays, I’ll be posting in my Grace in the Mess Series where I explore how God’s grace allows us to live with joy and peace in many aspects of our earthly lives (body image, marriage, parenting, faith). Check back every Monday. Or better yet, never miss a post by signing up to have each one delivered right to your inbox. It’s free!

Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2840–2860, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Grateful I could watch Zach start in the varsity soccer game, even though I couldn’t stay for the entire game; Listening to beautiful music at Joey’s piano recital; Joey & Rach feeling much better, even a full day of school for my girl with a good report
  • Windshield remaining intact while driving through hail tonight; First day of short wearing for this gal; View of the sun peaking around the edge of the storm while a rainbow makes its appearance at the same time (wish I wasn’t driving so I could have taken a picture)
  • Long hike through the woods; Rach’s first time enjoying the porch swing–now that her feet touch, she wouldn’t quit swinging; Starting the day in the apple orchard with my senses overloaded with sights, sounds, and scents
  • Double header tonight with Jazz in the Streets for youngest and soccer for second–both did great!; My deck swing on a lovely day; Kittens climbing window screens
  • Being goofy with Joey as just him and I traveled to Zach’s soccer game; Gorgeous evening sky of teal; This long-awaited book’s arrival
  • Sharing blessing of our land with others; Having fourth driver back for shuttling–thanks Daniel; Waves of clouds greeting me as I opened the back door of our barn-retreat
  • S’mores with peppermint marshmallows–quite good; Bonfire with 3 of my children; Zach sweetly “escorting” Rachel out of mosquito-haven trail 


By His Grace,


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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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