Working It Out: My First Time Being Free On The Beach (In A Two-Piece)
If you’ve been following my Working It Out Column, you know my big motivator for losing weight was turning 30 and wanting to look fab on the beach in La República Dominicana (DR). I hit that milestone on May 10, with a total weight loss of 77.6 pounds, and when I stepped on the sands of Punta Cana it was the first time I’d ever felt free on a beach in my entire life.
I give major kudos to any woman, particularly those who are plus-size, who’ve never felt any type of way about baring their bodies on the beach. I, on the other hand, had spent 29 years buying ugly one pieces, cover ups, swim bras, and the like to make sure I didn’t have too much hanging out when I came anywhere near a body of water — and I damn sure wasn’t going to let anyone snap a picture of me in that element.
This picture of me in Jamaica in 2008 is proof of that sentiment as I spent the entire trip taking my own selfies to try to make sure the angles were “right.” And by right, I meant no one saw any part of me past the bust-line — as if that masked the weight so apparent in my face. I remember I left this trip — not even at my highest weight — determined to make a change. Even with all the angle manipulating I attempted to do when it came to capturing this vacation, I was completely disgusted with how I looked and didn’t want to feel that way any longer. And so I did begin a weight loss journey in November of 2008 which lasted right up until about May of 2009. During those nine months I dropped close to 50 pounds, but unfortunately I put the weight right back on in even less time along with the same sentiment of disgust.
Given that history, I wasn’t sure what my time in DR would be like from a beach perspective. I’ve already touched on how my self-perception has had a hard time catching up with the number on the scale, and just two months ago when I returned to Jamaica for a press trip having lost close to 60 pounds at that point I still felt a lot like the girl on the left in 2008. I wore a plain (read: ugly) Black one-piece I had from a trip to Miami the prior year (so clearly it didn’t exactly fit right anymore) and though I really meant to take off the tank top I wore over it before I got in the pool, the fact that I didn’t felt like another subconscious indicator that I still wasn’t as comfortable with my evolving body as I thought I was, or wanted to be. Add to that the fact that when I looked at some of the full-body pictures I allowed people to take I had quite a few WTF moments, I wasn’t hopeful that I was going to be walking around Punta Cana as carefree as I originally intended. But low and behold a change has come.
I imagine the additional 20-plus pounds I dropped since March had a lot to do with my confidence level, but literally the moment I stepped onto the resort I was ready to change into my bathing suit and let the sun hit every angle of me. This is the point where I have to thank Swimsuits For All and ASOS Curve for coming through with the so-called fatkinis (I’m not a fan of this particular f-word but it is what it is), something I never in a million years saw myself wearing and yet fully embraced for an entire week. And you can probably tell from the pics above I was feeling myself just a teensy weensy bit.
What I felt more than anything was appreciation for my body and a new-found sense of confidence. Let me just tell you, you don’t know freedom until you can stop wearing your raggedy bras under swimsuits to make sure the girls stay in place. (I’m not the only person who’s done that right?) For the first time, my booty was about the only thing not tan on my body as I watched my stomach and middle back get bronze under the Dominican sun — body parts that have never seen the light of day outside my bedroom — and I was okay with that. I even let a photographer capture it all on my birthday — with a real camera — and contorted my body into any pose he saw fit with no questions asked. That was the real milestone I went to DR for and, thankfully, I was able to set aside the anxiousness of my weight loss journey and actually appreciate how far I’d come and what my body looked like in that exact moment while there. As I look back on my vacation and my feelings about turning 30, that, I feel, is the greatest success of all.