October 25, 2014

From the Editor

We’ve done almost everything we can to send you to the beach or pool seeming as luminous as a Gulfshore sunrise (see "SeeWorthy" on p. 62 and "Looking Great in Your Swimsuit" on p. 192). We’ve happily plumbed the keenest minds for the right fashions and best practices for looking your finest from top to bottom.

But there’s one more dimension to share—your mindset—and it starts with this story about Jenny Craig (not the weight-loss guru, but a body image expert and relative newcomer to Paradise).

Jenny was shopping with a friend who was looking for a new bathing suit. A group of mothers and their fifth-grade daughters were in and out of the dressing rooms, and all Jenny could hear from the moms was: "My belly’s too big." "Look at my fat behind." "What can I do about these arms?" Pretty soon the little girls were saying the same things about themselves.

Incensed, Jenny put on a suit herself, stepped from the dressing room and loudly pronounced, "I look fabulous!" The moms all peeked out, and, though they said nothing, they seemed to get the message. Jenny wanted the girls to see an adult who liked herself—whether they agreed she looked that good or not.

With a wry grin, Jenny confesses that what she did might have been "my social suicide," but she desperately wants to pass the gift of self-esteem along to as many people as possible. With degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in psychology and social work, she shares what she’s learned:

"Did you know," she says, "that negative self-talk is one of the reasons that people have trouble losing weight? Negative self-talk increases stress, triggering the body to hold onto its stored energy source—better known as fat. Under stress, we try to use and store the energy we have as resourcefully as possible. This is really helpful if you are being chased by a bear—because you can efficiently utilize your energy to get away.

"The same natural body response continues to occur whether we are being chased by a bear or getting ready for swimsuit season. So every time you make a negative comment about yourself, you will increase stress levels and start storing fat."

Step out on the beach, Jenny advises, and think positively. Sure, you may not feel beautiful every day, but pick out three things in life you’re grateful for and put your energy elsewhere by reading a good book or watching a dazzling sunset. "If you’re not figuring out what’s beautiful about why you’re here in the world," Jenny says, "you’ve got problems."

Not too long ago, Jenny encouraged Gulfshore Life writer Lyn Millner when she felt anxious about her assignment to go belly dancing. Positive must have prevailed. Long after the assignment, Lyn kept going back for more, feeling better and better about herself, I’m sure.

So on your next trip to the beach or pool, seize the moment. You, too, can be fabulous. Think about it.

—David Sendler

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