If there is one thing I am a big fan of, it’s the Speedo Endurance Bikini range. I bought my first one about 5 years ago and wore it religiously until ordering my new one last month…if I’m honest I didn’t really need a new one, but the splash of neon orange drew me in (I live for neon sportswear)…I also bought a bigger size, but more on that later in this post.
So what’s so special about this bikini? Well, firstly I’m a big fan of a two piece. Swimming costumes have never really been my thing as, without being too negative, I don’t have the type of body that looks good in one. Secondly it is far more convenient to wear a two piece – specifically for toilet breaks. I wear mine under my wetsuit when I’m sailing and anyone who has to deal with coming off the water to pop to the toilet when they already have a few layers on probably doesn’t want the faff of taking a swimming costume off too. Also the Endurance fabric is pretty special as it dries really quickly and is fade resistant so stays looking fresh and lovely for years. There’s also a handy draw string cord on the inside of the pant so the bottoms feel nice and snug and definitely won’t disappear when pushing off during swim sessions. Needless to say I am a true fan.
Admitting to myself that I needed a bigger size in the bikini was a challenge at first. I have always had a love-hate relationship with my body and often struggle to get the balance right with proper nutrition to fuel my training. I have also never really been truly satisfied with the body I was given, which I feel pretty terrible writing because I know I should appreciate my body for what it can do rather than what it looks like. I think everyone struggles with this to some degree though and I’ve learnt in recent years to try and ignore what my brain is telling me when I catch my reflection in the mirror and instead focus on how strong my body feels.
This year is probably the first time in ten years where I’ve just allowed myself to exercise and train for the fun of it and for the challenge of doing well in my summer triathlons, rather than exercising purely to manipulate my body to look a certain way. And bizarrely, this is probably the first time in my life where I’ve started to feel somewhat satisfied with how my body looks despite the fact that I have gained weight. The truth is, I will never be super toned. I’m a cardio bunny through and through and the thought of lifting weights or doing strength training in the gym does not appeal to me in the slightest. I know that doing strength training would help my performance in triathlon, but I just don’t have the inclination to do so as these days I think balance is far more important than having the most defined abs and looking perfectly Instagram-able (oh, the pressure). I also think cardio gets a pretty harsh beating from those strength-training Instagramers who tell you that you won’t get visible results doing cardio alone. I don’t think my body looks too bad in the above photo and can see a little bit of definition, and that’s just from swimming, cycling and running. Nothing else whatsoever. I’m also eating more than I have ever eaten in my life, and indulging in regular treats. So if you enjoy cardio, rather than strength training in the gym or being all zen in a yoga class (my idea of hell…I’ve tried to like it so many times but it is not for me), then don’t let anyone try to put you off and make you feel like you have to follow a particular path.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt this year is that no matter what your choice of exercise is it should always be fun, it should inspire you, it should keep you fit and allow you to take on challenges, it should push your mental and physical limits and it should make you feel proud. But it should never be purely motivated by the desire to look a certain way.