Beyond the Bathing Suit

Women_in_Bathing_Suits_North_Africa_1944[1]Written by Alexis S., Alumni Member of Reconnect with Food program at Inner Door Center®

It’s been three and a half years since I graduated Inner Door Center’s program. While my health and happiness have greatly increased, recovery has been a dance of a couple of steps forward and a couple of steps back. Summer, a time of bikinis and BBQs, has always been a time of anxiety and disorder. There were years when the season was marked by restriction and other years that were marked by binging and purging. Even after three years of recovery, summer is still a challenging time of year for me.

I would love to write that this year I am able to put on my bathing suit without hesitation and confidently strut my stuff. I would love to write that I navigate the family BBQs and trips to Mackinac City for fudge and caramel corn without fretting. However, even now, there are times when it is tempting to slip back into old habits.

This past weekend, when I put on my bathing suit, familiar and oh-so-unkind thoughts about my body popped up, making me want to run and hide. On the boat, surrounded by coolers and snack bags, I felt trapped and the rising panic tempted me to escape in the disordered world of restricting and binging.

Luckily, I have spent hours on my yoga mat, preparing for moments like this. In poses like chair and pigeon, I’ve practiced on staying present in moments of discomfort. In triangle pose and airplane pose, I’ve practiced accepting where my body is. Breath by breath, I’ve put principles of non-judgement, acceptance, and balance into practice on my mat and the more I practice, the more easily these principles translate off the mat.

So, as old thoughts and habits threatened to unsettle and distress, I took a breath and took notice of what was arising. I allowed myself to experience the discomfort, knowing that eventually the moment would pass… and it did. Though there were uncomfortable moments that day, there were also moments of laughter and joy, moments that just a few years ago, I would have been too preoccupied to experience.

Every once in a while, my friends and I end the day by watching summer fireworks light up the sky. This past weekend, as I watched the sky erupt in explosions of colors, I sent the universe a whisper of thanks for my own freedom from the shackles of disorder.

Tips for Navigating Swimsuit Season

  1. Take your time finding a swimsuit that you feel comfortable in. There are many different styles and it may take time to find one that you like. Be patient.
  2. Bring a friend to shop with you, someone who supports your recovery and can help you through the process.
  3. You are your own worst critic. Be generous and consistent with positive affirmations for yourself.
  4. Take a deep breath and let go of some worry & anxiety. Those are too heavy to carry around at the beach and the pool.
  5. And dive in. Even if that just means dipping your toes in. You got this.

Struggling with body image and your relationship with food? We’re here to help you! Call Inner Door Center® today at 248-336-2868 for an initial assessment or learn more about our programs at


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