“How did you learn to love your body?”
While I was out treading water in the middle of the lake on a hot summer evening recently, a new friend asked me this question after remarking how confident I am in my skin.
Loving my body has been a process, mostly a shift in mindset. Now, even though I can confidently say that I truly embrace and accept my beautiful self, I still have off times.
Whenever I feel insecure, stressed, or down about life, I seek out the pool, a lake, or an ocean – these places have been my greatest teacher. They are where my body loves to have fun and move: in the water. No matter what the day, jumping into my local pool makes my whole being (mind, body, & soul) feel so much better.
My love of swimming came naturally. As an infant, my parents brought me to swim at our local pool and took me in the lake at my grandparents’ cottage. I grew up surrounded by water; its’ constant presence taught me so much!
Over the years, I’ve competed in water sports like rowing and kayaking; but I have never competed in swimming. Being in the water is a place I seek out to relax and be nourished. Where I can go after a long day and life’s stressors are washed away.
Funny enough, I learned to love my body through swimming. No matter where I am in the world, I seek out the water: it is a positive environment that makes me feel my personal best.
When I am swimming, my whole being feels nourished and at peace. Immersing myself in this aquatic environment makes me realize how powerful I am. I focus on my body’s strengths as it moves through the water; the belief that my body isn’t perfect never crosses my mind. During such moments, I am at my best and truly accept and respect my beautiful self. My whole being is nourished by the water; it’s my playground.
Once I get in the water, I can swim for hours. Take, for example, the night I was asked “how did I learn to love my body?” I went to the lake as the perfect way to cool down and relax after a long hot summer work day. After getting there, I entered the water easily and proceeded to swim out deep and tread water for three hours with friends. My body just kept swimming and moving in the water. I felt truly alive and at peace in this beautiful lake. I wasn’t working out as a chore to keep my body fit. No, I went into the lake because my body craved it. My friends and I were having so much fun; we swam until the sun started to go down.
Swimming is a stress-reliever, a time when I can think deeply and process what is going on in my daily life – a place where I feel like all my worries are gone. When I’m floating on the surface or diving under the water, I feel weightless. No burdens.
In the water, I have never felt self-conscious – rather, it’s a place where I feel my body’s value – its’ innate worth and strength. As soon as I jump or dive in the water, the worries of life just wash away. Through water, I know that no matter where I am in my life journey, I will be reminded of the beauty of life!
Being in the water makes me feel invincible – diving in and surrounding myself in such a beautiful place – why am I not doing this every day of my life?!
The water is where I learned to love my amazing self – with its changing hues and depth. Water nurtures life. Perhaps that’s why I always return to it.
Arianna Merritt, M.Ed., is a behavioural change practitioner, digital storyteller, & Founder of The Self-Discovery Retreat – an interactive forum that provides recent grads, entrepreneurs, and professionals with practical strategies, community, and mentorship to reach their full potential.