When beach season approaches after a long, dark winter, breaking out that bikini you haven’t worn for the better part of a year can be intimidating.
Body-positive blogger Sarah Sapora can relate: She hasn’t worn a bikini in 25 years, since she was 13 years old.
Now, the 38-year-old plus-size wellness blogger is rocking a sexy turquoise two-piece on her Sarah Plus Life blog and Instagram account. But Sarah admits it wasn’t an easy process to get to where she is today. When both of her parents were hospitalised in 2015, Sarah tells Women’s Health US that she felt inspired to make a change. “At that moment, the reality of my own health became a very real thing,” she says. “I was unable to walk a single city block to get to my mom’s hospital bed without stopping in pain; I knew I had to do something.”
That’s when she decided to start a health journey that she says started from “the inside out.” “When I treat my body with respect by eating regular meals that are balanced, I feel better physically,” Sarah says. “When I do an activity, strength train and exercise, I feel more energised and vibrant.”
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Since then, Sarah says she’s lost 74 pounds—but the non-scale victories she’s experienced are even more satisfying than the new numbers she’s seeing on the scale. “Today, I can conquer six flights of stairs in 54 seconds, leg press more than twice my body weight, and am dangerously close to doing unassisted full-body pushups,” she says. “I am more peaceful, more joyous, more balanced, and more excited about the possibilities in my life than I have ever been as an adult!”
With that came the confidence she needed to “smash through” the old limitations that prevented her from wearing a bikini. “I was held back by my OWN limiting belief that I was not worthy or comfortable wearing [a bikini],” Sarah says.
Want to know something? Sit down for this, because this overweight, 38-year old woman is about to drop a truth bomb on you. Ready? That hiding? That anxiety you feel about who you are and what you look like? That fear you have that people are looking and going to laugh at you for dreaming big, being bold, or coloring outside the lines? It’s bananas. When you “play small” in your life, nobody wins. Least of all you. Have you ever heard that expression? In the world of personal growth (a place I am dipping my toes in as a plus size wellness blogger) it's a Marianne Williamson expression that explains how many of us shrug off our true desire, our true nature, to maintain security, control, and comfort. How we ignore what we really want so as not to rock our own boat, or the boats in the water near us. Rock the damn boat. Break your mold. Stop shrugging your True North off. Step in. Big and bold. Its time!! Another pic with my @lanebryant bikini. #BeGreater #Sponsored Pic by @lovelyinla ?
Now, Sarah says, “I know my body is a strong, flawed, beautiful work-in-progress and I choose to celebrate it every step of the journey!”
When we asked if she’s ever felt pressure to conform to the traditional concept of a “bikini body,” which Women’s Health banned from its covers in 2015, she says she’s learned that, “When we look to others to tell us that we are ‘acceptable’ then it is literally a prescription to feel unworthy in our own life. Only WE get to decide how we feel about ourselves!” She adds, “If other people are uncomfortable with my body in a bathing suit, that is not a reflection of my worth but of their perception of the value of my body.”
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Wearing this @lanebryant bikini took me far out of my comfort zone. But that’s the thing about feeling free. Once you REALLY start to live that — once you feel it — your comfort can’t be contained into any single zone. It’s in the air. It’s in the way you breathe. There is less fear and more room to dance in the truth of who, and what, we are. I feel this all the time. Freedom becomes your baseline. And you stop worrying about stuff like your "visible belly line" or stretch marks or stuff that jiggles because your sense of self is born in your beating heart. And your breath. And as long as you have both of those you can always come back to the single most important tool for happiness you have in your life. Love. It's all about love. Link to full post in the bio. #BeGreater #Sponsored Pic by @lovelyinla ?
This was an absolute first for me as an adult. Are you ready for the picture flood? Because I am so damn proud…The last time I wore a low-rise bikini, I was thirteen years old at “fat camp.” It wasn’t even mine; I borrowed it from a counselor and wore it just long enough to lay on a towel by the tennis court during rest period for 45 minutes that single summer day. Someone snapped a photo of it. I remember seeing it once, but that’s it… It’s taken me 25 years to feel that free in my body again. This is my new @lanebryant bikini. The kind of bikini I never thought I would wear. And now here I am. A size 22. And more comfortable, more balanced, and more joyful than I have ever been in my entire life. We get one turn around this dance floor, folks. There comes a time in your life when you realize it’s time to play the music YOU like, and dance like nobody's watching. Or like everyone is watching. Except if anyone is heckling, you don’t care because you’re too busy moving and shaking and living and laughing to be noticed. Brand new on the blog today! Lost more pics from this set and the FULL story of why you should PLAY BIG and show up in your own life without apology!!! If this post resonates with you, please click on the link in my bio for the FULL message and how and why its important that we truly allow joy into our life. #BeGreater #Sponsored Pic by @lovelyinla ?
Sarah’s honest and inspiring post is a welcome addition to other body-positive swimsuit moments so far this year. From Ashley Graham’s Baywatch-themed shoot to 63-year-old Christie Brinkley’s Sports Illustrated, we’ve seen some amazing strides toward celebrating women’s bodies of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
Sarah says she hopes her posts will inspire other women to embrace their bodies, too. “Confidence is a choice we have to make every day,” she tells Women’s Health. “We are never going to stop experiencing things in life that can make us feel insecure; we can’t control things. But we CAN decide how we deal with those feelings when they come up.”
This article originally appeared on WomensHealthmag.com
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