It’s almost April, and that can mean only one thing: Just eight weeks to get your best beach body ever!

It’s as much a spring tradition as Easter bunnies and tulips, isn’t it?

I’ll admit that I’ve fallen victim to the “I’ve got to do something with this body” mentality when it’s clear that summer will be here in the blink of an eye. But experience has taught me that all the exercise and calorie-cutting and treat-skipping in the world won’t fundamentally change the body I have. I may tone up and trim down a bit, but at the end of the day, I’ll still be me.

Am I saying we should just give up on exercise and healthy eating? Not at all. What I am saying is that maybe it’s high time we re-evaluated what the “perfect beach body” means for us (And you know I hate the word “perfect.” I cringed earlier this week when actress Jennifer Love Hewitt used it).

Let me explain: Lately, I’ve watched two good friends in my life both face life-changing illnesses. As we head into spring, I can’t help but think of them and realize that my “best beach body ever” is the one that’s simply healthy enough to spend an afternoon in the sun and surf with my kids.

Likewise, as I think about bumping up the intensity of my exercise routine this spring, I’m thinking less about swimsuits and sculpting perfect curves than I am about new research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that found that women who exercise more (and were presumably thinner) are less likely to develop breast cancer.

In reality, there are many good reasons to exercise and eat a healthy diet. When I do, I feel better, I think better and sure, I look better. But my “best body” is no longer defined by a model in a magazine’s glossy pages.

It’s defined by me: Healthy. Strong. Happy.

About the Author

Dara Chadwick

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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