body image

Still Struggling with Body Image? Try a Nude Vacation

Sam and I often get a kick out of the site stats that tell us what search engine terms get people to the blog. People have landed here by searching “soccer and beer,” “If a guy says you are not fat but fluffy,” “aikido makes me nervous,” “hard fast no cuddling after tshirt,” and “no other regret compares to the childhood email address made.”

But yesterday, my heart really went out to the person who searched “I want to be nude at home but I’m too modest.”  Many of us struggle with body image. I’m not sure if this searcher is too modest because she (or he) is self-conscious about her (or his) body not being “good enough,” but if she is, I can recommend a solution that worked for me:  a nude vacation.

A few years ago my husband finally convinced me to try a nude resort for our winter vacation to the south.  I hesitated for many years but that time decided, “why not?”  Panic and fear gripped me in the days leading up, mostly because I didn’t feel comfortable in my body.

What I could not have anticipated was how freeing it felt to shed clothing for a week.  You get the full range of shapes and sizes, all comfortable in their skins.  The experience was a real turning point for me. I learned that I could be relaxed about my body instead of self-conscious.  I’ve never experienced the same level of body comfort as I do when I am on a nude vacation surrounded by others who are also free of clothing. And it doesn’t matter whether my weight is up or down, whether I’ve been keeping fit or not. I always feel better about my body when I get to the beach and take off my clothes for a few days.

I documented the experience in a short radio documentary that you can listen to here. [thanks go to Stephane Descharmes for making it accessible on the Bare Oaks website].

Just a quick word if you decide, on the basis of this post, to look into this kind of getaway. There are all sorts of different places to go all over the world. Some are more family-oriented and cater strictly to the “naturist” crowd. Others are adults-only and might attract or even in some cases cater to people in “the lifestyle” (i.e. swingers). And still others might be somewhere in between. So do your research. There is definitely something for everyone.

So to the person who is too modest to be nude at home I say: try getting naked for a week with others and see where that takes you!

fitness · weight loss

TV shows, fitness, and weight loss: Love and hate

Television hasn’t been part of my life for many years, not since I gave it up as a pre-tenure faculty member with small children. Indeed, I blogged about the decision to abstain from TV here.

We do watch television shows on DVD and Netflix again so it’s no longer a complete ban. But what is missing is regularly scheduled programming and ads.

This past year though I was on sabbatical in Australia and New Zealand in rented houses that came with televisions. For the first time, I got to experience reality TV.

Given my interests it’s not a surprise that I watched shows about weight loss and exercise.  Here’s my take on the best and the worst.

It’s no shock that I hated The Biggest Loser.

I worry about very fast, competitive weight loss and the circus freak mentality around fat bodies. That said, it was refreshing to see big people exercising.

The show I liked though was Are You Fitter than A Pensioner?

Here’s a description of one episode:

America has given birth to a new breed of super-fit pensioner. In Oakmont Village, California, the senior residents are doing everything they can to live long and healthy lives. What happens when four young, unfit and unhealthy Brits are sent to live with some of the fittest pensioners in the world?

25-year-old lazy Welsh socialite Ashlei Swain, 20-year-old bone-idle punk student Jennifer Lovell, 22-year-old fried food lover Nicole Pereira and 18-year-old chain smoker Ben Katchi are about to meet their fate. For a week they must stay with 68-year-old Bev Levy and her 71-year-old husband Ron, and 77-year-olds Carol and Jim Cotton.

The hosts might be in their retirement years but all four are fitness fanatics. From competitive swimming to yoga and daily gym workouts, they look forward to whipping the young Brits into shape.

In a life-changing week, the Brits are forced to quit their usual lazy lifestyles and exercise to the max. They swap burgers and sweeties for a healthy diet and are pushed to their physical and emotional limits. At the end of the week they face the ultimate battle of the ages when they take on four golden oldies in a cycling relay race, to find out if they really are fitter than a pensioner.

Can stroppy rebel Ashlei conform to the strict regime? Is punk rocker Jen able to conquer her fear of exercise? And how do the Brits fare in the big race – are they victorious or do they suffer defeat at the hands of super-fit pensioners?

I loved the super fit pensioners, a stark contrast to what we’ve traditionally thought of as old age. No rockers here! They really did look to be having a great time, enjoying yoga, cycling, swimming, dancing, whatever. They also looked to be thriving in communities of like minded people. Good to have happy role models paving the way ahead.

Nice too to see seniors as the font of wisdom, as having something to offer the youth.

There’s of course the angle of national stereotypes– unhealthy Brits versus fitness obsessed Americans–but it’s made okay, I think, by the cross generational interaction.

I’m no fan of TV but I did watch and enjoy a few episodes of Are You Fitter than a Pensioner? Do you have any fitness/weight loss reality TV shows you love or love to hate?