The Beach Body is a Myth: St. Maarten 2016


From the moment I booked Derrick's birthday trip to St. Maarten, I made it my mission to 1. decide on the perfect way to surprise him, and 2. find the perfect pieces to add to my vacation wardrobe. For the reveal, I decided that I'd write a cute little poem with a surprise ending and give it to him closer to our vacation date. I cut it close enough for him to think we weren't doing anything major for his big day, but still gave him enough time to shop for anything he'd want to bring.  It was a hit, and he was so confused when he reached the end of the poem.

"Wait, what? When? Are you serious?"  (Etc. Etc etc.) It was perfect.

The next order of business was deciding on my vacation ensembles. What look did I want to go for? Island chic? Tropical? Simple, classic pieces? 

I decided that with the exception of my swimsuits and a few statement pieces, I'd choose items that I could transition into fall. I learned from our Cancun trip last year that buying an entire vacation wardrobe that can only be worn on an island is such a magnificent waste of money. Instead, I bought lots of army green (which has been my favorite color as of late and coincidentally the official color of Fall 2016) and only bright patterns that, if paired with a leather jacket or booties, could also pass for a fall piece. With the swimsuits, I had a little more fun, and experimented with bright, colorful, and creative one-pieces for the first time ever.

So, with the reveal out the way and outfits ordered, Derrick and I started on "Mission St. Maarten Beach Body." We made plans to cut back on drinking, stick to Paleo and/or vegetarian diets, and do smoothie detoxes. A friend recommended the 10-day Smoothie Detox, which is the only diet that I could actually stick with (yes, I'm a serial dieter). I even booked a colonic series to aide in cleaning out my system. It worked wonders. 

Because work had picked up so much, gym time for me was nearly nonexistent. I'd go maybe once a week, do some pitiful ab workout in my room before bed, but that was it. Luckily, though, how you look is 70% diet and 30% exercise, so even if I'd made it to the gym zero times before vacay, I could still see pretty great results if my eating stayed in tact. Both Derrick and I were determined to bounce back from the months of horrible eating and lack of exercise (we used to be SO good about both) and get our beach body in time to lay on the white sandy beaches.

But as time dwindled down, I had to accept the fact that I wouldn't look like Beyonce in time for St. Maarten, and Derrick wouldn't look like Ghost from Power. We'd simply fallen off way too much and waited way too long to get serious about our goals. We now see the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle (We always knew this, though. LOL).

When August 30 arrived, we boarded the plane and touched down on the most beautiful island we've visited to date. We checked into the incredible Sonesta Ocean Point adults only resort, downed our welcome drink, and ordered more cocktails to take up to the room. After making a few friends of the wonderful staff and promising to return to the bar, we changed into our swimwear and got ready to hit the beach. 

We both felt pretty okay on day 1; we were getting settled in and my only concern was seeing his face light up over the amazing resort I spent many days and late nights searching for. He's very picky about how he likes his hotels, so I had to do much research in order to find a 5-star resort that he'd be happy with. As we walked around, I was 100% sure I'd made the right decision. Time to celebrate Big D's 21st! 😉

The next day, as we laid on the beach soaking in as much sun as possible (I'm on the plane as I type this, and so proud of how chocolately I am) Derrick looked around, then looked at me and said, "You know, everyone talks about getting a beach body for vacation, but for what? We ain't never gonna see these people again!" In another breath, he turned to a woman who didn't have your typical "beach body" and said, "Sh*t, if she ain't ashamed to have her stomach out, I shouldn't be ashamed to have mine out." 

The truth is, I can never recall a time when I've seen a woman on vacation who's body was just flawless. I've never seen a couple by the pool who looked like they just stepped out of a magazine or music video. Everyone has flaws, rolls, and/or stretch marks, and very few have 8 packs that make the water cascade so glamorously off them.

Basically, for the most part, everyone looks regular. St. Maarten was no different.

For "beach body" to be such a buzz term, so very few people actually have them (or at least the type society says we should have). Do those people vacation somewhere else, with all the other perfect people? Is there an island for only those people who have achieved the quintessential beach bod? I've never been on a beach where every single person looks perfect. And really, really...how many people crash diet and exercise 7 days a week and actually end up with their perfect bikini body by the exact day they leave for vacation?

My guess is very few. At least I don't know anyone. 

So, I made a pact with myself, and one that I forced Derrick to make every single morning. Instead of obsessing over how good (or bad) we look in our swimwear, we agreed that for Derrick's 21st birthday getaway, we'd simply enjoy ourselves. No one leaves an vacation and remembers how well they ate on the trip. They're not proud of the experiences they turned away because it meant gaining a pound or two. No, they remember how delicious the authentic food was, the people they became friends with on the resort, the adventures they went on, and the amount of times they laughed until they cried while people watching with the funniest boyfriend in the world (or is that just me?).

Bottom line is, when you don't focus on the part of your vacation everyone else sees on Facebook and Instagram, you really enjoy vacation for what it's supposed to be. You loosen up, say yes to that extra plate at breakfast (again, maybe that's just me), yes to 6 of those sugary frozen cocktails-of-the-day. In our case, we said yes to wandering into the local city and trying food simply because it was authentic, not necessarily because we were actually hungry.
 
I leave St. Maarten proud of the times I said "Sure, I'll have this," because that meant venturing over to the French side and eating a huge crepe from a tiny food stand, made by a French woman and her father who spoke very little English. As I stuffed my face with the banana and condensed milk crepe she made with so much love, I sat beside her 9-month old daughter and the other beautiful French people, both brown and white, who stopped for a bite as the night drew near.

Saying yes to food meant trying more than one item at breakfast. It meant leaving the island having tasted their delicious Brouillard Caraibes (sp.) (salt fish scramble over English muffins and plantains) while also enjoying their Croque-Monsieur (their take on a ham/turkey and Swiss croissant). Call it gluttony, call it greedy...I tried every single thing I wanted to eat. :-D

When I look back on our St. Maarten vacay, I remember the food. Oh, the amazing food! I remember the people who offered to take us out, show us around, hook us up with deals and specials. I remember the smiling faces of people I'll get to check in with on Facebook and WhatsApp now that the trip is over. I'll remember the laughs Derrick and I shared while daring each other to swim out far into the crystal clear ocean water. I'll remember the night I laughed until I cried because Derrick gets off a few good jokes when he wants to. 

I'll remember our final night in St. Maarten, when Derrick smooth talked our way out of paying entry into the local nightclub, and got us into VIP with a man we'd met on the resort just a few hours prior, who was also celebrating his birthday. I'll even remember the Trump supporting, shotgun-loving couple we made friends with while there (and worked so hard to avoid by the end of their stay).

Basically, as completely magical as this trip was, I'll remember everything BUT how amazing (or hideous) we looked in our swimsuits. This is the first time that I realized that a "beach body" is simply the body you have while on the beach. Perfect or not. Don't beat yourself up about it. :)






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