I was waiting in line at the grocery store the other day, peering at celebrity magazines, when I read the headline, “Is your body summer ready?” I looked down. Absolutely! I was itching to feel the sun on my face, sit outside and listen to the birds, and even enjoy a slushy libation! I was ready to emerge from under 5 layers of fleece after the past 6 months of freezing cold to enjoy longer days and wearing shorts.

But that’s not what the magazine was saying. It was implying that somehow, over the course of the ghastly winter that I had just endured, I was “less than”.  That somehow, I needed to do some serious work on myself before it would be permissible to show some skin. That I desperately needed the quick fix improvements that they were desperate to sell me in order to become “more better” so that I could be worthy of living in a society of magazine cover-ready, perfect people.

Nope, I thought.

The shape of my thighs or size of my muscles is NOT the rent I pay to be able to enjoy myself  in the short time I have on this earth.  I think that @mutablejoe on Twitter said it best: “the idea that “the ideal beach body” just means being thin or buff is so unimaginative, surely the ideal beach body would have a powerful lobster claw, arm flaps to act as a windbreak, and a sand repellent anus.” Impressive to say the least.

So what does it mean to have a summer-ready body?

It means taking advantage of activities that just aren’t going to happen in the dead of winter: biking, gardening, camping, swimming outside, running (I only run when chased, but I’m told the warmer weather makes this activity more enjoyable. Who knew?). It means prioritizing movement over being sedentary (even the bears who sleep through winter are now out and about). It means emerging from the Canadian cocoon and reconnecting  with your fellow hibernators.  It does not mean expending every ounce of energy into carving yourself into something that would remove all joy in your life for the sake of a shell that won’t have the energy to enjoy all of the aforementioned activities because you will have alienated your loved ones because of being hangry (hungry + angry), pooped, or because you will have eaten them.

Here is some advice to get ready for summer:

Are you an avid gardener who is prone to tennis elbow? Throw in some mobility exercises and sessions with a registered massage therapist to prevent watching your garden being overrun by weeds because of pain. Are you a member of a softball team who plans on winning it all this summer? Have that old shoulder injury assessed by a physiotherapist before it acts up.   Planning a biking and camping trip with your family? Start talking more frequent walks to build up your activity tolerance, especially if you have a desk job. Is there a trip to the beach coming up? Bring lots of water and sunscreen. Building a treehouse? Wear safety glasses! See? Having a summer-ready body is easier than you think!

A summer-ready body should be ready for the activities that matter to you.  The only thing that you should be thinking of when you are sitting at the edge of a swimming pool is this: did I apply sunscreen everywhere? The rest is just window dressing.

You are enough.

Written by Genevieve Herzog