Monday, 17 August 2015

An Ode to Burgau and the Bikini

I have recently been away on holiday to my second home, Burgau in Portugal, for a week of pure relaxation, good food even better booze! Cristiano in Smugglers Bar makes the best Gin and Tonic... not so great for my waist line but more on that in my next blog post!

 Burgau is the ultimate 'happy place' for me... I first went there aged 20 to work behind a bar with my best friend Joe, knowing no one but each other. It was a life changing decision and I'm so glad I did something completely out of my comfort zone at a time when I was shy and feeling insecure.

By the end of that first summer, I was more confident, had made life-long friends and could speak to just about anyone after nights spent serving drunken teenagers.

Nine years on, I'm still in love with the little fishing village that boasts steep cobbled streets, friendly locals, a beautiful beach, my favourite tapas restaurant, No. 9, stunning cliff top views and a community spirit higher than anywhere else I've ever visited.

Burgau is very special for another reason too. I had some hypnotherapy a year or two ago to get over some issues that were making me a rather unhappy girl following a horrible break up. I was asked to imagine a happy place throughout the process and mine was Burgau beach surrounded by all my friends and family with Bob Marley being played in the Beach Bar. In my head it was like my wedding day, except there was no groom. Just me, smiling in a beautiful white dress, dancing with everyone who I could trust and had always accepted me for my true self, whether I was a size 22 or 12.

So Burgau beach is an important place for me for many reasons... and this particular holiday I knew I would be spending most of my time on it. Joe and I love the beach and we both needed a week of pure relaxation. That means lying horizontal on the sand, listening to Madonna on our headphones, and making the occasional trip down to the clear blue sea for a cooling off.

Being the fashion conscious girl I am, I wanted to look and feel good on the beach rather than spend my week worrying about my wobbly tummy and hot sweaty thighs rubbing together as I made my way down the beach. Not a good feeling...

Joe, Tracy, our lovely boss at Jimmi's bar, and me seven years ago!

My first health and fitness goal since joining the gym was wearing the fitted pink lace dress to my friend Carrie's wedding, which I did and felt the best I've ever felt. Glowing, happy and healthy. My second goal came in the form of a bikini. One clothing item I have never, ever worn. 

My friend Katie leant me a stunning polka dot bikini from Primark, a complete bargain, to try on. She knew I felt apprehensive and she thought this particular style would suit me. And she was right! The halter neck bra and fifties-style shorts flattered my figure, which is becoming more hour-glass than potato-like thanks to my time in the gym, and I actually felt good in it!

Burgau Beach
My tummy was still wobbly and had stretch-marks due to the extent of my weight loss, and my thighs were still curvy... but I chose to focus on my good bits. My shoulders were looking more toned and upper arms more sculpted, and you could actually see my belly button! A few more circuits and weights, and lots of hot water and lemon, and I would be feeling even more confident...

I previously had always worn swimsuits or tankinis on holiday, and had always envied my friends in their bikinis with their brown tummies. If I looked back to three or four years ago, I would never have believed that I would one day walk down Burgau beach in a bikini - it just seemed too far out of my reach when I was at the weight I was.

So the first day of our week in the sun came and I put on the bikini... and I felt so free and happy on that first walk down to the sea. Liberated from that prison of insecurities. I looked around the beach and there were women of all sizes and shapes confidently walking into the sea and playing bat and ball. How had I spent so long worrying about what people thought of my wobbly thighs? You never know, they might have been looking at my cleavage thinking, 'Lucky girl!'

No. 9 restaurant in Burgau where the owner, Marga, is renowned for her deliciously naughty chocolate cake - the recipe is a secret!

I have chosen to post this photo below, which was taken six days into the holiday, rather than one on the first day where my tummy looked a lot flatter! Due to a few boozy nights and coffees with cows milk and a nibble of bread before dinner, my tummy soon felt the effects... However, it was my week to enjoy and by then, I really didn't give one hoot!

 So here's to wearing exactly what you want and learning to feel good about yourself for who you are, no matter what other people say or think. Cheers!