In two days I’ll be on my way to Alabama to spend a week on the gulf coast with forty plus family members and one charming boyfriend.

You know what that means…swimsuits, unpredictable meals, and unscheduled days.

I mean, literally everything is going to be spontaneous, intuitive and freeing. It’s the epitome of the way of want to live my life every single day, beach or no beach.

With this annual trip approaching, I started reflecting on what’s changed since the last time I’ve taken this trip. My family goes to the gulf every year, but due to work, I’ve had to miss it the past two years.

That means, the last time I went to this family reunion I was still a fitness competitor.

The last time I was there, with all forty members of my super southern, blonde-haired, blue-eyed relatives, I was still dieting and exercising obsessively.

In fact, three years ago I took two pairs of dumbbells with me so that I could do a workout in the bedroom before every morsel of beach-glazed, sand-smothered food entered my sun burnt face.

I brought pre-portioned bags of oatmeal, rice, protein powder, and cinnamon with me so that I could follow my diet as close as possible.

I looked forward to every “Wow, you’re looking great!” comment that I could greedily steal away from the mouths of people that had no idea what kind of turmoil was going on in my head.

I secretly searched keywords such as “clean eating” “vacation” and “how to eat” while anxiously lying in my bed with coconut lotion rubbing onto the sheets.

Though I was doing everything a good, self-righteous fitness competitor should do while on “vacation” I was simultaneously missing out on everything I wanted to do that year.

All out of fear.

I missed “yoga on the beach” led by my aunt because I didn’t consider that a real workout and wanted to stay inside instead with the safety of my dumbbells.

I missed out on fruity cocktails because I feared what the ingredients would do to my beach body.

I ate oatmeal instead of pancakes, because that was my safe food.

I sucked in while wearing my swimsuit, afraid of what others were thinking when I was too full from five cups of steamed veggies.

I had cramps and bloating from eating anxiously while googling low carb diets to start once I got back.

The truth is…I didn’t have a beach body.

I was merely a body on a beach.

I was my body.

Three years later, my body looks completely different than it did back then.

My butt isn’t as toned, my stomach isn’t as flat, my skin isn’t as tan, and my muscles aren’t as pumped.

And now, with my average butt, my pale skin, and my typical belly, I will finally, finally have the beach body I always wanted.

I’ll have this beach body because I won’t merely be a body on a beach.

I will be a spirit that just so happens to be in an amazing body that allows me to soak up sunlight, breathe in sea air, absorb the glow of the moonlight, and feast on nourishment that tends to both my body and mind’s greatest needs.

I’ll be doing the yoga, the sand volleyball, the relaxing, the frivolous book reading, and of course, the fruity-pink-drink drinking.

When I had a body that was deemed “perfect” to the outside world, I was a prisoner to it. Reclaiming my life’s purpose was the best calling I’ve ever accepted.

I can finally have my beach body, but this time I don’t even require a beach.

If you want to see what I’m up to during my vacation, be sure to follow me over on Instagram, or watch “my story” on snapchat (username mindbodymusings).

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