Every morning on my way to the gym I'm presented with a poster asking me if my body is "summer ready".
Whenever I log on to Instagram I'm presented with ads for diet plans, weight loss apps, and muscling building supplements – all carrying the caption "summer is almost here!" It's clear somebody's looking at my search history.
Well, summer is here. Officially. It's December. Is my body summer-ready? Who knows. Does that really mean anything anyway?
The idea that every person needs a toned and tanned bod for what we're told is bikini season is pervasive. Gyms create campaigns around it, beauty salons book out weeks in advance for it, and both women's and men's magazines publish enormous, pages-long features purporting how to get it.
Yet go to your average Kiwi beach. How many bodies look those of Emily Ratajkowski or Ryan Reynolds? About 0.001 per cent of them I reckon.
So why do we all buy into this lie that this so-called summer-ready body is actually achievable? Does anybody really believe it's going to make you feel completely comfortable when you have nothing on but an itsy-bitsy-bikini?
I can tell you right now it's not. Here's a little insight into the minds of those people with the summer bodies you covet so much – and I can tell you this because I think, objectively, I am one of them – no matter how "ready" your body is for the beach, you'll always feel like it's not sufficient.
There's a misconception that the most beautiful people on any beach or at any poolside are peering through their sunglasses, looking down at everybody else. It's not true. All they are doing is thinking about themselves. Not in a conceited, "I look amazing" way. In a negative, self-loathing, body dysmorphic way.
We don't see the hard work from all the group fitness classes or where on the body the keto diet has paid off. We think about the bits of fat we don't like. The angles that we must avoid to prevent unflattering rolls. We readjust our swimsuits constantly. We will turn down food or drink because we think one beer or bag of chips will ruin months of training. It's exhausting.
Who are the happy people at the beach? Not the people with the summer-ready bodies. Not us, the insecure and the inward-looking. No, those actually enjoying themselves are the people who've decided that summer is getting whatever body they're going to give it.
There's a lot of freedom in body positivity and accepting you're doing the best with what your mama gave you. Having eight-pack abs and legs for days doesn't make you attractive. Holding yourself comfortably and confidently does.
There's nothing wrong with self-improvement. Looking and feeling fit and healthy is important and does a lot for your self-esteem. But this "summer-ready" business? Your body doesn't need to be any different during the warmer months than it does during the colder ones. I can tell you now, from personal experience, nothing will make you feel ready for your own insecurities.
It's the first week of December. No matter how ready (or unready) you feel going swimming or sunbathing in public in the next three months, the people like me with the super-fit bodies aren't judging you. We really aren't.
We're face-down on those beach towels, hiding the bits we still don't like, feeling like we are the ones who aren't good enough.