The following post was written by Marian Ferry , who blogs at Peanut Butter Plank  and is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness .
Bikini season is practically here! You've been working hard in and out of the gym all winter, so it's time to show off your hard work and to be proud of what you accomplished.
As women we have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. As I recently competed in a National Physique Committee (NPC) bikini competition, I learned that comparison is the thief of joy. Once I stopped comparing myself to other women, had confidence in myself in a bikini, and was able to enjoy the moment and not worry for one second if my thighs looked too big or my arms weren't small enough, I was able to feel the joy of hard work.
As a woman who grew up with many insecurities during summertime (especially in shorts or a bikini) I have discovered my favorite tips and tricks to feeling your absolute best in your favorite bikini!
1) Be confident. You could be the most fit woman in the world. But if you walk on to the beach and aren't confident in yourself, it shows. That is what people are going to notice before they see the cellulite you might be fixated on. Instead, focus on how excited you are to be outside in beautiful weather in your favorite bikini! Let your confidence shine through for everyone to see!
2) Stay hydrated. One of the best ways to beat belly bloat and to feel your best is to down some H2O. Stay away from carbonated drinks and sugary juices and instead swap them for water with lemon or cucumber slices to stay cool and bloat free. Drink a glass first thing in the morning. I aim to down 1 gallon of water a day.
3) Catch rays the smart way. If you're anything like me, you might feel more confident in a bikini if you have a warm glow to your skin. But say NO to harmful rays from the sun and tanning beds this summer. My summer must-haves for having a warm glow are St. Tropez gradual tanning lotion and my favorite BB cream with SPF 30 by Tarte . And don't forget to lather on the SPF everywhere before you leave the house. Just because you achieved a safe summer glow doesn't mean you are protected without sunscreen!
4) Amp up your cardio. My favorite way to feel my best in a bikini is to increase my cardio during the summer. Not only does it help me stay active, but also by including circuit style workouts that incorporate both cardio and strength training, I shed excess pounds and increase lean muscle to keep the curves I love most while shedding some that I could live without.
5) Add an incline. If you're into walking or running on the treadmill, challenge yourself and increase the incline to really target your hips and glutes. While most of us have a tendency to focus more on our midsection during the summer, don't let your lower body take a back seat to your killer abs!
6) Enjoy cool indulgences. Instead of reaching for your favorite ice cream cone, make a more bikini friendly cool treat. For some of us, dairy products like ice cream or frozen yogurt can cause bloating. Try my favorite banana coconut "ice cream" instead. In a blender, combine 1 frozen sliced banana, a tiny bit of unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, a couple drops of coconut extract, and a couple ice cubes. Once blended, enjoy as is or stick it back in the freezer for a couple minutes to thicken the consistency. Add 5-6 dark chocolate chips on top for an extra treat!
7) Invest in the right bikini. Okay, there's nothing worse than buying a bikini, bringing it home, and then sporting it to the pool or beach only to realize the fit and cut is all types of wrong! Ask your best friend (and the most honest) to come bikini shopping with you to make sure you invest in a bikini that helps you look as confident as you feel!
8) Combat your cravings. During the summer is when I crave sweet treats the most. To stay bikini ready all summer, I like to drink jasmine tea to combat the cravings I have during the day. Make a big batch by soaking tea bags in a pitcher of water and serve over ice for a refreshing afternoon treat for you and your friends!
Happy summer, everyone!