Here we are, after 20 days of dredging up nasty feelings and trying to transform them into something more kind, something more useful. So how are we feeling? I am feeling good. I am excited for 2011 and I feel I’ve wrestled a few of my demons. I feel more than ready to get back into lifting – yoga, I like ya but you’re not enough for me! I am however in less pain everyday – neck, back and hip are holding steady – so it was worth it. Hum, what else have a learned? A lot actually… This project taught me that most of us women are too damn hard on ourselves. We set a ridiculous standard and beat ourselves up for not achieving it. I love striving for very lofty goals, so I’m probably not going to stop that…but I am going to approach it differently from now on. I can still give it my all and aim high but if I fall short I don’t have to make that mean I’m terrible or go to my default: I’m not good enough. If I get to 20% body fat when I wanted 18%, I can be bummed that I missed the goal but I can be stoked about how great 20% is and proud of all the work I did to achieve it. Instead of beating myself up for failing, I can use what I learned from getting to 20% and with love and kindness (not hate, disappointment and upset) to keep on truckin’ to 18….or wherever, so long as I feel good. I can also know that I can love myself at 18%, 20% or even 40%. I can want and work towards a better body but hating my current body is always optional, detrimental….and I shouldn’t do it. Wanting a tauter tummy or slimmer thighs is fine, feeling like we have to be miserable until we get them is not fine – and in fact it keeps us from the tummy and thighs we are working so hard for. I have learned that all my insecurities that have scared me and stopped me from being vulnerable in the past are still there, but they are not so scary anymore. I’ve shared and been open and I feel more in control of my “issues” than ever before. My heart can still sink with bad feelings from time to time, like when I think “Brooke, how could you have possibly even considered taking a month off the gym? You’re getting all squishy!” I get these nasty thoughts and my mind starts to spin. This is where the beating up starts, but lately it’s only been for a couple seconds before I can rein it in. I can turn those thoughts into something positive and something that helps me feel good. Thoughts that move me forward to where I want to be instead of the type that kick me back down. I have also learned that we are all more loved, supported and revered than we realize. When we feel badly about ourselves or our bodies, we discount compliments from our partners. When they say, “You’re beautiful”, we roll our eyes. We can’t see support coming to us from all over the place. We miss it because I mean really, who could could possibly love this mess I call me? We don’t always share what’s going on in our lives because we assume no one will care – and we really don’t share the bad stuff, cuz lets face it: that’s best kept under tight wraps! There’s nothing more exciting than to know that this blog projects has been called brave and inspiring from everyone to my patients, friends from high school that I haven’t seen in 15 years, to my best friend’s dad. And this project has connected me even more to the support I already knew I had, like Taryn, my brother, Joe and his mom, Laura. So what do we do with all that? It’s hardly a project complete, even if I’m not writing daily about my body image woes – some of this “stuff” will be with me for years to come. But with what I’ve learned and the perspective I’ve chosen to take, I feel inspired to go forward in a healthier, more productive way. I’m done punishing myself with dieting and hours at the gym. I am done stopping myself. I am done getting in my own way. Today, I vow to feel good about what I put into my body and what I do with my body from now on. (And I forgive myself in advance if I screw that up and be mean in my head. “Hey Brooke, sorry about that. It was hurtful, and I didn’t mean it. You’re awesome. Now please feel good again.”) While this may be my last daily blog for awhile, I’m not disappearing. Here’s a couple of ways we can stay connected: *I will be continuing to share my journey on this blog (as well as all my other articles). Subscribe to the blog and receive an email every time I post. *I will still be doing weekly emails for those of you wanting fat loss tips, support and inspiration as well as more general natural health newsletters. Sign up at my fabulous new website! *I’ve loved the sense of connection to much through this project and I will be continuing in that vein come 2011 via my Facebook page. Be sure to “like” it and get ready to hit the ground running in New Year and we create our best bodies yet! We’ve been grateful and inspired, now January means it’s time to create! Thanks everyone for reading and for the outpouring of support and gratitude! Happy Holidays!!