You’ve been there. You try to zip up those jeans and feel your tummy pooch over the top. You feel those pants cling like Saran Wrap over your thighs. Or you put on that strapless dress, take a glance at your back in the mirror and see a little too much flab peeking out over the top. What do you do? You’re tempted to melt down into a pool of self-loathing. You’re fat, you’re terrible, you’re not good enough, and on down the spiral you go. I hope you know this does you absolutely NO GOOD. The feeling like crap about yourself doesn’t help you make good decisions around food and exercise – in fact, it not only doesn’t help, but it does harm. It is harmful because when you feel bad, it’s easier to just be bad. You may have intended to skip cocktails out that night but screw it! Why bother, your body already sucks right? You may have planned to have an indulgent meal tonight and then get up and go for a fasted walk in the morning and have a great workout tomorrow afternoon. But after over indulging and because your jeans don’t fit anyway despite all your efforts, why bother? Nothing works! So you over indulge, sleep in and feel sluggish and guilty and sad the next day. Which bleeds into yet another day, and on you go, making bad choices for yourself cuz you feel so bad. Or maybe you’ve been injured and not able to workout as much so things aren’t looking as good as they did before. Or how about this one, you’ve just had a baby and things aren’t bouncing back as quickly as you’d hoped. It’s a slippery slope any way you slice it. It’s slippery because it is not easy to find the balance between accepting where you are “for now” and resigning that you’ll always be there. It’s hard to just be where you’re at, not give in to it, and then try again. For me, post baby was a time where I slipped all down this slope – repeatedly. I had a great pregnancy with minimal weight gain. I worked-out hard, ate great and felt awesome. Just 2 weeks after I had Lola I zipped up those pre-preggers jeans and felt pretty damn good about myself. Little did I know that it was the post-pregnancy-up-all night-carb-craving-breastfeeding – I-deserve-a-treat-time that would kick my ass. Lola was a truly terrible sleeper and it took its toll on my hormones and my self-control. I hadn’t slept a 4 hour stretch for more than 4-5 times total by the time she was 15 months old. It was so hard to workout on no sleep, I was simply exhausted. My workouts were light and inconsistent. With my blood sugar all over the map from being high stress (thus high cortisol) 24/7 I was a little carb crazy. I’m not sure how much weight I gained post baby but I know between the giant nursing boobs and my new squish around the middle, I wasn’t looking or feeling so great about myself. In fact, when it came time to be on TV last August, I wished I could crawl in a hole and disappear. Sure it was easy to say, “But I just had a baby!” This was true. I would tell any new mom, “Give yourself a break, this first year is really tough. Do as much as you can, but don’t be too hard on yourself.” Telling myself that made me a feel a little better about my body….and it usually made me feel a little better about eating that gluten free waffle in the middle of the night or having another honey-laden chai in the mid-afternoon. I deserved it for getting through this hell, right? It was a really tough time – that was absolutely true. And whatever your reasons (or excuses), well they’re true too. You may be working insane hours. Your kids may have ridiculous schedules. You may have an awful lot on your plate. You may be going through a breakup or have lost someone you care about. You may lack the knowledge or willpower to follow a plan. How do you accept these things are true and give yourself a break, let yourself off the hook a bit without totally letting yourself off the hook? I think the answer is grace. Grace lets you gently say to yourself, “Yes this is really hard” or “I’m really disappointed with where I’m at” and “This is unfair and a whole lot to deal with right now”. But it doesn’t stop there. Grace follows “This is really hard” up with “But you can do it. Keep trying. I believe in you.” There is truly an art to letting yourself off the hook, without totally letting yourself off the hook. You can acknowledge where you are without giving up or making it mean anything besides, this is where you are right now. It doesn’t mean you’ll always be there. Grace lets you say, “This is disappointing and I know it’s not where I want to be, but I won’t be here forever as long as I don’t give up on myself.” Give yourself some grace. It builds stamina to keep trying. It fuels getting better – whereas beating yourself up fuels more bad behavior. Grace is kind, but firm. Grace is the magic middle where you can acknowledge your struggles but not succumb to them. Grace is the answer.