2014 I declared that my intention was to accept 100% responsibility for my choices, one of those choosing to not say, “I’m fat”. I can proudly say that I have said this aloud only once in 2014 (which I’ll tell you is a feat!) and have thought it far less frequently than before. Most importantly, as soon as I have thought it, I took quick action to choose a BETTER thought. I’ve repeatedly chosen not to give into that thought and take a more powerful stance in my body image and life. In my experience, whenever I make a big declaration that I’m making a change or taking another route, life tests me. Almost as if to say, “Are you really sure you can do that? Here, try surviving this.” True to past experience, I got tested last week. Big time. I had been graciously invited to speak at TLAG2 by my good friend, colleague and inspiration, Molly Galbraith. When I said yes, it was before I was pregnant – before I spent 3 months eating little but pure carbs to ward of the nausea and being too sick, tired and preggers to set foot in the gym. When the seminar was just days away, I was panicked. It’s no accident I work in this area. Obviously it’s my job to learn from and share my experience in order to help the women I work with. Sometimes it’s really hard. My worst professional fear is not that I’m not smart enough or can’t deliver these folks some great info, it’s that I’m too fat to be in the fitness industry. A fear that came to fruition when I wrote Ultimate You. As I packed my suitcase for Kentucky, I was in a cold sweat wondering how in the hell I could get out of this??!! (To be honest, I was surprised it took me until two days before to think of this.) I was about to take the stage with some of my most respected fitness professional peers and an audience of personal trainers (who I assumed would all looked like fitness models – and many of them did) – none of whom had ever seen me in person. What would they think?? Perhaps worst of it was I am still in that ‘chubby’ phase where I’m not obviously pregnant. No beautiful baby bump or mama glow just yet, but do look rather stuffed into my clothes. With my always round booty and what looks a bit like a solid beer gut, I resemble, if anything, a lava lamp more than a fitness professional or a pregnant woman. Would everyone be shocked that I’m not leaner? Would they be disappointed? Would they disregard what I had to say because I didn’t look a certain way? The truth was, maybe some of them would. In the past that would’ve scared me enough to have never said yes to Molly’s invitation in the first place OR to have concocted some elaborate excuse to get out of it. And there is the problem ladies. Feeling fat stops us from living our lives. I will say that again… Feeling fat stops us from living our lives. And THAT is why we have to not only take care of our bodies and make them the best they can be so we feel confident and comfortable in them, but THAT is also why we have to stop giving into the idea that if we are still a work in progress, if we are not yet where we want to be that we can’t really live. That we can’t really be happy. That we can’t really shine. Feeling insecure about my body (AKA feeling fat) has always made me feel not good enough. It has kept me small and kept me from sharing what I have with the world. I can do it where it’s safe (my blog, Facebook, etc.), where I know my audience wants what I’m offering, but in so many arenas I sit on the side line. I back out. I play small. Last week, as I packed my suitcase and the runaway train started in my head I finally said, “Enough.” I didn’t instantly feel (or look) skinny or lean, but I felt totally done with letting that stuff stop me. I felt so fed up with not playing full out in my life because I was having a fat day that I was simply done. I was ready to step out, share myself even though my body didn’t look or feel perfect. Even though I could be judged and even though I was scared. I didn’t get less terrified in that moment, but I acted anyway.I packed, got on the airplane and choose to shine even though it was hard. I kept this empowered feeling until Saturday night (seminar ran Saturday and Sunday). That night after I put Lola to sleep in the hotel room, I was nearly in tears. It was all flooding back. There was life once again saying, “Are you sure you can do this?” To which I replied, “No I’m not sure I can. But I’m going to try anyway.” Because that’s how it goes, the battle to love ourselves is won a million times a day – not in one knockout fight. We must choose to love ourselves again and again and again because if we don’t then we don’t ask that guy out, we don’t run for City Council, we don’t go to the gym for fear of being judged, we don’t share our gifts with the people that NEED us. We miss out on our lives. Nothing scares me more than thinking on my deathbed, “Damn there was a lot I stopped myself from doing because I felt too fat.” I’m not saying we throw on our sweatpants and say, “OK, Dr Brooke says this is good enough and I don’t have to go to the gym anymore.” I’m saying, we have to love bodies just as they are because it’s only from that place that we can take those right actions to get where we want to go. And more importantly, it’s only from that place that we can get on the field, get into action, live our lives and not wait until we “feel skinny enough” only to realize opportunities have passed us by. Because I took action and didn’t let my fear stop me, I gave my presentation, I connected with some amazing people, I got to be my BETTER than I was yesterday – even when I wasn’t in my “perfect body”. Life isn’t static for most women – nor are our bodies. Sometimes you just had a baby, or are working on one. Sometimes you’re injured or sick. Sometimes life is overwhelming and hard for you in some way and you can’t or don’t focus on the gym and nutrition. Even in those places you can choose to feel good – to love yourself anyway. Do as much as you can as often as you can – and don’t constantly pressure yourself into more. Choose your BETTER today, whatever that is. And by all means, take the necessary steps to heal, nurture and sculpt that body you’re wanting so badly. But until you have it, don’t miss out on your life. When you can, work for the better body and when you can, maintain that better body, When you can’t, accept it with some grace and don’t fight it. No matter where you are on that spectrum, love yourself and don’t let “feeling fat” keep you from living your life…not for one more day.