A few months ago, BlogHer approached me about speaking on a panel for its HealthMinder Day in Chicago about Weight vs. Health — and how the two sometimes don’t have a darn thing in common. Seeing that that topic is sooo my jam (you are more than the number on the scale!) I was pumped to join Erika, CeCe and Diane Lang (better known as Momo) for what would be an important discussion.
And by pumped, I mean excited and kinda terrified.
I’ve done a little speaking and even though I always get nervous before it, I usually enjoy it. I love helping to motivate others and share the FBG mission or educate others on health and wellness. But this session wasn’t really about just FBG; it was about MY story. Sure, I’ve written about my past struggles and I even incorporate a little of it in FBG Life classes, but in front of a room of my peers? With 25 people’s eyeballs on you as you talk about your unhappy and unfulfilled under-eating, over-exercising and generally insecure life of years past? Er, insert nervous shifting.
When I write, things just pour out. But when I speak about my story and feelings and emotions? Well, it’s just different. It’s not as safe and cozy as my computer screen. It’s not as secure — it’s not as NORMAL. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone. And it scared the crap out of me — which is exactly why I knew I had to do it.
And I did it! And it wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t overly rehearsed. It was real and raw, and other bloggers shared their experiences, too. (Loved having Roni Noone in the room!) I LOVED hearing Erika, CeCe and Momo share their stories and answer questions. We were a panel of woman of all ages, races, backgrounds and experiences, and we were speaking our truth. And our life lessons were so similar and yet so distinct. In our own unique ways, we learned to put our health, happiness and wellness FIRST — over what society tells us is “beautiful,” over what we thought we “should” be or look like to reach our goals, over that damn number on the scale. It was a powerful conversation I was honored to be a part of. (You can actually read a transcript of the full session here!)
I hope people left our session not with just a cheesy “love yourself” message but rather with an empowering feeling of “I am more.” A feeling that they are whole as they are, and that taking care of yourself is a way to show yourself love — not punishment you have to endure to fit in a certain size of jeans. Because life is about SO much more than a number.
The Saturday morning after my session, BlogHer held an amazing keynote with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, who spoke on many things, but her main message was: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” And in that moment, I was so proud of myself for taking a chance and being open. And beyond just that, I was also proud to be part of a community of readers who leave comments that share their stories and tell their truths, along with a community of bloggers who do the same. Because as great as it is to face your fears, it’s even better when you are able to do it in a group as awesome as this.
So tell me: What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid? And how is your health more important than your weight? —Jenn