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Valuing Your Health Over Your Weight (and Facing Your Fears)

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.


My speaker badge!

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!)


These gorgeous ladies blew my mind. From left: Erika, CeCe, Momo and me.

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

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  1. Good for you girls! Don’t pay attention to what the media says is “the perfect body” because there is no such thing. Put in the effort to make your body strong and it will balance you out to what you are supposed to be.

  2. Momo says:

    I was such a fangirl in that session! I kept looking at you on my left and CeCe and Erika on my right, thinking about what an honor it was to speak with the three of you. There was a whole lot of empowerment in that room!

  3. Lara says:

    Love this post. Facing fears is always hard I think but the reward and feeling you get when you have overcome something is awesome. I totally get this.

  4. Sara says:

    Hi Jenn.

    To answer your question – I would love to speak out my mind about people looking at me in certain way. Judging me and laughing for not being ultra slim model.
    I run everyday, I go to gym and I am happy with myself but sometimes it is hard to stay focused and dont lose your mind when everyone is expecting you to change the way you are build or the way your body looks.
    I prefer to stay healthy and live long rather than be ultra-slim and get in to health issues. Not everyone was born to be slim. Not everyone was born to look like models.

  5. Thanks for this post. It sounds like you had a good time speaking on the panel. Well done!

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