There is a voice in your head that first made itself known in early adolescence.

In the beginning it was very subtle. Perhaps it started out as questioning your changing body as you watched your mother judge her own shape in the mirror. It could been from the confusion of watching her struggle on the latest diet, labeling certain foods off limits for reasons you didn’t understand. Maybe it was the whisper of her well-intentioned warnings in the back of your brain.

Do you really think you should have that ice cream?

Maybe you should be getting skim milk at school instead of 2 percent?

As a young woman the inner critic grew louder and more persistent. The media amplified it. It was made worse by the cruel things boys and queen bees say. It was a part of the struggle to be accepted, to fit in with your peers.

Then somehow it became your own voice. Now when you look in the mirror the words aren’t in your head. They come out of your mouth.

I just want to get rid of this (grabbing at your stomach).

How did I get so old and fluffy?

I am so lazy.

You say things to yourself that you would never say to a friend.

The road to real fitness isn’t easy. There will be plenty of people trying to throw you off course. The last thing you need is your own voice joining theirs in saying you can’t do this. You need to replace the tapes that you’ve been recording for years. You need to talk back and fight the inner critic.

You need to learn to love a body in transition.

How do you learn to be more body positive?

Stop buying into what “fit” is. The dictionary definition of fit is in good health, especially because of regular physical exercise”. Notice there is no mention of a six-pack, a size 2 or a number on the scale.

Realize that you are not your mother. Her genes may be yours but your attitude and actions are all you. Genetics aren’t your destiny.

Celebrate ALL the victories. Walked up the stairs without getting out of breath? Do a happy dance. Have a cup of Ben & Jerry’s instead of a whole container? Make a huge smiley face in your planner. It’s about progress, not perfection.

Stop calling food GOOD or BAD. There is a time or place for everything….even chips and salsa. Nothing in this world is entirely good or bad. Labeling it as such just gives it power that it doesn’t deserve.

Send yourself love notes. Surprise yourself with random positive thoughts via an SMS scheduling app or pop up notes on your calendar. You can schedule them out for weeks or months ahead and then be amazed when somehow they arrive at exactly the right time.

Treat yourself. A treat is something you do that isn’t attached to an action. It’s not a reward for good behavior. A treat is something you just do be nice to yourself. Buy new tea and sip it slowly from a pretty cup. Get a massage once a week. Do something to take care of self.

Get comfortable with yourself. In this age of selfies you still love to avoid the camera. Don’t. Take pictures of yourself often that show your strength, your progress and the glow that exercise gives every woman. Even better, get a professional photographer to show off your beauty in ways you can’t imagine.

This voice is a demon that has to go. You have to fight back and show it who is really the boss. Take back your power and honor a body that is growing stronger every day.

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