I spend a lot of time telling women to love themselves. I tell them they are strong and beautiful and I believe it, I really do. I tell them to stop putting themselves down, to treat themselves the way they would treat a friend. I love spreading this message, empowering women, and fostering confidence.

I am a fitness instructor. I work out a lot. I can do a lot of push-ups, I can run far and fast. I can do like a million sit-ups. So why do I have to spend so much time convincing myself that those things are true about me as well?

This morning after Stroller Strides, a group of mamas went over to try on some clothes at another mom’s house. As I striped off my workout shirt to reveal my sports bra, I blurted something out:

“Excuse my belly.”

REALLY?! EXCUSE MY BELLY!? Two days ago I shared an article on our Body Back group that said women need to stop apologizing for their bodies, and I firmly believe that. So why in the world did I feel the need to ask my fellow mamas to excuse my belly?

Something in my head told me, these women look up to you for fitness guidance, and they are about to see that you are not all you’re cracked up to be. Your belly is squishy, and pale, and covered in stretch marks. You better acknowledge that you are aware of that and apologize right now. Lest they think you aren’t aware of how unattractive your belly looks. WTF!? Why is that my inner dialogue?

On the way home in the car, I firmly put a stop to those thoughts. FIT4MOM has taught me to dismiss thoughts that don’t serve me. Instead, I replaced those thoughts with this mantra:

“This is my body.”

This is my body that has overcome infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome, recovered from two miscarriages, birthed three healthy and amazing children. This is my body that has run a marathon, does burpees and bicep curls, and leads some kickass fitness classes. THIS IS MY BODY and I will accept it for what it is. I will love it. I will stop apologizing for it. I will stop comparing it to other bodies. I will stop beating myself up.

So yes, I am a fitness instructor. A fitness instructor who spreads the message of body acceptance. But I still have work to do.

I'm not talking setting a goal to do more push-ups or run a faster mile. I'm talking about working on the way I talk to myself. The words that I choose to speak and the thoughts that I allow to stick around. It's not easy, but it is possible. I'm asking you to join me today in taking a small step towards loving your body. Today, replace one negative thought with a positive one.

Let's do this together. Let's teach our sons and daughters that THIS IS THEIR BODY-- and bodies should be accepted, nurtured, and loved.