Something I have been struggling with lately is how my girls view my body vs. how I view it. To peel a few more layers back, I also wonder how my words and choices affect their body image.

It all started when the little one made an innocent comment about my makeup. She said, "Mommy why do you put a mask on every day?" Talk about a major deer in the headlights moment. At a complete loss of words and not wanting to answer truthfully ... it covers my imperfections makes me look better ... it gives me confidence ... I mumbled some ''just because'' answer and changed the subject. But her comment haunted me. Why do I feel that I NEED makeup? How do I answer her without making her believe that beauty is only skin deep.

Later that day I asked my little girl if she thought mommy was pretty; of course, she said yes (as all little girls would) so I asked her why. Her answer surprised me. She likes my squishy belly because it's comfy to lay her head on. She likes my stretch marks because she knows the dark ones are from her big sister and the light ones are from her. She doesn't see dark circles or blotchy spots when she looks at my face. She says ''Mommy you have so many pretty freckles.'' To my amazement, a body that I am not all that impressed with at times is perfect and beautiful in the eyes of my little girl.

Suddenly in all my turmoil, a light bulb came on. I realized why I couldn't answer her questions. Why I was so torn on the subject of loving yourself as you are; why weight loss was such a battle for me. All this time I had been viewing my opinion of my body as "either or." Meaning I needed to take sides. I had to quit trying to lose weight and just love myself physically as I am today OR I had to sweat like crazy, eat only the best foods and never settle for less than a perfect body shape and tip-top health.

What I realized is the answer isn't in picking sides. The answer is standing right in the center. One foot planted firmly in accepting your body as it is and loving the curves and imperfections while the other foot is just as firmly planted on the other side. The side that wants to be healthier and get in shape.

I think it's safe to say that all of us want to be healthy. We want to run with ease after our children or jog with our dogs. The key to leading a long and physically enjoyable life is keeping your body healthy and fit. But for those of us who are not currently in that state, it is important that you look at your body as it is today and love it. The first step is loving what you see in the mirror, even if the reflection shows you sun spots and an extra 50 lbs. because your body is how it is for a reason and that's ok. Maybe you have had 3 children, maybe you partied a little too hard in college, maybe you enjoy too much sun. What we have to realize is loving how we look today doesn't mean we can't also want to change it for the better. I actually believe that what has held me back from getting in shape is the fact that I thought I had to hate my body in order to change it. I was so wrong. Love yourself and your body. When you are able to do that it will automatically start feeling natural to want to exercise and eat right to take care of what you love. Loving something will help you make it better. Only when you truly love something will find the strength to reach for the positive changes you desire.