Please stand, place your hand on your heart, and join me in reciting the Oath of the Holiday Hangover: 

“I overindulged. I know I should lose weight. I will try to lose weight. For a few weeks, anyway. If I must.”

I’ve recited many versions of that oath since I was ten, when my pudgy body and I stopped being best friends. That was 35 years ago, and my decades-long struggle with weight has left behind quite a collection of lost-and-found feelings. Rummaging around, I’ve found some wrinkled confidence, a few smelly and slightly stained expectations and a barely-used sense of accomplishment. Before I could reclaim any of that, I thought I had to first lose weight.

Then, I changed my mind.

However, it wasn’t so simple. I had to move through several layers, the first being my desire to lose weight. So, I started a blog and called it “100 Pounds in 1 Year.” Writing about weight loss reconnected my head with my body. For years, I had walked around like a floating head, ignoring everything from my neck, down. That reunion got me moving again. I got back on my bike. I experimented with yoga. I started hiking Missoula’s trails.

I felt so good that I started dressing up again. I bought a new bra (and actually wore it). I put on makeup each morning. Both required me to face the mirror again.

I saw myself all gussied up and sassy and said, “Girl, you’re a large person. You ain’t foolin’ nobody. You’re already taking up space, so START TAKING UP SPACE!”

At first, I took up physical space. For example, I stopped squishing my frame into small chairs and chose wider seats instead. Next, I inhabited more emotional space. I stayed with my heart as it broke, healed and expanded over and over again. After that, it became easier to take up public space and I could step into a room with confidence.

Ironically, the more I moved the less I cared about the scale. All of this change felt more honest than trying to squeeze into my mind’s unrealistic perception. So honest, in fact, that I deleted my blog. I started a new project called “1 Less Chick on the Couch.” I celebrate being active at any size by sharing stories of big bodies doing big things. That enthusiasm boomerangs back and encourages me to stay active.

We need more public examples of active, bigger bodies. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to fill the void with whatever we think we should become. With 1LessChickOnTheCouch on Facebook and Instagram, I promote a simple idea: just move, no matter how that looks or how we look doing it.

Shifting my focus from weight loss to movement has helped me reshape my self-image. I have girth. I have grit. Now, no number on a scale could fit as well as my own skin.