Book Excerpt: 'Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self'

Why are you being so hard on yourself? This is a dance show. It's supposed to be fun. So what if you got a little criticism? Nobody's perfect. Shake it off and do better the next time. Your core, the inner one, the one that's the most important, is strong. It's going to take more than some dance judges to throw you off balance. Just get right back out there and try again. I turned on the video camera and watched Jonathan perform our moves from the mambo, our next dance. I had a few days to get it together and come back with a vengeance. I showed up at our rehearsal in the morning bright-eyed and on a mission. But I was momentarily thrown off course by the Hungarian bakery downstairs from the studio. The aroma of fresh baked goodies wafted through the air and tempted me like crazy. It appealed to all of my childhood cravings. After some especially disheartening practices the previous week, I had slipped into an old bad habit and indulged in some key sugary purchases. They hadn't done me any good. No, not this time, I told myself as I walked right past the open door. Pastries will not make me a better dancer.

I mamboed myself to the point of exhaustion for the next three days and, taking the advice of the costume designer, decided to make my appearance a little more va-va-voom. My dress for the second dance was a gold-spangled number that barely covered my rear. I'd seen how hot Shannon Elizabeth's outfit had been and I knew I had to sex it up a little more, but there was only so much va-va-voom I felt comfortable with. The designer and I compromised on the hem length and I loved the finished product. I showed up for the second show ready to shake my stuff. Jonathan gave me one piece of advice: Smile.

"No matter what you do, just smile. If you miss a step, trip over your own feet, mess up a spin, just smile. If you smile enough nobody will ever know."

"Okay, got it: Smile," I repeated back to him.

"And especially on the split. Look right into the camera and smile as if your life depended on it," he added.

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