Read Katherine Schwarzenegger's 'Rock What You've Got'

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Sometime during my first days back in Los Angeles, one of my best girlfriends came to my house to hear all about my trip. When I opened the front door I heard her say, "Wow!" You look so . . . healthy!"

"Healthy? What does that mean?" I wondered aloud.

My friend stumbled for an appropriate answer, but there wasn't one.

"Um . . . You look, I don't know, just healthy."

That's when I knew for sure that what she meant was that I looked fat.

I spent tenth grade struggling to lose the extra weight it took me less than a month to gain. I tried every fad diet known to man. I tried starving myself and working out like I was a girl on a mission. I worked my butt off that whole year to get back to my skinny middle school self, but my body never fully got back to what it used to be. I had to accept and realize that I would never be that girl again.

I hated my body, and worse than that, I actually believed there was nothing I could do to change how I felt—helpless, confused, and mad at myself because I had no one to blame but myself for allowing myself to gain all of that weight in the first place.

Looking back, I can now laugh at myself for thinking that I actually believed my problems were unique—singular to little 'ol me. I spent years stressed-out and full of angst, trying to be the image of what I believed everyone else thought I should look like. I wasted so many years chasing perfection, wallowing in self-doubt and torturing myself, all of which made me miss out on some of the best years of my life.

Over what?

A few extra pounds!

Learning to love my inner and outer beauty wasn't an easy road. I still don't always love the reflection I see in the mirror, but I have learned that my outer appearance does not define me. I still get mad when I put on my jeans and they are a little bit tight or if I put on a dress that fits differently than it did a month ago when I bought it. But I don't go into a tailspin. I now know and appreciate that I can be confident in my skin regardless of my dress size. I have many other great qualities that define me other than my weight on a scale.

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Fitness experts say not to weigh yourself more than once a week. I recommend weighing yourself once a month to give your body a chance to regulate. Your weight on a scale can fluctuate between five pounds, depending on what you've had to eat that day, your salt intake, when you've gone to the bathroom, etc. You can't let that number dictate how you feel on any given day. So, stop stressing!

"I generally don't feel fat until the season changes and I pull out my winter or summer clothes and they don't fit the way they should. Trying on clothes that once fit gives me an 'I feel fat' feeling." —Lindsey M., Fort Collins, Colorado

I spent years allowing one singular flaw here and there to cast a gigantic shadow over all of the good blessings I had in life. I've great friends, a loving and supportive family, a passion for riding, and lots of personal interests in philanthropy that I was and still am passionate about. I had my first real, what I like to call an Oprah "A-ha," realization, one that lead me to finally embrace the insight that yes, I am a curvy, powerful, smart, confident, loving, sexy, and happy woman. Let me be clear. For me this did not happen overnight. It took a couple of years for me to sit and embrace my body as it is.

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