I have thigh meat.

At least that’s what I call it.

I first noticed this generous helping of inner thigh fat when I was around 10 or 11.

I wanted to be a teenager, and the girls in Teen Magazine did not have thigh meat. Therefore, I did not like that I had thigh meat. I hated my thigh meat.

I used to look at the knives in the kitchen and fantasize about performing a little at-home plastic surgery (before I knew plastic surgery was even a thing) to remove my unwanted thigh meat.

Ten. Years. Old.

These thoughts persisted through my teens and 20s. I tortured myself with them.

I was ashamed of my inner thighs and would hide them from the world.

Gross, I thought.

Sidebar: I have always had a substantial booty. And while I can’t say that it is physically impossible for someone out there to have a naturally abundant backside while simultaneously having a natural thigh gap, I can say that I have never seen it in the wild. If that woman exists in nature, she is a rare breed.

And I am not that breed.

So I punished myself for it.

I thought that having a thigh gap was the way to attain the love and acceptance I craved from others.

I didn’t actually care to have a thigh gap. A thigh gap wouldn’t really impact my life in any practical way. This thigh gap was important to me only because I thought it was a requirement to be loved.

I wanted to be loved.

When I was 33 years old, I went through a devastating breakup. After a few months of difficult conversations, moving to and from temporary living spaces while searching for new digs, and contending with my feelings of shame, worthlessness, and disappointment over my perceived failure, I lost 25 pounds.

I was a bobble head.

My friends and family members were concerned. Would a gust of wind blow me over?

My world may have been crashing down, but one thing remained constant.

My thigh meat.

I was a bobble head, with thigh meat.

Yeah. Even at scary skeleton weight, I had thigh meat.

Thigh meat is part of who I am!

I am a badass bombshell, with thigh meat.

And I’m not apologizing for it anymore.

Because it’s not about that.

It’s about feeling strong and healthy and having a body that allows me to live my beautiful life exactly how I want to live it. It’s about being happy.

It doesn’t matter what size you wear, what your measurements are, or what your individual features look like. You don’t have “problem areas,” and exercise isn’t about “fixing” your body.

Exercise is a form of self-care. It’s about nurturing your body. Strengthening your insides and well as your outsides to be the strongest, most empowered, best version of yourself that you can be.

Embrace your body (just the way it is right now) and empower yourself!

Improve your health by working on yourself in all the ways within your control– but stop trying to change how you are fundamentally built. Free yourself from that prison.

Because life’s too short for that nonsense.

I was recently at an amusement park with Dan Hughes and Arjen van Eijmeren riding water rides. I had a swimsuit on, and my thigh meat was flapping in the breeze as I ran with them from ride to ride.

I don’t give a fluff.

I felt like free Willy as my thighs were jinglin’ and janglin’ in public, but instead of feeling shame, I felt proud.

Here I am, ladies and gentlemen. Take it or leave it.

My thigh meat is my empowerment. And I’m never putting it back.