Today, I’m super excited to present my interview with fellow blogger and friend Karen Anderson of Before & After: A Real-Life Story. What I love about Karen and her blog is the honesty and authenticity. Karen always speaks from her heart and writes it like it is.

She recently published her book After (the Before & After): A real-life story of weight loss, weight gain and weightlessness through total self-acceptance. In it, she tells her story of going from a “weight-loss success story” to regaining half the weight to discovering the power of self-acceptance.

You can learn more about the book, including reading excerpts from it, here!

I just received my copy in the mail, and I think it’s stunning. Here’s a brief paragraph that struck me, where Karen explains “what this book is and what it isn’t”:

“It’s about working through the rough spots. It’s about what it’s like to take two steps forward and one step back, and then two steps back and one step forward, and how to be okay with that. And it’s ultimately about realizing that there is no such thing as a step back.”

Below, Karen talks about how she actually didn’t set out to write the book, what self-acceptance means to her, myths about weight loss and more!

By the way, Karen is generously giving away a copy of her book! Just leave any comment below (whether it’s a reaction to her interview or sharing your own story), and I’ll randomly select the winner. The giveaway ends Sunday at midnight eastern time! I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Q: What inspired you to write AFTER (The Before & After)?

A: The funny thing is that I didn’t set out to write a book. I am a freelance writer and a regular contributor to a local women’s magazine. Back in 2006, after I had lost 55 pounds, I pitched an idea to the editor.

I wanted to write about how I had used Emotional Freedom Technique to help me lose weight. That essay was called “Why Weight?” Fast forward to the end of 2008 and I’d regained half the weight I had lost. You can imagine how I felt.

Around the same time, a woman I know who is a holistic health counselor was starting a class called Living Lighter. I was desperate and so I signed up. I also wrote and published another essay, “Why Weight, The Sequel.”

I started writing in a journal after each class. And in between classes, too. I ended up taking the Living Lighter class TWICE and it became my muse. Then I decided to start a blog and I just kept on writing.

Based on the comments I was getting I realized that what I was writing really resonated with a lot of people. Turning it into a book seemed like the right thing to do…a natural progression.

Q: What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

A: There are so many messages, but the most important one is this: a healthy body starts with love. We can’t hate our bodies and expect them to respond positively, at least not permanently.

Q: Your book focuses on the power of self-acceptance. What does self-acceptance mean to you?

A: Self-acceptance means embracing all aspects of yourself – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual – and not categorizing some aspects as “good” and some as “bad.” Often times people are under the impression that self-acceptance means “giving up” on themselves and not wanting to improve.

Another misconception about self-acceptance and self-love is that means being selfish…self-involved and uninterested in others. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The powerful (and unexpected, at least for me) part of self-acceptance is that it changed how I view the world. Looking in helps me look out. Loving myself helps me love others. I adore the paradox.

Q: You write that your results were not typical. What do you mean by that? What are some of the misconceptions surrounding weight loss?

A: This is a sensitive subject and I can only speak for myself. I have learned that what works for one person might not work for another…and that the very definition of “works” is subjective too. That is what I mean by “results.” My “results” may not be what someone else wants.

I strive to practice, not preach (and I am not always successful…HA!). I’ve learned that being supportive of others means listening, encouraging, and modeling, not telling them what to do or what I think their results should be.

Q: What do you think will surprise readers most about your book or your story?

A: Hmmmm…I’m not sure. I think the penultimate chapter provides a nice little surprise. I know it surprised me when I wrote it.

Q: What were the toughest parts about writing your story?

A: It was and still is a labor of love. There is nothing “tough” about it. A while back I realized something: that which comes easily to me is valuable to others.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about your book, self-acceptance or a related topic?

A: Self-acceptance is a practice. It’s not something you get once and can forget about. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And the more you model, the more others will want to do it for themselves. And that can only make the world a better place!

Thanks so much, Karen, for talking with me and for giving away a free copy!!

What struck you about Karen’s responses? What does self-acceptance mean to you? What are some myths about weight loss?