In the December 2002 issue of SHAPE, Jill discusses how far she's come in health and fitness since she started the Weight-Loss Diary last January. Now, over 20 pounds lighter and much more fit, she really has a reason to celebrate.

Yep, it's my 40 birthday. Right in the middle of the cold, dark winter. While I'm struggling to keep my spirits high and get my body fat lower, I'm also grappling with the fact that I'm another year older.

Instead of whining about it (like I usually do), I opted this year for a more optimistic approach to commemorate both the occasion and the successful completion of my public diary.

On the big day, I asked the people in my life to greet me with "atta girl!" instead of "happy birthday." Now that I'm getting older, making it through another year feels more like an achievement than a given. I wanted to be recognized for it.

Then, I ate birthday cake (one delicious piece vs. the whole thing) sans guilt. To the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And lastly, I went to the gym despite well-intentioned friends who advised me to take the day off. "But it's your birthday," they said.

"Which is precisely why I'm going," I said. "It's a gift to myself." Atta girl, Jill!

For Jill's Month 12 stats and her twelfth and final complete Weight Loss Diary entry, pick up the December 2002 issue of SHAPE.