01/28/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

45 Days Until 45: The 'BEFORE' I Do Anything Else -- DAY 40

Before I did one more thing in my quest to look my best before my 45th birthday, I knew I would have to take a good, hard look at myself (and I don't mean from an introspective point of view). I needed more than a mental picture to size up exactly how I managed to gain some 20 pounds. I needed photography (without the Photoshop).

I tried to take a "selfie" (since this IS all about me). But it's tough to get a full body shot with an outstretched arm (plus the lighting was horrible). And here's a flash. Taking a picture in the mirror isn't much better. If I was serious about this, I need professional help (and this time, I'm not talking about my shrink).

Enter my talented friend, Tomas Muscionico. A professional photographer who has captured some of the world's most famous faces (and who happens to spend some time on Facebook). That's where he read about my "45 Days Until 45" declaration and offered to take my "before" shots. He had the lights. The camera. And was just waiting on me to put this plan into action.

I hesitated at first. I am all for being revealing, but baring my butt in a two-piece swimsuit was another story. I was OK with the idea of flashing the photo to a friend or two... but in this day and age, post a picture once, and it's on the Internet FOREVER (the Internet should really do something about that).

However, Tomas reassured me that if I could stare down a scale, I could stare down his lens. He told me the photo shoot would be empowering for me and inspiring for other "real" women out there (a line he obviously does not use on the supermodels and showgirls he usually photographs).

So on Jan. 7, I declared it swimsuit season. I picked out a two piece (one with no strings attached). Took a deep breath and smiled (I also grimaced and let out a few heavy sighs).

They may call it a "before" shot. But in actuality, it is a "right-here, right-now" shot. (Hell, if you wanted a before, I would get into the way-back machine and pull a photo from Cabo circa 1999).

No. These photos taken today had to be a true reflection of the moment (and at the moment, I am a size 10).

So now that the truth has been exposed... what am I going to do (aside from more ab crunches)? I'm going work like never before, so I can live very happily with my "after."