I am on a never ending quest to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise and clean eating. I consider this an ongoing lifetime journey. At times this journey is challenging, other times it is more humorous, but I can honestly say that each step of the way, I am learning more about myself and the process. Below are some of my more valuable lessons

Exercise and Fitness is not a life Event- It’s a Lifestyle : I am learning that it is more important to get healthy, eat clean and lose weight over the long run, than to prepare for a special event. In the past, dieted and exercised myself into a tizzy in anticipation for an upcoming vacation, reunion or even doctor’s appointment. In the last two to four weeks leading up to the special event, I have the discipline of a monk, monitoring every morsel I put in my mouth and logging countless hours in the gym so that I fit that cute leather dress or I do not get lectured by my physician for being overweight. I continued this cycle for years. Diet and exercise for a few weeks and then once the event ends, my bad habits return-eating whatever I want and exercising occasionally. Then, an epiphany occurred. If I can monitor my food intake and exercise for a short period of time, why not do this all time? I want to look good and feel great long after my college reunion. Why not make necessary sacrifices in my lifestyle maintain these positive changes over the long haul?

Do not be Afraid to Ask for Help : I admit it- I do not know everything and sometimes I need to reach out to others who know more. This is a very difficult lesson. I experienced some dieting and exercising success on my own. However, I didn’t get the life changing results I sought. Time to make a decision: (1) Continue to do the same thing and receive the same results, expecting something to change (which is a sign of insanity) or (2) Seek the advice and guidance of someone who use fitness to transform lives on a daily basis. I chose option 2. I solicited the help of a personal trainer and my life and my body (albeit sore) has not been the same. My trainer specifically designed an exercise and eating plan that coincides with my fitness goals and lifestyle. Each session my body is challenged in a way, that I could never do by myself. Working out with a trainer, I see visible results in a few days, while working out by myself, results take much longer.

I Must Push My Body : Results do not come easy and I run my butt off literally and figuratively. Doing twenty minutes on the treadmill and lifting weights aimlessly without a routine in the weight room did not give me the results I desired. I now push my body to the highest level of exertion (sometimes it feels like death is rapidly approaching). It is the constant battle of joy and pain. Oh the pain I feel after doing hundreds of jumping jacks and squats, but oh the joy the feels my heart when my once snug jeans fall off of my rear end without a belt.

Surround Myself with People who Share or Support Goals : Supportive friend and family, near and far are a source of my motivation on the days I just want to give up. I love the fact that my mother and I discuss diet, exercise and most importantly shopping for smaller clothes. My mother is on a similar journey and she is my greatest inspiration and my biggest cheerleader. I also have online communities filled with kindred spirits who want to live healthier lives. Websites like Spark People, Fitbie, The Eat Clean Diet and Black Women Do Workout are incredible resources for recipes, diet plans exercise tips and moral support. These websites are a wonderful forum for me to share my triumphs and trials with friends hundreds and thousands of miles away. It is a great feeling knowing I am not alone in my journey.

However, all of my positive changes do not mean a thing if I surround myself with saboteurs. Saboteurs are not just the people who offer me that extra piece of cheesecake, but the people who discount or belittle my desire to live a healthier lifestyle. The people disguised as well- meaning friends and family who have my best interest at heart. I know myself better than anyone else and if I want to lose those last 15 pounds even though some may say I look fine- I will. I do not need the negativity in my life.

I Hold the Keys to My Success : The most important lesson is I alone determine my success or failure on this journey. It is up to me. Every day I must make a conscious decision to live a healthier life and I must live with my decisions. Will I exercise for an hour and eat the fruit for a snack? Will I hang out with my friends at the lounge and sip on Mojitos? Temptations and distractions are constantly thrown my way and sometimes I succumb to temptation. I do not feel guilty. I keep trucking on my journey. The choice is mine. Will I choose success or failure?