Exercise commitment might seem like an exercise in futility after you have a baby, but it’s not as hard as you might think. We all hear the gossip about how “once you have a baby, your body will never be the same.”

Instead of believing that fate, which is the same mind tricking fate that tells you that you might be ‘too old to go back to school,’ I chose to focus on those women who have a six pack of abs after having four kids.

For most of my life, I have always wanted to achieve that ‘six-pack abs’ level of fitness. You know what I’m talking about…it’s that lean, mean and super clean body dream we see plastered across the pages of women’s fitness magazines.  Hey, if ‘other women’ can have a body like that, why not me?

In order to get there, I knew I had to change and commit myself to a new set of habits…both mentally and physically.  First, I made an agreement to ‘stop being so hard on myself.’  What good is a set of goals when you have a mental disability of picking yourself apart every single moment?

I agreed to treat myself with respect and build UP my self-esteem and not tear it down.  Second, I agreed to set and stick to a workout schedule.  This exercise commitment helped me lose 12 pounds in 6 short weeks.  Honestly, I shocked myself.  One of the biggest keys for me, was that I gave up trying to ‘control’ the outcome.  I simply focused on what I could control…my diet and my exercise commitment.

Exercise commitment is the most important factor when going after a body changing goal.  Committing to the new diet and schedule of working is hard at first, but once you get yourself going, it gets easier by the day.  Instead of looking at it like it was a chore, I looked at it as my own personal adventure.  Sure, it wasn’t a bed of roses every day, but the more I ‘train’ my mind to look at the process as an adventure and not an obstacle, the more I began to enjoy the journey.

In July, 2012 and after three months of strict dedication, I entered my first fitness competition.  This was a personal goal I had set and I stuck to it even though I felt like ‘I’m still not where I want to be.’  Now, I have to re-commit myself because I have chosen to enter my next competition in October, 2012.  Here’s how I’m going to get ready, stay on track, and re-commit myself to the goals I have set before me:

1. ASSESSMENT: Do I really want to do this?  When we commit ourselves to a goal, we have to understand and know that in order for us to accomplish that goal, it’s going to take effort and the tenacity to overcome the mental obstacles before us.  We need to be willing to change.  Am I willing to change even though I have emotional attachments to foods, lifestyles, and people?  I know I need to change in order to see the change I want.

Is it the right time to do it?  There will never be a perfect time for a body changing plan, because life is always happening, but learning to work with life happenings is all part of the plan.

Do I have the time and energy to do it?  We may have to make sacrifices in our schedules in order to prepare the right kind of food and set aside the time to exercise.  Finding the best take-out menu or getting up an hour earlier may be part of the journey to make this change happen.  Champions are in the gym even when they’d rather stay in bed.

2. CREATE A PLAN: How long is the commitment?  Having an end date is just as important as setting a goal and scheduling time for the gym and cooking.  When you know there is an end to the process, it becomes easier to push yourself that much harder. A temporary sacrifice for long term benefit will always win out over thinking like it’s going to be like this forever.  It’s not.

What is the plan for today?  Getting yourself to the gym is only the first step.  Doing the right type of training is the second step.  Get yourself focused by scheduling your workouts for the week ahead of time.  If you need help, let’s get together and create the best plan to help you achieve your goals.

3. DECLARATION: You can’t hide when everyone knows you’re on a mission.  Tell Facebook and Twitter friends. Post it in the break room at work. In order to get support from your family, friends and co-workers, you need to make a declaration of your goal. This keeps you accountable and helps recruit cheerleaders, which are invaluable when the going gets tough…and it will.

When word got around work that I was doing a fitness competition, everyone started asking me about my plan, the progress I was making and what I’m doing to stay motivated. When people started commenting on my results, their words were encouraging fuel for me to keep going. I pushed that much harder because I was accountable and inspired by those around me.

4. ACTION STEPS: I made a financial commitment by signing up for the competition and training. I created a training schedule that worked with my lifestyle. I bought a protein shake that tasted good, because some of them are horrible. I created a playlist on my iPhone, which helped keep me in the right state of mind. I prepared my food the night before. I bought a cooler bag for my meals, because i’m always on the go. This enabled me to grab food out of the cooler bag when I was really hungry, tired, or busy. I even had tupperware containers labeled, “Meal 2: 3 oz sweet potato, 3 oz chicken, 1 tsp fat.” Less thinking = more success.

5. RE-ASSESSMENT: During the adventure of achieving your goal, we tend to discover ‘what works’ for us, and ‘what doesn’t’ work for us. Instead of giving up, we need to re-assess our goal and take what works and leave the rest behind. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when we are going after a specific goal. There are many roads to finding efficiency, but it’s up to us to remain flexible. Because of my schedule with the baby, my work life and my life with my husband, I found I had to split up my workouts into two sessions a day. I needed to eat a little more than what my plan originally called for because I was starving and sometimes work very long days. A fitness formula is as unique as you. Discover yours.

6. COMMIT TO CHANGE: Get your mind right. Your heart, soul, and ego need to be on board. Change takes courage and at times, change can become really uncomfortable. Change is stepping into the unknown. We need to have the courage to change and see what’s on the other side. I found that by facing the discomfort of change I was able to focus on the empowering choices I was making. As I succeed, my self-esteem became brighter and permeated throughout all areas of my life. I became more organized, more creative, felt sexier than I have ever felt before, and I was all around happier! I was accomplishing something I had never thought possible until now. In short, I felt unstoppable.

7. KEEP RECORDS: In order to ‘see’ your progress, you need to write down your statistics. The scale doesn’t tell the truth. You need tape measurements and body fat percentages. As long as you use the same method, you will be able to track your progress. Try measurements every 1-2 weeks. These measurements are a reality check and an honest gage if what you are doing is working. Here are measurements: Waist (smallest part of abdomen, or 1 inch above belly button), upper thigh, lower thigh 2 inches above knee, Hips, calves, shoulder width (circumference around widest part of shoulder, and chest. Stay consistent with where you measure.

BONUS TIP: HONESTY. LETS GET REAL: Is it working? If yes, great! Keep doing your thing. If not, did you eat properly? Quality gym time? You need to get honest with yourself. Don’t blame anyone. You are in charge of every bite you put in your mouth, every step you take, and all the weight you lift. The methods are tried, true, and scientifically tested. When you take responsibility and achieve your goal, the reward is greater than fitting into your skinny jeans. If you need help, let’s talk. I’ve changed many bodies in my career and I know I can help you change yours.

BONUS TIP #2: REWARD YOURSELF: When we develop a reward system in the pursuit of our goals, we are able to keep things fresh. It’s also a good idea to give yourself a reward when we arrive at goal attainment. Plan a trip, get a massage, or buy that watch you’ve always wanted. The key here, however, is to make it non-food related. Every time you look at that watch, you will remember how incredible you are! You can’t do that with a banana split, can you?

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