Are you one of the millions of people who started this year with a resolution to improve your life? Maybe you promised yourself that you would lose weight, fit into those old favorite jeans, or even improve your physical fitness test score. You, along with many others, have done this, so how do you stick to it?
For me, it started three years ago with a New Year’s resolution to get fit and compete in my first bodybuilding contest.
The goal of competing was not out of the blue. It all started with a desire to be healthy.
I really didn’t know where to start and found the gym intimidating. I also didn’t know how to use any of the machines and was afraid to get in other peoples’ way during their workouts, until I met a mentor.
She helped me prepare a meal plan and gave me the advice and support I needed. Although the gym was uncomfortable for the first month, I got used to doing my workouts there and soon felt more at ease.
After listening to her guidance, sticking to my diet and training for only a month, big changes happened which pushed me to set a bigger goal.
Before stepping foot in a gym, I had a gymnastics and competitive cheerleading background. I was used to working on my tumbling skills, trying to accomplish something new that I could bring to my team.
With gymnastics no longer in my life, a bikini competition was a great avenue to focus my drive for improvement. It was very intimidating at first because this wasn’t a team sport, just me against me.
Finally realizing that I could create something based on the food I put into my body and the way I trained, I got to business.
Contest preparation wasn’t something I fully understood when I started. It was a different level of discipline that I sometimes struggled with. My diet wasn’t always perfect, and it was a real adjustment learning to eat six meals a day that required me to prepare my food in advance.
Though it took some growing pains, I learned to make my routine a habit. That is what allowed me to fully change my lifestyle. When things got strict as the show got closer, weighing and measuring food and eating clean and healthy meals were already a routine, so the changes that made the biggest difference weren’t actually huge changes.
After four months of hard work in the gym and eating only what was on my plan, I didn’t end up placing well in my show, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t about a trophy at all. I had changed my body and finally felt a sense of accomplishment.
A New Year’s resolution changed my life in many ways. I learned to push myself beyond what I thought were my limits, and it made me an athletic and confident woman three years later.
Being an Airman requires you to be fit physically, socially, spiritually and mentally. Fitness is a great way to maintain elements of “RUfit.” It has helped both physically and mentally in how it has taught me the discipline to do what is necessary to reach a goal. Balancing the duties of an Air Force photojournalist and bodybuilding is not always easy and requires a plan.
One way that I stick to my plan is keeping food with me no matter where I am. I prepare meals in advance so that it’s less tempting to cheat on my diet. As Airmen, we have to be ready at a moment’s notice to get the job done. When there is a last-minute job, having my meals with me lessens the possibility of slipping up due to unforeseen circumstances.
Resilience has been key in reaching my goals. At my first competition, I looked at the winners and thought “wow they must stick to their plan 24/7” or that they never face adversity and surprise. After meeting many successful people in the fitness industry, I now know that is not true. The difference between someone who finishes the race and someone who doesn’t is that they kept going. That doesn’t mean it never hurt to keep running or they were never out of breath, but they didn’t give up.
After a couple of years off the stage, I haven’t given up either and am preparing for another show this coming March. I don’t know what the end result will be, but I will not stop running.
The biggest way to stick to your resolution is to have a plan. Are your goals attainable, time-bound and realistic? These are important considerations to take before setting a goal, as is being flexible. Moving forward is better than not moving at all. You need to walk before you can run.
So if you have fallen off the wagon from your resolution, don’t worry, just get back up and keep going. You will get there if you keep going. What is your plan?