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Do you know that woman who has it together? The one whose children eat broccoli and who looks healthy, happy and fit? For many years I resented her just because she represented everything I wasn’t.

At the time I was a preschool teacher in an affluent community where the majority of moms dropped their kids off on their way to a workout. I would look at my insecure, overweight self who had been on the couch for years and I would feel myself fall short. I compared my inside to their outside. I failed to recognize these women had their struggles, and made their own sacrifices to be who they were.

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Instead of making a decision to turn things around, I would put them down so I could feel better about myself. “But look, she feeds her child Oreos, I would never do that.” Of course not … I would be the one eating the Oreos.

But about three years ago, I decided to change. I didn’t have a health problem or a burning bush moment; I was just tired of being tired. One of my classroom moms owned a small gym and I asked if she could help me get started. She did, and the rest is history.

I didn’t last in the gym, but working out there led me to feel like I could finish a short triathlon. Fifteen races later I am just shy of my biggest show yet: an IronMan triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run). If you would have told me three years ago I would be training for an IronMan someday, I would have told you: “I’m sorry, but you mistake me for someone else.”

And though I am still not that super fit woman whose children eat broccoli … I am happy, healthy and doing things I never dreamed possible. If I can change, so can you.

Here are some strategies I’ve used that can help you get going:

  • Focus on you. Stop looking at everyone else; this is about you, not your daughter, mother, husband, neighbor or friend.

  • Admit defeat. Admit that there are areas in your life that aren’t working and inventory them. You can’t improve upon what you don’t measure. Ask yourself: do you live a mostly sedentary life or are you active? How is your diet? Be honest: no one is looking and no one is judging.

Example: I am mostly sedentary, and though my lunch plate has a healthy salad, my desk drawer has a stash of afternoon treats. By 4:00pm I am so tired I need a coffee or something sugary to get me going. I run out of breath going up a flight of stairs. I drive everywhere I go.

  • Set goals. Where do you want to be? Don’t measure success by weight loss but rather by how you want to change.

Example: I want to fit comfortably into my clothes. I want to wear a bathing suit without feeling I need a cover; I want to be able to keep up with my kids when they run in the park; I want to stop needing my treats.

  • Pick your battles. Change does not come overnight. What will you tackle first? You can’t change your eating, fitness, and family health all at once. Pick your first obstacle.

Example: I will incorporate exercise in my day. I will join the beginners running club at my local running store, or attend a Zumba class at my gym, or sign up for the martial arts studio, dance tango. Your choice.

  • Become accountable. Nothing keeps you more honest than reporting results.

Examples: Announce to the world your intentions. Tell it on your social media channels, or document your journey. Find a friend to meet you on a run/Zumba/karate date. Sign up for a race, a karate test, or set a date to nail a Zumba song.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stuck in a rut? Don’t know where to start? Lost your mojo? Talk to a friend, an online group or email me! Just don’t give up.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—you might as well take it now! I know from my own experience and I assure you, a healthy, happy you is wanting to come out. The human body has an undeniable ability to change and I promise that if you make a commitment and take these steps, you too can find yourself doing things you never thought possible.