Excuses don't burn calories

I can’t instill the same motivation I have for training in you. It is something you have to find for yourself. You are the one who will determine how you look, feel and perform down the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by  Airman 1st Class Dana Butler/Released)

I can’t instill the same motivation I have for training in you. It is something you have to find for yourself. You are the one who will determine how you look, feel and perform down the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dana Butler/Released)

My daughter Olivia, 3, holds my feet while counting my sit-ups during a late home workout in Soham, England, Oct. 22, 2013. Olivia enjoys working out with me and has been my motivation for the past 8 months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mancha/Released)

My daughter Olivia, 3, holds my feet while counting my sit-ups during a late home workout in Soham, England, Oct. 22, 2013. Olivia enjoys working out with me and has been my motivation for the past 8 months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mancha/Released)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- I never thought working out could change someone's life, but it has changed mine. My entire life I'd always been thin, I'd never had to diet or exercise and I could eat whatever I wanted. That is, until I had a baby.

I did almost everything by the book--I cut out junk food, ate my fruits and vegetables and exercised throughout my pregnancy, but I still gained 55 pounds. I lost some of the weight after delivery and while I was nursing my daughter.

My husband and I got an assignment five months after my daughter was born. We were on our way across the country and decided to visit family along the way. I wasn't working out and I got back to my old habit of eating whatever I wanted. Slowly, I started gaining the weight back, and just showing up to squadron physical training was not enough.

I thought everything was working against me. I worked late almost every day and was unable to go to the gym afterward. I had to pick my daughter up before 6 p.m., because my husband also worked late and would go to the gym after work. I also wanted to spend as much time with my daughter as I could. Spending time with her was a stress reliever.

I let myself go and gave up everything for my family; I wanted to be the perfect mother and wife and in the meantime I ended up losing myself.

I don't currently blame my daughter or husband for my weight gain, but I can't say I never did. I think I blamed my husband for almost everything: not making staff sergeant the first time, not being able to go to the gym after work and failing my first fitness assessment test by two sit-ups after giving birth.

I wasn't being the perfect wife I wanted to be, instead, I was pushing him away and creating a wedge between us. I became a slob at home and lost confidence in myself--something I never had an issue with before.

My turning point was when we received an assignment to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; I realized it was time for a change. I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to be happy and repair anything that was broken.

After settling in at RAF Lakenheath, I started working out again and it felt amazing. I set goals for myself, have accomplished them and have come so far in the past eight months. I have lost 32 pounds, ran my first half marathon, and have improved my fitness assessment mile and a half run time and can max out my sit-ups and pushups.

I am stronger than I have ever been and did it all on my own with the inspiration of my family. It feels so much better knowing I worked so hard to get where I'm at. I enjoy shopping again and I've stopped avoiding mirrors.

I didn't go on any fad diets or hire a personal trainer. I made time for myself, worked out a schedule that allows me to be an Airman, mother and wife, while staying fit.

I stopped making excuses, and with the help of my husband, I started weight training. He taught me the basics, we worked on my form, and more importantly, we worked together. I was on the right path and putting in the hard work.

I haven't lost time with my daughter; in fact, she loves working out with me and is my motivation to continue when I really want to give up.

I have been blessed with having an amazing support system at home and at work. My husband helps out more than a he should, supports my goals and gets more excited to see me accomplish them than I am. Our marriage has improved so much since I started getting myself back; it's better than ever!

Things at work have also improved. I enjoy helping co-workers work out and I'm overcoming the confidence issues I once had. I can now walk with my head held high.

Working out is still not easy. I still have goals that seem impossible, chocolate and French fries are still weaknesses of mine and I still get lazy. But, then I remember how hard I've worked in the last eight months and I continue to strive forward.

Exercising and losing weight has made me feel better about myself, opened doors for me and has given me a sense of direction of what I want in my future. A year ago I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue making the Air Force a career, but I can now say I'm in it for the long haul.