Excuses don't burn calories

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mancha
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
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.