To transform your health, you have to plan

A lovely ripple effect has resulted since I started transforming my life. I've made better food choices for weeks in a row!

I've steered clear of the newsroom doughnut box and thought twice about making a family outing out of going to our favorite burger joint. So not only have I not added to that stubborn gut I'm trying to lose, I feel more and more confident that I can ultimately reach my goals.

I feel stronger each time I make a positive food choice. As the weeks progress, I want to look at those choices less as if they're sacrifices, but more as if my lifestyle allows for indulgence on special occasions only.

That brings us to dedication. For me, getting the nutrition piece of this Commit 2 Be Fit puzzle in place was a critical first step. It's helped me be more dedicated to my exercise routine. In the beginning, my energy stores were depleted. Even though I like to exercise, I didn't have the oomph to do it!

Now that I'm eating right, I'm knocking out daily exercise and watching as those little changes take place. Muscle strength is building, endurance is increasing. It's awesome. But to get to this point, you have to plan.

In my research of health and fitness issues, I recently read, "Failure to plan is planning to fail." In my mind, truer words were never written! Planning for healthy meals and making time for exercise are a vital part of making progress. When I plan ahead and pack my lunch for work (three to four small meals) I don't cave and run to the nearest drive-thru when I'm starved during a busy day.

When I plan for whatever exercise I'm doing that day (whether it's a 30-minute cycling DVD or a longer, weight training circuit) I make sure I have that time set aside in the day, and I get it done. One thing that can be said about exercising: you'll never regret having done it once your workout is over!

And finally, yeah, I know, the above advice sounds real "rah-rah hooray," but let's face it: there are times we all need encouragement after taking big missteps. I certainly felt that way a few weeks ago when faced with the hard fact that I was more than 20 pounds overweight!

But what I need to do, and I'm hoping you'll do it too, is draw inspiration from the ideas here or from the success stories of others who got back on the horse after eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's, or those who got their game faces on after a week or a few years without setting foot in their sneakers.

Let's get right back up after we backslide, friends! Taking the time to find out what health and fitness-improving techniques work for you can be really powerful. It's the kind of information that will help you write your own success story that may one day inspire others to start making healthy lifestyle changes, too.