"Surely hell has frozen over" I thought to myself as I approached 60 minutes-yep, that's one hour-on the treadmill timer, simultaneously looking around to see if anyone was waiting for my machine. If not, that would mean I could stay on. Keep going. Keep sweating. Wait a minute. Reality check. Is this me-the same gal who could write a book entitled, 365 Creative Ways to Cancel on Your Personal Trainer-who actually wants to keep exercising? How did this happen? When did I start enjoying exercise? I don't think I would have believed it if God, Himself, came down and said, "Elizabeth, this time you will stick with it and achieve great results. So much so, you will not miss eating sugary delights, and you will begin to enjoy exercising and feeling the power that I designed the human body to endure." Ha! I know laughing at God is blasphemy, but I would have giggled and called Him crazy. I'm the girl who's started a million diets, only to fail within 24 hours-letting myself down time and time again. But, this time I knew it was going to be different. I had a fire in me. I no longer needed to wait for my husband, or daughter, or a friend to get on board with me. It all started last June when I put my goals in writing in this column. Looking back, I have no idea why this start-up was different. Mainly, I think I was just tired of letting myself down. You know things are bad when you can't trust yourself-when the part of your soul where your self-credibility used to dwell is vacant. I didn't start with a bang, big plans or even specific intent. I didn't plot out how much weight I could lose by a certain time. I merely started consciously making better choices. I also started walking the beach at sunrise. By the time August rolled around, I was firmly entrenched into some new life choices. I walked everyday possible, usually alone, which by this time had become my preferred method. I plugged into my music on my iPhone, and that music became my trusty companion and pacesetter for daily excursions. When daylight savings time ended, I moved from the beach to the gym. This is where I started to physically get in touch with the power of my body and realize the internal results of my efforts, as well. I progressed from my all-out maximum speeds on the treadmill becoming my recovery speeds after intervals of running. There was a time when I thought I couldn't go on at the two-minute mark on the elliptical machine. Today I stopped at 45-minutes only because I had to go. I wanted to continue, although it's still challenging-actually hard! I share this because if my body and I can do it, anybody can do it-and I mean anybody-in fact, I mean you! Now, 37 pounds lighter, people ask me all the time the "secret" to my success. My answer-albeit disappointing to most-is always the same: I am eating healthier and less; I am exercising regularly (and enjoying it); and I am drinking a ton of water. Simple science-you are what you eat! Here are a few things I've observed and learned since beginning my healthy journey: . For many years, I waited on other people to get on the program with me. The problem with this is no one ever got on the program with me.so, neither did I. Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is personal. You are the only one with a stake in the race. It's completely up to you-and no one else-to start making the right choices for yourself. Sometimes the most rewarding journeys have to be taken alone. . You have to be selfish. This important change has meant making time for me-an absolute imperative element in order to achieve success. So what if I'm out walking and not cooking my daughter breakfast? So what if they have to fend for themselves a little more? I'm important too, and I'm glad I recognized it before it was too late. No Guilt! . There are people that will try to sabotage your success. I don't think they really know they're doing it, but sometimes change is scary-even when the change is happening to someone else. It's ok. Just learn to set and keep boundaries for yourself. The more you do, the more you will respect yourself. . Most of the motivation must come from within, however, an external source of encouragement can make a huge difference, especially on days when you've already opened the snack cabinet two times, eyeing the potato chips. I have one friend who has encouraged me every step of the way. She reminds me of why I'm doing this. She tells me she's proud of me. One day I text her, "Tell me to go to the gym." She immediately responded with a funny and encouraging text that got me out of the house and onto the treadmill. I didn't seek her out for this purpose, it just kind of fell into place-very serendipitous and truly a blessing! It only takes one. . Don't fall off the wagon. We all think, "I just blew it, so I might as well blow it more." This is stinking thinking that serves no purpose. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When your goal is to eat less, there is no blowing it. So what if you eat a piece of sweet potato pie or country fried steak and gravy. Be happy, not stupid. Stop right there, wipe the gravy from your chin and gather your senses. You're in it for the long haul, and there will always be a few delicious bumps along the way. . Finally, have fun with it. So many people approach losing weight as the hardest thing ever. It's tough, no doubt; however, change your attitude, and change your world. Losing weight can be fun, and is definitely rewarding in a multitude of awesome ways! It's so worth it! You're so worth it! I promise if this former weight loss dropout can do it, so can you.just begin.start today. Happy New Year!