High intensity exercise isn't supposed to be easy, so what's the difference between a boot camp fail and a boot camp success? One allParenting writer unveils the secrets to both.

A year ago, when my son was almost 2 years old and my daughter was about 6 months old, my alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. and I dragged myself to Burn Boot Camp, where a trainer introduced me to muscles I didn't know I had.

I hobbled to work that day and discovered it takes leg muscles to sit or even go down stairs. Mentally, I beat myself up for being so badly out of shape, but I continued to attend about four times a week for a month, picking up my friend Julie every morning.

What I didn't do was change my diet. I figured, I'm working so hard, surely I deserve this biscuit for breakfast! Not surprisingly, after the first month I discovered I'd lost only two pounds. Discouraged and exhausted from late nights working and early mornings learning to hate burpees, I quit. I hobbled away.

I became a boot camp fail.

Becky is a boot camp success. She began boot camp in July 2012, when her children were 3-1/2 and 1-1/2 years old. Today, she's expecting her third child and still attends boot camp five or six times a week (with modifications to stay safe).

So, what's the difference between a boot camp fail and a boot camp success?

Devin Kline bootcamp photo: Christine Watley Photography

Overcoming mental hurdles

"Mindset is the most important aspect of a health and fitness turnaround," says Devan Kline, who began Burn Boot Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2011. "Your body will listen to your thoughts, whether positive or negative. Positive thoughts and a can-do attitude will go a long way when measuring success!"

Your body will listen to your thoughts, whether positive or negative. Positive thoughts and a can-do attitude will go a long way when measuring success!

For Becky, she had reached her breaking point. She was tired of giving up on exercise programs and wasting money on a gym membership she never used. "I would always be gung-ho to start with and then I would gradually lose interest, make excuses not to do it consistently, and eventually stop altogether," she shares. "Then the weight would always come right back on... along with a few extra pounds.

Then she heard local moms rave about Burn Boot Camp — and she found an Amazon Local deal to try it out.

Game changer

Becky: Bootcamp before and after photo"I was on an emotional high after the first day," Becky says. "I felt so proud of myself for taking that first step to getting into shape." She admits she felt discouraged after the first month, when she learned she had only lost a few pounds.

She joined a weight loss contest through her mommy group and also tackled her diet. Over nine weeks, Becky lost 35 pounds, more than 10 percent body fat and 15 inches off her body. She proudly went from a size 12 to a size 4 — and won the contest.

Top tips for success

  1. Find a buddy!

  2. Prepare the night before.

  3. Power through sleepless nights.

  4. Never give up.

"The friendships I have made through class are actually one of the biggest reasons I believe I was successful with this attempt to get into shape," Becky shares.

Julie (my original workout buddy) and Michelle knew each other before boot camp but began to hold each other accountable every morning soon after I bailed for good. (Yep, add "friend fail" to my list.)

Julie's children are in school and she works full time in public relations. "Having a workout partner has been critical to my personal goals and routine," Julie shares. "I not only hold myself accountable but I know that I have a partner who is just as interested in my overall health and progress. Oh, and she is waiting for me to show up... !"

When Becky's kids gift her with the inevitable sleepless night, "I just tell myself to suck it up and remind myself how good I feel after I complete a workout," she says.

Failure rehab?

Nothing will change if nothing changes. Success is in your own hands and you're only a boot camp fail if you give up.

Today, I'm expecting my third child and eying the calendar, wondering if I'll find the motivation to try boot camp again or if I'll let a negative mindset kick my butt harder than a burpee.

Devan's words ring in my ears: "It is going to be hard, you don't have a lot of time, there are 1,000 other things to do," he concedes. "But nothing will change if nothing changes. Success is in your own hands and you're only a boot camp fail if you give up."

Read more about exercise

The cLEAN Momma Workout
Pilates, yoga or the Dailey Method?
Stay in shape like a supermodel

Photo credits: Christine Watley Photography and Becky Huff

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