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updated: 4/8/2013 8:33 AM

Show of support 'both wonderful and humbling'

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If it takes a village to raise a child, then I'm pretty sure it takes a small city to lose weight and get fit. Or at least it certainly has in my case.

Let me assure you: If it wasn't for the incredible amount of support I've been getting from, well, pretty much everyone I know during the past couple of months, this whole Fittest Loser journey of mine would've ended after about six hours, probably with me rolling around in a pile of Oreos, swearing I'd never set foot in a gym ever again.

But instead, I've lost 27 pounds, I go to the gym every single day -- sometimes twice -- and I haven't so much as touched an Oreo in about six weeks.

At the risk of sounding like a rambling Academy Award acceptance speech, there are a lot of people to thank.

There are my bosses and co-workers who chat with me about how things are going and what I write for this column, listen when I rant about the diet or how early I have to get up for boot camp, and also surreptitiously move Girl Scout cookies out of my sight and eat pizza in the break room rather than eating it in front of me in the newsroom. My bosses also kick me out of work early on Friday nights so getting up for boot camp on Saturday morning is a whole lot easier than it would be otherwise.

There's my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler. He has a good sense of humor about my complete lack of grace and athleticism. He never yells, lectures or gets frustrated. (Although he does have an excellent -- and very motivating -- disappointed face I've seen a couple of times that says "It's OK. But I expected so much more from you.") But that's only part of it. The most important thing I've gotten from Josh, by far, is the assurance that yes, I can do that, and my only limits are the entirely self-imposed ones.

Of course, there's my biggest cheerleader: My boyfriend, Brian. He and his unflinching optimism go a long way toward making my quest for fitness easier. Among the gazillion things he's done -- making my smoothies every morning, constantly searching for ways to make chicken and green vegetables not boring, making sure I get up on time for Saturday morning boot camps -- the really big thing is what nobody but me sees: He's supportive (and also rational and not judge-y) when it all gets a little overwhelming and my fitness-and-diet-induced crazy comes out. Like when I told him Josh isn't a personal trainer, he's a personal torturer! ("I don't know about that," Brian said at the time. "He seemed pretty cool when I met him.") Or the time I declared war on carrots, then later on spinach (I am not winning either of those wars). Or when I cried in a grocery store aisle about a food I couldn't eat. (Yes, unfortunately, that actually happened. It was a really bad day. You kinda had to be there.)

Instead of being annoyed or just indulging me so I'll shut up, he hits the perfect balance: He lets me vent, tells me he's proud of me and of all my progress, then usually suggests we go for a walk or to the gym to work off some of my stress (see what he did right there?)

There are so many others. The list of supportive people during this Fittest Loser experience is long, which is both wonderful and humbling. It's also been one of the top factors in me being successful so far -- because I knew I was never in this alone.

• Melynda Findlay is a member of the night copy desk at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 14 years. She lives in Arlington Heights and really loves grilled cheese sandwiches.

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