During Fittest Loser boot camp on a recent Saturday morning, I did a whole bunch of sit-ups. I didnít keep count, but Iím pretty sure it was probably about 76 kajillion.
Somewhere around the 50 kajillion mark, Push Fitness trainer Wade Merrill, who was leading the boot camp, asked me if I was having fun.
ďYes,Ē I told him. And I was being honest.
Donít get me wrong ó doing kajillions of sit-ups isnít necessarily my idea of fun (I do go to movies and stuff, you know). What was fun, though, was realizing I could do them at all. When I started this Fittest Loser journey back at the end of January, I couldnít do a single sit-up. Not even one, not even with my feet anchored.
There have been a lot of cool things about this quest for fitness and weight loss, but the best thing, by far, has been that constant realization of ďI canít believe I can do this now!Ē Itís something my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, has impressed upon me from the very beginning: My only limits are the self-imposed ones.
While that has certainly been my most important lesson, itís not the only one. Some were obvious, some were practical and some were a complete surprise to me.
Now Iím no fitness or nutrition expert, but here are three of the more surprising and helpful things Iíve learned over the past several weeks.
ü Support is essential. Fitness is not a solitary pursuit. Sure, you have to do the hard work yourself (Nobody is going to do your workouts for you. Trust me, Iíve tried to arrange this.) But you still need other people. You need to be accountable, share recipes, have people who wonít eat pizza in front of you, get encouragement and realize youíre not the only one struggling.
Sometimes, you also just need someone to tell you that buying a lifetime supply of frosting is a bad idea. Reach out, tell people what youíre doing and share your successes and frustrations. Youíll be pleasantly surprised by how many people will cheer you on.
ü All calories are not equal. The quality of the food you consume definitely matters. You can eat your daily allotment of calories in pizza and french fries, or you can eat it in vegetables and lean meat. In my experience, at least, I got better results sticking to the healthier options. Iíve never been someone who ate huge quantities of food.
In fact, at times in the past that I tracked my food intake, Iíd consistently eat a pretty reasonable number of calories. But I ate a pretty reasonable number of calories of junk most of the time, and that did not help me lose weight or feel good.
ü There is no such thing as failure in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, unless you completely give up. During this whole journey, Iíve eaten things I shouldnít have (Iím looking at you, Oreos). Iíve eaten too much (and it was never too much broccoli). Iíve skipped cardio workouts. But you know what I didnít do? Quit.
Thatís the great thing about fitness: Itís not just a trip from point A to point B ó itís a constant pursuit. Eat something you shouldnít have, skip a workout or have a bad workout? Hey, guess what? Tomorrowís another day. Do better. Itís as simple as that.
My own journey toward fitness has been far from perfect. Depending on the day, itís been fun, terrible, frustrating, awesome and amazing. But no matter what, itís always been educational, and itís knowledge thatís going to benefit me long after the Fittest Loser is over.
ü Melynda Findlay is a member of the night copy desk at the Daily Herald, where sheís worked for 14 years. She lives in Arlington Heights and hasnít actually thought about grilled cheese in quite a while.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.