Champion sets a better example for his loved ones

 
Posted6/6/2016 6:00 AM
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  • Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, walks to the stage as he is introduced Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won the 2016 title of Fittest Loser after dropping more than 70 pounds.

      Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, walks to the stage as he is introduced Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won the 2016 title of Fittest Loser after dropping more than 70 pounds. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Daily Herald Fittest Loser 2016 winner Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, right, and his wife Angela, along with last year's winner Bob Coniglio, of Arlington Heights relax after the event Tuesday at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

      Daily Herald Fittest Loser 2016 winner Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, right, and his wife Angela, along with last year's winner Bob Coniglio, of Arlington Heights relax after the event Tuesday at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • 2016 Fittest Loser Mel Boldt poses with his family Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. They are from Rolling Meadows.

      2016 Fittest Loser Mel Boldt poses with his family Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. They are from Rolling Meadows. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Mel Boldt, middle in vest, poses with fellow Fittest Loser contestants as well as their trainers after he was named the 2016 winner Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

      Mel Boldt, middle in vest, poses with fellow Fittest Loser contestants as well as their trainers after he was named the 2016 winner Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Contestant Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows talks at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

      Contestant Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows talks at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • 2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt with his youngest daughter Molly at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale.

      2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt with his youngest daughter Molly at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • 2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

      2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Mel Boldt, along with other Fittest Loser contestants, learn how to shop for healthier food with their Push Fitness trainer Josh Steckler at Valli Produce in Glendale Heights.

      Mel Boldt, along with other Fittest Loser contestants, learn how to shop for healthier food with their Push Fitness trainer Josh Steckler at Valli Produce in Glendale Heights. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale.

    Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale. Courtesy of Deer Park Town Center

  • Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale.

    Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale. Courtesy of Deer Park Town Center

  • Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale.

    Mel Boldt shopped at Jos. A. Bank Ann Taylor for his shopping spree for the Fittest Loser Finale. Courtesy of Deer Park Town Center

  • Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt works out with his trainer Matt Bell.

      Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt works out with his trainer Matt Bell. Bob Chwedyk, bchwedyk@dailyherald.com

  • Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt works out with his trainer Matt Bell.

      Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt works out with his trainer Matt Bell. Bob Chwedyk, bchwedyk@dailyherald.com

  • Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt trains during an early-morning Saturday workout at Push Fitness in Schaumburg.

      Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt trains during an early-morning Saturday workout at Push Fitness in Schaumburg. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt of Rolling Meadows, right, celebrates running the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove.

      Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt of Rolling Meadows, right, celebrates running the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt of Rolling Meadows high-fives other contestants as he finishes running the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove.

      Fittest Loser contestant Mel Boldt of Rolling Meadows high-fives other contestants as he finishes running the DuPage Human Race 5K in Downers Grove. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, banters with M. Eileen Brown, of the Daily Herald, at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. Boldt won the 2016 title after dropping more than 70 pounds.

      Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, banters with M. Eileen Brown, of the Daily Herald, at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. Boldt won the 2016 title after dropping more than 70 pounds. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, reacts to a question Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won after losing more than 70 pounds.

      Mel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, reacts to a question Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won after losing more than 70 pounds. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt with 2015 winner Bob Coniglio, of Arlington Heights, left, Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.com2016 Daily Herald Fittest Loser champion Mel Boldt with 2015 winner Bob Coniglio, of Arlington Heights, left, Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comMel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, walks to the stage as he is introduced Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won the 2016 title of Fittest Loser after dropping more than 70 pounds.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comMel Boldt, of Rolling Meadows, walks to the stage as he is introduced Tuesday at the Daily Herald Fittest Loser finale banquet at Chandlers Banquet hall at the Schaumburg Golf Club. He won the 2016 title of Fittest Loser after dropping more than 70 pounds.

Trainer: Matt Bell

On a cold January morning over a plate of hot cakes, Mel Boldt decided to change his life.

Signing on to the Daily Herald's 2016 Fittest Loser Challenge sent Mel down a healthier pathway, culminating in a 12-week weight loss of 73 pounds.

His percentage of body weight lost was enough to win the challenge offered by Push Fitness, in partnership with the Daily Herald Media Group.

"The Push Fitness program is the simplest, yet most difficult challenge I've done in my life," Boldt says.

Mel came to the contest with a lifetime of fitness disappointments weighing heavily on his body and spirit. That January morning when he decided to apply, everything came together for him with the realization he had been passing his bad eating habits on to all the members of his family.

Stepping into the Push Fitness studio at the start of the challenge in February weighing 340 pounds, he realized getting his health back on track meant drawing on three important elements: time, commitment and professional fitness help.

"I never had all three together," Mel says.

He was eager to learn about selecting healthy ingredients and preparing nutritious meals, for himself and his family, which includes five daughters at home and college.

"I'm the cook in our family. Helping them eat better helped me stay strong and steady on the new food plan."

This contest also called for Mel to seriously step up his exercise routine. In the past, distractions and unfamiliarity with gym equipment got in the way of a regular fitness plan.

"I had a stationary bike at home, that stayed stationary most of the time," he jokes. "I didn't want walks with my youngest daughter, Molly, to be a daunting task anymore!"

Key to Mel's winning success was his easy relationship with Push Fitness trainer Matt Bell.

"I liked his flexibility," Mel says about Bell. "We worked out in the early afternoons, giving me time to spend with family after school."

Looking back, Mel is amazed about overcoming his biggest challenge in the gym: moving quickly between exercises. "When Matt first told me I'd be doing burpees, I laughed at him!"

Not much of a morning person, Mel did not look forward to the early Saturday morning boot camp sessions, held with all the contestants at Push Fitness.

"Who knew there were actually two 6:30s in every day," Mel quips.

Boot camps aside, the most challenging aspect of this competition for Mel was his workout setback, resulting from a painful knee.

"Matt modified my training, focusing more on upper body work and less on impact exercises," says Boldt. "I traded my treadmill for a rowing machine. That's made a huge difference in my home workouts and I am stronger now than I was a decade ago."

While Mel's results are visually startling, there's much more to his incredible transformation.

"Mentally, I was limited to thinking how great it would be to lose 20 pounds and walk a mile," says Boldt. "Now I'm 73 pounds down and can walk 10 miles without back pain."

Looking ahead to future success, Mel boasts a warm smile.

"Friends and family are so proud of what I've accomplished. I just needed a good PUSH!"

-- Annie Overboe

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