Workouts are hard, but she's not throwing away her shot
When I started Fittest Loser this time around, I kept telling myself I was starting off in a better place than I did five years ago.
For one thing, I weighed much less than I did then and, overall, my diet was so much healthier. But as far as actually being fit, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I was certainly worse off.
The past five years haven't magically fixed my creaky, achy knees. I'm also dealing with a medical issue that makes it more difficult to be active (or even awake) and, as a result, for a few months, my idea of activity was sitting and quietly reading (which, unfortunately, doesn't burn too many calories). And medical issue or not, I'm the queen of not-exercising excuses (I JUST STARTED A NEW BOOK! I MUST LEARN FRENCH IMMEDIATELY! HOW DO I SOLVE WORLD HUNGER? THE INTERWEBZ: SO MANY FUNNY CAT VIDEOS!)
So, when I met with Push Fitness owner Joshua Steckler for my first training session back in February, I was in not-great shape (except for excuses, of course). That was an issue, because Fittest Loser isn't just about losing weight -- it's about overall fitness. Not only would I be working out twice a week with Josh, I'd also be doing cardio on my own at least four days per week and going to a Saturday morning boot camp with all the contestants.
At first, it was all so frustrating. I often had to stop and rest during my workouts with Josh and at boot camp. My treadmill walks at home were super slow. Also, hadn't I progressed much faster than this back in 2013? And as I chatted with the contestants, I realized they were ahead of me: They were losing weight more quickly. Some of them were already running! Why was I not able to run yet? And seriously, lunges and squats, why are you still so hard?
Before the first week was even over, a little part of me was trying to think of a graceful way to back out of my commitment.
Thankfully, right about the same time, one of my college buddies, Will, offered a great piece of advice about working out: "Don't think about it too much; just put your head down and do it," he told me.
So that's what I do. I show up and work hard at Push. When I get on the treadmill at home, I put on my headphones, turn up my music loud and walk as fast as I can, even if it's not as fast as I want to be. I also do smaller things, like making sure I stay active outside of my workouts -- running lots of errands on my days off, going for walks around the block and getting up often from my desk (and steering clear of candy!) at work.
And you know what? It's all making a difference. When I asked Josh this week how my workouts are going, he answered without hesitation: "Oh, it's like night and day." He went on to explain that I was able to do so much more, and exercises he had me doing now would've probably been impossible a little more than a month ago. He told me not to compare where I was now to where I was in 2013. "Nobody's ever where they want to be," he said. "But the important thing is not to regret your time here. Put everything you have into this."
So now I like to think of myself as sort of the Alexander Hamilton of fitness: Hey yo, I'm just like my country, I'm not so young, but I'm still pretty scrappy and always hungry ... and I'm not throwing away my shot!
HA! OK, not really. I'm no revolutionary, and these are not new ideas -- but they're working for me. While my workouts may not amaze and astonish, there's been a ton of improvement in the past five weeks, so I'm still a lot better off than if I'd just given up that first week to watch cat videos.
• Melynda Findlay is a multiplatform editor at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 19 years. She saw "Hamilton" more than a year ago but obviously only recently added the soundtrack to her iPod workout mix.
Melynda Findlay, 49, Arlington HeightsStarting weight: 226
Current weight: 214
Weight lost this week: 0 pounds
Total weight lost: 12 pounds
Total percentage lost: 5.3 percent