Fittest Loser contestants reflect on what they've learned, share hopes for the future

 
By N.A. House
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted5/13/2018 7:00 AM
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  • Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley gets weighed in by Push Fitness trainer Michelle Jeeninga in Schaumburg. What will her final weight-loss number be?

      Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley gets weighed in by Push Fitness trainer Michelle Jeeninga in Schaumburg. What will her final weight-loss number be? Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Fittest Loser contestant Kim Rosewell shops for clothes with sales associate Alicia Edwards at Ann Taylor in Deer Park Town Center. One of Rosewell's weight-loss goals is to be able to wear her dream wedding dress at her upcoming wedding.

      Fittest Loser contestant Kim Rosewell shops for clothes with sales associate Alicia Edwards at Ann Taylor in Deer Park Town Center. One of Rosewell's weight-loss goals is to be able to wear her dream wedding dress at her upcoming wedding. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Fittest Loser contestant Kirsten Binder of Schaumburg, left, tries on a dress with help from shopping assistant Judi Moertl at Anthropoligie in the Deer Park Town Center.

      Fittest Loser contestant Kirsten Binder of Schaumburg, left, tries on a dress with help from shopping assistant Judi Moertl at Anthropoligie in the Deer Park Town Center. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley of Arlington Heights, left, tries on a dress with the help of assistant manager Adriana Rago at White House Black Market in the Deer Park Town Center.

      Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley of Arlington Heights, left, tries on a dress with the help of assistant manager Adriana Rago at White House Black Market in the Deer Park Town Center. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

As the Fittest Loser competition draws to a close and the last workouts are completed and the final weigh-in is recorded, contestants had the opportunity to reflect on the strides they've made over the past 12 weeks and to share their hopes and dreams for a healthier future.

Each contestant was asked to write a letter to their future self. In these letters, they express gratitude for all the Fittest Loser has given them and how they plan to use the lessons learned for the rest of their lives.

Nicole Mueller

Nicole Mueller's letter to herself, 10 years from the end of the contest:

May 13, 2028

Dear Nicole,

Happy early 53rd birthday! Hope this note finds you doing well.

I assume Tim has retired from the fire department and Anthony will be graduating from high school in a few weeks. I'm sure your grandkids keep you on your toes. That is the reason for this letter. I wanted to remind you of the lifestyle change you committed to 10 years ago, which is allowing you to, hopefully, be enjoying your family in 2028. Which I know, deep in your heart, is the most important thing in the world to you (I know because I am you!)

It's been 10 years, so I'm sure you don't look back and truly appreciate how you got to where you are today. So this letter is meant to serve as that reminder.

You were focused, dedicated, and loved during the Daily Herald's Fittest Loser Challenge 10 years ago. Those three key elements of your lifestyle change made it possible.

Fittest Loser contestant Nicole Mueller credits her trainer, Patrick Stille, with being behind her through this entire journey.
Fittest Loser contestant Nicole Mueller credits her trainer, Patrick Stille, with being behind her through this entire journey. - Photo courtesy of Nicole Mueller

Your focus was maniacal. You willed yourself to eliminate distractions. You cleared every previous roadblock and hurdle that kept you from being the best version of yourself in earlier "get healthy" attempts. You were on a mission. To your credit, this focus served as the foundation of the building blocks that made the transformation possible.

On top of that focus was your dedication. Nothing, and I mean nothing, stopped your from shopping right, eating right and working out. In fact, as you may recall, you even overdid the workouts a few times because you were so darn dedicated.

Finally, wrapped around all your efforts was the love and support of your family, friends and your trainer, Patrick Stille. They encouraged you, took care of things around the house for you, and pushed you to get strong and be strong. If there was ever a moment of mental weakness, their love served as the last line of defense to erase it from your thoughts.

In closing, I hope and pray you are enjoying life and living it to the fullest. Congratulations on making the choices you did 10 years ago and sticking to them. I know I will appreciate the time with the grandkids and our family and friends in the future.

Like your brother Butch always says, "Remember where you came from!" and "Be proud your journey." Nicole, you should be very proud of your journey.

Love,

Me

Shelly Daley

Shelly Daley's letter to herself after the end of the Fittest Loser Contest:

August 17, 2018

Dear Shelly,

Looking back to six months ago when you were 280 pounds, I want you to remember how sad, defeated, and exhausted you felt!

The happy, positive, full-of-life person was just checked out and "sitting on the sidelines" watching life from afar. 280 pounds … That is a number you will never be again. That number represents everything in life you didn't want to do, had no energy to do, and physically couldn't do!

It symbolizes how life was being lived around you, but how you were just in the background barely existing, going through the motions.

It's all thanks to the Fittest Loser for choosing you … believing in you that you could change your life and start living again! It's been six months since your weight loss journey with the Fittest Loser and look at you! You are fit, healthy, loving life again, and living it fully!

I want you to remember to always put yourself first because you deserve it. If you don't take care of yourself, then how can you take care of your family?

It starts with believing in yourself so never, ever lose sight of that again. Always know that you are worth it! Remember that excuses are, well, just excuses. You always have time to exercise! You always have time to choose and prepare healthy foods and meals for the week.

Write it down on your calendar so it becomes a part of your day! Your choices today will affect your outcome tomorrow not just for you, but for those around you.

Be good to yourself and take care of your body. Remember your two precious children are watching and learning from you.

Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley gets in one of her last workouts with Push Fitness trainer Michelle Jeeninga in Schaumburg. Shelly is committed to keep moving forward and never stop believing in herself.
  Fittest Loser contestant Shelly Daley gets in one of her last workouts with Push Fitness trainer Michelle Jeeninga in Schaumburg. Shelly is committed to keep moving forward and never stop believing in herself. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Keep moving forward with the amazing lifestyle choices you have made because the sky's the limit for you! As your trainer, Michelle Jeeninga, would tell you, "You got this, girl!"

Never stop believing in yourself because your days of sitting out on the sidelines are over!

You are playing in the game of life again and loving every second of it!!!

You are worth it, so make that promise to yourself to never go back. Keep moving forward and never stop believing in yourself!

Chad Lowry

Chad Lowry's letter to himself one year after beginning to Fittest Loser Contest:

February 17, 2019

Dear Fatty,

I sure hope you haven't blown it.

Are you still within your target weight range? If so, great job! Thanks for keeping up with the work we hustled for all those months ago. Keep strong and stay disciplined.

If not, where did you mess up? Not eating right? Have you stopped exercising daily?

C'mon, you know all you need is 30 minutes a day, and you can always just walk if needed. Yes, pizza is delicious, and it's not that you can't ever have anything sweet again, but you know you need to limit it to once a week.

Fittest Loser contestant Chad Lowry says eating right, drinking water and exercising daily are the keys to healthy lifestyle.
Fittest Loser contestant Chad Lowry says eating right, drinking water and exercising daily are the keys to healthy lifestyle. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Bring a salad to work with a protein and some Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. Drink more water than you want to. That's the way to get by, and it's how you're going to succeed every day.

Think about all of the weight you lost, and imagine someone handing you a couple of dumbbells equivalent to that weight. Do you want to carry that around again?! Do you want to return to working out twice a day?

No way.

Every day I want you to commit to making the choices you know you need to in order to stay healthy and fit. Too many people are counting on you to live up to the promise you made when you began this effort, starting with you.

Love,

Chad

P.S. Sorry for calling you "Fatty."

Kim Rosewell

Kim Rosewell's letter to herself after getting married and returning from her honeymoon:

November 1, 2018

Dear Kim,

I am so thankful I was part of the competition and that it gave me the look and feeling I wanted for my wedding day.

While the competition may have ended five months before I got married, I was able to take what I learned and continue to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle afterwards.

Fittest Loser contestant Kim Rosewell shops for clothes at Ann Taylor in Deer Park Town Center.
  Fittest Loser contestant Kim Rosewell shops for clothes at Ann Taylor in Deer Park Town Center. - Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Due to the work I have accomplished, I was able to wear my dream wedding dress, dance all night with family and friends, and most of all, look back on pictures of my special day feeling good about myself.

I really felt a difference in myself when my husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon. With this new lifestyle I was able to walk through the streets of Venice and Rome not having to worry about pain in my feet or finding a place to sit and relax for a minute. The competition allowed me to really live my wedding day and honeymoon to the fullest.

Since the competition ended it has mostly been about my wedding and honeymoon, but now it is time to start thinking about a more long-term plan.

Throughout the competition I have always called it a lifestyle change and that is exactly what it is. This new way of living is more than just a quick fix. I will be able to take what I have learned and apply it to my future family.

It has always been our plan to start a family after our wedding. I get a sense of relief knowing I will be able to teach my children healthy habits that they can use for the rest of their lives.

While I was able to reach my goals, I did not accomplish them on my own. First, I would like to thank the Daily Herald for selecting me for such a wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank my trainer, Nicole Steinbach, for the physical and nutritional training and her support. With her by my side I was able to take what I learned and use it not just for the competition, but also after it ended.

Most importantly, there is my husband and family; without them none of this would have been possible. They gave me the courage and strength I needed to not only get through the competition, but also participated in helping me make my lifestyle changes.

Kirsten Binder

Kirsten Binder's letter to herself, on the anniversary of her Fittest Loser experience:

May 15, 2019

A list on the anniversary of your Fittest Loser experience, to be read every year and any time it's needed in between.

Congratulations for:

• Continuing to get stronger, faster, and more flexible -- physically and otherwise.

• Moderating dairy, starches, alcohol, and especially sugar. Clean living and clean eating go hand-in-hand -- it's hard to do one without the other.

Fittest Loser contestant Kirsten Binder says clean living and clean eating go hand-in-hand -- it's hard to do one without the other.
  Fittest Loser contestant Kirsten Binder says clean living and clean eating go hand-in-hand -- it's hard to do one without the other. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

• Remembering that scales, calipers, measuring tapes, even clothing sizes … those numbers don't mean everything but they're still important to track, evaluate, and own (especially when it is tempting to ignore them).

• Setting ambitious but reasonable intentions. Big Hairy Audacious Goals are all well and good, but continual achievement builds momentum and maintains confidence.

• Trusting the experts. You're smart -- maybe too smart. Stay focused on what you know and keep engaging that amazing support network to help you keep an eye on your blind spots.

• Finding motivation wherever and however you can. Always find a reason to do the right thing.

• Accepting that weight loss is just as tough as reduction.

• Making sure that the contest was your last weight loss experience. It was a time full of joy, discovery, and achievement -- once -- but not to be repeated. Stay in "maintenance mode" for life.

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