2020 Fittest Loser writer: Ignoring the power of the Paczki

  • Each year, Push Fitness owner and trainer Joshua Steckler takes Fittest Loser contestants on a tour of a local grocery store to talk about shopping for healthier foods.

    Each year, Push Fitness owner and trainer Joshua Steckler takes Fittest Loser contestants on a tour of a local grocery store to talk about shopping for healthier foods. Daily Herald file photo

By Dick Quagliano
Posted3/1/2020 12:01 AM

Last Tuesday was "Fat Tuesday," one of the traditional days of decadence. For me, that day always started (and sometimes ended) with a "Paczki," a deep fried doughnut filled with jelly or cream.

Since I began working out and carefully watching what I eat, the realization for me was every day had become "Fat Tuesday." 273 pounds is a lot of weight for me to haul around.


The Paczkis and doughnuts are gone. So are ice cream, cookies, candy, pizza and beer.

It's not that I miss any of them. Well, maybe the pizza and beer a little bit. But I am finding my healthy choices making me feel so much better each day.

Those choices really became reinforced a week ago.

That's when the Fittest Loser contestants -- Barbara Simon, Van Dillenkoffer, Jennifere Lux and Neil Madden -- and I met Push Fitness owner and trainer Joshua Steckler at the Jewels (I'm an old city guy and that's what we always called it) in Schaumburg. Josh was taking us on a tour of the store to demonstrate the foods we, and frankly us all, should be focusing on in our diets, as well as foods to avoid.

According to Josh, it is all about labels and the ingredients in those foods.

"An apple is an apple," Josh said. "There is no ingredient label because what you see is what you get. With our nutrition program, we're getting back to eating real foods. These foods are some of the best options for you and have the most nutrients per calorie."

We toured the store, keeping to the perimeter because, Josh says, that's where the healthiest foods are kept.

Van took meticulous notes during the tour and later shared them with the group via email. The contestants are really terrific and are rooting hard for one another. They have shared stories, their email and phone contacts, and are quite encouraging with one another, sharing their enthusiasm to a healthier life.

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Josh also shared a few other important points when food shopping.

The first and foremost is not to shop while hungry. Poor and snap decisions can be made when you are hungry. This is important to anyone reading this who wants to begin living a healthier lifestyle than you have now.

Plan ahead and stick to a list. Josh says meal planning is most important.

"Think about your meals for the next three or four days and shop for those items," Josh said. "Have a plan when you grocery shop and spend more time on the perimeter of the store, because this is where you'll find the freshest and healthiest options."

We did go up and down the aisles as well. The things that I thought were healthy or could be healthy, at times, were quite shocking when I saw what they actually had in them.

I used Josh's plan later that evening when my wife Debi and I shopped at our local Jewels. We went after dinner (we had fresh wild salmon that she bought earlier in the day).


We brought a grocery list for us and we didn't deviate from it, although that frozen pizza looked really good. Our list was filled with fruits, vegetables and chicken, which I cooked on the grill the next day and put leftovers in the fridge for meals later that week.

I am through the program two weeks now. I lost 13 pounds in the first week and, frankly, I am not hungry at all. I have eaten more apples in the first 10 days than I probably ate in all of 2019. But that's a good thing.

I am a bit sore from the workouts, but I expected that. I am rediscovering muscles that I forgot I had.

More on my new exercise schedule next week.

• Dick Quagliano coached youth football for 32 seasons and has been a freelance high school sports writer for more than 40 years, the last seven with the Daily Herald. In addition, he maintains a full-time day job as a packaging salesman. He and his wife Debi have two adult sons, Michael and Anthony.

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