Journey's first leg was strenuous, yet joyous, Fittest Loser writer says
Now comes the hard part.
My journey with the Fittest Loser Challenge ended last Tuesday with an online celebration for all the contestants and the community teams. We had the final weigh-in just days before, ending our 12-week journey.
I didn't find out until the final celebration -- which was held as we social distanced on a Zoom videoconference -- how I finished. I am very proud to say I dropped 48 pounds and 17.6% of my original body weight of 273 pounds. I lost 7 inches around my waist, 5 inches off my chest and 4 inches around my hips.
Needless to say, I was elated. I also know the most difficult work is ahead of me.
I have lost weight before. Many times in fact. The problem is that my lost weight has always returned. Sometimes with a vengeance.
Will this time be different? I really believe so.
Thanks to Joshua Steckler and Push Fitness, I have learned a better way to eat and take care of myself with exercise. I have incorporated this into my daily routine.
It doesn't mean I can't have that occasional piece of pizza or cake or beer. I just don't want it to become part of my regular meal plan. I have worked too hard and made many sacrifices to get here and I don't want to ruin that work by not thinking about what I eat and drink.
Sacrifices will need to continue to be made. And that's OK. The big picture is the most important one.
These are still trying times for all of us. We know what we need to do based upon the recommendations of the medical and scientific experts. It will be difficult at times, but I know we have the strength to do it.
Congratulations to Karl "Van" Dillenkoffer for winning the individual contest by losing 20.1% of his starting weight and finishing down 49 pounds. Jennifere Lux, Barb Simon and Neil Madden, who were the other three contestants, did great as well. I got to see all of them at the final weigh-in and they all looked terrific.
There are also plenty of people to thank for this opportunity.
Eileen Brown and Kay Long from the Daily Herald gave me a chance to change my spots. They also gave me this weekly column to write about my thoughts and experiences during the Fittest Loser. I have not written a column since I was in high school and college when I had a sports column called "The Quagmire."
It has been fun and really rewarding for me. Thanks to all of you who read it each week and passed on your support.
Josh, who owns and is the head trainer at Push Fitness, was phenomenal. He knew just when to encourage me and when I needed an extra kick in the backside. I have been around tons of coaches and trainers in my career and Josh is right at the top.
My sons, Michael and Anthony, along with my friends and family were fantastic. They supported me all the way through this journey. Especially my wife, Debi. I know that I could not have been successful here without her.
I also began this with a promise.
My family said we would donate $10 for every pound I lost to the Northern Illinois Food Bank. So, NIFB will be getting a check from us for $480.
Two of my friends, the Hagues and the Cherwins, also said they would make donations to NIFB based upon my weight loss. I thank them for their support and generosity.
Please look into your hearts and considering donating to NIFB or your local food bank. These are difficult times for many and just a little bit can help.
I look forward to seeing everyone next fall when I get back on the high school beat when hopefully sports resumes.
Please be safe and take care of each other.
• 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.