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May 5, 201412:57 PMOpen Mic

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VP passes up pizza in pursuit of fitness

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Jon Emerick, VP of sales and marketing for Celerity Staffing Solutions, who is competing in the individual challenge.

So it started when I was dressed in full firefighter PPE: boots, bunker pants, coat, helmet, hood, mask, air pack. I was in the “burn tower” at Madison College and we were doing a training exercise, hauling a charged hose line through the window and down the stairs. It was about 90 degrees outside and at least twice that inside.

Our department’s SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) units hold 4,500 psi of compressed air, otherwise known as a “45-minute” bottle. I sucked it down in about 10 minutes. Most of my peers had used less than half the air I had. I knew then that I could no longer live in denial. I was not in good shape. I had no stamina. There was nothing in my tank.

If I was going to live out my dream of becoming a volunteer firefighter, I would be of no use to anyone is such poor physical condition. I couldn’t run a mile without walking. Ten years ago I weighed 40 pounds less and could run 10 miles without stopping. Somewhere along the way, exercise got put aside and other things took priority, some not as healthy as others. Three kids later, finding the time to get fit and stay fit is really challenging.

I am very challenged by not being the best right away, but it is not an overnight process. It takes a huge amount of work and sacrifice to build up stamina and strength. Finding the right balance of nutrition is difficult. I am not used to writing down everything that goes into my stomach, so most of this process is very new to me. In the end, I need to mark progress and not seek perfection. Being able to lift more than I did last week is a victory. Being able to run farther without stopping is a victory. Passing up that Saturday night pizza for a salad is just downright unfair!

Meet all of the competitors here, and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference

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