Friendly rivalry keeps Fittest Exec contestant Gunderson motivated

Nearly 30 top-level professionals are competing in the second annual Fittest Executive Challenge, presented by In Business magazine. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 23.

This week, Peggy Gunderson, president and CEO of Strategic Brand Marketing, shares her experience participating in the “Most Improved Woman” challenge.

Why are you participating in the Most Improved category of the Fittest Executive Challenge?

I’m excited to be a part of this challenge for two reasons. My friend Michelle Anich agreed to join me in the challenge, and it’s so much more fun to do this with a friend! And I thought that because this challenge had an end date, I could work out and watch my diet just during the competition. I’ve learned that in order for me to avoid the “yo-yo” effect that dieting has had on me in the past, this challenge had to be the beginning of a lifestyle change rather than just a competition.

Tell us about your fitness regimen.

I work out with fellow contestant and friend, Michelle, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 5:30 a.m. and Saturday mornings at 7:30 at the Dustin Maher Bootcamp in McFarland. I love these workouts because of the great trainers who find interesting ways to “change up” the workout so you don’t get bored by doing the same thing each time. I’ve met a lot of great people at the boot camp, making it much more fun to work out.

How has your workout changed?

I never thought I’d get up at 5 a.m. to work out! When I first started the boot camp in the spring, it was dark outside and tough to get out of bed. Now that it’s summer, we work out at a park with absolutely amazing sunrises each morning. Now, if I miss a day due to scheduling, it feels really strange! I’ve also seen a steady increase in what I can do versus what I can’t. Many times, it’s the mindset that determines that.

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What are you doing to prepare for your evaluation?

I’m going to add another day of the week to my workout schedule and be more consistent about journaling food intake during the remainder of the challenge. I’m planning to cut out soda, alcohol, sugar-filled foods, and carbs such as chips, breads, and pastas.

How do you stay motivated?

I’m so grateful for having gone through this challenge with an amazingly wonderful friend in Michelle. We are both pretty competitive and have had some fun gently ribbing each other about who will win this challenge. Although Michelle knows it will be me! We also encourage each other during workouts and talk about nutrition and staying focused on our goals.

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