I came, I saw, I failed in IB’s fitness competition (at least I’m honest)

When I first signed on to be IB’s representative in this year’s Fittest Exec-Most Improved competition, I also agreed to write a blog about my experience.

Nearly six months have passed since I was first weighed in and checked out by the experts at Meriter Wisconsin Heart. I was on a good track. Spring was on the way (I thought!), I felt good about the test results, and I was looking forward to getting this 50-plus-year-old body in shape.

At that time (do you hear the excuses coming?), I was walking several times a week on a treadmill and using the elliptical. I found that if I didn’t work out early in the morning, it would never happen. I love my job at IB. Frankly, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. But we work a lot, as do most people who’ve been lucky enough to keep their jobs through the recession. And getting home often at 6 p.m. or later, I just can’t give another hour of my day to working out.

It takes a lot to get me to exercise. I’ve never enjoyed it — in fact, I think I’d rather go to the dentist — and I’ve certainly never understood people who insist they feel “so good and energized” afterwards. All I ever feel is tired and hungry. So it kind of defeats the purpose of working up a good sweat, and then going home and eating and sleeping.

That’s why early-morning exercise is good for me. I have to work hard to avoid going back to sleep, but I always eat breakfast before heading to work. Can’t sleep there!

For a while, I followed through with the program. I dutifully met with my personal trainer, Matt Hansen, at Pinnacle Health and Fitness. Matt was great. Very low-pressure and a bit goofy (and he knows it), which was good for me. We’d meet at the club on Friday afternoons, and he’d walk me through a series of really interesting exercises.

The best part was the variety. In the past, my self-designed workouts at limited health clubs were pretty routine: 15 minutes on a treadmill, 25 minutes on an elliptical, and about 20 minutes of weightlifting. I was bored out of my skull.

Not so with Matt. He had me doing crazy things, like standing on jelly-filled, wobbly platforms to build my balance and my core while holding, on my shoulders, a long PVC pipe filled with water that sloshed back and forth.

That didn’t last long.

Or I’d stand on a box about 2 feet in the air, bouncing and catching a large heavy ball that was never intended to bounce. I’d slam it down on the floor and catch it again, over and over.

I flung two heavy ropes up and down, ran up and down steps, and pushed a heavy “sled” around the workout facility. Only occasionally would we actually use a typical exercise machine. Before I knew it, somewhere between getting to know one another and chatting about life, I’d exercised a full hour. Now that’s my kind of workout!

But all that, I’m ashamed to say, came to an end when life just got in the way. My mom entered the hospital in March, and a few short weeks later, something compelled my husband and me to make what has probably been one of our most unwise decisions … we got a dog.

For a childless couple that already works too much and has two mothers in need of our help, the dog thing probably wasn’t our smartest move. But we’d been talking about becoming dog owners for years, and we’d signed up for the Dane County Humane Society’s dog match program. When we got the call in early April, we never really thought it would happen.



We were sitting in a little meet-and-greet room when a Humane Society volunteer brought little “Felicity Fox” in to meet us. On looks alone, she seemed exactly what we were looking for, but when she cuddled into my husband’s lap and fell asleep, she stole our hearts.

Just a few days later, Felicity Fox, now named “Kaia,” came home with us, and instantly our lives changed dramatically. Now we have added the worry and care of a young rescue dog to the worry and care we spend on our aging mothers. What were we thinking?

I never saw Matt Hansen again, which admittedly was my loss. I never did tell him that he was trumped by an 18-pound terrier mix. My workouts are now her workouts — three to four walks a day. I don’t work up a sweat, but at least I’m walking, which is more than I was doing before.

But on the Fittest Exec-Most Improved scale, it’s embarrassing to admit I’ve failed. I’ve talked to several participants who have dutifully watched their diets, exercised, and lost a ton of weight, and I truly admire each and every one of them for their diligence and ability to keep the end goal in sight.

For me, I’ve found that being part of the dog-owner’s club becomes a convenient excuse for a lot of things … early exits from social events, less frequent visits to the farmers’ market, eating in!

I rationalize my lack of exercise by saying that what I’m missing in core strengthening I’m gaining in the psychological benefits dog ownership affords.

Unfortunately, my thighs don’t lie.

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