2020 Fittest Loser writer adjusts to downward dogs and avocados

  • Senior Sashank Varanasi shows how to prep garlic while Dick Quagliano follows the recipe as Fittest Loser contestants take a cooking class with students from the Food Revolution Club at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire recently.

      Senior Sashank Varanasi shows how to prep garlic while Dick Quagliano follows the recipe as Fittest Loser contestants take a cooking class with students from the Food Revolution Club at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire recently. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By Dick Quagliano
Updated 3/29/2020 10:03 AM


Many people do quite well at it. Unless you are Lovie Smith, former Chicago Bears' coach and current University of Illinois coach -- a guy who still hasn't made a halftime adjustment in his career.


Like many, I have been working from home. But unlike many, I am quite used to it.

As a full-time packaging salesman and freelance sports writer, I do most of my work from home. My packaging business does have me out on the street quite a bit. I am usually calling on current customers or pursuing new business opportunities. It's a great job and I love what I do.

My freelance writing consists mainly of attending and writing on high school sporting events. I really have the best part-time job in the world, watching and reporting on our local high school athletes. My heart aches for the fact that they could lose their final high school season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now most of us are home honoring the order from Gov. Pritzker. That means Push Fitness is closed.

But it doesn't mean my workouts have ceased.

On the contrary. Josh Steckler, who is the owner of Push and my trainer for the Fittest Loser Challenge, is sending me short videos with my workout assignments. He has adjusted them for the limited exercise equipment I have remaining in the house (we got rid of most of it after my son, who played football at St. Viator, went away to college).

After a couple of Josh's video sessions, I am wishing quickly to be back at Push Fitness. I worked out in my basement and I haven't had my nose that close to concrete in a long time.

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I do have a yoga mat to work out on. I bought it with the hopes that I would have it for yoga class at Push Fitness. That option ended last week when all the classes were canceled.

But I adjusted.

I set up the mat in my family room and went to YouTube and found a very good beginner's yoga class. There I was, next to the couch and the coffee table, doing a "downward dog." I am still working on that Vriksasana.

I know contestants Barb Simon, Van Dillenkoffer, Jennifere Lux and Neil Madden are also adjusting their workouts. They have all been in touch with their trainers and getting texts and email videos for their workouts.

The one thing that has stayed the same is the nutrition.

Josh told us all when we were last together over a week ago that, despite all the hard workouts, if you are not taking care of the nutritional end of things, the results won't be there.


Although I enjoy the new foods I am consuming, it is always great to get a new take on some healthy cooking tips.

A few weeks ago, myself and the rest of the contestants went to Stevenson High School. There the Food Revolution Club hosted all of us for a cooking class.

The group of students, which included Sashank Varanasi, Harsh Thakkar, Spencer Sang, Grace Zhu, Steve Yoo and Regina Lapytska, along with their adviser, Sara Lohrmann, hosted us for a cooking preparation class. Their club is based on healthy eating and recipes for that.

In our class, they gave us three new recipes. What was even better was they gave us all the ingredients for those recipes.

On the first night I had salmon with avocado salsa. I am not much of a fan of avocados, but I would have to say it was my favorite meal. I have already made it a second time.

Next was chicken curry with cauliflower rice. This recipe was the biggest test for me because it included broccoli, spinach and cauliflower, all items I am not fond of. Again, trying to adjust to new things, I did eat all of it. Big thumps up on the cauliflower rice, but I'll hold the spinach and broccoli next time.

Finally, there was tacos stuffed sweet potatoes. Again, not a fan of sweet potatoes (It's the orange thing I guess). It was good, but the homemade taco mixture was excellent. I had plenty left over and ate it the next day along with the remainder of the avocado salsa.

The kids did a great job hosting us and encouraged us to look at other healthy options for our meals. It all brought me back to one thing I always try.

I'm a box salesman by trade. But what I really try to do in my life, is think outside the box at all times.

We all can do that. Especially now.

Be safe.

• 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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