Fittest Loser writer: Two champions have encouraged me to get out and walk

  • Debi Quagliano, wife of our Fittest Loser insider, has also adopted a healthier lifestyle, losing nearly 30 pounds. The couple likes to walk with their dog, Rocky.

    Debi Quagliano, wife of our Fittest Loser insider, has also adopted a healthier lifestyle, losing nearly 30 pounds. The couple likes to walk with their dog, Rocky. Courtesy of Dick Quagliano

By Dick Quagliano
Posted5/10/2020 7:00 AM

I would never want to lose my dog.

My wife, Debi, and I have had our dog, Rocky, for just over six years. He is a mixed breed and we rescued him from Tails Humane Society in DeKalb. They were doing a local rescue event and we fell in love with him right away.


He got spooked one time and ran out of our yard. We were at our wits end searching for him throughout the neighborhood. We finally found him when a neighbor a couple of blocks away was able to grab his collar and get him back to us.

It was scary, but he is back home and we have been extra careful since. This happened a few years back. That story came back to mind for me last week when I looked at my dog, who is right around 80 pounds.

My wife had begun her fitness regime back in December. She has done a terrific job of getting healthy herself and has lost nearly 30 pounds. She has been a tremendous influence for me and has given me terrific support. I have been on the Fittest Loser Challenge for 11 weeks now. With the final week coming up, I will be very close to dropping 50 pounds.

So combined, the two of us have lost nearly 80 pounds. That's Rocky.

The realization that combined we have lost the weight of our dog was stunning. He is not a small dog by any means. It is quite the visual image of how much extra weight we were carrying around each day.

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He is also our walking partner most of the time (he hurt his leg recently and our vet sidelined him for a few weeks). It is really great to have that extra companion.

Many people I see on the street on a daily basis are walking their dogs. Those walks mean everything. Not just for your dog, but especially for you.

When I began this journey, I struggled to go around our neighborhood. My wife would encourage me to go with her and Rocky, but frankly, I made plenty of excuses not to join them.

It wasn't that I didn't want to go, it was just that I was not able to make it without getting tired. I was hauling around all that extra weight.

I did not want to admit that to myself. I had forgotten one of the most important things about walking: It is just one step at a time.

That's how I began the Fittest Loser. I didn't get myself into better physical condition by rushing into it. My trainer Josh Steckler of Push Fitness knew that.


He started me off slow with my workouts. I could barely do a plank for 15 seconds. Now, I am up to a minute.

My walks are the same way now. They are much longer and much better.

We went for two long walks with our friends last week. We were socially distant as we walked through the neighborhoods around our homes. We walked and talked and I could not have had a better time.

I plan to keep this up, long after the Fittest Loser is in my rearview mirror.

There is no reason for anyone not to begin right now. The weather is getting better each day and so can you. Get off that couch. See your neighborhood. See your neighbors, and their dogs.

It starts with just one foot in front of another.

Try it. It could change your life.

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.

Dick Quagliano

Starting weight: 273

Current weight: 231

Weekly weight loss: 2

Total weight loss: 42

Percent loss: 15.4%

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