For three weeks, with Garner Andrews (Sonic FM), J’Lyn Nye (CHED), Gillian Foote (The Bear), Chris Sheetz (CISN), Matt DeBeurs (CISN), Matt Chalut (The Bounce), Liann Cameron (The Bounce), Ashley Sexsmith (Kula Klips), publicist Donna Zazulak, Wendy Mueller, Deb Jakubec (Canadian Diabetes Association) nd Chris Reeve (Edmonton Child Magazine), I have stayed within a carefully designed, 1,800 calories-a-day nutrition program with all the food (three meals and two snacks a day) coming from the Fresh Fit Foods’ kitchen.

As part of the Media Challenge, thanks to Fresh Fit’s sister company World Health, we have all had three sessions per week with a personal trainer. I’ve been exercising an hour a day, six days a week, be it in the gym (resistance), running or biking (cardio) or yoga (stretching).

It’s safe to say the results and the attitude adjustments have been an eye-opener.

Those endless messages about eating a big breakfast, avoiding sugar and deep-fried food, eating leafy greens and lots of colour in your veggies? They are absolutely right.

“Before, I’d eat a big meal, skip a meal, starve, eat another big meal,” says participant Chris Reeves. “I’ve learned I can eat less (with better nutrition) as long as I eat regularly. My stomach doesn’t complain.”

Pushing this “re-set” button, thanks to Fresh Fit Foods’ pre-packaged, fresh and healthy meals and the rigourous exercise program, has been transformational. The trick will be to keep it up without the Fresh Fit Food rules and convenience, to continue to exercise daily without a World Health trainer by my side.

Over the past 15 days on the Fresh Fit eating/ World Health exercise program, with six days still to go, I’ve lost eight to nine pounds in total weight while gaining some muscle.

It’s not been easy, but it’s not been hard. With the light fruit and protein snacks, one doesn’t battle hunger pains.

The biggest awakening was about age. Before the Fresh Fit/World Health challenge, I’d been slipping into an “aging” mind-set. At my age (65 in a few weeks) I shouldn’t be as physically active as in years past. My skiing days are behind me. ‘Tis better to walk or jog than run.

“Give yourself a shake!” said Jessi Zelinsky, my World Health trainer for these three weeks. “You’re in better shape than half my clients under 40! And I have clients in their ‘70s in better shape than you!

“It’s not about age, it’s about the condition of the body. It’s about setting goals appropriate to yourself.” The only concession Zelinsky will grant to age is a good warm-up. “Tendons and ligaments get older and lose flexibility. That’s nothing a good warm-up can’t take care of.”

Fresh Fit nutritionist Laura Swim doesn’t buy notions of “metabolism slowing down” as one ages. “You can increase muscle mass and lose body fat at any age,” she says.

Thanks to the challenge, I realize my body can be (nearly) as strong, limber and flexible as it ever was … as long as I take care of it.

My own challenge — once the group challenge is over — is sticking with it. My ideal “body mass to fat” ratio means I should weigh 145 to 148 pounds. I will have another 10 to 13 pounds to go after finishing the Fresh Fit/World Health Challenge.

The Fresh Fit Foods 21-Day Challenge food program costs $600 to $650 — all your meals for three weeks. Personal trainers clock in at anywhere from $50 to $80 an hour. Is it worth it?

Yes. Nutritionists and trainers know what they are doing. An average adult spends $15 a day on food as is. The Fresh Fit program then works out to an additional $100 a week.

It’s rhetorical but true. Without good health, life can be miserable. This three-week “re-set” can correct so many bad-eating habits built up over the years.

Thank you Fresh Fit Foods and World Health, for a renewed commitment to good living, to improve the odds on an active, enjoyable lifestyle into my ‘80s or later.