My Peak Challenge for 2019: Gettin’ Fit Wit “Kilt Daddy”

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron
Jan 9 · 6 min read
Kilt Daddy Sam “Jamie Fraser” Heughan in full effect

Yeah, Daddy made me do it.

If you don’t know who Kilt Daddy is, go to Twitter, (or damned near any social media site or app) and type #kiltdaddy into that search box.

Meanwhile, this…is for those of us who do…

Has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to tell you. But if you’re into Outlander, you know some of us gotta have some half-nekked Sam to help us get the job done.

And those of you who are rolling your eyes right about now will be happy, and perhaps a bit surprised, to learn that Sam “Jamie Fraser” Heughan enjoys making fun of all this more than anybody. Hence, this Comedy Central After Hours send up:

Yeah, he sees you laughin’. And he’s laughin’ right along with you, too.

The real point of all this is that at 66 years of age, I finally, and very reluctantly, decided to find out what this “My Peak Challenge” thing Sam started was really about. I’d heard it was a “fitness course,” I’d heard it was a “personal challenge” project that helped you finally do that One Big Thing you’d been putting off for years — I’d heard all kinds of things about it.

And seen a lot of women my size and lots larger walking around in those MPC tees, too. Which seemed to indicate that it might be more “do-able” than I thought.

I had also discovered that half of the $119 membership fee went to charities like Bloodwise, which contributes to blood cancer research, and Marie Curie, which offers support for people facing terminal illness.

And there are — wait for it — angel sponsors who will pay that membership fee, anonymously, for those who really want to join, but find it too pricey. That blew my mind entirely.

Sam’s squad has raised more than $2 million so far. A lot of this year’s contributions from women hoping to win a date with him at the My Peak Challenge gala in Scotland. The deadline is January 17th, just…in case

Sorely tempted, I was.

But since I never win anything, I decided that MPC was a gift that might give back to me in more ways than one. In fact, just for joining you get a spiffy tee and wristband even before you complete the real challenges.

It’s familiar stuff on the surface. You get access to nutrition programs and very detailed videos, many of them starring Sam himself. And you’re encouraged to reach out to communities of like minded people, grouped sometimes by age, sometimes by geographical location or even matching goals, hobbies or other interests.

But I was pretty sure someone my age, who hadn’t worked out…well, for longer than I even want to admit…wouldn’t be able to handle it. So I wrote to them to ask, and an MPC advisor wrote back to let me know that people of all ages and fitness levels, including some who had considerable physical restrictions, were having a blast with MPC.

No hard sell, just honest, specific answers to my questions. Noice.

Even so, I remained skeptical. Though I had some recent reason to be optimistic. Some of you may have recently read my post about losing 22 — now 24 — pounds all by myself over the past few months. That had turned out to be a lot easier than I expected because I did it my way. Entirely.

But at my age, with arthritis and other issues, I just didn’t see myself keeping up with Kilt Daddy and the gang. Until I saw this email in my box “From Sam Heughan.” Yeah, right.

But it was lovely. And featured a message “from” Daddy just kinda letting me know that I should seriously consider trying because:

“…the ‘peak’ in My Peak Challenge doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand atop a mountain or at the finish line of a 5K run. Simply, it means pushing yourself to meet your own personal goals, whatever they may be.

Whether they’re physical, artistic, or something else entirely, it’s up to your imagination …”

And okay, it’s January, right? The month when everybody decides they’re going to do some kind of fitness “thang.”

So I gave in and joined — joined the Facebook group right quick, too. And let all my other sassenach sistahs in on the dream. Well, Robert de Bruce is an ancestor of mine along with a whole passel of illustrious Frasers and Stewarts from back in Outlander times, but I’m still mostly a sassenach.

And true to form, they started showering me with congrats and encouragement. I even discovered that there were a few “Peakers” older than me (one is 71, to be exact) who had reaped some serious bennies from this thing.

I think the format of the course, each workout day followed by an “active rest” day — and then two complete rest days at the end of the cycle — helps them stay with it. It sounds good to me, for sure. For a writer who spends most of her day in front of a computer screen, those “get out and walk” days of active fitness will bolster my emotional fitness, too.

I’m thinking of more than just a walk around the block or from one lamp post to another, as the instructor quips — and it’s okay, he assures you, if that’s all you can do. But there are lots of places and ways to make walking fun. And I’m going to find a few.

What impressed me most, though, was how meticulously organized the course and the site are. The initial three handouts are quick reads and very helpful for people like me who kind of need hard copy to cling to.

Navigating the site is also amazingly logical. I feel as if they did some pretty strenuous pre-launch test drives, working out all the ways we might get lost or discouraged.

So there’s not alot of “razzle dazzle.” After you set up your profile (takes seconds) you follow the navigation bar to the left or click the little “continue” button to the right. When you’re ready to rock, you watch, you do what you’re watching, you give yourself a little smooch in the mirror when you’re done…

Loved it.

No, I mean it. The minutes — about 30 — fly by. Once Sam’s done welcoming you, there’s no preaching, no anecdotal prattle, just an instructor showing you what to do and, if necessary, lots of ways to do it. And the instructor’s encouraging tone — and Scottish brogue — make you want to do it.

Okay, yes, having Sam doing some of them with me sometimes was a wee bit…uh…distracting. But I got over that quickly.

I also used a modified version of the second exercise, but it was quite strenuous and I was ridiculously proud when I completed the whole session without feeling like I’d made a huuuuuge mistake.

No, I can’t do even the modified versions as perfectly as someone half my age would. Don’t care. The fact that I did them at all, and did not have to rest that much between reps made me feel incredibly successful. And proud.

I’m not out to get into this kinda shape, y’all:

I’m just out to feel a little better and to keep going down a size or two more, now that my “fat jeans” are already so loose I can’t even wear them with a belt. Without looking kinda weird, I mean.

Goodwill, you’re welcome.

And, thank you Daddy.

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

Written by

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.