In the March 2002 issue of Shape (on sale Feb. 5), Jill's second set of fitness-testing statistics are listed for all the world to see. Here, she talks about what it's like to actually get the test done -- and the pleasant surprise she got after completing her second test. -- Ed.

What do you call a sweaty woman on a stationary bike with her nostrils clipped together, her mouth stuffed with a plastic breathing tube (connected to a computer and a drool cup) and 20 pounds to lose?

Me, taking my submaximal VO2 test, the glorified stress test that every three months estimates my cardiovascular health and how well I use and produce oxygen while I'm exercising.

Here's how the six-minute test works: I pedal while Kathy Donofrio, B.S.N., M.S., an exercise physiologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, alternates between taking my blood pressure and pulse, increasing the bike's tension, and watching the computerized bar chart register my progress.

When I first took the test, I hyperventilated as soon as I hit my target heart rate. (The breathing tube and the nose clips made me extremely claustrophobic!) This time (my second time around), however, I made it through like a champ. And I have the results to prove it: I've gone from an average fitness level to above average. Can I beat it next time?

--Jill Sherer

For Jill's Month 3 stats and third complete Weight Loss Diary entry, pick up the March 2002 issue of Shape.

Have a question or comment? Jill responds to your messages here!