Our Fall 2023 Challenge Winner, Hailey!
CSE taught me that healthy food can taste good, give you more sustainable energy, and honestly, my depression and anxiety has gotten so much better.
We had over 200 submissions and were completely blown away by all of them! There are so many strong, amazing and driven women in this #CSEtribe! We are giving first place to this strong mama!
Veronika is an amazing example of not letting her excuses get in the way of her goals 💪🏻 here is her story in her words...
"I am SO grateful that I joined this challenge. I was on the fence for a few weeks before it started, going back and forth with whether or not it would even work for me. Spoiler alert, it did. I started out this challenge with a five-month-old baby (my third child) and coming off of my highest pregnancy weight yet. In the past I had been hesitant about dieting and exercise while still exclusively nursing because I didn’t want my milk supply to be affected, however I was pretty depressed with where my body was at and knew I needed to at least try (and adjust accordingly if need be).*** After reading through all the information in the cookbook about the plan, I spent the first few days trying to track all my macros with pen and paper (not recommended), and was being rather lenient with what I was eating. On Day 3 of the challenge I discovered My Fitness Pal and decided I wanted to be perfect in my macro tracking from there on out, as well as with the daily workouts. From that point forward I can count on one hand the number of workouts I missed combined with the days I went over my macros. I am so proud of myself for being able to choose fitness, to choose daily meal planning and cooking, and to do it so consistently with a now-six-month-old (who prefers taking super short naps I might add) as well as two other littles.
THE FOOD - I appreciated the challenge of cooking through an entire cookbook in six weeks, and my husband even commented multiple times that first week, “These meals are great, I could eat like this all the time!” As for myself I was nervous about liking a lot of them, but then I became obsessed with so many of them because they are so dang good! I also kept being surprised with how full I felt after eating all these low calorie meals. In all of my past adventures with yo-yo dieting I felt like I had to be hungry most of the day in order to lose weight, yet here I was sufficiently full on delicious, diverse food — it was all so mind-boggling and such a new concept to me that I could be so satiated and still successfully lose weight. I also appreciated time and time again how quick most of these meals came together.
THE WORKOUTS - I loved the workouts. I loved that I could do them at home with my kids running around, that they were only 30 minutes long, and that they were repeated for the course of six weeks so I could measure my success. I wrote down all my numbers the first week — I started only being able to do ten tuck jumps in 30 seconds, and ended being able to do more than 30! I started with super weak abs, feeling like my belly wasn’t repaired enough from giving birth to do a real push up, and ended being able to do full push ups for most of the sets. I love catching glimpses of all the muscle tone my body has gained.
OVERALL - Through making the choice every day to prioritize the health of my body I am finally comfortable in my clothes, I no longer try to avoid the camera and am so happy to have more pictures of me with my kids, and I’m even not dreading swimsuit season like I usually do! I love all the knowledge and power I’ve gained, all the healthy food swaps I now actually prefer (Greek yogurt for sour cream and natural peanut butter for JIF to name just two), and I love sharing how I am losing weight with others. I’ve inspired so many family members and friends and want to inspire so many more - I just feel like I can’t say enough how much I love this program and community and I want to shout it from the rooftops how well it works and how good it makes me feel! Reflecting on this journey is now getting me emotional because I’m so, SO glad I dove in headfirst, and can’t imagine if I hadn’t. Thank you both for this wonderful program, for being so supportive and responsive, and for helping me feel like myself again. Ultimately, I can’t wait to continue my transformation journey with this community and see what my future has in store!"
We also more men turn in photos this challenge than ever before, so we decided to show both our men and our women some love by picking one of each!!
This is Dan our first place male winner. He slayed this challenge, gave it his all and let nothing stand in his way! So impressed by his hard work. This right here is proof that these meal plans can work for anyone! It’s not just a bird food diet made for weight loss. You can customize these plans to fit your goals — hello muscle 💪🏻 here’s Dan’s story in his own words.
I worked my BUTT off. Literally...
I have some pretty rough genetics for diabetes. I had to go on a high blood pressure medication when I was about 22 as a precaution because I was already in pre-hypertension. The only memories I retain about my maternal grandfather are that you don’t play around his feet (because the diabetes had all but destroyed them) and that he was constantly drinking Diet Coke. I reflect on that often and it breaks my heart that he was so debilitated that he couldn’t even engage with his own grandkids. I told myself that I would do everything I could in my life to make sure that I would be healthy enough to play with my grandkids. But alas, I have toed the line of 30% body fat for most of my life and maintained that high blood pressure as well. I tried a couple diets that would work for 2 weeks and then crash hard because of how restrictive they were. I feel that psychology is a huge part of a healthy diet, and if you can’t be happy with it, you are destined to fail. I had been working out very regularly but still wasn’t losing much weight or changing my body composition very much. My trainer had taught me about macro nutrients, so I was attempting to follow those, but that is really difficult to do if you don’t understand how foods interact with and contribute to the health of your body. Then along came Clean Simple Eats.
I can’t even begin to tell you how satisfied I am with the Clean Simple Eats plan and recipe book, and that is really saying something because I am usually VERY anti-diet plans. I think a major part of the obesity epidemic in this country is due to the simple fact that people just don’t know what they are putting into their body and how their body handles it. The same principle applies to a family budget; if you don’t understand what is coming in and how to use it, you will fail. I have long despised “dieting” and felt that there shouldn’t have to be such hardcore restrictions (barring some allergy) on what you can or can’t eat to have a healthy body. I’m a fervent believer in “moderation in all things”, and because of that, have stayed away from restrictive diets to avoid the nearly inevitable rebound effect that comes with them, that is, until I learned about CSE. The CSE challenge and its focus on macro nutrients rather than specific food groups gave me hope that a truly balanced lifestyle was possible. Since starting the plan I have lost 6% of my body fat while simultaneously gaining muscle (-14.5 lbs fat, +5.2 lbs muscle). So according to my dexa body scans (I emailed them to you), I currently sit at 19% body fat, a full two tiers down from when I began. I’ll be joining the next challenge in an attempt to reach my goal of 16% body fat at 80-85% muscle mass. Thank you so much for inspiring me to change my lifestyle not only for my short term goals, but my more important, long term health goals.
***Note on participating on this meal plan while breastfeeding***
You absolutely can participate in this plane while breastfeeding. There have been many mamas out there who have found success with my meal plans while pregnant or nursing. I would recommend eating at your maintenance or TDEE calories while pregnant. I would recommend adding 500 calories per day if you are breastfeeding. There is a formula at the front of each meal plan that will help you calculate how much you should be eating to reach your goals. Find your goal, then add the extra calories onto that. Of course, I recommend asking your doctor about using my meal plans if you have any concerns at all. Also, make sure you listen to your body because you are growing/providing nourishment to a human being. If you feel like you are being underfed, please add calories.
Each season we host a free 7-week, community-based health and fitness challenge. We work hard, get our sweat on, and work together to motivate each other to reach our goals.