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.
Say hello to Kerry and her incredible transformation story! She participated in our Spring CSE Challenge and totally changed her health from the inside out! Motherhood and the stresses of daily life caught up with her until she decided to fully commit to our Spring Challenge. We are so glad she stuck with it because she totally crushed it (and you can too)! She now exercises 6 days a week and is stronger, more confident, less anxious and feeling mentally and physically better than she has in years! Thanks for sharing your transformation story with us, Kerry! You are an inspiration!
I am thrilled with the physical changes that I have seen in the past 7 weeks of the CSE challenge. To be honest, though, the biggest transformations have been to my mindset, habits and lifestyle.
In the first 10 years of my marriage we moved to 5 states across the country (never near friends or family), I had 3 kids in 4 years, I quit my career to be a stay at home mom and my husband traveled several days per week. I gave my kids every bit of my energy and didn't do much of anything for myself. I was very lonely and my response to stress was to eat junk food (and a lot of it). I stopped being as active as earlier in my life and ended up gaining 40 pounds.
Fast forward many years and my weight and habits remained the same; not enough exercise and a great deal of emotional eating. My kids are now 16, 14 and 12. They are pretty serious athletes and I have been hypocritically teaching them about (and feeding them) healthy foods, while I eat a ton of crap when they aren't around. I have felt so much shame around food and the fact that I haven't been taking care of myself.
I have known about Clean Simple Eats for over a year. I purchased all of the meal plans and some protein powders long ago. I enjoyed every recipe that I tried, but never made them on a regular basis. I intended to join several previous challenges, but never followed through with it.
With all of the extra hours I had when we were quarantined in March I knew that I no longer had any excuses not to put the time into getting my health back on track. I made a promise to myself that I would participate in the CSE spring challenge. I decided that I wouldn't weigh myself during the challenge, but instead focus on my health and eating habits. One thing that was important to me (and a reason why I chose CSE) was that I did not want to be on a "diet" or have my kids see me restricting foods. I knew that restricting foods would not lead me to long term success, and I also did not want to model restriction for my daughter.
I am so absolutely proud of myself for the changes in my habits and lifestyle during the spring challenge. For the entire 7 weeks I ate 3 Clean Simple Eats meals a day and 95% of my snacks came from the CSE recipe books. I have also exercised 6 days per week. I feel stronger, more confident and less anxious. I no longer feel shame about what I am eating or the way I am treating my body. This is the first promise that I have kept to myself in longer than I can remember.
There are so many things that have made Clean Simple Eats such an amazing tool to change my lifestyle. First and foremost, all of the recipes are delicious and work for adults and kids. I have not made anything that I didn't enjoy and all of the recipes that I tried worked for the whole family. Clean Simple eats is sustainable for me because I never feel deprived or hungry. I am able to find a recipe for whatever I am in the mood for, be it salty, sweet, comfort food etc. Secondly, the fact that there is structure, yet flexibility, worked for me. Since all of the meals are interchangeable, I was able to make recipes that worked for my family's tastes. The flexibility was also important during the pandemic, as I was able to make meals with the ingredients that I could find. Another important feature for me was the introduction to meal planning. I have always been a person who never planned meals for more than a day or two. During the challenge I planned my meals each week and shopped once a week. Knowing what we were going to eat (and prepping parts of meals ahead of time) was a HUGE factor in my success. Finally, the exercise component of the books was such a great resource. I had forgotten how much pushing my body and being active every day helped me have a more positive mindset and feel less anxious. I did JJ's The 100 workout every Saturday and it was a great gauge of how much strength and fitness I was gaining. During the first week I took so many breaks and by the last week I was able to get through the entire workout only resting between rounds.
Although the challenge is over, I can say that this is just the beginning for me. I don't have any intention of stopping what I am doing now. It is amazing what a difference 7 weeks has made in my life, and I am excited to see what continuing this lifestyle will mean for me and my family. I am now eating foods that are good for my body and modeling health and wellness for my children. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, Erica and JJ, for putting your time and energy into creating a program that has given me the path to a healthier, happier life.
I worked out 6 days a week. I walked 5 miles per day. I ran 1 to 1.5 miles 3 or 4 days a week. 5 days a week I did strength training or HIIT workouts (either from the back of the CSE book or something online). Every Saturday of the challenge I did The 100 workout from one of JJ's posts.
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.