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.
Clean Simple Eats has literally been life changing for me and my family. This week is Thanksgiving and my transformation over the last 14 months is near the top of my list of things for which I am most grateful this year.
Prior to starting Clean Simple Eats, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be in the "overweight" category for the rest of my life. I had lost and re-gained the same 10ish lbs over and over again and constantly felt defeated and overwhelmed about my weight and the way my body looked. In January 2019 our family experienced some pretty significant trauma and my response was to turn to food for comfort and by August 2019 I found myself at my heaviest weight of 215lbs. I had little-to-no energy and came home from work most days with nothing left to give my family. One day that summer, this realization kind of "slapped me in the face" that I have a lot of life left to live and I get to decide how I live it. I knew I needed guidance and a plan for food, so after following CSE on Instagram for a few challenge cycles and reading about how the meal plans were structured, my wife and I decided to give it a try.
During my first few challenges, I gained a dramatically different mindset about my health/fitness. Before Clean Simple Eats, I was only ever able to lose weight by cutting out carbs completely from my diet - which is why I would quickly gain it all back as soon as I even looked at a piece of bread. After so many cycles of failure, I had simply lost hope. Clean Simple Eats has taught me that there is a more realistic/sustainable (and even enjoyable!) way to approach nutrition/weight loss.
For me, the game changer of Clean Simple Eats has been that there is no guess work when it comes to food and we don't have to waste so much time searching for healthy recipes or meal planning. The meal plans are so helpful to follow and for the first time in my life I have accountability and control over my food intake. When I started my Clean Simple Eats journey in September 2019, I said my goals were to lose weight, improve my health, increase energy and gain confidence. I have achieved each of these goals over time. I have lost 47lbs and DRASTICALLY reduced my body fat percentage in the 14 months I've been following Clean Simple Eats. I originally set the goal that I wanted to lose 35 pounds before the end of 2020 and I have crushed that and then some! My energy level is WAY up compared to how I felt prior to CSE. In the past, many days I would come home from work with nothing left to give to my family. Today, I am able to be engaged and active - even initiating family walks or backyard football games or other ways for us to be active together as a family. The increase in energy and shift in my mindset have been literal GAME CHANGERS for me and my family. My confidence continues to increase as well, especially during this last challenge when I have been more focused on getting stronger and discovering what this next phase of my health and fitness journey looks like.
I am beyond proud of the work I've put in and the transformation I've achieved in the past 5 challenges and 14 months of utilizing CSE meal plans. I must give a shout out to my wife, Jessica, who has been my support and partner in this journey. Her commitment to doing this alongside me and all of the time and effort she has put into food prep is a major component of my success - I couldn't have done it without her! Speaking of family, aside from the impacts on my personal health & fitness journey, Clean Simple Eats has also been so impactful for my family. My wife and I have been doing this together since Day 1 and it has been something that has unified us and given us something to focus on together. We have celebrated with one another and cheered one another along. I feel closer to my wife today than I did a year ago and Clean Simple Eats is a big part of that. Also, our son (8 years old) is much healthier now and truly enjoys eating healthy foods. He is also happy that I am able to be more active, engaging and am legitimately a happier person to be around! Also, after seeing our success, my parents decided to give CSE a try and they have been extremely successful as well and are healthier than they have been in 10+ years! So Clean Simple Eats is impacting multiple generations of my family - helping us achieve our health/fitness goals, but more importantly helping us become better versions of ourselves so we are better able to serve others.
For the past couple of challenges, I really enjoyed engaging with the #CSESquad in the Facebook Group and on Instagram. The CSE family is so great and I feel like I have hundreds of others who have my back and I have theirs and that is really awesome! So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me say thank you Erika and JJ for the impact you have had on my life and my family. The rest of my life will be different because of this last year. I feel empowered with the knowledge and tools to sustain my results and continue to improve my health and fitness!
When I started my first CSE challenge back in September 2019, I hadn't worked out (other than the occasional jog around the neighborhood or weekend hike with the family) in quite a while. With the amount of weight I had to lose at that time, I was facing an uphill battle, also my level of self discipline at that time was fairly limited and so I chose to almost exclusively focus on the food/nutrition changes and didn't worry too much about working out thinking that I needed to get one thing under control at a time instead of trying to "eat the whole elephant" in one bite.
After experiencing some steady results with solely focusing on changes to my eating, I decided going into the winter 2020 challenge that I wanted to start incorporating working out so I could boost my fat loss and also get stronger alongside losing weight. In my adult life, working out has never been something that I've been able to do consistently on my own, and I wanted to succeed this time, so I decided to make the investment of hiring a personal trainer. From January-September of this year, I worked out with my personal trainer 2x a week (30 minutes each session). After a couple months of that, I started adding in some extra workouts on my own in between sessions - including some running, HIIT workouts, and some virtual group fitness classes with my coworkers during the COVID shutdown. During the Summer and Fall challenges, my wife and I also did the CSE #WorkoutWednesday workouts together at home as well - often going back and repeating old workouts on the weekends or when traveling as well. At the start of the Fall challenge I also decided to bump up my personal training sessions to 3x per week, so with everything included I worked out an average of 5x per week during the Fall challenge.
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.