10400256_1305422156150375_4309731164252054643_nTo say that I had let myself go would be an understatement. I was over 200 pounds with a 41 inch waistline and had a couple of chins at the start of the first challenge in July 2015. My weight was a function of having fallen into poor eating and sleeping habits, stress, kids, long work hours and a lack of exercise. Looking back now, I was mentally and physically drained. I had become completely complacent. I could concoct an excuse in my head as to why I could still eat whatever I wanted and delay going to the gym for another day. I convinced myself that it was all okay.
Enter the challenge … and my skepticism. I was reluctant to try the challenge for a variety of reasons. In my head, I was concerned about the cost, time constraints, alcohol limitations and getting rid of soft drinks, my “energy” source. The challenge ended up being a wake-up call on so many levels and was truly the start of a revamped lifestyle. You don’t realize what garbage you put into your body until you start reading labels. While I don’t adhere to the guidelines 100%, I feel so much better physically when I do. I am more mentally alert and focused than I have been in a very long time. I am clear headed and well-rested in the morning, and I actually look forward to my workouts. This hasn’t been a “quick fix diet;” rather, it has been a total lifestyle modification.
As for the results, I have fully embraced the clean eating lifestyle, and I’ve seen a total transformation physically, mentally and emotionally. The rules are not as burdensome as I had convinced myself they would be (a big thank you to my wife for encouraging us to do this in the first place). The challenge is simply about being smart with what you put in your body, changing your thinking about what constitutes “good food,” pushing yourself to get active and knowing your limits.
I’m a skeptic about a lot of things, but I believe in tangible results. I have lost close to 30 pounds (over 6 months and 2 challenges) and now have a 33 inch waistline (my previous wardrobe doesn’t work any more). I feel stronger, healthier and more focused. The challenge was one of the best things I have done for myself and my family.

unnamed-2I’ve done this challenge a handful of times and can honestly say that most of the time it has been a challenge! However, this time I’ve held myself tightly to the guidelines and have leaned on my partner for support and ideas. I understand that it takes a lot of self-discipline and a lot of saying “no” to things you normally might allow as a treat. I’ve noticed greater changes this time around in my body, in my attitude towards food, and in my lifestyle for the long term.

12647031_10102520957477816_299108362839183762_nAfter spending the better part of 5 years pregnant, nursing and with tiny humans crawling all over me, I felt as weak and tired as I had in years. The sleepless newborn nights – and justification that nursing burns a gazillion calories – meant that I often ate whatever was quick, easy and comforting. I also fell into the trap of regularly eating the kids’ leftovers. Macaroni and cheese? Yum. Grilled cheese? Even better. Because I have a small frame and am blessed (cursed?) with a fast metabolism, on the outside I physically looked okay … but I felt like absolute crap.
In July 2015 after spending 3 weeks at the beach eating and drinking everything in site, I was done with feeling bloated, tired and weak. I decided to give the Eat Clean challenge a whirl, giving up Diet Coke cold turkey. I went to my first CrossFit class on the first day of the challenge and didn’t die, and the rest of my journey is kind of history. 
My husband and I are both former athletes, but the stress and exhaustion of adding 3 tiny humans to our house in 4 years, launching my own home-based business and my husband changing firms was enough to send anyone over the edge. After 6 months of clean eating, we can confidently say that this is genuinely now our lifestyle. We are both addicted to CrossFit as well … but that is a total unexpected side benefit that emerged from the challenge. I am stronger, I fit comfortably in all of my clothes, and most importantly I just feel plain good! The challenge changed many bad habits, forcing us – in a good way – to focus on ourselves and our health so that we can keep up with and enjoy our children for many years to come.
It is pretty awesome to see people’s reaction when I tell them I have 3 kids. After all, those 3 kids are the reason I want to be as healthy and mindful of my choices as I can be, not only for how much better I feel but also because the way we think about and interact with food and exercise starts at a very young age. I am determined to make sure my kids know that their health is always worth prioritizing.
Participating in this challenge has really changed my life. I’ve always thought that I knew how to eat healthy, but I just was too lazy, too tired, or didn’t care enough to do it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

IMG_2025It wasn’t until I was around week 4 of my first challenge that I really opened my eyes to the changes happening. Yes, I was losing weight, but it was more than that. I used to have dry skin patches on my arm that would become very irritated in the sun. Those have completely vanished. My youngest son, who was scheduled for tubes from chronic ear infections at around 6 months old, has not had a single ear infection since we started eating clean! The doctors said it was from the Claritin, but I wasn’t giving it to him consistently (like they thought… and now, not at all). I believe it was because I was exclusively nursing and he too was seeing the benefits of my new lifestyle. 
I can’t imagine my life the way it was before. This challenge really just made me focus on what I COULD eat rather than what I couldn’t and I started really basic. Chicken cooked on the grill with basic seasonings, grilled veggies, eggs with salsa, and the more I learned, the more complex my recipes became. I can’t wait to get started again!