Before the Challenge, I was very negative with myself. 

I was bottling everything up. My pillow had to endure all the tears. I would stand in front of the mirror, which can be your friend and your enemy. I would look for all my defects. I realized I had to do something. Then I met a woman who told me about the Challenge and I thought, “Why not challenge myself?”

Now, I stand in front of the mirror and think: “You’re beautiful.” Nobody can take away the energy I feel now. Nobody can take my happiness away.

I started drinking a lot of water — almost a gallon a day. And I started cooking healthy recipes, like cabbage stuffed with ground meat. I also make pizza with sweet potatoes. I roast it and top it with cheese and pepperoni, then add sauce and cheese. No carbohydrates, and it’s really tasty.

I turned 40 and I feel like I’m 15 years old.

The moment I knew it was working was when I went clothes shopping because my brother was getting married. When I went to the store, I went into the fitting room with an extra large outfit. I tried it on, and it was too loose. I actually screamed, and the sales assistant asked me if I was alright. I asked her to bring a smaller size. I was so happy I didn’t know if the bride was getting married or me! I said, “Wow, I’m achieving this. And I’m not giving up.” And I lost even more. 

It’s also made me closer to my family. 

My daughter dedicated her Facebook status to me. She put “Before and After” photos, and wrote: “My Mom doesn’t quit. My Mom is an example to follow. My Mom is a warrior.” It blew me away when I read it, because I feel that I’m an inspiration for her and she sees me as a role model. She says to me, “Mom, you’re my best friend.”

Gratitude is the greatest word in existence. 

My children know that gratitude is our daily bread. I’m grateful when something good happens, but also when something bad happens. I’m grateful for every opportunity, for everything around me.

One of the best parts is being able to inspire others. That helps keep me motivated, because I know that what I’m doing matters to someone else. My friends will ask for advice on how they can do the same thing. I tell them that even if they feel frustrated and don’t think they can achieve what they want, they can do it if they’re determined to. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than helping others do what I’ve done.

The Challenge has truly changed my life. It gives you a pathway to achieve what you want and grow as a human being. At this point in my life, at the age of 40, I can say that Anneris Rivera is happy. I really am.

—Anneris Rivera, Walmart Supercenter #2302; Barceloneta, PR; $5K Winner

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