I used to eat out every day and if I did cook at all, I’d make pasta or fried chicken. Pop was my downfall — I’d drink six cans a day and eat a lot of cakes. I had a wake-up call when my doctor told me if I didn’t lose weight, I’d have serious health problems that could be fatal. I had high blood pressure and a heart condition. I’m 41 and weighed 352 pounds. I was scared and knew I needed to take action.

I switched from drinking pop to water and felt my body being cleansed.

I bought a huge, rainbow-colored water bottle with positive messages on it like “drink more” and “you’re almost there!” I keep it on my counter at work and it reminds me to keep drinking. I’ve inspired many co-workers to drink more water too. We support each other. 

I don’t talk about being on a diet — this is a health journey.

My biggest game-changer is food prepping. I take salad with chicken into work, and for snacks, I’ll have apples and cheese sticks. For dinner, instead of spaghetti, I bake spaghetti squash in the oven. I’ll add Alfredo sauce and it’s delicious. Ironically, when I started the Challenge I began working in the bakery, but I’m resisting temptation thanks to the Challenge! If I want something sweet, I’ll make fruit salad with pineapple, strawberries, and bananas mixed with yogurt.

I’ve turned my spare bedroom into a gym. I have a step machine as well as a couple of other workout machines. I also do exercise videos and take my dogs, Hannah and Lulu, out for walks. At work, I park as far away as possible from the entrance for extra steps.

I keep notes about my weight journey in a cute journal that says “dream big” on the front.

I write down my weight and update it weekly. I also write about how I overcome struggles. For example, I noted how I was tempted to buy a box of high-calorie cookies, but instead, I made a Better Choice and bought a pack of tiny Oreo cookies. Nine cookies add up to 120 calories. So, I ate a few for a treat and didn’t feel deprived.  

Helping kids brings me great joy because I haven’t been able to have children of my own.

I lead our initiative at work, raising money for a children’s hospital in Indianapolis. I have a really big heart and volunteering feels amazing. 

I’ve lost 21 pounds. I’m so happy and my doctor is excited.

When I saw her recently, I’d lost so much weight she thought the nurse had read the number on the scale incorrectly! It was hilarious. She said if I keep it up, I’ll soon be off blood pressure medication. My husband, Saul, is proud of me. I have much more confidence and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me — I know it’s going to be great.  

—Diana Mejia, Supercenter #2010; Niles, MI; $5K Winner

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