Heart disease runs in my family. My dad died when he was 54. I’m 44, I’m on medication for a heart condition, and I weighed 272 pounds. I was feeling fat and bloated and my knees were hurting. I love to cook — but I wasn’t eating well and I’d eat past the point of feeling full. I’d have that extra helping of steak and mashed potatoes I didn’t need. My downfall was bread. Oh my gosh, I could eat a whole loaf of bread and butter without thinking twice about it. I heard about the Challenge at a work meeting and thought, “I can do this.”

I love inventing recipes and I changed the way I cook.

I follow the keto diet and make bread using cream cheese, almond flour, egg, and mozzarella cheese, whipped up together. You roll it out and bake it in the oven. And if you throw on toppings, like mushrooms and onions — viola, you’ve got a delicious pizza. I cook cauliflower until it’s soft, add butter and cream and it tastes like mashed potato. I drink more water and listen to my body. When I hear myself thinking, “You’re full,” I stop eating. I’ll take the leftovers to work for lunch. For dessert, I’ll mix cream cheese with sugar-free jello and cut it into little sections — it tastes like cheesecake. 

During my lunch break, I go for walks.

And after dinner, I walk around our property with my husband, Jeff, and my elderly mom, Harriet, who lives with us — I take care of her. We’re lucky to live on 40 acres and now I can walk a mile without feeling like I need to sit down and rest. I started playing golf with Jeff and I’m enjoying the time with him. I also love gardening; I grew beautiful bearded irises. Now I can actually get off the ground without huffing and puffing. 

The Challenge has helped me pay off my debts.

Together, my husband and I made a plan. We buckled down and now we’re down from 15 bills to two. By not eating out and using cash instead of credit cards, we’re saving money. I’m not living paycheck-to-paycheck, which has reduced my stress — I can breathe easier. 

I love animals and donate money to a local animal charity. 

Giving back is important to me; I help out in the community. For example, we donated clothes, food, and toys to a family whose house had burned down. 

The Challenge means a lot to me — it makes me cry talking about it.

I’ve lost 13 pounds so far, I’m happy, and I’m enjoying life. I’m focused on what I’m going to accomplish. I’ve become a Thrive Star because I want to encourage others. I tell people who might be feeling fat or unworthy, “Yes, you are worthy, you can make better choices, and feel better.”

—Maggie Kubisz, Supercenter #0425; Brent, AL; $5K Winner

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