Before starting the Challenge, I wasn’t happy. I was always tired and it showed in everything I did. I’ve always been big, and I always thought that was just who I was. I have a history of drug addiction, and I’m now two years clean. Once I got sober, I just accepted thoughts like, “If I want to eat cake, I’ll eat cake.” Then one day, there came this moment of clarity, when my son hugged me and couldn’t wrap his hands all the way around me. It felt like this cloud had suddenly been lifted from my mind, and I thought, “You can do more. You deserve more.”

The first change I made was my diet — and fitness followed soon after. 

I first had to change the way I ate. There were days at work that were crazy and I would tell myself that I deserved a chocolate bar. There was always an excuse. Changing my eating was one of the most important things that I’ve done. Now I’m eating high-protein meals, and I’ve eliminated sugar and dairy. Soon after changing my diet, my next step was fitness. My dad has a home gym, and I said, “We’ve got to start working out now.” It was probably a good month into working out that I started to see results. I’ve gotten so much stronger, both physically and mentally.

Every day I’m getting stronger. 

Since January 23, I’ve lost 61 pounds. I started at 284 pounds, and I now weigh 223. When I first began working out, I started doing planks, and I couldn’t even hold the plank for 15 seconds. And as of just yesterday, I’m able to hold a plank for over a minute. Seeing those kinds of changes in myself and my body, and having my kids look up to me in a different way — saying “my mom’s a beast” and “my mom can do anything” — is really inspirational. 

The Challenge has also brought us closer together as a family.

My 16-year-old daughter and I go on runs together and prepare meals together. I have to motivate her in order to do it with me half the time, but she’s gotten better at eating. It’s just been a whole change in our dynamic. As a family, we don’t sit and just watch T.V. anymore. In California, there are so many places to hike that are beautiful, so we like going on hikes together. I’ve also never been a runner, but now I’m like: “This is fun. Let’s do this.” So we probably run at least three times a week.

The biggest change has been in my attitude. 

I’ve always been one to look at a problem and think, “I can’t handle that.” Now, I think, “I can do that and I’ll do so much more.” I’m positive, I’m upbeat, I’ve got more energy, and I’m way happier. Everything has completely flipped. The Challenge has changed my life, for the better. I look in the mirror and I see a changed person. My whole outlook on life — the way that I eat, the way that I do things, the way that I teach my children now — has completely changed.

—Jaime Tschirki, Neighborhood Market #2468; Rohnert Park, CA; $5K Winner

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