What led you to the Challenge?

For years, my weight has been up and down like a yo-yo. I’ve gained and lost over 1,000 pounds in the last eight years. I’d work hard to lose the weight then gain it all back. I’m 33 and was back up to 450 pounds. I was eating anything I wanted: a lot of Chinese food and food from the local taco truck, and I was drinking a lot of Jack Daniel’s. I have health problems: asthma, neck pain, and arthritis. My doctor put the fear of God in me saying, “You’ve got to lose weight.” Plus, I needed to get my finances under control. I had been over-generous with past boyfriends and went into debt. I also have student loans. One of my co-workers, Marty Perry, encouraged me to take the Challenge.

What changes have you made?

I’m limiting carbohydrates and calories and have learned a lot of different dishes online, like a delicious pilaf with lamb simmered with bell pepper, onions, tomatoes, and cabbage. Eating riced cauliflower instead of rice was a game-changer! I love cooking Cajun dishes on the grill with shrimp and corn on the cob. For snacks, I have celery and peanut butter or fruit. I still have Chinese food occasionally because I’m a firm believer that if you never allow yourself food you love, you’ll probably go right back to your old ways. So far I’ve lost 30 pounds and I’m very motivated. I’m taking my dogs to the park — I love being outdoors in nature and I go fishing for relaxation, but I let the fish go! I’ve become closer to my family, traveling to spend time with my sister — who is gay like me — and her wife, as well as my mother.  

What do you think has helped you stay motivated?

My buddy, Russell, and I encourage each other and I am inspiring others, like my sister who’s also trying to lose weight. My fiancé, Gustavo, who lives in Brazil right now, is very supportive of me losing weight and getting healthy. We’d like to adopt kids and I want to make sure I can take care of my family, save up for our wedding next year, and buy a house. 

How has your spending changed? 

I set a budget, limiting how much I spend on eating out and drinking. I’m saving $1,000 a month and one of my big wins was paying off my credit cards. 

How are you feeling now?   

I have a long way to go, but I’m more positive and optimistic, and I’m excited about the future. I’m less stressed and more focused on gratitude for my loved ones. I’m also building wealth by improving my credit and moving toward financial freedom. My advice to anyone starting the Challenge: Keep an open mind, make a plan, and execute your goals one step at a time.

—Devin Hummel, Distribution Center #7078; Elwood, IL; $5K Winner

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