What led you to start the Challenge?

I’m a 29-year-old single dad; my son William is 8-months-old. I was working two jobs as a team lead at Walmart and a bartender and I had no energy. I wasn’t getting restful sleep and my back hurt. I’d eat takeout like pizza and Chinese food and consume high-sugar energy drinks. I weighed 211 pounds and I knew I needed to change my lifestyle to be able to keep up with William as he gets older. We live with my parents and my sister because my home was flooded last year in Hurricane Sally and I lost everything. We all pitch in and William is raised in a loving environment, but I felt emotionally defeated. The spark that inspired me to start the Challenge was William’s smile. I realized for my son, I wanted to be my best. 

How did you get started?

I started by drinking a protein shake after work to stave off sugar cravings and I cut down on energy drinks. I began meal prepping: I bake chicken breasts and portion them out with brown rice or quinoa. Then, when I get home from work, I just heat up a portion and add veggies. Instead of spending a long time in the kitchen, I can spend more time with William. I’ve also been making whole grain spaghetti with lean beef and vegetables. I am a baker at heart and I’ve found delicious recipes for high-protein, low-sugar brownies. I do treat myself because sometimes, there’s just something that feels good about having lasagna with the family. I don’t  like the term “cheat meal” but I have a firm belief that stressing out over a slice of pizza or a scoop of ice cream isn’t good for us. 

What about exercise? 

I’ve been walking and going to the gym, where I do resistance training and heavy weightlifting. William is learning to crawl and when I get home from work, I get on the floor with him and we play together. I’ll run up to him like a gorilla and swing my arms around. His entire face lights up and he starts laughing. I’ve lost 25 pounds and I feel like a completely different person. I don’t have back pain anymore.

What else has changed for you?

I’m sleeping better, and I’ve found it’s a lot easier to focus on work when you are happy with yourself. I also have a lot of gratitude. I constantly thank my parents for their support and encouragement. 

What are your hopes and dreams?

I’m getting certified as a personal trainer, so instead of working as a bartender, I’d like to train a couple of co-workers a week and do something that I’m passionate about: helping others to get healthy. I also want to provide a high quality of life for my son and eventually buy a home for us.

—Alex Hunt, Supercenter #3484; Pensacola, FL; $5K Winner

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