A year ago I was depressed, I had very little self-esteem, and weighed 200 pounds. I had to shop for “plus size” clothes, and when I tried them on, I’d be in tears. I lived paycheck to paycheck because I shopped all the time for things I didn’t need, like shoes and expensive  jewelry.

“I felt I didn’t have control of my life and was disappointing myself.”
I live alone and ate fast food, like fried chicken and burgers, and would snack on chips and  candy bars. I didn’t exercise — I’d walk 10 steps and have to stop and rest because I was out of breath. I tried to not socialize because I thought people were saying, “Look at that fat lady.” One day I overheard my granddaughter saying: “I wish Grandma would lose some weight.” The tears came and I knew I needed to get healthy. 

“I started by cutting out sugar and bread. It was hard, but I stuck to it.” 
And after the first 21 days, I noticed my jeans were a little too big. Now I follow a low-carb diet, often eating grilled or baked chicken for dinner with salad and green vegetables. If I want something sweet, I’ll munch on fruit I love like cantaloupe or strawberries.  

I invested in an exercise bike and ride over 20 miles a week. Every morning, I walk my three dogs in the park and I don’t get short of breath anymore. I do deep breathing exercises, which I find relaxing.

“I’m 55 and haven’t felt this good since I was a teenager.”
I’ve lost 30 pounds and I’ve gone from size 18 to size 10! It’s a pleasure to look in the mirror with my hands on my hips! I carry a picture of the “old me” in my wallet. When I’m tempted to grab a piece of cake, I look at that picture and say, “I’m not going back there.” And by not spending on things I don’t need, I’ve saved five thousand dollars.  

“I’m happy at work and I’m studying online for my Ph.D. in psychology.”
I feel successful and I’m encouraging others to take the Challenge. People say: “Wow! How did you do it?” I tell them: “You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish.” My granddaughter says to me: “You’re doing a good job, I’m proud of you,” which makes me happy. I’m so grateful, my life has never been better and every morning I say: “I’m going to knock this Challenge out today.” 

––Valerie Kimbrough, Clovis, CA; $5K Winner

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