What was going on in your life before you started the Challenge?
I weighed 220 pounds and wasn’t taking care of myself. I was eating hot dogs and candies, gummy worms and lollipops. I was working 60 hours a week as a chef and, ironically, wasn’t cooking at all at home. I’m only 24 but I had no energy. I was on my feet for so long, I’d just fall into bed in my clothes at night. I’d say, “I’m alive, I’m fine.” But I wasn’t fine — I’d reached my breaking point. Then I began working at Walmart and started the Challenge. I thought, “What can I lose?”
What were your first steps?
I started putting my fork down in between bites to savor my meal. After eating, instead of sitting on the couch thinking, “I want dessert now,” I get up and go for a brisk walk to take myself out of the whole food situation. I’m still working on cutting out candy. It’s hard because Jacob, my significant other, likes to buy me cookies! But he’s actually my biggest supporter and I’ve inspired him to eat healthier too. I’ve also been getting support from my dad who has dealt with addiction. He’s my role model and is very encouraging.
Have you gone back to cooking?
I’m doing a lot of cooking and meal planning. I’m a chef by profession, but now I’m cooking as a hobby and having fun with it. One of my favorite recipes is spicy curry with lots of vegetables, like carrots, squash, and zucchini. Instead of using heavy cream in my sauce, I use unsweetened almond milk. I also created a great granola recipe using beaten egg whites instead of syrup to hold it together.
How else are you taking care of yourself?
I’m playing a lot of badminton with my sister, Natalie, running twice a week, and going for walks. I’ll turn off my phone and go inwards, talking to myself about how I’m doing. I use encouraging words like: “I did great today. I’m getting good results.” I let go of any frustrations. And I’ve been keeping a journal, so I can look back and remember my journey and achievements.
How are you feeling now?
Life has become vibrant and brilliant. I have more time to support the people who’ve been there for me when I needed them. For example, I’ll make a nice meal for my friend who’s going through a divorce. And I’m spending more time with my dad. I’m also picking up creative new hobbies, like cake decorating, which I really enjoy — without eating the cakes myself! I’ve lost 38 pounds and I feel great. I feel refreshed and alert and energetic. And my energy is contagious. I do one good thing and say, “OK, what else can I do?” I feel like I can take on the world.
—Dominique Clavette, Supercenter #4583; Greer, S.C.; $5K Winner