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Check in with the Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge

viva fresh clean eating challenge
The inaugural Clean Eating Challenge featured Tommy Wilkins, Ed Bertaud, Jed Murray and Michelle Cortez working with Dr. Ian Smith to tailor a clean eating plan with a foundation in fresh produce.

PRESS RELEASE: Mission, Texas; January 20, 2020:  After launching the Clean Eating Challenge this past November, the participants continued to excel through the holiday season and into the new year.  All participants have not only lost a significant amount of weight (averaging more than 24 pounds per person) but they also report feeling better and having more energy.  They will continue the challenge up until the 2020 Viva Fresh Expo on April 30 – May 2, 2020 at the JW Marriot Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas.

“I’m absolutely amazed by each participant’s commitment and dedication to this program,” stated best-selling author, TV personality and physician, Dr. Ian Smith whose been leading and coaching the group.  “As an advocate for clean eating with more plant-based foods, it’s exciting and personally satisfying to be able to work with these industry veterans who provide consumers across the country with healthy fruits and vegetables that are so badly needed to keep our country healthy.  Now these four produce professionals are getting a firsthand look at just how powerful fresh food can be!”

Dr. Ian Smith is the author of 17 books, 9 of them NY Times bestsellers, with his most recent, Clean & Lean becoming an instant bestseller.  He is currently the medical contributor and co-host of the nationally syndicated television show The Rachael Ray Show.  He is also the founder of the national health initiatives: The 50 Million Pound Challenge and The Makeover Mile.  As the keynote speaker, Dr. Smith will unveil the final results during the Viva Fresh Keynote Luncheon on Friday, May 1 from 11:30 – 1:00 pm.   The participants will join him onstage to share the detail of their experiences.

 Produce industry veteran and Director of Sales for Grow Farms Texas, Tommy Wilkins noted, “This has been a life-changing journey for me.  Becoming a grandfather has inspired me to take my health and wellness seriously.  I can’t tell you how much my energy level has changed and how well I’ve been feeling.  The food has been satisfying and I’ve lost 24 pounds to date. My lipid panel has improved to the point of I was able to cut my cholesterol medication in half. I’m changing 59 years of bad habits and I’ve never felt better.”

“I was recently diagnosed with diabetes so I wanted a restart to be able to make healthier choices,” remarked Michelle Cortez, Empacadora GAB – Mr. Lucky.  “Eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables has been really helping to keep my sugar levels stable.  I haven’t had a sugar spike since I started the program which is amazing.  Now, I’m more than halfway to reaching my goal of losing 40 pounds.”

In addition to his personalized coaching, Dr. Smith has provided his books to each of the participants to use as a reference.  Produce industry members interested in following the program, can use these books as a reference:  Clean & Lean, The Clean 20, and Blast the Sugar Out.   In addition, the participants each received an advanced copy of Dr. Smith’s latest book Mind Over Weight which is due to be published this April, 2020.

“I’ve battled weight my whole life so it’s time for me to get in control of how to fully live my life,” said Ed Bertaud, Director, Retail Sales-IFCO RPC North America.  “I’m feeling better having a lot more energy especially at the end of the day and my mind is clearer.  And I don’t feel like I’m starving.  Traveling for work has its challenges but I’m happy to report that I’ve lost 25 pounds to date and am on my way to reaching my goals.”

Each of the participants are regularly posting videos showcasing their progress online at the Viva Fresh website.  Participating sponsors include SunFed, Grow Farm Texas, Coast Tropical, Rio Fresh Inc. and J&D Produce.

“I joined the challenge because I felt out of step and a lot older than my 45 years.  Now I’m walking eight to ten miles a day and am feeling healthy, strong and lighter.  I’m eating healthier but I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing flavor with the use of fresh herbs, spices and fresh salsa,” commented Jed Murray.  “My balance is better, I’m down 24 pounds and am feeling great.”

The Viva Fresh Expo is focused on connecting the rapidly growing Tex-Mex corridor to retail and foodservice buyers, which is why the majority of exhibitors are grower/shippers from Texas and Mexico.  Buyer participation has more than doubled since Viva Fresh began five years ago.

For more information or to register online, visit Registration, airfare and hotel expenses are complimentary for qualifying retail and foodservice companies.


About the Viva Fresh Produce Expo

The Viva Fresh Produce Expo was established in 2015 by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) in order to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for its members while shining a light on the importance of the Rio Grande Valley as an emerging trade corridor and production zone for healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year long. In just four years, the Viva Fresh Produce Expo has catered to sold out crowds and increased buyer attendance by over 110%.