In 2016 my husband, Earl, died of a massive heart attack. It was very sudden and my whole world was turned upside down. I was married for nearly 40 years and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I almost gave up. It was hard for me and our son, Ryan, who’s now 28. I wasn’t eating well or drinking enough water, and I gained 10 pounds. 

My friends at work said, “You’ve got to do the Thrive Challenge. It will really help you.”

So two years ago, I downloaded the Thrive app, and oh Lord, it changed everything. There’s a group of us at work doing it together, friends like Stacie Davis and Brice Driggers, and we support each other. 

I started drinking a lot of water and I stopped eating fast food. 

I bought an airfryer. I make grilled chicken or steak with asparagus and broccoli. And I make great cauliflower crust pizza with spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, and green peppers with just a little cheese for flavor. For snacks I’ll have fresh fruit, carrots, and celery. Changing my eating habits was hard to start with. I go to my Mom’s every Sunday and she’d bake a cake or pie, and I’d say “No Mom, you know I can’t have that.” 

I go to the gym at the YMCA — I do cardio and weights.

I like to ride on the stationary bike — you’re not going anywhere, but I love it! I listen to upbeat music like The Backstreet Boys and it makes me feel good. When I leave I feel like I could climb a mountain. I also take Ryan’s dog, Gentry, for walks around the neighborhood. I’m 56 and I feel great. I’ve lost the 10 pounds I’d gained — I’m back to 137 pounds — and I have much more energy.

To relax, I sit on the floor at home and do my stretches. 

I listen to meditations after work. I like the sound of waterfalls. And I love the breathing resets on the Thrive app. When I’m overwhelmed, watching one of the nature videos helps me feel calm. 

Prayer is a great support. 

I’m going to church more; we have a strong community of wonderful people. When my husband died they were so kind; they brought over food and prayed for me. And now, I’m getting more involved. We have a strong community of wonderful people.

My relationship with my son, Ryan, has improved a whole lot.

Because I’m more calm and relaxed, I’m not hollering at him, saying you need to do this or that. He’s doing great. He’s going to be a golf pro and we’re spending more time together. Last weekend we rode to Maggie Valley, a lovely, peaceful town in North Carolina, and we had a great day together. 

I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man. 

I’ve known my fiancé, James, for 28 years. He’s a Walmart truck driver. We got together last year, and it was amazing because he was already in the family. He’s a good one! His sister is actually married to my brother. He asked me out to dinner and something clicked big time. He told me he’d always loved me. I’d lost weight on the Challenge and I was feeling much better about myself and more confident. 

Jimmy and I love being together.

We’re cooking together, always trying out new recipes. We’re wearing out our airfryer. Before dinner, we pray and bless our food then enjoy eating and talking to each other. We talk about our plans — we’re going to build ourselves a log cabin. We go on cruises, we go for long walks, and we tour local vineyards. 

We’re getting married next May and we’re planning our wedding. 

We’re having a big reception at a local venue with a band and dancing and a taco bar. We just want people to enjoy themselves. I never thought I’d get married again — I’m over the moon! 

The Thrive Challenge has helped me 100 percent.

It’s awesome. It’s helped me get through the past few years and stay positive. I’ve been with Walmart for 22 years and I love my job. I’m always ready to go. I know my late husband is in a better place now, which brightens my days. And I know Earl would definitely want me to feel happy. I’m looking ahead to retirement and I feel wonderful. 

— Michelle Wright, Fulfillment Center #2076, Laurens, SC; $5K Winner