I was tired, stressed, and unmotivated. I didn’t feel good about myself, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. I went through the motions every day so I could collapse on the couch at night. The spark that got me to act was when I found out my cousin was in kidney failure. I signed up to be a living donor. I was hoping I’d be a match — then the transplant center called me and said I was too obese. They wouldn’t even do a blood test to determine if I could be a donor in the first place. I was absolutely crushed. 

It was a sobering reality that hit me hard.

At first, I thought: “Forget it. I’ll never be able to lose the weight.” And then I realized I had the power to change the situation. I could take steps to lose weight and get tested to be a donor. And if I wasn’t a donor, at least I improved my health in the process. My co-workers, Arvis and Alecia, always talked about the Thrive Challenge at work and encouraged me to try it. So I downloaded the app, and I’ve been doing the Thrive Challenge ever since. My first step was to research different diets — but I realized I didn’t necessarily want to be on a “diet.” Instead, I decided to change my lifestyle: I lowered my carb and calorie intake and increased the amount of water I was drinking. 

It only took one week of healthy eating to feel better.

Instead of “living to eat,” I’m “eating to live.” I practice portion control and compare food labels so I pick the most nutritious options. I love zucchini — it’s something I never ate before, but I eat it several times a week now. Some of my favorites: “zoodles” with low-sugar spaghetti sauce and baked zucchini parmesan with cherry tomatoes, peppers, and chicken. 

If someone brings a treat into work like donuts, Arvis, Alecia, and I remind each other to stay on track with Better Food Choices. I’ll even get out for a walk and some fresh air instead of being tempted. Changing my diet has impacted other aspects of my life: My physical appearance has changed, my skin is clearer, my spirits have lifted, and I’m more active. 

My mentality around exercise has changed. 

I see the value in short periods of movement, like going for a quick walk or jumping on the trampoline with my kids. I walk during my lunch break and strive to get at least 10,000 steps every day. I’ve lost 14 pounds so far and I’m sleeping better. Prior to losing weight, I had back and hip pain that kept me up at night. Now, I’m in less pain and can sleep longer without waking up. And with better sleep, I have more energy to do things with my kids. Before, I’d sit outside and watch them play — now I can play with them and do activities that keep us moving as a family. 

The way I feel is keeping me motivated.

I’m healthier in body, mind, and all areas of my life. I want to keep going to create a healthier lifestyle for my kids and for myself — and hopefully, become a kidney donor for my cousin. I’m working hard to reach a weight where I can be tested to be a donor. And in the meantime, I look better, feel better, and lead by example for my kids.

—Kim Mounts; King George, VA; $5K Winner

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