A year ago my life was a mess. I was exhausted and wasn’t taking care of myself, and it was chaos at home! My husband, Jonathan, and I weren’t getting along. I would give our 14-year-old daughter, Akyra, and 21-year-old son, Marcus, chores to do and if they weren’t done when I got home from work, I would snap, saying: “You didn’t do the dishes, now I’ve got to do them!” My weight was up to 170 pounds. I was eating Chinese food and fried chicken — everything that isn’t good for you. And I started having heart issues. 

“The final straw came when I had a heart attack.”

The final straw came when I had a heart attack last May. I was 41. The doctors said it was stress-induced. I realized if I didn’t do something quickly, I would not be alive to see my kids get married. My husband had already won the Challenge, and I decided to start myself.

The heart attack left me feeling weak, and I began by taking baby steps. I would take the stairs instead of the elevator. I would tell myself what I was grateful for. I write poetry and would send poems to my sister, who would say: “You inspired me today.” 

“I switched to a Mediterranean diet.”

I switched to a Mediterranean diet with lots of grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. My husband and I take turns cooking. I make a delicious spinach salad with tomatoes, cranberries, apple, and chicken. I cut out salt on my doctor’s orders. Cutting out sweets was hard! I love cheesecake, so I allowed myself one or two bites instead of a whole slice, and now I’ve stopped eating it altogether. My son bought me a dog, Jazz, and I take him for walks in nature, or ride my bicycle. I used to be too tired to exercise.   

“I started smiling and stopped snapping.” 

These days, my husband and kids are helping more around the house. I always found it hard to relax. Now, I meditate, pray, and listen to the sound of ocean waves on the internet. I read and paint. I started smiling and stopped snapping. 

“Love yourself, enjoy life and inspire others.”

I’ve lost 30 pounds and I have more energy for my two jobs at Heavens Care, a homeless  charity, and a pet rescue non-profit. The doctors say my heart is in much better shape and there is no serious damage.

I have a goal to finish the book I’m writing, my second, called Passion’s Cross, about my journey and faith and giving back. My advice for others: Love yourself, enjoy life, and inspire others and laugh with your family.

– Danyell Henriques, Walmart Customer; Gonzales, LA; $5K Winner

Through the Thrive Challenge, our community is making Better Choices, seeing big results, and winning big.

Stories from past winners, such as Danyell Henriques, prove that every individual has the power to transform their life every day through a combination of small, sustainable changes and peer-to-peer inspiration.