After going to the doctor for a routine checkup, I found out my cholesterol was high. That news really scared me. At the time, I was eating whatever I wanted. When I was on a break at work, I would get fast food because it was near the store. I drank soda all the time, ate cheeseburgers and fries, and never drank water. I would feel out of breath when walking around. Especially once the pandemic started, the walking track near my house was closed, so I was just working, buying food at work, and not doing any exercise. 

One day at work, I saw a booklet by the punch clock with Thrive ZP stories. 

I read Liliana Santiago’s story, and that inspired me to start. I spoke to her about it and she really motivated me to try it out. It felt good to just see someone I knew, someone like me, accomplish so much. 

I started by cutting down on soda and eating out less.

Now I only drink water. I invested in a blender and a juicer, and started buying aloe vera juice, fresh fruit, salmon, and spinach. I started having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. I also try to buy pre-cooked chicken breasts that are pre-cut. I throw them on a spinach salad on days where I’m too tired to cook. And even when I’m out eating, I try to only eat a portion of the food that is served and save the rest for later. 

I bought sneakers and sports clothes to motivate myself to exercise. 

I find that when I’ve had a bad day, exercise helps me. It clears my mind when I’m in a bad mood. The park and beaches near my house were closed during the pandemic, so I started working out at home for 30 minutes a day. Now that they’re open, I’ll walk to the beach or to the park for 45 minutes to an hour.

My family has definitely taken notice.

I wound up helping them out by buying them better foods to eat and have around the house. We used to buy lots of bread and chips, but we’ve stopped now. It’s easy to eat those things when they’re around, but then you don’t feel great. My family even uses the blender that I bought.

I didn’t even realize it, but I’m saving so much money and time. 

I don’t go out to eat half as much as I used to. And it takes less time for me to put something together at home than to go out to eat. I used to spend at least a few dollars on every meal and it was always fast food. Now, I meal-prep ahead of time and bring food into work.

The app has kept me accountable.

There are days where I still have a critical voice telling me, “You’re tired. You don’t need to cook. Go to McDonald’s instead.” It just seems easier. But the app has been really motivating for me. I’ve lost 15 pounds. There are good and bad days, and you can lose focus, but you have to take it one day at a time. Some days it seems simple, and some days it doesn’t. You have to focus and stay strong. You have to keep telling yourself, “I want to be well, happy, secure.” Today, my cholesterol is lower and I feel so much more confident.

—Yarlin Jorge, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, P.R.; $5K Winner

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