My wife, Remi, and I moved to America from Nigeria seven years ago to build a better life for our family. In Nigeria, I studied art in college. I worked as a museum curator in a recreational center. But here in the U.S., I was doing three jobs and I was stressed. I work in employment support for people with learning disabilities, but I also work for UPS and as a security guard. I was only getting four hours of sleep a night and eating junk food. I’m 44, I had high cholesterol, and my doctor said I was in danger of having a stroke! I had no time for my wife and kids. My wife became pregnant with our fourth child and her father died from COVID. Things felt so hard, I was thinking of suicide.

My childhood friend Sunday Oguntoyinbo is a Thrive Grand Champion.

I saw how he’d changed his life — he’s so happy, and I said: “What’s your secret?” He encouraged me to start the Thrive Challenge.   

I stopped eating junk food and lost 20 pounds.

Remi and I started food prepping. We eat green veggies like kale and spinach and Remi makes delicious Nigerian food like baked plantains. She makes sandwiches for me to take for lunch with chicken, tomatoes and lettuce. And I’m drinking lots of water.  

I reduced the hours I work to have more family time.

I never work more than 10 hours a day now which means we can eat dinner together. We talk about how the day has gone and I help the children with homework. We read the Bible together and pray before bedtime. I’m sleeping seven hours a night and feel good when I wake up.

I never had time to exercise; now we go for family walks in the park.

The kids love climbing ropes and going on the swings and I have the energy to play with them.

Last summer we had a real family vacation. 

I took two weeks off and we traveled to Disney World in Florida. The following week, we relaxed at home.

My wife is a Thrive Star like me and we’re on this journey together.

We’re kind to each other and grateful for our marriage. On her phone, she’s saved my number as “Sweetheart,” and my name for her is “My Angel.” So the love keeps expanding. It’s become a Thrive Family Challenge in our house. My daughter will say: “Daddy have you done your Challenge today?”

I’m devoting time to my passion — painting landscapes and portraits. 

I’ve started a business selling my own paintings — I just sold one for $500. I’m also painting with my 11-year-old daughter, Ayokunmi, who takes after me and is great at drawing. My goal is to open an African art gallery with my paintings and some by my friends in Nigeria.

 We’ve saved $12,000 and Sunday has inspired me to save for a house.

 I’m a happy man, fulfilling my American dream.

— Musibau Abiodun “Abbey” Akintehinde, Walmart Customer, Newark, NJ; $5K Winner