Last year, I had extremely high LDL cholesterol levels and it was affecting my whole life. I bought processed food and drinks every day, and was eating high-sugar meals and fast food. I would eat sweets whenever I felt anxious, and something needed to change. 

My best friend, Yarlin Jorge, had done the Thrive Challenge and she told me about it.

She said to me, “Marilyn, your cholesterol is very high for your age and your heart and other organs will be damaged if you don’t do something.” That moment was when I thought, “Wow.” I thought of my family, my husband, and my baby. My family and friends love me and care about my health. I knew it was time for me to start the Thrive Challenge.

My first change was drinking a glass of water every morning before breakfast. 

It was the first small change in my routine, and then I would go cook a nutritious breakfast for myself and my family. I started drinking a lot more water during the day and cutting out sodas and juices completely. Now, I drink eight or ten glasses of water daily, and if I don’t, my body sends me signs that I’m dehydrated. I also started reaching for a glass of water when I felt stressed instead of sweets. It really worked for me. 

I’m exercising about twice a week for 20 to 30 minutes.

I’ve been using my bike. My main objective is improving my health, because if there is no health, there is nothing.  I’ve started feeling more able, more comfortable with my body, and my LDL cholesterol levels have been going down. I also like reading other peoples’ stories from their Thrive Challenge experiences because it reminds you that so many people are going through similar situations. 

I started planning my meals in advance.

I learned to plan healthier meals in anticipation for the week, and eliminate processed foods and sugar. I used to buy fast food every day, so I see the change in my pocket now. Not spending money on harmful foods has helped me save up. I would love to buy a treadmill eventually to use for exercise in addition to my bike.

My new lifestyle has benefitted my entire family.

I spend a lot of time with my family and I love doing it. We go out to the park and walk, or sometimes we go to the mall and walk. We still eat outside the home sometimes but we choose smarter options on the menu. 

I can concentrate more at work, I’m sleeping better, and I’ve learned how to sustain this new lifestyle. 

I’ve been planning my meals in advance, drinking more water, saving money, and staying disciplined. I am super grateful to be part of the Thrive Challenge and I know that it will improve my future.

— Marilyn Reyes, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR; $5K Winner