I was feeling stressed and tired. I didn’t have time for myself, which made me feel like I wasn’t showing up as my best self for others. My sister was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in 2020 and I knew 2021 had to be different — I had to take the reins of my health so I could be there for my sister, my family, and myself. 

I was working from home, supporting my children through online learning. 

But I wasn’t exercising or eating smart. I learned about the Challenge through a Thrive call and looked at it as a personal challenge to eat better, drink more water, and get in better shape. I had to figure out how to make exercise a part of my every day. That’s how I came up with my idea of “Thrive Riding” or “Thrive Running,” which is when I pick one Zoom meeting a day where I’m just a listening participant, and I tune into the call from my stationary bike or treadmill. I push myself to ride or run every day and now my kids, Aiden and Maddie, have joined this fitness journey with me! 

From there, I introduced lemon water and green smoothies to my diet.

I’m drinking tea but find I don’t need as much caffeine throughout the day as I did before. I’m also aiming to drink over 70 ounces of water each day. I started making more nutritious meals and planning out those meals ahead of time so we stick to a plan throughout the week. My family is eating dinner together at the table each night and I find my kids want to eat better to feel better. Now that I’m eating cleaner, I have more energy, and with that extra energy, I’m more active. Then, when nighttime rolls around, I’m sleeping better. I used to wake up throughout the night because of stress. Now I sleep through the night for eight or nine hours. And my family is working on using our devices less frequently before bed. 

I’ve realized that life is short, so I want to feel and be the best I can be every single day.

The pandemic has been hard, but on the positive side of things, my family is spending more quality time together, exercising and doing COVID-safe activities outdoors. I’m trying to inspire my sisters to get more active by encouraging them and sharing small wins. By making time for myself, sharing with others, and celebrating successes along the way, I’m allowing myself to be my best self. I’ve lost 10 pounds since January 1 and I’m pushing myself to run and ride 4,000 kilometers by the end of the year. I was at 653 kilometers as of March 23 and I’m confident I can reach my goal!

—Pauline Oakley, Walmart Canada Market 13; Orangeville, ON; $2K Winner