This time last year I was absolutely miserable. I weighed 262 pounds, I had high blood pressure, and I was pre-diabetic with pain in my legs and feet. I had no energy for my two teenagers and couldn’t play with my precious grandchildren because I was always out of breath. I was eating fast food — breakfast sandwiches and burgers from McDonald’s. My co-worker, Deanna Foxworthy, had great success with the Challenge and inspired me to start. 

Instead of chips, I eat healthy snacks like fruit and nuts.

I bring lunch to work like salads and I’m saving $150 a week because I’m not buying food from the vending machine. I’m meal prepping, so I can pop dinner in the oven after work, which cuts the temptation to grab a pizza. I’ll make a tasty chicken casserole with cauliflower rice, which has become a family favorite, and everyone loves my rotisserie chicken wrap with low-carb tortillas. I steer clear of desserts but if I want something sweet, I’ll have a few chocolate-dusted almonds. I eat more mindfully now. The Thrive app is full of tips like putting your fork down  between each bite, which means I slow down and resist second helpings.  

I play tennis with my 13-year-old daughter, Makenna.

She’s really good and I’m not, but we have fun and if I’m not feeling up to it, she’ll say, “Come on Mom, let’s go!” I never felt comfortable going to the gym before because I was self-conscious about my weight, but now we have a family gym membership and we all go together. The whole family encourages me. There’s always a kind word, like “you look so good,” which makes a difference. 

I have 100 times the energy I had before. I’m more productive at work because I can do things I couldn’t do before, like climbing a ladder, or getting down on the floor to pull things out of the bottom shelf. And I’m more positive; I’m smiling and complimenting people. 

I can keep up with my grandchildren.

Easton is 3 and Maverick’s 1 year old, and they’re always on the go. I take them to the park and we play on the equipment. I never dreamed I’d be able to go down the slide with them! Before, I wouldn’t have been able to climb up. We have a trampoline in our yard and I can jump with them now. I’m not afraid I’m going to fall through the bottom! 

I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’m almost half the person I was. 

I was originally wearing size 22 pants and I’m a size six now! My feet don’t hurt and I feel so much better — I’m a more pleasant person to be around.

This is not a diet. It’s a journey that has changed — and probably saved — my life.

I know I’ll be alive to see my daughter graduate and see my grandchildren grow up. The future is bright. I’ve changed my whole outlook and I feel much happier.

—Debra Bowers, Supercenter #4235; Terre Haute, IN; $5K Winner

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