I was never someone who paid much attention to how much I weighed or what I ate. I was guilty of inaction — I wasn’t happy with many aspects of my life, but I wasn’t doing anything to change them. I didn’t work out because I felt I wasn’t good at it, and I ate poorly because I thought I had a lack of self-control. One day at work, my friends and I were talking about how our snacking had gotten out of control during COVID, and how we wanted to be better. My store manager and previous Thrive Challenge Winner, Angie LaNore, said, “I keep telling you guys, you need to try the Challenge!” I downloaded the Thrive App right then and there and committed myself to making Better Choices. 

I have been a vegetarian for years, and for the longest time I thought that was enough. I soon realized you can make poor choices as a vegetarian, too! I started intermittent fasting, which has helped me gain control over my eating habits without feeling like I’m sacrificing foods I love. It was really tough at first, but once I got through the first week, I felt proud and motivated to keep going. I’ve since stopped snacking, and while I don’t outright deny myself foods, I am more mindful of whether or not they are worth it to me.

Now that I’m working out, my energy levels are much higher. I first started hiking more, and then added running to my routine. I got to the point where I was running a mile almost every night. Now that it’s getting darker earlier, I’ve converted my bike into a stationary bike so I can get my cardio in at home. I’ve stopped making excuses that it’s dark and cold and have learned to adapt. I’m also walking my kids to school each morning instead of driving. As a byproduct of these choices, I’m sleeping better because I’m putting my body to good use. I have lost 22 pounds.

For my next few Challenges, I’m really trying to focus more on my family and friends. I’m making it a priority to check in on my friends more often and help them when I can. My family is spending more time together, doing things like going on hikes. Some of my favorite conversations with my kids have taken place while we’re together in the woods, where there are no distractions and we can all open up. We’re also enjoying yoga together. My husband and I take 10 minutes for ourselves after the kids go to bed to talk without interruption. Doing these small things has made me a calmer, more patient mother. 

I worked really hard to pull myself out of a negative spiral. Now, I value my health and take pride in it. I feel more confident, too — and not just in how I look, but in my ability to push through challenges and serve as a role model for my kids.

––Amanda Schotts, Sam’s Club #6562; Muskegon, MI; $5K Winner