I always enjoy food, especially when I cook it at home. But I started to have health problems and my doctors appointments increased. My body started changing, and I was avoiding looking in the mirror. If I was getting ready in the morning, I was looking at my eyes, washing my hands, making sure nothing was on my face — but I wasn’t looking at my body for a few years.  

My mom passed away at the age of 51 because of renal kidney failure. She enjoyed cooking and eating things all the time. She wasn’t obese, but her death slapped me in the face with the fact that the things you eat could possibly be the reason why you die. So I knew that something had to change. 

“I wanted my body to understand that I was sorry.”

The first thing that I started to do was portion control. I didn’t change anything in my diet, I just changed how much I ate. I wasn’t trying to diet, I wasn’t trying to hurry up and get the weight off. I wanted my body to understand that I was sorry for feeding it foods that were so bad for it. So I gradually removed things in moderation, and I changed how I cooked certain foods. 

I don’t need to deprive myself.” 

I eat soul food, like macaroni and cheese. Now, I make smart substitutions. For instance, I use the dairy-free substitute for cheese. I use whole grain noodles, and people can’t tell the difference once it’s in the oven. I put mustard in it so it looks more yellow, and you can’t really tell that the noodles are brown. Everybody’s like, “Oh my God, this is the best macaroni and cheese.” There are no eggs, there’s not a whole bunch of butter. I add salt and pepper, and it tastes like my mom’s regular macaroni and cheese. I don’t need to deprive myself, I’m not going to make my life hard. I feel like I’ve lived a hard enough life.

“I didn’t begin this journey for the pounds, but for my heart.”

Everybody in my family thinks I look like a totally different person since I’ve made these changes. It’s growing on me, but I’m still getting used to it. When I shop, I still go over to the plus-size section in some stores because I’ve always shopped there. I’m getting used to going into Forever 21 and looking for a small or a medium — never in my life did I think I’d see the day. I didn’t begin this journey for the pounds, but for my heart. That’s why I did it. I’m so proud of myself, and I cannot believe that. It’s the first time in my life I can say it: I’m proud of myself. I am proud of my consistency. I am proud of my courage. And I am definitely proud of my confidence.

– Angela Anderson, Supercenter #1666; Charlotte, N.C.; $5K Winner

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

Stories from past winners, such as Angela Anderson, prove that every individual has the power to transform their life every day through a combination of small, sustainable changes and peer-to-peer inspiration.