I had known about the Challenge for a while — it’s something I quietly followed but never followed through with. I had a little voice in my head saying, “Someday, I will do this!” But that someday didn’t come until my daughter got engaged. Between the prospect of winning Challenge money and wanting to fit into my dream dress at my daughter’s wedding, I was motivated to get started. I also wanted to stop feeling tired so easily and struggling to lift things at work.

For me, it all came down to experimentation with a vegetarian diet.

Now that I’m eating more veggies and cutting back on processed foods and sugar, I don’t feel as sluggish or sleepy. I have fewer aches and pains and more mental clarity. I bring nuts to snack on at work. Instead of going to McDonald’s for lunch, I take advantage of having the Walmart store at my fingertips and grab some fresh fruit. I’m cooking for my family more often and loving big salads and oven-roasted veggies! 

I’m getting excited about the little discoveries.

For instance, we got a shipment of cosmic crisp apples at the store. I love tart apples but had never tried the cosmic variety before — now they’re my favorite! I’m also leaping out of my comfort zone in terms of fitness. I do a lot of lifting and walking every day at work, but I’m taking things to the next level. My daughters and I will go to the gym together and walk on the treadmills for 30 minutes three or four times a week. I’m also meeting with a personal trainer.

For years, I’ve done this yo-yoing. 

There was this inconsistent pattern: I’d get on a kick of changing my eating and working out, but then I’d stop. I didn’t have the support I needed to keep going, and I’d fall into old habits. Now, the timing is just right. My kids are older, working toward goals, and wanting to make healthier choices together. We are working together to eat fewer processed foods and meal prepping has become a nightly conversation. 

Before, I’d stay up late and sleep in if I had the weekends off. 

I’d watch Netflix to essentially bore myself to sleep. But now, I’ve completely changed my mindset. I’m keeping a consistent bedtime and making sure my bedroom is dark and cool. I shower at night and within minutes of my head hitting my pillow, I’m sound asleep. My body is in a really good rhythm and I find I’m in a much better mood throughout the day.

I’ve found that feeling better — and making small changes — snowballs.

I wake up each day feeling refreshed. I make the conscious choice to smile (even while wearing my mask!) and I find it changes my entire day for the better. I’ve lost 20 pounds so far and am proud of how much my body has truly changed. I ordered a new pink vest to wear at work that is a size smaller than my last one. I made it my goal to fit in the vest in due time — but when it came, I put it on and it already fit!

—Anissa Bowman, Supercenter #1655; Crawfordsville, IN; $5K Winner