My mom and dad both passed away from high blood pressure. I’ve lost three brothers, one of them from a stroke. I was at work one day and I started to feel pain in my head and in my chest. I was so scared. An ambulance was called for me. The doctors said my blood pressure was at stroke level. That’s when I decided I needed to take better care of my health. 

I had heard about Thrive years beforehand, but I didn’t take it seriously. Then I started reading through the booklets, which made me want to strive and set some goals. My first step was to get medication for my high blood pressure. Now, with the medication and healthier habits, my pressure is regulated. I used to drive everywhere. I wasn’t drinking any water. I’d be out of breath from just walking. I would buy bags of chips and candy bars for lunch. I finally told myself I wasn’t going to do these things anymore. 

“My body thanks me for it”

I started drinking water and stopped sprinkling extra salt on my foods and eating so much sugar. I started steaming vegetables and adding new foods to my diet like kale. I’m eating sugar-free oatmeal or light yogurt with banana for breakfast each morning. I’m walking five miles three times a week and riding my stationary bike. I don’t care that my legs hurt because it means I did something good for my body. My body thanks me for it. Since starting my Thrive Challenge, I’ve lost a lot of weight. 

I go skating, get out for walks, and do Zumba with my nieces and my daughter. My finances have also changed for the better. I’m saving money by cooking at home instead of going out to eat and walking places instead of driving. Altogether I have saved around $900.

“My family members would want me to keep going”

The hardest part of my journey has been losing people I love. But I told myself: “It could be worse. Everything happens for a reason. Keep your head up, and keep moving.” No one wants to lose loved ones, but I know my family would want me to keep going. I’ve been doing the Thrive Challenge for almost two years now and I’ve discovered that if I focus, I can do anything. I’m living my best life now. I’m 55 and I have more energy than some 25-year-olds. Before the pandemic, I had enough energy to work two jobs. 

“Doing something is better than doing nothing”

I try to live by example for my family, friends, and co-workers. I motivate my friends to make healthier choices, like going for walks together. I’m also more focused as a parent and aunt; I’m spending more time with my daughter and nieces and setting a positive example for them. There are days I feel tired, but I push myself. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

—Annie Reynolds, Supercenter #3008; Atlanta, GA; $3K Winner

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