Before starting the Thrive Challenge, I felt like my life had no direction. I did not accept myself and I kept judging myself and my body. I always needed people to make decisions for me, and I was eating whatever I wanted. I heard about the Thrive app from school, but I learned about the Challenge at work. I decided to give it a try.

The first step I took was giving gratitude to myself. 

I had to remind myself that I deserve every bit of encouragement — not just from anyone, but from myself. It wasn’t easy, but I noticed a drastic change in my mood once I made the change. Every day I have a goal to attain, and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve it, because I struggle every day. I have to stop myself from criticizing myself. I’m staying motivated by looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself I can do it.

I eat better and feel better — and my mental health is in a better place. 

I struggled with counting calories, so I decided to eat what makes me happy but in more balanced portions and with different ingredients. Growing up in an African home in Nigeria, rice was our main source of food. So I was able to swap my plain white rice for basmati rice, which is easier to digest. I also fell in love with salads and started creating my own recipes that I love. I’ll still have pizza, but only if I’m at a social event. My peak weight was 240, and now I weigh 180 pounds.

I am building a strong relationship with my older brothers, even though we have our differences. 

Every Sunday, my brothers and I attend church together. It’s been really great going as a family, just like when we were all back home with our parents. My parents live in a different country, but my mom even seeks advice from me now on how she can lose weight. 

As an international student, it’s been a huge help with my tuition. 

I am now saving a portion of my summer paycheck. I was able to afford half a semester from last summer with my savings. I started creating a budgeting list on a monthly basis. Now I am able to support my parents with my savings. I am still struggling with sleep because of my work schedule as a part-time worker. I can be better, but I do set a bedtime by putting my phone away at 10:00 at night to help with falling asleep when I don’t have a closing shift.

My whole mindset changed when I started working on myself. 

I stopped carrying other people’s burdens and decided to put myself first. I am thankful every day for being alive, for my parents for sending me to Canada for a better education, and for myself for being able to think positively. The Challenge has changed my life perspective and redefined my thinking.

—Izunna Victor Nwaneli, Walmart Supercenter #1186; Manitoba, Canada; $2K Winner