During the pandemic I was depressed. I’m 30 and I’d just finished school, studying to be a phlebotomist, but I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’d overeat, mostly fast food. I was insecure about my body and was overweight. I was in a bad car accident one day and feeling desperate — I was praying in my car, when a man called Sunday Oguntoyinbo approached me to see if he could help. He was so genuine and kind and I felt like he was sent from God! He’d been a Thrive Challenge winner and told me how it had helped him. He helped me download the Thrive app and get started myself. It turns out we are neighbors, and Sunday is always sending me lovely, positive texts. With his encouragement, I bought a new car and began working for Lyft, driving people around. 

I stopped eating fast food and red meat and started doing intermittent fasting.  

I’ll have a vitamin smoothie in the morning, and for dinner I’ll have chicken cooked in the air fryer and veggies. I don’t eat after 6:30 in the evening. I love breakfast food so I’ll sometimes have breakfast for dinner— eggs, turkey bacon, and spinach. I also eat lots of fruit, pineapple and berries. For a treat, I might have almonds with dark chocolate.

I began walking a mile twice a day.

Then I gradually started running and adding miles — now I run four miles a day. I think it’s important to do 10,000 steps every day. I also enjoy doing interval training outside in the yard. I work out alone because my friends can’t keep up with me!  

I’ve lost weight over seven months, I’ve regained my confidence, and I feel pretty!  

Every morning I read a positive affirmation like, “I am able to accomplish anything I put my mind to.” I have fantastic support from my boyfriend, Anthony, who encourages me to stay focused. We can do more together now, like going on roller coaster rides and going to the movies. I can sit in a normal seat instead of having to get the double seat in the corner. We’re taking a cruise to Jamaica soon and I’m going to buy a cute bathing suit!

My attitude has changed — I’m more positive and enjoy helping people.

I’m a certified nursing assistant, and when my best friend, Jeremy, broke his leg and was bedridden, I helped him get in and out of bed, made sure he took his medications, and did his grocery shopping for him. 

I’ve started a new job as a phlebotomist at a blood bank, and I love it.  

I’m connecting more with my family — my mom in Tennessee, and my dad in the Virgin Islands. I’m planning to take my mom on a trip to Africa, which is her dream. My dream is to be a travel phlebotomist and travel the nation. I feel great and have a smile on my face.

—Ashley Hendrickson, Walmart Customer; East Bradenton, FL; $5K Winner

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