The company I was with for 17 years went out of business, and I was blindsided to say the least. I had to come up with a game plan for my future. I’m pretty strong, but admittedly, I was scared. I developed a side business but wanted to do more — that’s when I connected with the hiring manager, Mike, at the Walmart in Hinsdale. I wanted to do something fresh, something different, and I opened my heart to Walmart. Long story short: I ended up loving my new job, and once I found out about the Challenge, I opened my heart to that too.

I’m a routine girl — and starting the Challenge has helped me stick to one.

I’m a yo-yo dieter by nature, and during COVID I turned to comfort eating. But with the Challenge, I took time to pause and reflect. I thought, “what can I do to feel really good about myself?” So, I’m eating more nutrient-dense foods and practicing portion control. I treat myself to a fun meal on occasion, like pizza or a burger, but I don’t overdo it and I don’t languish. I get right back on track and that’s huge for me! I use to track what I eat and maintain my weight loss — I’m down 12 pounds! I also noticed that when I eat better, I shop better. I’m buying frozen veggies, skipping the coffee, and stashing away more money because I’m no longer buying junk food.

Some days are easier than others, but I’ve become more consistent with exercise. 

I started walking and jogging three years ago, but lost my motivation during the pandemic. When I started the Challenge, I decided I’d start small: walking for just 20 minutes, three days a week. I live in a hilly neighborhood, so I’d go up and down the street. I slowly started adding five more minutes each day, and then before I knew it, I was jogging! I didn’t bite off more than I could chew, which has helped me follow the routine. Now I’m hiking too and working out with a weighted hula hoop. 

My family is scattered across the country, but we’re finding new ways to connect.

I’m the older sister, so I have a tendency to be a little bossy, but I’ve become more patient. We lost our mother in September 2020 and the grief hit hard — it comes and goes in spurts. But my siblings and I are banding together to get through it. I also talk to them about what I’m doing to take care of myself, and I hope I’m being a good influence. Now, my sisters are hiking, getting in better shape. And it gives us something to talk about.

Best of all: I don’t feel deprived in any area of my life.

I’m eating differently and spending less money, and yet, feeling so fulfilled. I don’t wake up each morning and jump out of bed, happy as can be. But I wake up, open my eyes, and allow myself to feel anxiety for a brief moment. I don’t judge myself for my anxious feelings — but then I get on with my day and choose to be positive and present.

—Lynda Symans, Supercenter #1907; Hinsdale, N.H.; $5K Winner

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