I was feeling like there was nothing to look forward to. Life was monotonous: Go to work, come home, get dinner, go to bed, repeat. There wasn’t any joy. I’d sit on the couch eating macaroni and cheese or pizza and it was a downward spiral. Some Challenge winners came to our store to talk about their experiences and I liked the idea of lifestyle changes that involved better choices instead of a set of rules.  

I began by making salads with leafy greens, berries, and nuts and bringing them to work for lunch. 

For snacks, I’ll have trail mix, but now I measure out portions because I used to eat too much!  Angie, my manager, and my co-worker Amanda are also doing the Challenge and we motivate each other, reminding each other to drink water instead of pop. I do meal prep, making chicken marinades with olive oil and herbs. Then when I get home, I just put dinner in the oven. I’m a big fan of healthy substitutions in recipes. So instead of having hamburgers, I’ll grill portobello mushrooms and serve them in whole wheat buns with salad.  

I love going to the farmers market with my son, Kai, and picking something new.  

He discovered that carrots aren’t all orange! We bought some purple and white carrots and cooked them in soup. I think treats are important, so on a day off from work, I took Kai to an old-fashioned ‘50s ice cream restaurant. He had a cherry shake and I had a hot fudge sundae, but we only ate half and took the rest home to put in the freezer. We talked about being thankful for spending time together and having a treat.  

We’re focusing on family time.

When we sit down for dinner, I’ll ask my fiancé, Josh, and Kai to name one good thing that happened to them that day. Kai might talk about playing with his friends at recess or getting a special book from the library.

I love belly dancing to tribal fusion music.

I dance to choreography tutorials on YouTube. Belly dancing is great because your core is engaged the entire time and it’s much more enjoyable dancing to fun music than doing crunches. It takes the work out of working out! What’s also fun: Kai, Josh, and I go hiking and ride our bikes together. We live in a lovely wooded area with lots of trails. 

At work I ask myself, “How can I make a difference today?”

I’m an optician and I’m more attentive to patients, smiling more, and striking up conversation. By the time people buy glasses and leave, we know a little bit more about each other and we feel connected.

I’m much happier and more pleasant to be around.

There are still good days and bad days, but I’m navigating the bad days a lot better because I am balanced and energetic. Having an uplifting outlook makes life a lot easier.  

—Josslyn Allers, Sam’s Club #6562; Muskegon, MI; $5K Winner

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