Earlier this year I was falling into a depression. I’m a 34-year-old single mom and I didn’t have the energy to play with my 6-year-old son, Mecca. I was constantly tired and moping around. I wasn’t communicating with my family or friends. When I got home from work and Mecca asked me to play with him, I’d say, “Mommy’s tired.” So, he’d watch T.V. We were eating pre-packaged meals — a lot of pizza — because I didn’t have enough energy to cook. I started a new job and heard about the Thrive Challenge from my co-worker, Arvis.

I began with small steps, like going for walks at lunchtime.

I’d walk with my friend, Jessica, who’s also doing the Thrive Challenge, and right away, I’d get a burst of energy. We have a great community at work and hold each other accountable. At home, I started cooking meals like zucchini fritters or spaghetti with tomato sauce and spinach, which my son loves. I make a delicious salad with Israeli couscous, tomatoes, and cucumber. Mecca loves to climb on his little stool and stand on the counter to help me. 

My friends and I work out together remotely.

We’ll pick a 30-minute yoga video or cardio class on YouTube and it’s great having the support. My son joins in and loves it, especially if there’s punching and kicking! He likes squats and push-ups too. He’ll say, “No, Mommy, you’re not doing it right.” I’ll say, “I’m trying!”

We had a girl’s night and made vision boards to motivate ourselves to reach our goals.

We cut up magazines and stuck pictures and words representing what we want to accomplish on big pieces of card. I have an affirmation that reads, “I am bold,” and a picture of someone in a yoga pose. I want to start investing money, so I put a picture of the stock market and a piggy bank on my board. Our kids were there too and joined in. I also write notes about what I’m grateful for each day and put them in a gratitude jar.

I’m feeling optimistic and energized.

I’m doing an online degree in pre-law and policy and my goal is to finish this year. I’m communicating more with my family members who are in South Africa, where I’m from. I’m also enjoying spending more time with my son. I take the time to read with him — he gets books out from the school library and especially loves Star Wars. We take turns reading the words. And we go on nature walks. I’m more patient with him. My mindset and attitude have changed — there’s been a big shift emotionally and I feel amazing.

I’m saving for our future.

I’ve canceled subscriptions and apps I don’t need. I found a cheaper phone service, so I changed my plan, and I’m budgeting. My dream is to save up enough money to buy a townhouse for myself and my son — a place we can call our own.  

—Phindi Johnson, Walmart Customer; Stafford, VA; $5K Winner

For more inspiring stories, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.