In the middle of the pandemic, I was in a rut. I had lost a lot of weight, but my weight loss journey went out the window and I gained 40 back. My husband, David, and 12-year-old son, also David, were home all day. I’d say: “Hey guys, what’s for lunch? Pizza? Tacos?” Then I’d say to myself: “Antoinette, why are you making these decisions? That’s not what you’re supposed to be eating.” It was depressing. I’d get frustrated at work. I’m a stocker and I was struggling to breathe and feeling exhausted. When I heard about the Challenge from Robert, a co-worker and a previous Winner, I was excited.   

I began meal prepping and taking delicious meals into work.

I got creative and made a healthy version of what everyone was eating so I didn’t feel I was missing out. I turned my favorite carne asada into carne asada salad without tortillas — with flank steak, veggies, and my homemade guacamole and salsa. I also make a healthy version of buffalo chicken with almond flour, cooked in my air fryer.

Everyone would see my lunches and say, “Wow, can you make that for me?” So one day I brought in seven lunches as treats and everyone loved them. I said, “Let’s see where this goes,” and I’ve started a little business selling my signature salads. I’m saving money and it’s fun. I’ve also inspired co-workers and family members to exercise and eat well. 

My son cooks with me, which is fun for both of us, and he feels like a chef.

David was used to having fast food all the time and now he says, “What should we cook tonight?” We make turkey meatloaf with cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes. And we cook chicken fajitas with cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.

As a family we didn’t exercise and now we go for walks together.

It means we all have family time and it’s good for all of us. I bought an elliptical machine and my son and I challenge each other to see who stays on longer. Also, I burn a lot of calories at my job because I’m always moving.

I used to have problems sleeping, but now I’m turning the T.V. and my phone off before I go to bed. And I bought a little plug-in waterfall that sounds like real water. It’s peaceful and relaxing and reminds me of being in a spa. I’m sleeping well and wake up refreshed.

I’m appreciating my life and expressing my gratitude.

I bought a pretty journal decorated with pink peaches. Even when things are hard, I write down three things I’m grateful for, like, I’m awake, I have a job, and I love my husband and kid.  

Before work, I listen to my favorite music for an energy boost.

I love oldies like Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” and Garth Brooks’s “The Thunder Rolls.” I’ve lost 30 pounds and I’m feeling much more positive about life.

—Antoinette Modesto, Neighborhood Market #5008; Hemet, CA; $5K Winner

Through the Thrive Challenge, our community is making Better Choices, seeing big results, and winning big.