My wife, Cortney, and I have been talking about trying to start a family, but I was worried about being able to keep up with our kids because I could hardly move myself! I weighed 300 pounds, the heaviest I’d ever been. Everything hurt: my knees, my back, my ankles. I played college football, and even though I hadn’t competed in sports for years, I still ate like I did!  

“The doctor said: ‘You’re going to have problems if you don’t get healthy.’”

I was on medication for hypothyroidism and was pre-diabetic. I ate trash — it was a revolving door of burgers and burritos. I was wasting up to $550 a month eating fast food. The guy my wife had met five years before was in shape, outgoing, and active. The guy I’d turned into was sedentary and always complaining about what hurt. I downloaded the Thrive app after a heart-to-heart with Cortney, who was scared about my health.

“I started watching online chefs and cooking shows for inspiration.”

I never learned to cook growing up, but now, I’m experimenting with one-pot meals in a cast iron skillet. I made Jamaican jerk chicken with rice and habanero peppers and Cortney really enjoyed it. My new way of eating has changed the way food tastes. I used to eat candy  throughout the day, but I just tried a peanut butter cup and it didn’t taste good anymore! If my wife makes a cake, I’ll have some, but just on a special occasion. The days of me buying candy and processed food are over.  

I’m doing push-ups, body squats, and sit-ups at home.”

I take our German shepherd, Bella, for daily walks. I’m still dealing with tendonitis so I can’t do cardio yet, but I’m excited to start running when I can. I already notice the difference in my  joints, which have improved 100%.

“I’ve lost 80 pounds and it’s made a night-and-day difference.”

I’m down to size 38 pants from 46. My wife bought me new clothes because we were out one day and when I got up from the chair, my pants nearly fell down, which made us laugh! 

The mood at home has lightened and I’m more positive to be around. I’m excited about going to explore new places with my wife. I’m planning to take her for a trip up to the mountains in Colorado. At work, co-workers and customers can only see my eyes, because I’m wearing a mask because of the pandemic, but I’m smiling a lot more. People have been reaching out to me about my success. My advice: Stop saying “I will start tomorrow.” Start today!

“I am excited about starting a family.”

My father was always playing sports with me and I want to do the same with my kids. I’ll make sure cooking is on the curriculum in our household, so they can depend on their own skills in the kitchen and make healthy choices.

Brandon Johnson, Colorado Springs, CO; $5K Winner

Small daily choices can lead to life-changing results. Download the Thrive App today to improve your well-being. For more inspiring stories, follow Thrive on Facebook and Instagram.