At Thrive, we believe in the power of Microsteps to help you make meaningful changes that will stick. We followed up with previous Thrive Challenge winners to see how they are continuing to make better choices that have a lasting impact on their well-being.

I’m a second grade teacher, and in October, 2020, I was called into what I thought was a planning meeting. But when I walked in the room, our principal  said, “Congratulations, you’ve won the Thrive Challenge!” She had to tell me twice because I didn’t believe it. Everyone started screaming and I was so happy. The $5000 prize was amazing. I bought a playset for our backyard. But making Better Choices has meant so much more than the money. I’ve lost over 40 pounds and the lifestyle changes I’ve made have become positive habits.

Looking back, life was very stressful.

At the height of the pandemic, I was doing hybrid teaching with students online as well as teaching twelve kids in person. And our own kids, eight-year-old Emma, four-year-old Lauren, and two-year-old Ella, were at home. We were all falling into bad habits — sitting in front of the computer, snacking on chips and candy. I weighed 175 pounds — the heaviest I’ve ever been. My husband, Steve, a nurse, was working on the COVID floor of his hospital and had to quarantine for 60 days in a camper on our front lawn. The girls were missing their dad, who had to say good night through a window. 

My friend, Amanda Schotts, also a Thrive Challenge winner, inspired me to download the Thrive app.

I started going for walks and biking. We live right by Lake Michigan and there are beautiful woodland trails. At home the girls and I love doing YouTube dance videos. And I’m coaching Emma’s soccer team, which is a blast.   

I’ve inspired over 30 people, mostly teachers and parents, to take the Thrive Challenge.

At school, I helped establish a wellness committee. We’re encouraging teachers to move more and take mindful moments to relax and breathe throughout the day. We have a cart in the teachers’ lounge with fruit and energy bars, and one for students, too.  

At home the girls help me cook. 

We make delicious dinners like chicken burrito bowls. We add taco seasoning to the chicken, throw it in the oven with black beans and add rice. The girls get to pick what veggies they want, whether it’s carrots or snap peas. Emma does the measuring, which is good for her math! The other two do the mixing and stirring.  

I’m working with the kids in our community garden across the street from our school. 

They’re learning about composting and how to grow fruit and vegetables. I tell the kids, “When you go for a walk with your mom and dad, stop and pick some strawberries or peppers — these are for you guys.” I helped my students organize a fundraiser for the garden and we raised over $200.

When I’m really tired, I open up the Thrive app and do some breathing exercises.

I also do them with my kids at home and in the classroom. I tell my students, “When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can pause and take a breath.” I’ll show them pictures of a beach or woods or animals and explain how you can put a positive “happy image” inside your head and it will make you feel happy, even if you’ve been feeling sad.

I turn off the TV an hour before bed and put my phone away.

I used to stay up late at night watching TV. Now I give myself 15 minutes of quiet time, reading and petting our dog, Mave. Emma saw me doing it and it’s so cute because she copied me — now she sits in bed before the lights go out reading a chapter of her book. And every evening, as a family, we say what we’re grateful for. The girls might say, “I’m thankful for my dog, my family and my teacher.”  

Steve and I are doing the Thrive Challenge together, which is great for moral support.

If one of us is having a rough time, the other will say, “You need to keep going — think how far you’ve come.” Steve is back at school studying to become a nurse practitioner, while working full time. So I’ll remind him to take care of himself and tell him how great he’s doing.

The Thrive Challenge has had a positive impact on every aspect of my life. 

I’m down to my goal weight of 128 pounds. I feel like I’m a better mom, wife and teacher. At age 33, I’m happy in my own skin and our family bond is stronger than ever.

— Brittni DeWit, Sam’s Club; Norton Shores, MI; $5K Winner