In December of 2022, I left an emotionally abusive relationship. I’m 24, and I moved back in with my mom in the hope of making a new life for myself. I started therapy, and I got stronger emotionally, but I still wasn’t feeling good. I had anxiety and stress. I was eating badly, and I hoped the Thrive Challenge would motivate me to continue to take care of myself and move forward. 

Connecting with my friends helped me put my life back together. 

My friends Camryn and Kaitlyn were the only ones who knew what I’d been through, and when I left the relationship, they held my hand all the way. To this day, they’re the most amazing support system. 

With the support of my friends, I began an online community on TikTok.

It’s called Hobbies Over Him and it’s been the most beautiful experience. I’ve been able to help motivate other women to choose themselves, while we all support each other on our self-love journeys. The community has really grown, and it brings me a lot of warmth and joy. I’m also running an online book club with women from my community. Right now, we’re reading Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. I also enjoy lighter romance literature like the Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn.  

One Microstep I’m taking is meal prepping.

It makes me feel calm and helps me manage my time, because I know I’ll have good meals ready to eat. One of my favorite recipes is breakfast burritos with ground turkey, scrambled eggs, and cottage cheese for extra protein. I switch out ingredients in recipes I enjoy, like using turkey sausage instead of pork, and whole wheat bread instead of white bread. I’m eating more fruits and veggies, too.

Movement Microsteps motivated me to work out.

I use my Walton Life Fitness Pass and I walk on the treadmill. Working out has become a priority. Sometimes I’ll watch a T.V. show while exercising — I love anime — or I’ll use the time to pray, which helps me stay positive.  

I also started taking dance classes.

I’m not trained or skilled, but the experienced dancers in the class encourage me, and I’m having a lot of fun. Dancing has been a game changer, allowing me to connect with myself and my body on a deeper level. In fact, here is my favorite Microstep: Put on your favorite song and have a solo dance party. I’m learning to take myself less seriously and find enjoyment in being silly again. 

Another fun class I’m enjoying is water aerobics.

I’m not a strong swimmer, but I love being in the water, and I’ve met the most welcoming people. The ladies at the turbo splash class let me join right in with them, and they make sure I keep up! Normally, I would ask someone I know to try these new activities with me, but I’ve been going to my classes alone, which has given me the confidence to try even more new things.

I’m more open to speaking up and sharing new ideas at work, too.

For a while, my life had been thrown off course and I felt that trying didn’t matter anymore. That’s changing. Recently, I proposed a new training document and my boss loved it. I’m progressing at work; Thrive is helping me find my voice again. And I’d love to pursue a corporate career at Walmart.

At home, my mom and I connecting.

We talk a lot and share our past experiences of unhealthy relationships. I feel like I understand my mom as a woman as well as a mother now. She’s been so open with me, and I don’t feel guilty anymore that I stayed for too long in a bad relationship. She’s supporting me, and I’m healing. 

My faith in God is helping me with everything.

That’s what gives me the strength to be consistent with the positive changes I’m making. I meditate and read the scriptures to feel more calm. I also watch Thrive Resets and do breathing exercises. I do my best to live the life I envision for myself. And I repeat the phrase “I am the woman I want to be.” Looking ahead, everything seems possible. 

— Alese Adams, Fulfillment Center #4124, Lebanon, TN; $5K Winner