Throughout the years I’d put on a lot of weight and I felt helpless to change my habits. I also let that extra weight make decisions for me, like not participating in life, or having pictures taken. My knees and back hurt. I’m 47, I weighed 256 pounds, and earlier his year, I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to change. This was the year I was going to get motivated and put myself first. I didn’t feel good physically or emotionally. My 13-year-old daughter, Katelynn, means everything to me, and I want to be around for her. And as I age, I want to have a good quality of life.  

My father fell ill and I took time to be with him and help him.

I was (and still am) heartbroken to see him go through so much pain, and as I cataloged his 18-plus medications, I kept thinking how if he’d taken care of his health, maybe he wouldn’t be suffering so much. In September, after many years of picking up a Thrive Challenge brochure, I finally decided to download the app, because why not? 

My first Microstep: starting my day with 16 ounces of water with lemon.

I eat healthy protein for breakfast, because it stabilizes my blood sugar levels, and I don’t feel hungry. For breakfast, I’ll combine Greek yogurt with honey, fruit, and almond milk for a fresh and satisfying shake, or I’ll make an omelet that I think is amazing with sauteed onions, tomatoes, and spinach, and I add feta cheese, and sometimes pesto. My favorite dinner right now is tofu stir fry with lots of veggies.

Food prepping is another great Microstep. 

It’s important, because then you have healthy snacks readily available and it’s easier to stay away from temptations. I really like bananas with peanut butter, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds. 

I’m walking every day.

I use my Apple Watch to track my steps, and it motivates me to move. If I’m on my own, I listen to positive podcasts or I just listen to nature and decompress. Sometimes I walk with my husband, Jonathan, and Katelynn. I don’t even notice I am walking, the time goes by so fast because we’re enjoying our time together and connecting. 

I love dancing to Latin music.

I have a good old jam session and dance the night away — often on my own! It’s relaxing, fun, and counts as movement. I also dance with my daughter, which makes her laugh. I recently bought a bike. It’s another way to move and connect because my family loves to bike ride, and now, I get to be included. 

Doing Thrive breathing exercises and Resets makes my stress levels go down. 

I also started journaling. I write a lot and then rip the entry to shreds; it helps me get all the emotions out, and for me there is something cathartic about ripping my worries to shreds. 

I’m saving money.

I was spending $250 to $400 a month at restaurants, but now we hardly eat out anymore. Also, if I’m shopping online I wait at least 24 hours before I buy anything, and I’m more careful about what I spend. I love thrifting for clothes, and as I lose weight and go down in clothing sizes, I think it is a great option — and it’s fun.

So far I’ve lost 31 pounds, and it feels amazing.

My knees and back arent hurting as much. I have more energy and I can tie my shoes, without feeling like I am going to faint. It truly is the little things that you notice. The Thrive Challenge has changed my life — I feel so empowered.

I’m happy beyond what I can express in words.  

I love the way I look and feel, but it’s the mindset shift that I am most thankful for, because a better me means a better me for everyone. One day, my daughter gave me a big hug. She said, “Wow Mom, I can actually wrap my arms around you, you’re getting smaller, you look great, and you’re not tired all the time.” I just started to cry tears of joy. That moment reaffirmed that I’m on the right track. My intention is to stick with the Challenge and pay it forward by being a support system for others who want to take on this life-changing journey, one Microstep at a time.

Yvonne Govea Phillips, Distribution Center #9153, Waco, TX; $5K Winner