I have type 2 diabetes and I have neuropathy in my feet. I’d get sharp pains at night which were sometimes unbearable — I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I’m 56 and I weighed 220 pounds. I was eating fast food and wasn’t exercising consistently. I love to walk in the park, and I wanted to go to football games with my son, Malcolm, but I was in too much pain. My breaking point came when I found out that my A1C was almost 12. 

Elizabeth Jowers inspired me to download the Thrive app. 

The first thing I did was cut out fast food. And because I was determined to get healthy, It wasn’t hard. I love to cook, and I enjoy making chicken and fish in the airfryer. I season everything with salt, lemon, and garlic, and it tastes awesome. I’ll have rice sometimes, but not too much. 

My family loves my cooking. 

Malcolm, who also works at Walmart, is doing the Challenge with me. He used to eat pizza every day and now he’s eating whatever I make. He tried broccoli for the first time and said, “This tastes pretty good!” I was shocked and my eyes were wide open! I’m cooking collard greens and corn — all the good stuff. My wife, Donna, has diabetes too, so we have the same goals. 

We all sit down to dinner when we’re on the same schedule. 

We’ll talk about sport — we love football and we’re all diehard Alabama Crimson Tide fans. We have a cousin, Alex Wright, who plays for the Cleveland Browns. He inspires us; he’s proof that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. We also talk about how well Malcolm’s doing. He’s a natural leader and he’s become the go-to guy in produce. He also wants to get a degree in sports medicine. My daughter, Shanice, is an officer in the army. She’s also a great writer and she’s written a book of poetry. We’re so proud of her. 

We spend time together in the park and we’ll go on the swings.

We’re walking at least two miles and now it’s started to get easier. My wife is so supportive. She says, “Sweetheart, I know it’s hard but I see you as a guy who always keeps going, and I love that in you.” Life can get rough, but when we’re outdoors enjoying the breeze and the trees, I feel free. 

I’m exercising at home

I do push ups, squats, and knee bends. Listening to music is very calming and helps me feel less stressed. I love R&B like The Temptations and Patti LaBelle.

Donna and I have been married for 33 years and we’re communicating more.

We’ll sit on the sofa cuddling. And we’re listening to each other instead of saying, “Do this, do that.” We shop together for clothes. Donna always claims she doesn’t have any! And she likes me to help her pick out the right color and size.

We go out for date nights and have dinner at our favorite restaurant.

I might have Chicken Alfredo. Having a treat doesn’t hurt if you’re not doing it every day. We’d love to go for a vacation to the Smoky Mountains — just me and Donna. And we’d love to visit Dollywood.

I work in the bakery, but I’m not tempted to eat the bread and pastries.

I don’t have a sweet tooth anymore. But if we have something new, like the vanilla wafer cookie we just got in, I have a taste so I can recommend it to our customers.

I’m always smiling.

Customers say: “Do you never have a bad day?” I take time for our regular senior citizens who like having someone to listen to them. They come to me because I know everything in the store, so I’ll walk with them to get whatever they’re looking for, rather than just telling them where they can find it. 

I’ve lost 12 pounds so far.

It’s not a drastic change, but I feel a whole lot better and I have less pain. My doctor is happy, She tells me to keep up the good work. My A1C is down to 7, My goal is to get it down to 6. I want to reverse my diabetes. And I’m very optimistic that I can do it.

— Malcolm Wright, Walmart Supercenter #593, Douglas, GA; $5K Winner