I started my first relationship when I was 12. When I was 14, I got pregnant and the baby was still-born. I had my son, Sergio, when I was 16, and eight years later, l had a daughter, Sage. But my husband got someone else pregnant and left me. It was hard. I know that the cards I was dealt were meant for me, but I didn’t know who I was. And I had low self-esteem from that time on.

Now I’m 39 and I’m happy with my partner, Byron.

We have a seven-year-old son together, Gabe. But I still wasn’t confident. I felt bad about the way I looked and I’d stress eat. I’d overindulge in anything bread-related. I was super-stressed and I wasn’t spending time with the family. I’d seclude myself. 

My co-worker, Kevin Lowe, sparked my interest in the Thrive Challenge.

He’s a Grand Champ and encouraged me to get going. I started by eating snack packs with carrots, grapes, and cheese instead of muffins at our morning management huddle. My friend, Xiomara, a fellow coach, is on this journey with me, and we support each other and share our wins. For lunch we’ll get low-carb turkey wraps. If I want chicken wings from the deli, she’ll say, “We’re not doing that!” 

At home, with a family of five, I do my best to make healthy dinners they all like.

I cook a lot of Spanish food; everyone loves my coconut Spanish rice. When I make it, they empty the pan. I’m having smaller portions and I bought dessert-size plates which really helps. If I’m still hungry after I’ve eaten, instead of having seconds, I’ll drink some water. I’ve lost seven pounds and I feel better about myself. 

We’re having real conversations at dinner, without being on TikTok and looking at emails. 

I tell the kids, “Put your phones away, everyone will survive without you for 20 minutes, this is family time.” My kids adore me so they’ll do anything I ask! They ask me about my day and Gabe tells me about school. He’s really good at math and he wins medals. He’ll say, “I got first place. I know I’m smart, Mama.” I’m there for my kids now to have those important conversations. There’s open communication. 

Gabe and I are dancing together.

He feels self-conscious about his body, so we both get moving. He has a Nintendo Switch and I’ll buy him the “Just Dance” games. We have a lot of fun and make it a competition. He picks out the songs. He loves “Stay” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber, and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake. The goal is to get “Superstar” status. And Gabe is the king of the dance moves! 

Sage, my 16-year-old, comes to the gym with me. She’s my workout partner.

She’ll say, “Today’s your day off, come on, let’s go mom.” And at work, I move a lot — I average 18 thousand steps a day.

Byron and I plan date nights when we can.

I think you need to have romantic time together so you don’t become roommates — just a little time away from kids. We’ll go for dinner and talk about what’s going on in the world. 

I feel more calm and confident.

Often in the morning when I look in the mirror, that critical voice inside my head says I look terrible. So I breathe deeply, take a minute, and tell myself, “I’m going to rock it,” and that I look good. 

When I feel confident, I exude confidence. 

I have a whole different mindset at work. I put my doubts aside and I find people listen to me and respect me more now. I’m stronger and clearer and I’m motivating everyone. 

I’m spending time with my best friend Jenelle. 

We’re basically sisters and she’s very supportive. We bounce stuff off each other. We’ll have a glass of wine and chill and laugh. 

At the end of the day, I read a book.

I used to love reading, but never made the time. Now my books aren’t just sitting on the bookshelf. I just read Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes which was great. As a busy mom, you’re doing everything for everyone else and you can lose yourself. Reading is me time. 

l feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

I’ve learned new tips to help in almost every aspect of life. I feel happy and grateful.

— Crystal Morales, Walmart Supercenter #2859, Rochester, NY; $5K Winner