Being a single parent is a struggle. I’m 35 and I have a 14-year-old son, Tristen, who I’m raising without any help. Tristen was heavily involved in his computer games, I was involved in my work and my studies — I’m doing an online business administration degree — and I felt we were distant. Also, my dad’s been sick. He’s diabetic and had his foot amputated. I help to take care of him because my mom is a nurse and works overnight. Life was stressful.

We ate a lot of processed food like frozen pizza and chicken nuggets.

I weighed 373 pounds and I hurt my ankle. It was a stress fracture and I had to save money to pay for my surgery. My doctor told me I needed to lose weight and my co-worker, Kathryn Carpitcher, a Thrive Challenge Grand Champ, inspired me to get started.

I cut out processed food entirely and quit drinking soda. Now I just drink water.

I pack a healthy lunch for work, like salad with chicken, spinach, and kale. I plan dinners like a pot roast and veggies cooked in the crockpot, or chicken wrapped in spinach, and we’re trying new vegetables like asparagus and squash. My son really enjoys our new way of eating.

Devices are not allowed at the table.

That was hard at first. Tristen used to be on his iPad and I was on the phone. Now we talk to each other. I tell him about my day, and he tells me about basketball and school, how he loves science and wants to be a T.V. meteorologist, and I encourage him. He’s really smart. Last week he was reciting the periodic table at dinner! 

Tristen and I work out at the YMCA.

I started exercising slowly, and now I walk 30 minutes on the treadmill and do strength training. I’ve signed up for a class to learn how to lift weights properly. I feel much better and I have more energy and I’ve lost 37 pounds. My doctor said my blood pressure is in the normal range now. I told him about Thrive and how I’m focusing on Microsteps, and he was really excited. 

Tristen and I walk around the neighborhood together.

We enjoyed looking at Christmas lights during the holidays. We like to walk around the zoo, which is five miles. He loves the tiger cubs. Doing things together has helped us connect more. 

When I feel stressed, I call my mom for advice.

She always tells me, “You can do anything,” and she helps me have a more positive outlook. Tristen was going through some depression and she suggested that instead of asking him, “How was your day?” I could ask, “Is there anything that made you smile today?” It’s working. And as I’ve become happier, he’s become more positive.

For “me time” I watch Netflix. Right now I’m enjoying Wednesday. 

I also enjoy color by numbers, I find coloring very calming and it helps me de-stress. I like anything with flowers and I have a book with European landscapes. I love the London scenes — I’d like to go to England someday. I also enjoy listening to music that puts me in a good mood and lifts my spirits. I love Alicia Keys and Kane Brown. 

Every couple of weeks I meet my friend, Brittany, for lunch and a long walk.

We like to go to Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games together. Brittany and I grew up together — we’re like sisters — and it’s nice to have someone to talk to besides my mom. She’s very encouraging. 

I’m focusing on the good things in my life rather than the hard things. 

I’m grateful that I own my house and my car and I’m grateful for my job. I’ve been at Walmart for 15 and a half years. I stepped down from being assistant manager because I had a long commute and I’m much happier. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to go back to school — I’ll be finishing my degree in August. 

I’d love to work at Walmart’s Home Office in Arkansas in business or marketing. 

That’s a dream. And I’d love a relationship someday, with a good guy with the same positive outlook that I have. My life has drastically changed and so has my mindset. I feel I can do anything and the future looks bright.

— Crystal Keough, Walmart Supercenter #103, Shawnee, OK; $5K Winner