I used to be so depressed I sometimes couldn’t get out of bed. I weighed 340 pounds and didn’t take care of myself. I’d start diets and wouldn’t stick to them. I’d be like: “Oh, well, I might as well eat this!” or “Let’s just order pizza.” I’d have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for dessert.

“My relationship with my family was strained.” 

My husband Ricky and I have a biological son and three foster children, and when they’d ask me to do things with them, like go to the park, I’d make excuses because I had no energy. I would sit at home in my chair. I didn’t feel good about myself and I didn’t feel like anybody else should feel good about me.     

“With my 40th birthday coming up, I knew it was time for a change.”

I went to a doctor’s appointment and he said my cholesterol was high and I was on the verge of being pre-diabetic. I felt like I was older than my age.  

“By focusing on today instead of six months from now, I’ve made small changes.” 

My first step was to cut cream from my coffee, then sugar. I got rid of the deep fryer and bought an air fryer. Everything tastes so much better! Our favorite recipe is air-fried lemon pepper chicken with jasmine rice and okra. I bought a pressure cooker for busy evenings because you can make dinner in 30 minutes. For treats I like half a banana with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened coconut; the kids like that, too. 

I exercise at least 30 minutes a day. We live near the beach and I love walking along the boardwalk with the family. We’re helping the younger kids learn to ride their bikes without training wheels. I jog on the treadmill at the gym to get my heart rate up. I used to have insomnia and would take prescription sleeping pills. But because I’m moving more, I sleep soundly and don’t need pills.

“I’ve lost 10 pounds — I’m much happier and so are the kids.”
As a family we laugh a lot more. I cherish my time with them. I’m less grouchy and I’m so grateful. My goal is to lose 100 pounds — it will be a long journey, but it’s going to happen. I have a strong support system — my family keeps me moving and motivated.

I can’t wait for my 40s!”

My self-esteem has gone way up and I get excited every day I make Better Choices. Doing the Challenge inspired me to go back to school. I’m studying for a degree in psychology and have a high GPA. I had started college five times before and always gave up. This time, I am determined to complete it. My boss, who’s a friend, is doing the Challenge and we’re getting the word out about how great it is. We’re constantly swapping recipes. I tell people: “Just take it step by step and take your time.”

Danelle Windham, D’iberville, MS; $5K Winner

Small daily choices can lead to life-changing results. Download the Thrive App today to improve your well-being. For more inspiring stories, follow Thrive on Facebook and Instagram.