Before starting the Thrive Challenge, I was overweight, experiencing sciatic pain, and feeling a lot of stress. It was holding me back from focusing at work, and by the time I got home, I would just cry because I felt so useless. I was tired and angry, and I would bring the stress of work home with me. That needed to change.

I knew I had to do something when my cardiologist told me I had the heart of a 70-year-old.

That was my motivator. I was only 43 when he said that to me, and I remember thinking, “That’s not cool.” I had heard about the Thrive Challenge from my Store Manager, Steve Redmound, and I really needed to get my energy back and start making changes, so I decided to commit to it.

My first step was waking up earlier to work out. 

I committed to waking up at 3:45 a.m. and working out for an hour before work. It was difficult at first, but I liked taking that time for myself. I have an elliptical at home, so I would do an elliptical workout for 50 minutes, going 5.5 km total. That helped start a new routine for me. It also encouraged me to go to bed around 8:00 p.m. which was great for me. 

My next step was eating better.

I gave up fatty foods, sugary pop, and late night munchies. Instead, I tried focusing on mixed salads and chicken breast. After my workout in the morning, I have a protein drink or a bowl of porridge, and that helps me start the day with some energy and curbs my desire for snacks. And if I do want a snack, I’ll have a banana, a hard-boiled egg, or almonds. We also like to grow fresh vegetables in our garden in the summer, so it’s great to have produce on hand. We’ll add things like pumpkin seeds, canned tuna, or extra lean ground beef. 

We’ve started saving up.

It’s been a struggle but we have paid all our credit cards off so that’s helping a lot. Just working out at home has also helped us save, and taking lunch to work with me rather than eating fast food or buying junk food throughout the day. I’d love to save up enough to take my wife on a spa weekend in Banff, Canada. 

Today, I have more energy, I can move better, and my mental health is 200% better. 

I’m much happier. My wife can see that and it just makes everything so much better. We’ve recently been going walks together and even working out together, and it’s been great. We have the elliptical at home and resistance bands so we use those. And I find that I’m more present now when I’m at home. After work, I shut down my work phone and my wife and I just spend time talking about things like what we can do to improve our yard, and just all our dreams for the future. It’s been nice. 

Getting into a new routine is exactly what I needed.

It’s helped me take more time for myself and spend more time with my wife. Plus, I’ve lost weight, and I finally have my energy back. If I could give one piece of advice to someone else starting the Thrive Challenge, I would tell them to stick with it once you start, and keep going, even if you only start with five minutes at the beginning. You’ll work your way up to doing more and you’ll feel better in the long run.

— David Darras d’Haudressy, Walmart Supercentre #5708, Okotoks, AB; $2K Winner