Stress eating has been one of my biggest challenges. My partner, Kevin, and I have an 11-year-old daughter Xy, and as a family we weren’t eating well. Our fridge and pantry were stocked with highly processed meals for an on-the-go family. We also ate a lot of fast food. I am a sucker for fries and I would stop at McDonald’s on my way home. I’m 37, and I weighed 161 pounds, which was a lot for me. When I tried to make changes, I lacked consistency and felt helpless. I was also stressed about money. I am a new homeowner and to buy the house, we depleted our savings. I downloaded the Thrive app and good nutrition came first.

I started by looking at food labels, and I stopped buying fast food and processed food.

We’re cooking tasty Jamaican recipes, like fish stew with rice and peas. We make quick, healthy desserts, like Greek yogurt with a scoop of protein powder, or homemade acai smoothie bowls. We’ve also made some great substitutions, like having guacamole instead of cheese dip, and sparkling water instead of soda. Even Xy is looking at labels and she’s asking for drinks with less sugar and caffeine. 

We make a point of eating dinner together every Sunday evening.

We make the table look nice using our good tableware. We light candles and eat on the patio if it’s good weather. I might cook salmon with sweet potatoes. We really connect. We’ll ask each other deep thoughtful questions, like, “Who are the people who’ve had a big impact on your life?” In the background, we play relaxing jazz cafe music.

My household is on a mission to get moving.

Kevin surprised me with a treadmill and other exercise equipment like weights. I bought an adjustable desk for work to get more movement while improving my productivity. I was so grateful to our maintenance team for helping me set it up. It’s awesome. 

At work, we have a Thrive group — I could absolutely not do this alone. 

Erin Willaford and Tatyana “Taty” Evans” are my accountability buddies. Last week, I was dancing in my office on a break, which was a Microstep that day, and I was wondering what people thought of me! Then I found out that Erin had been doing the same thing, which made us laugh. We’re all encouraging each other. 

I walk two to three miles a day. 

Kevin and I go for hikes when we can, and we’re enjoying active family outings to the trampoline park or to a theme park. So we’re having fun and making memories while getting good exercise. So far I’ve lost eight pounds. I’ve been losing a pound a week. It’s not drastic, but I’m feeling much better about myself. 

Growing my virtual garden has inspired me to do real gardening! 

I love watering my virtual plants and I’ve earned so many now! I lack a green thumb in real life but I’m working in our own backyard. We’re growing tomatoes, basil, callaloo, mangoes and lemons. 

All the Thrive Microsteps are intertwined — it’s almost like stacking.

I’m eating better and moving more so I’m less stressed, and I have more energy. I’m volunteering and giving back to local community charities. And I’m sleeping better. Unlike my partner, who can fall asleep in a snap, I found it hard to sleep. But I have consistent bedtimes now, there’s a lot less screen time, and before I go to sleep I listen to thunderstorm sounds, or guided meditations, which help me feel calm. And because I’m getting a good night’s sleep, I don’t need an energy boost in the morning, so I’m drinking less coffee.

As a mother, I was worried about saving enough to pay for Xy’s education. 

But I’ve been watching Thrive videos about money, which are helpful. I really like the Microstep about discussing your financial worries with your partner. Kevin and I have been taking action steps like making a budget for groceries. We’ve created a plan to lower our debts. And I’m saving $70 out of each paycheck, which isn’t a lot. But it’s a start. 

Thrive has given me hope, and I’m happier.

But the most important thing that the Challenge has given me is accountability. It’s part of my lifestyle. I’m so proud of my accomplishments, and my family is proud of me, too.

Denise Dailey, Fulfillment Center #7544, Davenport, FL; $5K Winner