The biggest challenge in my life has been dealing with bipolar disorder. I’m on medication, but I still got very stressed at work and at home. I’m 43, and my husband, Shawn, and I have five children in all, two are from his earlier marriage. We’re also guardians to his two nieces and we have three grandsons. We’re very much a blended family! I love them all, but I was feeling depressed. 

I was a stress eater.

I was eating a lot of candy, cupcakes, and ice cream. I’d eat if I had a bad day at work, or a bad day at home. Then, I was so full from junk food that I wasn’t eating dinner. I’m a dog breeder on the side, but I never walked my dogs and I gained 50 pounds. I was downright miserable. In fact, Shawn and I separated for three months. Seven months ago, my co-worker, Noah, encouraged me to download the Thrive app and I started to change.

Instead of junk food, I eat healthy snacks like bananas and protein bars. 

I’m enjoying cooking. For dinner we might have steak with steamed vegetables and a little rice and salad. I make my own meatloaf, which is absolutely wonderful. My girls — Delilihea who’s 16, and 14-year-old Jessi — cook too. They’re amazing and they do the dishes. 

I began hula hooping with a weighted hoop.

To start with I felt silly, but now it’s fun and it gives me so much energy. I like listen to country music like Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I used to hula hoop when I was six years old and it’s bringing out the kid in me.

I have the energy to play with my grandkids.

They got big toy forklift trucks and jeeps for Christmas they can “drive,” so I run around after them in the yard. I’m excited because I can roll around on the ground with them. I’ll do handstands and flip right over Kyle, who’s three, and two-year-old Kaleb, and they love it. With the baby, Kameron, we just cuddle — it’s the best feeling ever. 

Being with my grandkids brings me such joy. 

We do puzzles and games and we love watching movies together, like Spider-Man. And we do a lot of singing. We love “Wheels On The Bus” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and we’ll sing our ABCs. When I get out of work at one, I pick the grandkids up and they’re with us until after dinner. They often stay over with us. 

My husband moved back in and we’re getting along much better now. 

We’ll walk the dogs or go for drives to Fayetteville. We like to walk around the mall and see a movie. We just went to see Avatar: The Way of Water, which was great. After 17 years together, it was time for a refresher. Now that Shawn and I are communicating, we’re respecting and appreciating each other. He’s my best friend.

At work I just chose a great Microstep: connecting with an associate on a daily basis.

Getting to know people on a personal level is wonderful, and remembering to say please and thank you. I’ve been listening and doing my best to support people. One associate has multiple issues with his mom, and if he looks stressed, I’ll say, “You’re having a bad day, go take a breather.” And I’m encouraging him. 

I’m grateful to my store manager, Malichi, for supporting me.

He’s half my age, but he’s turned our store upside down in a good way. And he’s inspired me to turn around my department. I’m more open-minded and less opinionated. My goal is to advance in my career and become a coach. 

To relax at home, I’ll sit down and read a book.

I just read Trial Marriage Husband: Need to Work Hard by Passion Honey. I like novels about relationships. They’ve been helping me understand that every marriage has strains and challenges. I’ve also been spending time with my dogs. I’ve had all my dogs for nine years and one specific dog, Missy, has my heart, but now I’m sharing the love with all of them. 

There are days when I still feel bad, but if I get stressed, I’ll just take a breather.

You always have to work on yourself. And I am. I’ve lost 15 pounds so far and I feel wonderful. I’m satisfied with my life.

— Donna Smith, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR; $5K Winner