A few years ago I injured my back in an accident and put on a lot of weight. I weighed 250 pounds and felt terrible. I would stay up late playing video games and I was eating the same food as my kids: Hot Pockets, Cup O’ Noodles, and pizza. I’m a 32-year-old divorced dad and my daughters, Malú Lani, who’s now 7, and Kiana, who is 3, would say, “Come on Dad, let’s go outside to play.” I’d make excuses and say: “Not today.” It hit me how bad things were when I couldn’t carry Kiana on my shoulders or bend over to tie my shoelaces. 

Before I started the Thrive Challenge, I’d already made some big changes. 

I’d stopped eating processed food and became a vegetarian. I was working out and had lost some weight. Then, in April, I saw a poster for the Thrive app in the break room at work and decided to download it. I thought it could help me stick with my goals.

My first step was to stop playing video games late at night. 

I was only sleeping about four hours a night. It was super hard at first, saying no to video games, but it got easier and now I go to bed at 9 pm. I’ll listen to relaxing music or a meditation on the Thrive app, or do deep breathing. I love to read. A book that really helped me was Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Sleeping for eight hours has changed everything. It’s amazing because I wake up without an alarm clock and have time to myself before work.

I go running every other day.

I began by jogging slowly around the block for a mile. Now I’m running two miles and I’m much faster. I exercise in the park, like jumping rope and doing jumping jacks. When the kids are with me we run around and play freeze tag. 

My daughters help me cook and I’m teaching them to eat well.

We make sweet potatoes instead of fries, and great lentil burgers. You just cook, then mash the lentils, mix them with oats, make them into burgers and grill them. And the kids love “cauliflower popcorn.” We roast tiny pieces of cauliflower. On my day off, I take the girls to get frozen yogurt — I call it my cheat day. I’ll get cookies and cream yogurt and add fresh fruit as a topping. 

I’ve lost a lot of weight since starting the Thrive Challenge.

I feel amazing. I had to buy all new shirts in a smaller size. I love taking my kids hiking. When we’re out and my younger one can’t walk any more, I can pick her up and carry her. Wow, that feels amazing. 

My dream is to save enough for a house.

Malú Lani says she wants a two-story house with a backyard and her own room, so she doesn’t have to share with her little sister! I told her: “We’ll make it happen — God will bless us one day.”

— Edgar Diaz, #4822 Sam’s Club; Murrieta, CA; $5K Winner

For more inspiring stories, follow Thrive on Facebook and Instagram.