I was extremely stressed, I was overworking, and I had no free time to decompress. My wife, Latoyia, and I have six wonderful kids aged between four and 20, but I wasn’t spending time with them. I’d eat candy bars, chips, and fried food — whatever I could grab on the run. And I almost never sat down to eat with my kids. I weighed 252 pounds and I didn’t feel good.

I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and low testosterone, and I was scared.

I’m only 39 and my mom had heart issues before she passed. I didn’t want that to happen to me. Also, our four-year-old daughter, Khonor, is autistic, and I had an underlying worry about who would take care of her if something happened to me. 

I downloaded the Thrive app and began by researching nutrition and fitness.

I started thinking about food as fuel instead of just the taste, and I cut out junk food, sodas, and coffee. Checking into Thrive every day helped me set my schedule and make time for my health and well-being.

For breakfast I have oatmeal with protein powder, honey, chia seeds, and milk.

Then I go to the gym and do a full-body workout with my 20-year-old son Jacob, which makes it really fun. We push each other, and I track everything on a fitness app. I’m moving a lot at work, and I’m walking between 12 and 20 thousand steps a day. I have much more energy. 

I do most of the cooking.

I’ll make turkey chili or chicken breast with steamed veggies. We’re sitting down to dinner together and we talk about our day. My nine-year-old daughter, Bella, told us she wants to do track, and our 12-year-old daughter, Braleigh, wants to try out for the dance team. 

Watching health and fitness videos on YouTube keeps me motivated. 

And I’m learning a lot. I like Jeff Nippard, a natural bodybuilder, and Sean Nalewanyj. They’re fitness coaches who go into the science behind nutrition and exercise. Now I’m eating well and working out; I’ve lost 40 pounds. My goal is to get a six-pack by the time I’m 40!

I took a step down at work, which I requested.

I was a digital coach and found it stressful; I wanted more work-life balance. Now I’m an asset protection investigator. It lessened the strain and I absolutely love my new job. It’s fun going undercover in the store as a customer — I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been. 

Spending more time with my family feels great.

We walk around the neighborhood or go to the park. I’ll push the younger kids on the swings and we’ll play on the jungle gym. The kids all love having me around.

I take Khonor to her behavioral therapy appointments.

That means I get to play with her for an hour or two. It’s super fun for Khonor and for me. After therapy, I take her for a special meal, which she loves. Before I started the Challenge, we weren’t really bonding. She can’t talk, but she knows I’m there for her and that I love her. She’s always excited to see me and that makes me so happy. It’s a mark I’m making on her soul.

Latoyia and I go on dates every now and again — it’s good to spend time alone together.

We’ll go out to a Mexican restaurant in town and sometimes to a movie. At home we’ll watch Japanese anime. We’re really enjoying the new season of Tokyo Revengers. 

To relax I play video games online with my friend, Hayley, who’s also in asset protection.

We like Call Of Duty. Then I turn off my electronics and do a breathing session to calm myself every night. It helps slow my heart rate down to a resting position. Focusing on my breathing helps me get a good night’s sleep. 

I never say I’m on a diet — I consider this my life journey.

I feel wonderful and look forward to every single day. I’m healthy now and I know I’m going to be there for my kids. I’ve had an absolutely wonderful life change. I’m enthusiastic about my job and my life.

— Brandon Martin, Walmart Supercenter #1342, Kenner, LA; $5K Winner