I’ve been overweight my whole life — it’s always been a struggle. At my heaviest I weighed 355 pounds. I’m 45, and I love the outdoors, but I could hardly do any of the activities I really enjoy, like hunting and fishing. I had to stop because I never had any energy. I dreaded going to work and when I got home I’d go straight to my recliner. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was drained. I was so down on myself. My wife Amanda and I have two grown kids, but we never did anything together because I felt so bad.

Everything started to get out of hand when I hurt my back and ruptured a disk. 

I had surgery, but I still had a lot of pain in my hips. My doctor told me both hips were eaten up with arthritis. So I had to have both hips replaced. I was taking thyroid medication and medication for diabetes. I was tired of being tired and knew I needed to change if I was going to be around for my family. So I downloaded the Thrive app.

I got started with a Microstep: making a choice to move my body.

I started with 1,000 steps daily and I tried to keep up a good pace. I gradually increased my walking and my pace. At work now, I walk between 7,000 and 10,000 steps every day. And on my days off, I walk up and down my driveway or go for a walk in the woods behind my home. 

Another Microstep I picked was drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

It was difficult because I used to drink a gallon of sweet tea every day. But I knew if I was going to have any success, I needed to stop. So, I did just that. I got those sugar-free flavor packs to add to my water. And now I only drink water. I always keep a bottle of water in the cooler in my truck. 

Instead of eating fast food, I’m cooking great meals. 

I love to grill chicken or steak, and I also put cabbage and corn on the grill. One of my favorite recipes is cabbage rolls: you cook ground beef in tomato sauce and then roll it in cabbage leaves and bake it. Now it’s starting to get cold, and there is nothing better than the pot of chili I cooked yesterday.  

Amanda and I support each other.

She also works for Walmart, and actually just signed up to start her own Thrive Challenge. We use Connection Microsteps, and we’re much closer. We watch movies together and we love watching Alabama football games. If we are off work together, we’ll go for a drive in the country or go fishing. We just booked a cruise to the Bahamas, and we’re really looking forward to it. Amanda supports me in every way — I’m not sure I could have done this without her help. 

We’re spending time with our kids.

Kannon is a Walmart store manager and Katelin is a nurse. They’re busy, but they come over every weekend and we’ll cook out — we might do a fish fry. We’ll get in our pool, or sit around and talk.

Breathing exercises and Resets help me lower stress and focus.

I feel much more relaxed. Also, just a walk outside listening to the birds and the sound of the wind blowing helps me stay calm.

At work, I have more focus.

I work in asset protection and I’m on point now! I move around a lot faster, which is a bad thing for the shoplifters since I am on a mission to catch them, LOL!  

I’m enjoying gardening — I love to grow veggies.

This year we’ve been growing tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. I enjoy sharing it all with people at work. I’m also enjoying yard work. We have a lot of oak trees, so we’re always raking leaves.  

I’ve lost a lot of weight.

My A1C is in the normal range. I just regret not starting the Thrive Challenge sooner, because everything started to change on day one. I feel  15 years younger — like I’m in my 30s again. And I’m happy.

Lee Wright, Walmart Supercenter #766, Florence, AL; $5K Winner