I’d been a smoker for 35 years and I was smoking a pack and a half a day. My wife, Marsha, was always telling me to quit. Instead of spending time with our five kids, I’d be outside having a cigarette — I never smoked in the house. I felt terrible. My work is physically demanding, unloading trailers, and I was always out of breath. I did the math and the amount I’d spent on cigarettes over the years was astronomical: $80,000. 

I went to the doctor and had an X-ray which showed nodules on my lungs. 

Thank God they were benign, but I also had high blood pressure. My breaking point came when our daughter, Alyssa, told us we were going to be grandparents. My wife said: “You’re not going to be here to see your grandbaby.” A co-worker, Mandy Cade, told me about the Thrive Challenge and I decided to go for it with all my heart.

The Thrive Challenge helped me set up a new structure. 

I used to have a cigarette first thing. Now, I get up, have a shower, have breakfast and pack my lunch. I found a different route to work avoiding gas stations and stores that would tempt me to stop for cigarettes. At lunchtime, instead of going to the ‘smoke shack,’ I sit in the break room connecting with friends. At home, I’ll take my dogs for a long walk, then help my son, Elijah, with homework. I’ve become a better father and a better person. 

I’m cooking for the family; everyone loves my chili with homemade tomato sauce. 

I keep a bowl of peppermints out and after dinner, I’ll grab one instead of having a cigarette. And I’ll help Marsha with the dishes. Our relationship is much better. We talk more and joined a gym together; she’s very supportive. 

Two of my daughters, Alyssa and Laura, are getting married. 

They’re happy I’ll be here to walk them down the aisle! I know I’ll have the energy to be the grandpa I always wanted to be, playing with my grandkids and taking them fishing.

I love the Thrive Microsteps, like having quiet time with my phone turned off.

I sit in a dark room for half an hour, ask myself if it’s been a good day, and how I can do better tomorrow. It’s my meditation. Afterwards, I don’t have a care in the world.

I haven’t had a cigarette for four months.

I’m more productive and energetic at work. And by not smoking or buying fast food, I’m saving $450 a month. My daughter, Makayla, has joined me on the Thrive Challenge and so have two co-workers. It’s a great way to stay accountable.

I have less stress, my blood pressure is normal, and I’m happier. 

My mother-in-law, Gilda, actually told me she likes being around me now, which made me laugh! But it’s true. I’m not grouchy, I like myself now. At 53, I feel like a new person.

— George Chaffin, Distribution Center #6024; Grove City, OH; $5K Winner