Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with hypertension and high blood pressure. I was on medication and the dose increased over the years. I was eating a lot of fast food and I’d overeat at dinner time. My wife, Tiffany, has two kids, Hayden and Kaylyn, who live with us, but I had no work life balance so I wasn’t spending time with them. I was always exhausted and had no energy. 

Work was my priority.

I was raised with a strict work ethic: you go to work and do a good job. But when I got home I’d get on the computer and do more work. I wasn’t sleeping well. I also had bad knee pain from carrying so much weight. I’m 42 and my doctor said I might not need any medicine if I lost some weight.

I started the Thrive Challenge and I was excited about all the tools that are available.

I committed to cutting out fast food. Now, I have a granola bar for breakfast. I make salad at home and take it to work for lunch. For snacks I’ll have low calorie cheese sticks, a handful of nuts, or veggie straws, which have more nutritional value than chips. 

We’re meal planning on the weekend.

And we’re incorporating more veggies into our diet. For dinner, we’ll have shrimp with cauliflower rice, or beef and cabbage in a red sauce. Sometimes I’ll have a hamburger, but I’ll just have the meat patty without the bun. Or I’ll have it with low carb lavash bread. We’ve also cut out take-out and delivery food and we don’t drink sodas. Tiffany and I always eat together; we have dinner early in the evening, and we’ll talk about what happened in the day. 

We’re connecting more. 

It’s exciting because we’ve been planning our summer vacation — we’re going to France. We’ve never been to Europe before so it’s a big deal for us. My grandfather served in World War II. He was involved in D-Day and the Allied invasion of Normandy. I’m looking forward to visiting the American cemetery. And we’ll explore the museums in Paris.

When I get home from work, I shut off the computer. 

I’ve stopped taking work calls or doing emails in the evening. Tiffany and I go for walks along the wooded trails close to our house. We used to do that a lot, but we’d stopped during COVID. Being out in nature is my favorite daily reset. I forget about anything stressful. 

Now that I’m disconnecting from work, I have time for my hobby — beekeeping. 

My great grandfather was a beekeeper and I’ve really enjoyed learning more about it. Some people think it’s strange to have a hive with 30 to 60 thousand bees, but if you do everything correctly you don’t get stung. I love it and I also find it very relaxing. And checking the hive is easier now that I have more energy. We’ll be harvesting in July. I’m partial to honey, and it doesn’t get more local than honey from your own backyard that you can share with family and friends. 

Fishing helps me unwind. 

I drive over to a lake under an hour from where we live and I’ll fish for trout. Sometimes my cousins join me and we might camp for the weekend. There isn’t good cell service out there so I’m not dealing with phone calls and I can really relax.

I’m prioritizing sleep.

Because I’m not doing work tasks at home, I get to bed earlier and I feel well-rested when I wake up. Also, recharging by spending time outside helps me get more rest. 

My knees are less painful. 

I could help our son, Hayden, move back home from college. It meant hauling furniture up and down flights of stairs and taking it to a storage facility. And I didn’t get out of breath. 

I’ve lost 21 pounds.

I’m less stressed, happy with the direction my life is taking, and I’m optimistic about the future.

— Guillaume Berry II, Distribution Center #7842, Bentonville, AR; $5K Winner