A few years ago, I had a mass on my ovary and I had a full hysterectomy. It wasn’t cancerous, but I started to gain weight. I’d grab a burger and a soda instead of thinking about good nutrition. And I wasn’t feeling good about myself. I’m 54 and I’m divorced with three grown kids and nine grandchildren. My daughter, Angel, her husband, Michael, and their six boys live with us. But I didn’t have the energy for them. I was also a caregiver for my mom who lived with me. She had colon cancer and she just passed away. 

I had high blood pressure and I needed to lose weight.    

In July, I had bariatric surgery, but I still needed to change my mindset. I downloaded the Thrive app and I stopped eating fast food and drinking soda. Instead, I started eating fruit and vegetables. For dinner, I’ll throw chicken, asparagus, and squash in the air fryer,  and it’s delicious. 

I go to the gym with my friend and co-worker.

I’ll do the elliptical and walk on the treadmill. And I’ve started weight training. Working out with a friend is great for moral support. We encourage each other to drink water and make healthy  lunch choices. We’ll say, “What’s for lunch today? Tuna and salad?”  

My family and I spent three days at a Christian festival, Rock the Universe. 

It was at Universal Studios and we had a blast. I could go on all the rides and fasten the seat belts. I went on the Dr. Seuss train ride with Angel and the four little boys: Solomon, Jeremiah, Ben, and Zeddy. They were so excited that Nannie (their name for me) could join them. They were happy and laughing and we had a lot of fun. That was also the last weekend my mom was with us so it was very special. 

I love the Resets on the Thrive app. 

The stretching exercises are relaxing. And it’s calming looking at videos of mountains and rivers. It just takes a minute to breathe and reflect on the day. I’m learning how to stop working, shut off, and end the day.

My favorite Microstep is putting the phone down and connecting with people I love. 

I always used to be checking emails; I’d never shut off from work. Now I’m having conversations with the family. We’re sitting down for dinner together.

I’m more involved in our church.

Angel runs a healing group at our church every Friday night. A group of ten ladies get  together and we learn how to cope with challenges in life, like divorce. I never would have found the time for it before, but now I’m loving it and I know it’s important to attend. It helps us let go of pain in our lives. 

I’m very spiritual and my church is supporting me.

I love Christian concerts — that’s my way of meeting up with my friends. I’m a front-rower; I  always buy the best tickets. Recently, we went to a wonderful concert and Angel came too. We stood the whole time, and we were singing and dancing. We saw TobyMac and lots of other artists. The music is so uplifting — it hits the soul.

At work, I really listen to people.

I’ll talk to them about my weight-loss surgery. I’m not ashamed. I tell them I’m doing the Thrive Challenge and I encourage them to join me. 

I’ve lost a lot of weight.

I went from size 20 to size 12. I bought new jeans and a nice shirt and I put them on and felt  great. But my main goal wasn’t about looking better, it was about feeling better. I have better mental clarity and I’m not in pain. And now that I’ve lost weight, my doctors can schedule the knee surgery I need. 

I feel good about myself. 

When I look in the mirror. I see someone who’s inspired, who’s happy, and who’s healthy. This hasn’t been an easy journey and I’m proud of my progress. I know I’ll be around for my family.

— Sandra Raines, Market Office #93, Ocala, FL; $5K Winner