In 2020, my mom passed away. She’d lived with me and helped me and my husband, Gary, who also works at Walmart, raise our five kids. I don’t know what I would have done without her. In 2017, we discovered she had dementia and eventually we had to put her in a home —  it was devastating. I’m getting emotional now thinking about it. When she died it sent me into a whirlwind of depression. I still miss her so much.

I was eating anything and everything.

We went out to dinner a lot because I was so exhausted and depressed. We’d have pizza, burgers and subs. I had swelling in my legs and joint pain. I’d leave work feeling like I couldn’t walk another step. I weighed 257 pounds and my doctor said I was pre-diabetic. Both my parents were diabetic and I didn’t want that to happen to me.

My friend, Kevin Lowe, encouraged me to download the Thrive app.

Kevin’s a Thrive Grand Champ and my biggest cheerleader. First, I stopped drinking Pepsi — which was all I used to pump into my body — and switched to water. I eat more fresh vegetables, and I eat on smaller plates. I still eat what I enjoy, I just don’t overeat. Our favorite meal is spaghetti, but I use zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. And I love grilled chicken salad.  

We stopped eating in front of the TV and we have family dinners.

Ava and Aiden, our 11-year-old twins, talk about school. Ava told us she’s been struggling with bullying at school. She told me kids are being mean because she likes girls, and I’ve been encouraging her to stand up for herself. I tell her, “You are you.” She finally got the strength to tell one kid, “I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of letting you bully me anymore.” Aiden has been telling us how his reading is improving. Every other day I read with him for 45 minutes. Right now we’re reading The Hunger Games. My older kids talk about work. Hannah is a cashier at Walmart and Kuryn also works for Walmart — she’s a pharmacy technician. We’re definitely a Walmart family! 

I’m exercising every day — it’s my “me time.”

I do Beachbody workouts. One day I’ll do cardio, another day I’ll do upper body, yoga, or pilates. My 17-year-old, Autumn, and I go for walks together and catch up and we’ve created a strong bond. In January 2022 I made a New Year’s resolution to walk one 10k a month. And I’m proud to say that I’ve held onto that resolution!

Gary and I both stopped smoking.

I have much more energy, and I don’t have joint pain, it’s awesome. I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’m not pre-diabetic anymore and my doctor is over the moon. She said, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

We’re having family picnics and exploring new places. 

We went to a fall festival in Wayland with craft shows and games. I loved the homemade wreaths. It was nice to get away for the day with the family and have a good time.  

At work I just hit 20 years in the store and I’m proud of myself.

The support in our store is amazing, we’re cheerleaders for each other. Whenever I see Kevin, he says, “Woohoo, Heather. I’m proud of you.” I joined Kevin and Kirsten for a charity walk at a park. And this summer I started a walking challenge to raise money for the Trevor Project (a nonprofit providing support for LGBTQ+ youth) and four of us racked up 646 miles. We got $200 in donations.

I miss my mom every day, but it’s getting easier.

I know Mom wouldn’t want me sitting on the couch wallowing and crying. And she’d be extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished. 

Every once in a while, Gary and I will go out for dinner.

We’d love a bit more time to ourselves. We got married in 2014 and never had a honeymoon. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but we’re hoping to get away — maybe to Canada.  

By quitting smoking, we’re saving 400 dollars a month. 

We have designated laundry days so we’re not constantly using the washer and dryer. And we’re putting away money. We’ve finally been pre-approved to buy the house we’re renting and we’re so happy.

— Heather Nunn, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY; $5K Winner