I’m a 27-year-old single mom. For months I was stressed and emotional, and I had no work-life balance. I was unhappy with myself and wasn’t eating well. I weighed 255 pounds. My 4-year-old daughter, Jahzara, and I were eating a lot of pizza — her favorite food. I was in a bad relationship, and the day I left I decided to change my life. 

In July, I started the Thrive Challenge after reading an inspiring story that I really related to. 

It was a story in the Thrive app about Tia Williams-Flax, an African-American single mom who was even my age, 27. She has a son who was born prematurely and has a serious medical condition. Tia had stopped eating fast food and started meal prepping for her and her son. She had also started saving money and managed to put a down payment on a house. Reading her story, I felt blessed because my 1-year-old daughter, Jakiah, is healthy. I felt if Tia could change her life, I could change my life too.  

My first step was signing up for a gym membership. 

I do strength training with a personal trainer. And after work, I run around the block. At home, I sometimes use 1-year-old Jakiah as a weight, doing squats. She loves it! Jahzara joins in doing push-ups and we all jump around and dance to Maroon 5. I also take the kids to the park and get on the swings with them.

I cut out fast food and changed the way I cook, baking instead of frying.

My favorite recipe is beef and broccoli with brown rice. For dessert I’ll have fruit — I love pineapple — or two pieces of dark chocolate. Because I’m not buying junk food, I’m saving up to $300 dollars a month.

Sleep used to be an issue for me.

Now, I’m getting eight to nine hours a night. I get my kids to bed early and then read — I like spiritual books or books about investing. I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and turn off the light. I use the Thrive app to do calming meditations and wake up refreshed.

I’m focusing on gratitude. 

I have a degree in accounting, and I’m grateful to the organizations that gave me college scholarships. We live with my mom, and I’m grateful to her because she’s always there for me and helps me with the kids when I need alone time. To get some peace and quiet, I’ll go to the beach and listen to the waves or do yoga.

I’m super helpful when people are trying to find things in the store.

I saw a customer who was about to step on a shelf to reach for a cleaning spray, which could have led to an injury. On our carts we have a “reaching stick,” so I helped him get it down, and he was really grateful. 

I’ve lost 45 pounds in the past year. 

And 20 of them have been since I started the Thrive Challenge. My kids have a happier mom, which means they’re happier too. I tell people if you take the small steps, you can do the bigger things in life as well. My goals are to work in human resources and buy a house for my family. My 4-year-old wants a room of her own — and a dog! 

—Kaynesha Briggs, Neighborhood Market #7299; Port St. Lucie, FL; $5K Winner

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