What led you to the Challenge?

I’ve always been obese. As a child, kids would call me names and I developed thick skin. I’m 50 and weighed 260 pounds. I had Type 2 diabetes and ulcers on my feet. I had peripheral neuropathy, lost feeling in both feet, and had three surgeries. I’d eat fast food like pizza and hamburgers, often right before going to bed and I’d stay up late drinking beer. I had low energy and was existing on four to five hours of sleep. I was worried about what life would be like five years down the road. Also, my weight has affected my confidence. I thought maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to find that perfect someone to spend my life with. I knew it was time to change.

What changes did you make?

To start with, I ordered prepared Healthy Choice meals, like meatballs marinara, which are great for portion control. I began doing intermittent fasting. I only eat between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and feel much more energetic. I don’t cook much — that’s my next Challenge — but I’ll make hard-boiled eggs or cook chicken in my Instant Pot. I drink flavored waters like I used to drink beer. Now I’ll just have a few beers on Sunday when I’m watching sports — but not every Sunday. I do treat myself sometimes because I don’t like the thought of never having my favorite meals again, like steak with baked potatoes.

How have you incorporated movement into your life? 

I started with small changes, like walking in the park with a friend. Then I began going to the gym and working out with a trainer on the elliptical and rowing machines, gradually building stamina. My tip: Find a playlist that inspires you. I listen to upbeat rock by artists like Metallica, AC/DC, and Greta Van Fleet. Bottom line: You’ve got to move.

What’s helped you stay on track?

Putting on pants that used to be tight and now fit is a boost because I see the hard work paying off. I’ve dropped three pant sizes in the past year. My doctor gave me a pat on the back and said, “Good job, keep going.” I’m on my third Challenge and I really like motivating people at work to take it.

How has life changed?

I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I feel great — and I’m sleeping well. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be working out with a personal trainer and drinking protein shakes, I would have said, “You’re crazy.” But here I am. I’m much more confident. My blood sugar is under control. My grandfather died at 61, my dad died at 62. Time’s a-ticking and I want to make different lifestyle than they did. My dream: I’d love to have a partner in life — and continue leading a balanced, happy life. 

John Kitchens, Supercenter #3874; Dawsonville, GA; $5K Winner

Through the Thrive Challenge, our community is making Better Choices, seeing big results, and winning big.