Getting enough rest was my biggest challenge. I was only sleeping four to six hours a night and it was affecting everything. I was always tired, which made me stressed. I was also eating fast food which made me feel heavy and sluggish. I often felt angry and sad because I didn’t have energy for my family. My wife, Yesenia, and I have two boys, 8-year-old Jorge Jr. and 6-year-old Adriel, and I wanted to be active in their lives. I’m 36 and I got to the point where I just wasn’t myself anymore. Yesenia also works at Walmart and she had the idea of starting the Thrive Challenge. 

Setting boundaries was my first Microstep.

We have a big extended family. Every single weekend there’s something going on: weddings, birthdays, quinceañeras. They go on until late at night and we thought we needed to go to every event. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to say no, so we can take care of ourselves. And if we do go out, Yesenia and I will make the decision to leave by 10 p.m. That helps me stick to a regular bedtime, which is important because I work weekends and I have to get up at 4 a.m., so I need my rest. 

We created a nighttime routine. 

We all eat dinner together. After, the boys will do homework, we’ll watch some T.V., and then get the boys ready for bed. I’ll sometimes read to them. Then I make a list of what I need to do the next day so I’m more organized. I used to spend hours on my phone at night, and I’d lose track of time. One Microstep I’ve been taking is removing my phone from my bedroom. I charge it in the living room so I have no distractions.

By 9:30, we’re in bed and I spend a few minutes doing breathing exercises. 

This simple Microstep has made such a big difference to the way I feel. It helps me relax if I’m stressed and I fall asleep quickly. I’m not tossing and turning through the night and I’m getting on average eight hours of sleep a night now.

Naps are helping me recharge during the day. 

Because my working day starts so early, I’m tired when I get home early in the afternoon, so I’ve given myself permission to rest for a while. And with the help of my lovely wife and kids, that’s possible. I wake up refreshed and ready to pay attention to my family.

Eating well has also helped me improve my energy.

I’m not on a diet; I’m just making good substitutions like eating an apple instead of a muffin. And instead of junk food, I’m cooking. I love to grill and everyone loves my grilled steak with veggies like zucchini and asparagus. 

I feel less sluggish and I’m moving more.

On my days off, I get on my treadmill and run for a little while, and I’ve started doing weight training too. I’ve gradually been building my stamina and my endurance has improved. I walk to my mailbox instead of driving, and Yesenia and I go for walks together. It’s great doing the Challenge together — we get a little competitive about completing our Microsteps and have fun with each other.  

My kiddos are happy I have more energy for them.

We go for bike rides to the nearby park; the boys love to be outside exploring in nature. We all love to play soccer, and before the Challenge I’d get winded after 10 minutes. Of course, they never get tired. They say, “Come on Daddy, let’s go,” and now I’m keeping up with them.

What’s surprised me is how accomplished I feel.

I’ve found that taking small steps has helped me to change my habits. Little by little I’m more active, I’m getting more rest, and I’ve started to enjoy my life again. I’m becoming the husband and dad that I want to be.

— Jorge Carrizales, Distribution Center #6083, Temple, TX; $5K Winner