At Thrive, we believe one of the most important ways to fight burnout is to find purpose and meaning in the work you do every day. Our partnership with Walmart enables us to see the power of Thrive’s behavior change platform in action every day. Through small better choices that build momentum over time, Walmart associates (and their friends and family) are able to make changes that drastically improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

Each month, we award 18 winners with a cash prize for their accomplishments in the Thrive Challenge. Reading through their stories and learning how each of them overcame everyday struggles gives us so much inspiration and passion for the work that we do. 

Below, read the stories of our 18 winners for the month of December. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Emma McCabe, Sam’s Club #6572, Knoxville, TN

Emma McCabe Polaroid.png

“I’m in college studying for my degree, while also working full-time at Sam’s Club. I’m 19, and the transition into adulthood has been difficult. I was stressed about money and it was hard making time for myself, or my friends. I was skipping meals and I was constantly drained. My manager, Patty Kennedy, introduced me to the Thrive Challenge. Now, on a daily basis I’m eating three solid meals a day. Recently, I made great lasagna with garlic bread. By getting organized, I find time to connect with friends. I plan little outings every week, or we’ll meet at someone’s apartment, get in comfy clothes, and debrief about the week. I’m less stressed about money. With Microsteps, I’m budgeting and cutting back. For example, before going out with friends, I eat at home so I don‘t have to worry about spending money on dinner. By taking everything one step at a time, my mental health has improved so much, and I’m much happier!”

Johnerick Fuentes, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR

Johnerick Fuentes Polaroid.png

“I decided to start the Challenge because when I saw the positive changes it caused in my partner. The Microstep that has helped me the most has been to go for a walk in the mornings.Every morning, after finishing my cardio routine, I go to a pool and swim. I find it one of the best exercises because it works all the muscles of the body and helps to improve breathing. I couldn’t dance more than 2 songs because it gave me pain in my feet and I got tired very quickly. Now, every time I go out to dance or take a walk, I enjoy it much more since I don’t stop at every moment to rest. To manage my stress, I take deep breaths and listen to relaxing music. Going for a walk also contributes a lot to how I connect with nature. I think the best part of the Challenge has been connecting with people, both at home and at work. I now have better communication with my family and with my coworkers, and I can listen better to others. This Challenge was a great change of lifestyle since it helped me to get out of my comfort zone.”

Veronica Campins, HVFC #4124, Lebanon, TN

Veronica (Vero) Campins Polaroid.png

“Earlier this year, I just felt down. I’m 19, I had stomach problems and anemia, and I had no energy. A manager, Daniel Wagganer, inspired me to download the Thrive app. I began making better food choices. One of my favorite meals is salmon with rice, asparagus, and a side of cucumber — I could eat it every single day! On my days off, I jog around my neighborhood. Starting my day with movement helps to ease my mind. Then I make a delicious breakfast, like arepas from Venezuela, where I’m from. I do some chores and while I’m sweeping and mopping, I always put on my favorite reggaeton music and dance. Dancing gets me going and puts me in an amazing mood. Thanks to my new lifestyle, I’m much healthier. My anemia has gotten better — my iron levels have improved, my gastritis is better, and I’m not as tired. I have new habits and a stronger mindset, and I’m so grateful.”

Tiffany Catlin, Distribution Center #9153, Waco, TX

Tiffany Catlin Plaque.png

“I was on the go all the time, I was snacking all day, and I wasn’t making time for myself. I am 37, and I suffer from anxiety. I downloaded the Thrive app and started with better food choices. I stopped snacking and cut out soda. I’m moving more. We have a two-storey house so I’ll walk up and down the stairs a lot. After work, my fiancé, Marie, and I walk to the park, and I’m working out with my daughter, Alexis. I lost 30 pounds and have much more energy. When I feel anxious, I listen to country music, which I find soothing. And Thrive Resets help me relax. I’ve learned to let go — some things are out of my control and there’s nothing I can do about them. I’m not taking medications for anxiety and sleep anymore. I’m letting go of stress. I’ve got to point to where I can be me again — and boy did I miss that — I’m happy.”

Hannah Hague, Walmart Supercenter #2993, Sugar Land, TX

Hannah Hague Polaroid.png

“For a long time, I was unhappy and struggling. I weighed 272 pounds, I had high blood pressure, and headaches. I downloaded the Thrive app and slowly implemented Microsteps into my day. I opted for water or fruit-infused water instead of a sugary drink. And I opted for healthier meals. My favorites: air fried chicken with zucchini noodles as a substitute for pasta! I swapped the word exercise for movement. I started walking 500 to 1,000 steps and gradually increased my walks to 5,000 steps. We go on family bike rides, and on the weekend we ride to the lake and go fishing. I love it and I’m a lot less stressed. When I get overwhelmed, I do Thrive Resets. I stop, take deep breaths, and relax my shoulders. My doctor cut my blood pressure medicine in half. I’ve lost 37 pounds and I don’t feel fatigued all the time. I wake up with purpose every day — I feel alive.”

Kevin Kilgore, Fulfillment Center #7561, Carrollton, GA

Kevin Kilgore Polaroid.png

“After having knee surgery a few years ago, I gained 100 pounds. I was always fatigued and out of breath. My partner, Kristi, and I have an eight-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, but I had no energy for them. I downloaded the Thrive app and got started. Meal prepping helped me to change my diet. I’ve incorporated more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains into my meals. Microsteps are helping me move more. whether it’s taking a morning stroll, or walking during breaks at work. I recruited a workout buddy, Chris, for accountability. We push each other to do our best in workout sessions. Kristi, who also works at Walmart, is my biggest support. We set aside an hour in the afternoon for family time in the yard. We’ll play basketball or throw the football with Elizabeth. I’ve lost weight, I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and gratitude, not only for reclaiming my health but for the memories I’m now able to create with my daughter.”

Bret Groves, Distribution Center #6014, Laurens, SC

Bret Groves Polaroid.png

“I was spending too much time on multiple social media platforms, and I’d find myself scrolling through posts or videos in the evening. This impacted my sleep, my demeanor, and my mood. For years I’ve been hearing about the Thrive Challenge, and I got started. Thrive Resets have helped me learn how to control my breathing. I also started meditating. I’m more relaxed in the evening and I’m sleeping better. When I’m eating dinner with my family, I put my phone out of reach. So we really connect. Every day I spend a few minutes with each of my five kids. Setting that time aside sparks meaningful conversations. Thrive Resets help me relax. My life doesn’t seem as rushed anymore. I’m able to live more in the moment and enjoy the small things in life. I notice the sound of rainfall and the birds chirping in the evening. It’s awesome.”

Willie Mercado, Walmart Store #2085, Isabela, PR

Willie Mercado Polaroid.png

“My sleep has always been difficult due to my health. I slept with a machine due to being overweight, but through these steps and advice from Thrive, I began to exercise my body and eat healthier. A Microstep that has helped me a lot is taking a minute to think about what I really want before starting my work day. This has helped me focus more on what I want to achieve in my career at Walmart, just like when I go out. From work I come home and my time is dedicated 100 percent to my family. I have taken some time to write or call those people who I have not had communication with for a long time. Thanks to that, we have organized a small group to work for our community since there are many older people in it. We began to visit them and together we try to help those people with their basic needs. In my home the change has been in communication more than anything. Thanks to the limitation of electronic equipment, our communication is super good. Helped by Microsteps, we have started to exercise as a family and eat healthier. Thanks to that, my health has greatly improved and I am super happy about that. We are always trying to do things that give us family happiness.”

Jimmy Hartsfield, Distribution Center #6094, Bentonville, AR

Jimmy Hartsfield Polaroid.png

“My big struggle was finding a work life balance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I weighed 230 pounds and needed to lose weight. And I wanted to spend more quality time with my family. I downloaded the Thrive app and started spending more time with Lynnon, our three-year-old. I pick her up from daycare. We play outside, go to the park, or stay at home to work on puzzles. Meal prepping helps me stay on track with food. I plan my meals for the week which makes everything less stressful. Daily lunches consist of veggies and protein — mostly chicken. My favorite Food Microstep: pausing before grabbing food. I’ve lost 40 lbs. and feel better than I have in years. My wife, Kylie, and I love to cycle and hike together. We live close to many parks and trails. I feel connected with my wife and kids, and our family unit is stronger. I’m making good choices, and I’m happy.”

Althea Latham, Walmart Supercenter #593, Douglas, GA

Althea Latham Polaroid.png

“Before starting the Challenge I was literally falling apart. I had lost both my parents, and I spiraled into a depression. I’m 49 and newly single. I was overweight, and my blood pressure was super high. Microsteps like swapping sugary drinks for water and eating veggies have helped me lose weight. My son, Nathan, and I love eating together. Some nights he cooks, and some nights I cook. Our favorite meal is his grilled steak. And we’re making different soups. I walk after supper every day, which gives me a feel-good vibe! It’s also helped with my depression. I had slumped into a habit of wallowing in my sadness. I replaced that wallowing time with riding my bicycle. I listen to music and sing along. I’ve lost a lot of weight and I feel great. My blood pressure’s lower and my pain has decreased. I can truly say that Thrive has given me the push to get back on track and regain my life.”

Delsie Middleton, Distribution Center #6064, Cleburne, TX

Delsie Middleton Polaroid.png

“Eight years ago, I lost my husband. And since he died, I’ve struggled with credit card debt and medical bills. I’m 61, and I wasn’t feeling good. I weighed 266 pounds, and losing weight seemed like a huge undertaking. I started the Thrive Challenge and my first Microstep was to stop drinking Dr Pepper. My favorite new recipe is homemade pizza using low-carb tortillas. Moving is helping me improve my energy. I do yoga videos, and I turn on music and dance around my house while doing my household chores. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and the Challenge reminds me to take it one step at a time. My doctor is thrilled. Prior to starting the Challenge, I was prediabetic. I am no longer in the diabetic range. I also have less financial stress. With the help of my granddaughter, I made a budget. I put more in my 401k, and I’m saving $200 a month! My goal is to retire at 67!” 

Adam Culp, Distribution Center #7055, Gas City, IN

Adam Culp Polaroid.png

“At the beginning of the year I got on the scale and weighed 300 pounds. I had no energy. My wife, Jessica, and I have a nine-year-old son and an 11-year-old son, but I barely had enough energy to walk down the stairs, let alone throw a ball around with them. At 37 I just felt like a failure. I decided to start the Thrive Challenge and began by cutting out soda. I just drink water now. I’m making home cooked meals and I’ve practically given up fast food. Using Microsteps, I made a choice to be more active. I started running again, which I used to love. And I go to the gym after work. I’m more active with my family. We go fishing and play sports like basketball and football. We just went camping and hiked trails for a couple days. I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel so much better. I’m not sore and tired all the time. The Thrive Challenge has definitely changed my life. I felt accomplished and happy.”

Christopher Harris, Distribution Center #6064; Cleburne, TX

Christopher (Chris) Harris Polaroid.png

“I’m a disabled veteran, and I lost my brother to complications of diabetes. It shook my whole world. I gained 75 pounds, and I was lost. A manager at work told me about the Thrive Challenge, and it was just what I was looking for. I gradually took caffeine and sugar out of my diet. I’m eating balanced meals, and cooking for the family. I started moving more,doing 15 minute workouts, then I increased the time. I bought a stationary bike and I got an exercise ball, so even sitting has become a workout as I try to keep my balance. I have energy for my family. We go for hikes together. Mental health has always been a struggle as a veteran of Iraq, but I’ve learned to focus on my breathing. I can break down stress relief into one word: meditation. I’ve unlocked a stress-free me. I’ve lost 80 pounds. I love the new me and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.”

Yvonne Govea Phillips, Distribution Center #9153, Waco, TX

Yolanda (Yvonne) Govea Phillips Polaroid.png

“I’d put on a lot of weight and I felt helpless to change my habits. I’m 47, and I didn’t feel good. My 13-year-old daughter, Katelynn, means everything to me, and I want to be around for her. And as I age, I want to have a good quality of life. So I downloaded the Thrive app, and my first Microstep was starting my day with water and lemon. For breakfast, I’ll combine Greek yogurt with honey, fruit, and almond milk for a fresh and satisfying shake, or I make an omelet. My favorite dinner is tofu stir fry with veggies. I’m walking every day and I love dancing to Latin music. I have a good old jam session and dance the night away, often on my own! I also dance with my daughter, which makes her laugh. So far I’ve lost 31 pounds, and it feels amazing. I have more energy and I can tie my shoes without feeling like I am going to faint. I’m happy beyond what I can express in words.”

Tammy Rader, Walmart Supercenter #1124, Hartselle, AL

Tammy Rader Polaroid.png

“Three years ago, my son was shot. Thank God, he’s still with us, but I’ve had a lot of medical bills to pay. Mentally and physically, I was drained. I’m a five-time cancer survivor. I’m 49, and I needed a more positive outlook on life, so I downloaded the Thrive app. Money Microsteps are helping me get back on track. I save money by shopping in the clearance section. I’m budgeting, and I don’t eat out for lunch. Thrive gave me the courage to leave a toxic relationship. I could begin to put one foot in front of the other, and I’m living with my daughter right now. I do breathing exercises to lower my stress. I’m eating better and I’ve lost a lot of weight. And I’m moving more, I put in 12,000 steps a day at work alone. The Thrive Challenge helped me realize that I am somebody — that I do matter. I know I will rise above all this, and I’ll find a place of my own to call home.”

Jake Lewter, Fulfillment Center #4124, Lebanon, TN

Jake Lewter Polaroid.png

“I used to be a workaholic. There was a lot of stress, and I found comfort in food. My weight ballooned to 230 pounds. I’m 28, and I needed to improve my work-life balance. I got started on the Thrive Challenge. I started meal prepping. Packing my lunch prevents me from picking up fast food or skipping meals. To my surprise, I love working out. Growing up, I never participated in physical activities. However, as I started to see progress at the gym, I enjoyed the experience more. My personal trainer has played a crucial role, teaching me correct lifting techniques and guiding me on how to use the machines. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I feel great. I’m improving my work-life balance. I still work hard, but I strive to get everything done before leaving work, so I can relax and take care of myself, and connect with friends and people I call my ‘encouragement partners.’ I now experience less stress, and maintain a positive outlook on life.”

Matthew Niverson, Distribution Center #7055, Gas City, IN

Matthew Niverson Polaroid.png

“Earlier this year I was feeling terrible mentally and emotionally. I weighed 420 pounds and I struggled with low energy. I didn’t have the energy for my wife, Shanna, or to play with Owen, my four-year-old. I had a heart condition, and my cardiologist said I needed to lose weight. I decided to download the Thrive app. First, I stopped going out for fast food. For breakfast, I have a turkey sausage patty and yogurt. For lunch and dinner, I have a salad with some sort of protein, usually grilled chicken. Daily morning walks have become my happy time — the best part of my day. I love walking with Owen. It’s our happy time. I have so much more energy, and I can get down on the floor with Owen and play. I’ve lost a lot of weight. I just had a blood test and I am no longer pre-diabetic. My blood pressure is now perfect and blood work labs are good. I feel like a new person.”

Tiffany Ervin, Walmart Supercenter #1011, Rincon, GA

Tiffany Ervin Polaroid.png

“Being a people lead can be challenging. I started to become overwhelmed. Also I’m a single mom — my son, Carter, is seven. I was stressed and my blood pressure became so high that I ended up in the hospital. I needed to lose weight and I knew I had to get on track, so I started the Thrive Challenge. I gradually cut down on sugar and now I’ve completely cut out all sweets. I’m enjoying cooking at home. My favorite meal is chicken breast salad. I work out every single day, whether it’s 30 minutes on the treadmill or a five mile walk around the pond. At home I have the energy to do more with my son. We play basketball in the front yard and have a lot of fun. I’ve lost 34 pounds. My blood pressure has gone down a lot, and my doctor is very happy with my progress. I feel much much better.”