I went through a really bad break-up. My boyfriend and I had been together for five years, and it left me feeling alone and depressed. I’m 30, and I was eating a lot of fast food and pizza. I weighed 265 pounds. I realized that what I wanted was to love myself, focus on myself, and become a better person. And last December, I downloaded the Thrive app.

I gave up fast food. 

I started shopping for fresh food three times a week. I’m making a lot of fruit smoothies and protein shakes. I was never a cook, but now I’m enjoying learning new recipes. I make what I call ‘Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta,’ and honestly, it sounds basic, but I love a simple Caesar salad. I just don’t drown it in dressing. Or I’ll make a salad with lots of veggies and hard boiled eggs. And instead of rice, I’m eating quinoa. I don’t even crave junk food anymore.

Working out used to be a huge challenge, but I’m going to the gym four times a week.

I do cardio and lift weights. My mom is on this journey with me, and we exercise together. It’s a great bonding experience and has really brought us closer. We meet up on our lunch breaks and walk together — we’re keeping each other accountable. And we’re cooking healthy meals together. We’ll have music playing in the background; she loves jazz. 

So far, I’ve lost weight and I feel great.

All my clothes were too baggy, so I donated them to the Salvation Army and bought new ones. I love shopping and now I can buy nicer clothes. When you look good you feel good! I feel really good in a pair of blue jeans and a fitted white T-shirt. 

Every morning I tell myself I’m worthy of being happy and loving myself.

Affirmations like that actually help me get up and get ready to go to the gym. At the end of the day, I need to be my own biggest supporter. Also, in my last relationship, I forgot what it was like to be alone. Now I’m enjoying time with myself; I’m thriving. And I want to be the best version of myself. 

Traveling is my passion.

I’ve been to New Orleans, and Mexico. I was in Miami recently. And it was amazing because I felt comfortable enough to wear shorts and a tank top. I was visiting two good friends, Marlene and Ravan, and it was so good walking along Ocean Drive without feeling self-conscious. We were on the beach listening to music, catching up and having a good time. And we went swimming. I felt free. 

At work, I get lots of compliments.

Every day, people ask me how I’ve lost so much weight. I’m constantly telling them about the Thrive Challenge, and encouraging them. I’ll show them my before and after pictures. And they’re inspired by me.

My goal is to be an HR manager at Walmart.

I’m doing my bachelor’s degree in business administration, and the Challenge has helped me focus on my studies. I’m excelling, and I’ll graduate in October. I feel really accomplished. 

Looking back, I’m grateful that my relationship ended. 

Honestly, it was hard at first, and I put myself down. But then I got out of that mindset and started to feel much more positive. I know it was meant to be, and if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be in the good spot that I’m in now. It really gave me the push I needed to become the best that I can be in this new chapter. I am not depressed anymore. And I’ve given myself the chance to be seen and succeed. I’m never going to go back. 

Going forward, I want to maintain this new lifestyle.

I would love to get married someday, and I’d like to keep traveling. The Thrive Challenge is about a lot more than losing weight for me; it’s about my mental health, my confidence, and my relationship with myself. Everything has changed for me — I’m simply happy. 

— Miguel Mercado, Fulfillment Center #7559, Bethlehem, PA; $5K Winner