I’ve always been one of those people who  tried every diet there is — and it got to a point where I just didn’t want to do anything. I wake up at 3:00 a.m. for work, so it’s a long day. I got used to just eating whatever was quick at that time, and it affected my body. Once I got to work, I didn’t have much energy, and just wanted to go home and sleep. 

Then I saw a pamphlet about the Thrive Challenge when I was sitting with my coworker, Shelly Wessels.

I had an idea and I said to her, “We should do something.” And she was game! So we made an incentive for the store. We said, whoever loses the most weight will win a prize. I made little gift baskets to give out to everyone who did it. Everybody works different shifts, so I typed up little fliers to tell everyone what we were doing. I ended up referring 14 people! 

My first step was making sure to move more. 

I’ve had a treadmill in my house for a long time, but I never used it. I made the choice to exercise two to three  times a week and listen to music while on the treadmill. I ended up purchasing an exercise bike, too, because I had foot surgery a couple years ago and biking is easier on my feet. 

I’m Puerto Rican, so we tend to eat a lot of rice and beans, and I used to fry a lot of stuff. 

My husband, Alfred, is diabetic, and I told him, “we have to change.” Instead of doing our usual fried chicken, we started sautéing chicken with onions and peppers. It’s so good and so simple! We also cut out the cookies and crackers and swapped our 2% milk for almond milk. 

Our grocery bill has gone down, and we’re saving $120 every month!

My grocery budget used to be $200 a week, but now that we’re buying mostly vegetables and cutting down on bread, we’re saving up. I also pack my lunch. I’ll bring a granola bar,  some apple sauce, and bottled water with me. What a difference a few dollars here and there has made.

Who knew that even after foot surgery I’d be walking so fast throughout the whole store? 

And now that I’ve lost weight, I’m making another incentive. I did my first Thrive Challenge in July, and I’ve done two more after that one, and now I’m going to start another one. I’m making a flier to encourage people to join me in not gaining weight during the holidays.

I started making thank-you cards for people at work.

I love making these little gift baskets with mini trophies for people who do the Thrive Challenge with me. I give them a thank you card, and write, “Thank you for participating.”  I have so much gratitude. I’m even spending more time with our daughters and their kids. We just went apple picking with them! The Thrive Challenge has made me appreciate the things that I have and the encouragement I now give others. 

— Nilda Rodriguez, Walmart Supercenter #2146, Amsterdam, NY; $5K Winner