I’ve had to work on my trust in men for my whole life. It’s been a struggle for me. I was in a marriage that was very abusive. I finally left and raised our three daughters on my own. I got married again, but that didn’t work out either. I’d eat for comfort. If I saw a donut that looked good, I’d think, “I’m gonna eat that!” And I drank nothing but Pepsi. 

Now I’m 50 with five grandchildren, but I didn’t have the energy to play with them.

If I went to their soccer games, I’d stay in the car rather than cross the field to watch them play. I live with my daughter, Kim, and her two kids, and I felt miserable. Everything would stress me out, like the neighbors’ dogs barking. 

My mom and dad inspired me to change my lifestyle.

They’re in their 70s and they walk every night and eat well. I thought to myself, “I want that energy!” 

I was encouraged to start the Thrive Challenge by Kirsten Ohara. 

I said to myself, “Boom, I’ve got this!” I gave up Pepsi cold turkey and drink water instead. If I see a donut, I’ll just have a drink of water. For dinner, I’ll throw together hamburger meat with rice, black beans, cheese, and taco seasoning. Oh my God, even my picky grandkids love it. And for snacks I’ll have cottage cheese and homemade applesauce.

At work, our Thrive Challenge family is wonderful.

We have a lot of winners, like Sherin Thomas, last year’s Grand Champ. We’re laughing a lot and encouraging each other. My bestie, Patti King, and I are doing it together. If I say, “That chocolate looks good,” she’ll say, “Don’t do it!” Our customers say, “My gosh, you’re all so happy!” I’ll be walking down the street and Kevin Lowe, our new Thrive Challenge Grand Champ, will roll down his car window and say, “Yes, Jackie, get those steps in!” 

I go for walks with my mom and dad. 

It’s so relaxing, releasing the day. I say to myself, “We’re gonna walk through the stress, the anger, the happiness — all of it.” I’ll take a picture of a deer — I’m snapping pictures all the time. I love listening to the river run, and the wind blowing. I’m also riding my exercise bike and doing jumping jacks at home. 

Patti and I are going on adventures. 

We drove to Rochester one evening and went on a tour of Goodwill stores. I’ve lost 33 pounds so I needed a new wardrobe. I bought a great pair of American Eagle jeans that actually fit for next to nothing, and some shirts that still had tags on. One day we went to a pumpkin patch with Patti’s daughter and husband and we acted like we were kids. We went on the slides, the zipline, we went through the corn maze yelling each other’s name — all the happiness, all the laughs, it felt so good. 

I went with my friend, Becky Jo, to Niagara Falls on a beautiful fall day.

It was like a mini-vacation and a recharge. Everything that was stressing me out just went away down into the water. I always say, “if you’re stressed, go for a walk by the water.” There was a big rainbow, the colors were so bright. I loved smiling at people and being friendly with the tourists who were getting me to take photos of them. 

I’m playing with my grandkids.

We’re swimming and kayaking. At home we have a hot tub, a swing set, and a trampoline. I do a little jumping myself and I’ll sit on the trampoline and let them bounce me! I’m enjoying watching my granddaughters Kara and Emma cheerleading, and I watch Alex and Kylie play soccer. 

My grandkids think gardening with me is the greatest thing.

We’re growing corn, cucumbers, and peppers. We’ll be out there weeding and picking veggies and it’s great because they’re learning while they think they’re playing. I made them their own little garden so they can take care of their own plants. 

I’ve forgiven my ex-husband and I’m more trusting, not just of men, but of everybody. 

I’m more confident and I can actually say I love myself. Right now, I’m focusing on myself. But now that I’m wiser, I hope and pray I meet my soulmate when I’m ready to share my life with someone.I’ve had to work on my trust in men for my whole life. It’s been a struggle for me. I was in a marriage that was very abusive. I finally left and raised our three daughters on my own.

— Jackie Hammond, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY; $5K Winner

The Thrive Challenge is all about making small, better choices in your everyday life using the Thrive platform (on web or mobile) in whatever area you want to prioritize. Join the Thrive Challenge here and submit your story for a chance to win part of a $1,000,000 prize pool.