Ever since I got out of an abusive relationship in 2019, life has been difficult. I have seven children; the youngest is three, and the oldest is 19. Three of them live with me. My 17-year-old daughter, Karina, works with me at Walmart. I have a boyfriend, Corey, who’s super supportive. One of his kids lives with us.

I’m 38, and I was feeling unmotivated and depressed.

I had high blood pressure and vertigo, and I wasn’t eating well. I had no self-control when it came to snacks. I weighed 315 pounds and I didn’t have the energy to run around with my kids. 

My people lead, Christina Hinkle, encouraged me to start the Thrive Challenge.

I started by practically cutting out soda. I just have one every other week now. I have smaller portions at dinner time — I put less food on my plate. It was tough at first because I didn’t feel satisfied, but I got used to eating less. I tell myself, “Ginny, you have everything you need right in front of you.”

Honestly, I’m not the best in the kitchen, but Karina loves cooking.

She’s food prepping and making great meals. I wasn’t a big vegetable person, but we started eating zucchini, squash, and bell peppers. Karina seasons broccoli and asparagus with garlic and a little butter, and it tastes fantastic. She bakes chicken and adds Cajun seasoning to give it a bit of a kick. 

My job as a digital personal shopper requires a lot of movement.

I’m walking at least 10 thousand steps a day. And I’ll take a minute in a break to chill and watch a Thrive Reset. I love anything weather-related, like rain and wind. They help me refocus. 

I can chase my three-year-old, Izora, around the house without getting winded.

We go to the park and instead of just standing there, I go down the slide with her and I’ll push her on the swing. I spin her around until she’s dizzy — the whole nine! My nine-year-old son, Jackson, is into baseball and we’ll throw the ball back and forth. We all love playing in the sprinkler in our front yard; it’s a family thing.

We’re enjoying family game nights. 

We like playing Cards Against Humanity. We sit at our big dining room table and we laugh so hard we start crying. There aren’t too many hard feelings if you lose. Corey and I are big nerds, and we’re watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” together.

After a hard day at work, I treat myself to a nice foot bath and massage. 

I bought a massager at work and I love it. I add Epsom salts and it all bubbles up. It’s a nice relief at the end of the day. 

I’m really, really excited because I’ve lost weight.

My blood pressure’s back to normal, I can breathe, I feel fantastic, and I haven’t had a dizzy spell for three months.

Corey and the kids are my biggest cheerleaders.

But it’s still hard to be positive and say kind things to myself. I spent most of my life talking down to myself and being talked down to, but I’m trying. I tell myself I’m smart and talented. I recently put on a pair of jeans I hadn’t been able to wear for a long time. I looked in the mirror and said, “Damn girl, you look good!” 

Writing is my creative outlet.

I’d put it on hold. But I’m writing again. I just self-published a paranormal romance called The Not So Secret Vampire. It’s the latest in a series of novels I’ve published. Writing fiction keeps my brain sharp and calms me down. I channel my emotions into my characters and it makes me a happier person. 

I also love to read and I love happy endings. 

I read anything by Kerrelyn Sparks, like her Love At Stake series.

For my happy ending, I would love to own my home.

I’d also love to travel to Scotland and visit Peebles, to see where my name comes from, where my ancestors lived. I’d love to see the Scottish castles and visit a friend in Edinburgh. 

The Thrive Challenge is helping me become a better person.

I want my kids to see that, yes, people make mistakes, but they can move on and overcome them. I’ve taken responsibility for the mistakes I’ve made. And I can’t stay mad at people from my past. I’m working on forgiving people — and forgiving myself. 

— Ginny Peebles, Walmart Supercenter #1124, Hartselle, AL; $5K Winner