My biggest struggle has always been my weight. I’m 33 and I weighed 442 pounds. I ate tons of processed junk food. I hardly drank water, and I had an addiction to diet soda and caffeine. My wife Michelle and I met at Walmart and we have four children. Raymond is 10, Mason’s nine, Alyssa’s seven, and Landon’s two.

I was always sluggish and couldn’t keep up with my kids. 

I’d toss and turn at night, and being obese, I could never find clothes to fit me. Six months ago, I started the Thrive Challenge to better myself. I wanted to do it for my own health and my family’s health, and to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. 

I began with a Microstep: swapping sodas for water.

It was difficult at first, but after the first week or so my headaches went away. Now I only drink water. I’ve learned a lot about healthy eating through nutrition blogs, and I stick to a low carb diet. I do intermittent fasting, so I only have an 8-hour eating window between 12 and 8 pm. 

For breakfast, my go-to is egg whites with a slice of cheese.

Lunch is a salad, and I have a good dinner with the family, like steak, fish, or chicken with black garlic and truffle seasoning, and veggies. I love tuna steak with eggs, or a southwest salad with a cut-up avocado. I try to stay under 1500 calories for the day. 

Movement is easy for me.

With my job, I walk on average 20 thousand steps a day. When I’m off work, we go to the park or the store — anywhere we can walk. I have a lot more energy for the kids. We love playing in the yard with our dogs. I can keep up with my older boys now. We’re always playing tag, throwing a ball, and wrestling around. I’m also doing yard work.  

My sleep has improved.

We have a new evening schedule: dinner at 6:30, brush teeth at 7:30. Then we’ll watch some T.V. or play games. We lie down at 8:30 or 9pm, and we’re always up and moving by 6 am. My wife says I’m not snoring anymore, and I don’t have trouble breathing. I’ve noticed that during the day I don’t feel tired. I don’t feel I need to take a nap at lunchtime.  

I make a point of hitting all my Connection Microsteps throughout the day.  

I tell each of my children I love them and give them a hug before I leave for work. The children are home-schooled and I help them with schoolwork. I’ll clean the house and make dinner to lighten the load — and that means less stress for Mom.  

Movie nights are a new thing for us.

We’ve created a contest. The child who has done the best on their schoolwork and chores gets to pick the movie. We watch together, and we’ll have Skinny popcorn. This is my happy time  with the people I love. We just watched The Nun II, my daughter’s choice — she loves scary movies. And it was pretty creepy! 

We love going on beach trips to Florida.

We drive there and stay at cheap hotels. We take really long walks on the beach and go shell hunting. We’ve brought home quite the collection. This is something I never got to do as a child, and my kids absolutely love it. So does Michelle. She calls herself Beach Mom. The beach is like our second home! One day, we’ll live by the beach.  

We’re working on our finances — it’s hard raising four children on a single income. 

But we opened a savings account and put in $50 from every paycheck. I also try flipping items we find at the thrift store for a little profit. And we have a vacation jar that we put money in to go toward our trips to Florida, that we can only access by breaking the jar.

I’ve lost weight.

I can bend and kneel. I feel happy, whereas before it was like my life was a rerun of the same episode. My journey has just begun, and I must say, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my adult life.

Raymond Truelove, Walmart Supercenter #7294, Norman, OK; $5K Winner