Over the years, I’ve tried many times to lose weight. I always told myself I would start tomorrow or the next day. I’d come up with every excuse in the book to put off improving my health. I felt sluggish. My life had become automated. I wasn’t putting my best self forward and I had no energy for my family and friends. It took a toll on me. I gained weight, and at 25, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. I weighed 145 pounds, which was a lot for me.

When I found out I was going to be an aunt for the first time, I decided to change. 

I wanted to be a better me for my niece, who’s now six-months-old. Isabella Rose is the cutest little baby ever! I heard about the Thrive Challenge from my coach, Kirsten Ohara, and she inspired me to get started. She’s been so supportive, sharing tips and tricks with me about workouts and easy meals. 

My first better choice was to get my body moving.

I used my dog, Maya, as motivation and got her involved in my challenge. We’d play games and go for walks. When I come home from work, the first thing I do is get active with Maya instead of settling in for the night. I gradually increased my stamina and now I’m running. 

I’m also doing high-intensity interval training workouts.

My endurance has improved a lot and I have much more strength. I started doing Pilates, which helps me tone my muscles. 

I’m at school studying for an associates degree in court reporting.

And I have more focus now. After doing schoolwork, I like to do yoga to relax my mind, unwind, and prepare for a good night’s sleep. 

I used to be a big fan of fast food, so giving up was really hard for me.

But I’ve been using Microsteps and one of the key transformations I embraced was the art of meal prepping. It’s a skill that’s allowed me to take control of my food choices and be consistent. I did a lot of research and I make smarter choices without compromising on taste. I take lunch into work. I’ll have meat or chicken with seasoned rice with steamed veggies.

For dinner, my favorite food has to be cheeseburgers.

But I started making my own burgers with fresh ingredients. I’ve eliminated the bun and I use lettuce instead. Another dinner I love to make is ground beef with egg, cheese, and sriracha sauce. It is so delicious. 

I’m sleeping better.

Working out helps a lot because it keeps me calm and I’m really tired by the time I go to bed. My mind isn’t all over the place. I keep my phone away from my bed, in my drawer, so I’m not distracted. I used to be very bad with that — I’d be on TikTok for hours. I’m getting eight or nine hours of sleep a night and I feel perfect when I wake up! I never used to be a morning person, but now I feel refreshed.

I’ve lost 10 pounds and I feel great.

I have way more energy now than I’ve had in the past few years. I’m more present every day and focused. I make time to see family and friends and live more in the present, instead of living life on repeat everyday. 

I’m saving money by budgeting and tracking my expenses.

Amanda and I just bought a house. We’re spending a lot of time doing repairs together. We finished our kitchen and now we’re working on our bedroom. We have a yard for our two dogs (we have another dog, Luke, who really belongs to my fiancé, Amanda), so they have space to run around. Having our own house feels completely incredible.

I’m more enthusiastic about everything in my life. 

I love taking my baby niece, Isabella, out in her stroller, and playing with her. The Thrive Challenge, to me, means becoming a better me, so that I can inspire others to make the changes they’ve been wanting to make. My best tips for anyone starting: have a circle of friends, family, and co-workers around you to help you stay on track, keep at it, and just be consistent. 

— Renaye Sirianni, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY; $5K Winner