2023 was a rough year for me. I moved from Dallas to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for work and I didn’t know anyone. I missed my family and I was lonely. My fiancée, Andrea, and her 7-year-old daughter, Bayleigh, who I consider as my stepdaughter, are still in Texas, where Andrea works for Walmart in H.R. I’m 38 and I’m also studying for my bachelor’s degree in logistics through Walmart’s Live Better U program.

I felt very stressed and I wasn’t eating well.

I weighed 240 pounds and I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I lost my stepfather before Christmas. He hadn’t taken care of himself and it was a wake-up call for me. I want to be here for my family. 

I downloaded the Thrive app and started cooking and experimenting with new recipes. 

My favorite meal is baked salmon, which I season with rosemary and lime juice. I’ll have it with asparagus or broccoli and brown rice. I cook two portions of food and take the second portion to work the next day. One great food swap: if I want dessert, I’ll have low sugar yogurt and fruit instead of ice cream.

Next, I began by scheduling time on my calendar to stretch.

I spend five minutes three times a day gently moving my arms, legs, neck and wrists, which feels really good. I also stretch during Zoom calls.

With movement Microsteps, I’ve changed the way I think about exercise.   

I realized I don’t have to go to the gym to get moving. Instead of sitting down in my office all day, I often go for a walk with my operations managers and we’ll talk as we’re moving. I’ve found that we all have better ideas. I’m moving more at home too; after work, I work out on my rowing machine, then I take a relaxing shower before doing my homework. 

I’ve started to meditate.

It’s a big key for me, helping me to stay calm and slow down. I turned my guest bedroom into a peaceful meditation room. Every evening, I sit on the floor on a blanket, close my eyes, and completely relax. There’s no music and no distractions. I try not to think about anything, I just focus on my breath, inhaling and exhaling. The goal is to give my mind a break. I started with 15 minutes of meditation, and now I’m up to half an hour.  

At 9:30 p.m. I turn off my phone and get ready for bed. 

I’m getting eight hours of sleep, a stark contrast to how I was sleeping before, when I’d be up checking my phone in the middle of the night,

Andrea and I are connecting every day.

We FaceTime instead of texting so we can see each other’s faces. I’ll tell Andrea how much I love her. She’s my best friend and if I need advice about anything, I’ll call her and get her opinion. She’s my sounding board and keeps me grounded. We’re getting married next month and we talk about how grateful we are to have each other.

Once a month I go home to Dallas to see Andrea or she comes to see me. 

Spending time with Andrea, Bayleigh, my mom, and my whole family regularly is important and helps me feel happy and calm. We support each other. This past weekend in Dallas, we had everyone over to our house for a big cookout. Andrea and I also love going on adventures. Recently, we went to Niagara Falls, which was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

As I’ve become less stressed, I’ve started connecting with my team at work, too.

I’m more friendly, and I’m getting to know people on a personal level. One of my managers has been in China with his family so I asked him all about his trip. It was interesting hearing about his family and culture.  

I’m feeling healthier and happier.

I’ve lost 20 pounds in the past six months and my doctor is so happy that my blood pressure is lower. The future’s looking bright. I know I’m surrounded by family and friends. Andrea and I are excited about getting married; we’re in it for the long haul. She’s still in Dallas, but we know that soon we’ll be together.

— Richard Bregenzer, Fulfillment Center #7559; Bethlehem, PA; $5K Winner