Before starting the Challenge, I was eating out a lot, not saving money, and lacking energy during the day. I began to notice my eating habits were getting worse and I was gaining weight, so I decided to make a change.

I started by taking on small habits. 

I was drinking around three sodas a day, and so my first step was swapping those out with water. I also limited my fast food, made an effort to slow down while I was eating, and started working out a few times a week. I noticed immediately that small changes paid off. For example, I started swapping out breaded chicken for grilled chicken, snacking on nuts instead of chips, and eating lettuce wraps instead of using bread. It not only helps me cut carbs, but allows me to eat more protein. 

I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’m still making progress.

Every day, I try to do better than I did before — even if it means running just one extra block or working out for an extra five minutes. Any progress is progress! There have been days where I’ve fallen back and started to gain some weight back, but I remind myself that nobody’s perfect and start again the next day.

I have more energy to spend time with my family.

I used to toss and turn during the night, but my sleep has been more regular and I feel more rested and energized during the day. I’ve started going out to breakfast with my family every Sunday. It’s a new activity we’ve taken on together. We also do movie nights and spend more time together in general. I also have a dog, Titan, who’s been a big motivator for me. I have more energy for him now.

We’re saving up and being more conscious of our spending.

My Better Money Choices have helped me in such a positive way. I am saving about $20 a paycheck right now, in addition to watching what I spend. I have also cut back on useless spending to help save more. I want to continue to save money so I can have a larger emergency fund as well as a down payment to buy a truck one day.

I’m more grateful than ever.

One of my favorite parts of the Challenge is the gratitude component. Gratitude has helped me become more thankful for events that have happened in my life. For instance, I have a pacemaker, but I am now thankful for it because without it, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing today. I am also thankful for my family and for my job. I have long-term goals that I hope to achieve one day, and they seem doable now. The Challenge reminds me how hard I’ve worked — even on the weeks where I feel I might not have done enough. It reminds me how far I’ve come and encourages me to keep moving forward to achieve my goals.

Selena Gonzales, Neighborhood Market #5726, Alamogordo, N.M.; $5K Winner

Through the Thrive Challenge, our community is making Better Choices, seeing big results, and winning big.