How were you feeling before taking the Challenge? 

I weighed 233 pounds, my clothes were too tight, and I felt insecure. I was a homebody — I didn’t go out with my friends because I was the only overweight one in our group. I knew I needed to make a change when I was on a plane and the seatbelt wouldn’t go around me. I was embarrassed because I had to get an extender in front of the other passengers. I had asthma and high blood pressure. I’d had lap-band surgery and tried all kinds of diets, but nothing worked. I’d eat tacos, pizza, hamburgers — and I ate a lot! I’m 57 and didn’t have the energy to play or keep up with my 5-year-old grandson, Josiah.

What steps did you take when you started the Challenge?

I stopped going to fast food restaurants, began eating at home, and I’ve now cleared my debts. I never liked to cook but now, I make simple meals together with my boyfriend, Tyree. We’ll make baked parmesan chicken with broccoli or our favorite: a delicious chicken noodle soup. We bought an air fryer, which is great. If we want something sweet, we’ll have sugar-free cookies. I can actually walk past chips and candies without getting tempted. Tyree and I give each other moral support, we’ll walk in the park together. And at work, my co-workers and I encourage each other and work out together at the gym. I go on the bike and treadmill.

What have you found helps you? 

In the past we’d pick up fast food after work, and eat in bed, watching T.V. But now, I set the table and we sit down for a nice meal together. We also treat ourselves occasionally. When we drive to Alabama, where Tyree is from, we’ll stop at a gas station that sells the best fried chicken — but we’ll have it without the fries. 

You’ve achieved so much, how do you feel?

I feel wonderful. I’m alive, I can breathe without huffing and puffing, and I’m thrilled that I lost all this weight! I’ll put on my high heels, play music by the rapper Boosie Badazz, and dance in front of the mirror in the bedroom. I see myself and say, “You look good!” I don’t have asthma anymore, my blood pressure has gone down, and I have the energy to go to the park and play with my grandson and keep up with him. I can buy nice clothes and I don’t feel insecure anymore.

You are a Thrive Star, Sheila, what does that mean to you? 

Being a Star is exciting. It makes me cry talking about it. To me, it’s about inspiring people at work to do the Challenge and encouraging other obese women, saying, “I thought I couldn’t lose the weight and I did… so YES, you can do it too.”

—Sheila Edwards, Supercenter #3205; Lithia Springs, GA; $5K Winner

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