I used to find life really challenging. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I wasn’t eating very well, and I was always feeling irritated, even at simple things. This was affecting my quality of life and my relationships, since I was always feeling tired. My negative energy was being felt by my coworkers, friends, and — most importantly — my family. I certainly was not at my best. When you don’t feel good, it really affects everything in your life. 

I used to see sleep as an option — not a necessity. 

Sleep was always a challenge for me because I work the night shift, and it wasn’t a priority. I knew that needed to change, and there were other lifestyle changes I wanted to make too. I had heard about the Thrive Challenge from my store manager, Laureen, and I decided that that day would be the day I started. I woke up and said, “This is the day I am going to start making positive changes.” 

I scheduled a set bedtime for myself every morning when I got home from my shift.

Now, I make sure that I get home, walk my dogs, and then go to bed by 10:00 a.m., and I sleep until 5:00 p.m. I used to just go to sleep whenever I was done with different household tasks and chores, and it ended up being 2:00 in the afternoon and I could barely get any sleep. I’ve been realizing lately that the dishes will be there when I wake up, the laundry can wait until tomorrow, and the lawn can be mowed on my days off. Now, I leave my phone in the kitchen, and I make sure I get to bed.”

My spouse and I are buying our first home together. 

After a few financial hardships –– like a bad divorce and my new spouse becoming disabled — we are slowly getting there, with a lot of hard work. I’ve been bargain shopping, using coupons when I can, and using my 20% off at Walmart. I also put away $50 every two weeks from my pay. After we buy our home, my dream is to save up enough to rescue an animal. Animal welfare is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. We have a house full of animals now: three dogs, two cats, a fish, a rabbit, a bearded dragon, and birds –– all of whom I rescued in the past. I’d love to rescue another. 

The changes I’ve made have affected my family life in ways that I could never have dreamed of. 

We spend more time together, we communicate better, we can talk and actually get results rather than me being irritable and irrational. We have more company at home, and we actually go visit extended family and friends. I just have a completely different mindset now. I used to be scared of change and uncertainty, and now I’m learning to embrace it. It’s making me so much more positive. 

Getting the sleep I need has created a domino effect. 

Now that I have more energy, I’m actually reading food labels and cutting down on sugar and candy. I eat smaller portions and I’m drinking more water. If I have a piece of toast now, I use whole wheat bread. I feel so much better, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to embrace the changes! I’ve always been a grateful person, but I’ve recently been learning that we can all be even more thankful for the little things in our everyday lives, like being able to hear the birds sing! I’m excited to keep reaching my goals and spreading my confidence to the people around me. I’m living a much more fulfilling life.

— Stephanie Alward, Walmart Supercentre #3056, Dieppe, NB; $2K Winner