I did not feel comfortable in my own skin when I first started the Challenge. I was self-conscious about being overweight. I don’t know how much I weighed — I don’t weigh myself, I find scales to be offensive. But now that I’ve committed, I feel better overall.

“I focus on eating slowly and stopping when I’m full.”

One of my biggest battles at first was stress eating. Now when I am tempted to stress eat, I will either take a walk or find a Better Choice for a snack, like Belvita granola bars. I try to focus on whether I’m actually hungry by waiting until I feel those hunger pains. When I do, I focus on eating slowly and stopping when I’m full. I’ve replaced soda with water, and to help me drink more water, I purchased a filtered pitcher. The pitcher also helps me save money that I would’ve spent on bottled water. 

“When I walk, it’s therapeutic.”

Another battle was getting off the couch to exercise — but I’ve started small and have found success. Now when I go to exercise, my mindset is, “I want to do at least 30 minutes.” Sometimes I’ll do 30 minutes and stop, sometimes I stay longer — but I don’t feel like I have to set the bar so high. I’ve started to walk three miles every afternoon. It’s funny because when I first started walking, it was hard. My husband would sometimes join me, but he wasn’t able to every day because he gets home later than I do. But after I did the walks for a while, he was walking with me one night and said, “You’re walking faster, I’m struggling to keep up with you now!” As you start to do it, you just get better and faster at it. When I walk, it’s therapeutic. I’ll either call my niece or my three daughters — I have three girls — and talk to them. Or sometimes I just listen to my Christian music and let myself be in my thoughts.

“I’m a happier person now, my happiness is contagious.” 

The smallest positive change is with my thinking. I believe in myself and keep a positive mindset. Every day I share my Better Choices with people at work, and with my friends and family. When I tell people at Walmart orientation about the Thrive Challenge, I tell them, “It’s for you to be all around healthier and happier, because if you get these six categories right, then everything’s going to fall into place.” I’m a happier person now, my happiness is contagious. The Challenge has shown me that I can achieve big things with small changes. It feels good to make steps in the right direction even if they are small — and I love the idea of a fresh start every 21 days.

––Sheila Morales, Supercenter #1664; Wilson, N.C.; $5K Winner