I started the Thrive Challenge a while back, but life got in the way. I was too tired to cook, eating a lot of fast food, and wasn’t making time for myself. I was also struggling to stick to a budget, which stressed me out and, in turn, made it difficult to concentrate at work and sleep at night. One day, I decided to pick up another Thrive booklet at work. What sparked me to make a change was reading other people’s stories and realizing I wasn’t alone. I cried knowing that I wouldn’t be by myself on this journey. I downloaded the app and decided to try the Challenge again.

“I had to learn new ways to budget.”

Doing the Challenge has taught me how to find more balance with my money, family, work, and everyday life. I had to learn new ways to budget my money and time. I used to feel like I was doing everything — and felt this weight on my shoulders. I had to sit down with myself and sort things out. I got a planner and scheduled everything I needed to do and the bills I needed to pay. I started making small changes like opening the blinds during the day instead of turning lights on, to save on our electricity bill. I also started doing laundry on the weekends instead of all week long, which helped us save on our water bill.

“I’ve been saving $200 more each month.”

I’ve been saving $200 more each month, which is helping me stress less and sleep better. It feels nice to have a cushion — and to get two or three more hours of sleep each night. It’s been hard to make time for myself, but I’m making more of an effort to do little things for me. I’m working out three to four times each week, going for walks, stretching, and doing exercises at home with weights and a medicine ball. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far and am working toward losing another 60, that way I can relieve my knees — which are bone-on-bone at this point — and avoid needing surgery. 

“I’m cooking more at home.”

I’m also eating better. Before I started the Challenge, I would frequently run to Burger King or any fast food place with a drive-thru. Now, I’m cooking more at home and budgeting properly so I can buy frozen foods in bulk. I’ve started eating more vegetables, baked foods, and fish while cutting back on fried foods and red meat. I’m drinking eight to 10 bottles of water each day while limiting sugary drinks, and purchasing fresh fruits instead of canned fruits. My favorite dish is lemon and herb-baked tilapia with pilaf rice.

“I’m staying positive.”

My husband likes to cook — he actually has his chef’s license — so he cooks too, and we are enjoying more nutritious foods together. We also work together to budget and be aware of what we need to cut back on. Since starting the Challenge again, I’m much more energetic, like a bunny in the morning ready to go. And more importantly, I’m staying positive.

Yolande’ Dawson, San Angelo, TX; $5K Winner

Small daily choices can lead to life-changing results. Download the Thrive App today to improve your well-being. For more inspiring stories, follow Thrive on Facebook and Instagram.