For the longest time, I didn’t see the value in myself and my habits reflected that. I’ve always loved vegetables, but I loved fried foods more and didn’t drink enough water or get enough sleep. I was in a bad cycle of racking up credit card debt. 

Then, there was the photo.

I reconnected with my brother for the first time in 10 years and visited for his daughter’s baptism. My brother sent a thank you note along with a photo of me with the family. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s me?” It was the first time I really saw myself — uncomfortable, insecure, and discouraged. 

I had tried the Challenge before but didn’t do it wholeheartedly. 

This time was different. I put the photo of myself on my closet door — not out of shame, but to push myself forward — and rediscovered Challenge booklets in the break room at work. My first Better Choice was to cut back on greasy foods. I indulge from time to time, but now I find I dislike the taste and, more importantly, I don’t like the way I feel after eating them.

I also started exercising, for just one minute at a time. 

In the beginning, I couldn’t do a single push-up. Now, I do a two-minute stretch routine and a three-minute workout burst each day. I do 15 wall push-ups in the morning and 15 more at night. Walking is part of my routine too — I take 15-minute walks after I eat, and was motivated to start walking with another Walmart associate after a Star Challenge. To build my confidence, I started an aerial workout class.

Sleeping more is making me more patient.

Before I’d be lucky to get six hours of sleep — now I’m sure to get seven to eight hours a night. I keep my bedroom cool and dark, and finally kicked my habit of sleeping with the television on. By using my Fitbit to track my sleep habits, I have a better sense of control and personal accountability. 

In my mind, every day is an opportunity to reset. 

I slowed down and took time to think, “What is really important to me?” And with that, I’m reconnecting with my family by scheduling Zoom calls and sending messages out of the blue. I want to move closer to them, so I set up auto-transfer so I can save for a house. I started transferring $30 at a time, now I’m up to $70. I used to be someone who couldn’t afford a $400 emergency. Now, I’m paying off debt and leaving my debit card at home so I can be more intentional about purchases. 

I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. 

I have more self-respect and newfound confidence. I take photos and videos of myself to track progress and I was surprised when showing other people the pictures. I thought the biggest comment would be, “You lost weight!” But so many people said, “Wow, you look so much more confident.” And that’s the biggest thing for me — I feel more confident. Actually, I feel amazing.

Tiffany Stinson, Supercenter #3872; Rapid City, S.D.; $5K Winner

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