Earlier this year, I wasn’t in a good place physically or mentally. To be completely honest, the way I felt was consuming me — I just felt down. I’m 19, I live with my parents, and I didn’t have the motivation to do simple things like cleaning my room and eating a healthy diet. I had stomach problems and anemia, and I had no energy. When I started working at Walmart five months ago, I noticed one of the managers, Daniel Wagganer, wearing a pin that said Thrive Challenge Winner. I asked him about the pin and he told me all about Thrive and how it had helped him. It sounded so interesting, and that’s why I downloaded the Thrive app.

I started making new food choices.

I’m from Maracaibo, Venezuela, and people from my city tend to have meals that are not always the healthiest! I still love food from my country, but I decided to cook in a different way. One of my favorite meals now is salmon with rice, asparagus, and a side of cucumber — I could eat it every single day! I stopped drinking Coca-Cola and I’m drinking lemonade instead. I lost a few pounds and soon noticed that my stomach felt better.

On my days off, I jog around my neighborhood.

Starting my day with movement helps to ease my mind. Then I make a delicious breakfast, like arepas (just simple maize dough baked in the oven). I do chores, and while I’m sweeping and mopping, I always put on my favorite reggaeton music, and I dance. Dancing gets me going and puts me in an amazing mood.

Deep breathing helps me relax during the day.

I stress myself out a lot sometimes because I’m an overthinker. So I take a mini break. I breathe in and out five times and remind myself that I’m stronger than my emotions and that I control them — they don’t control me.

I’m more focused at work.

I deactivated notifications that are not work-related, which has helped a lot. Now I get my work done without getting distracted by social media.

I’m connecting with my family.

We’re having game nights. I make dinner for my parents and we talk about memories. I’m also connecting with co-workers, by being kind or just giving a compliment, because I know you can make someone’s day by saying something nice. When people did that for me when I started work, I felt welcomed — I felt that I mattered. 

Money Microsteps are helping me feel less stressed.

I set a boundary on how much money I would spend in a week. I limit myself to $100. And I stopped spending money on things I didn’t need, like take-out food. I put the money I would have spent into my savings account, and I already feel much more financially responsible.

Thanks to my new diet and lifestyle, I’m much healthier.

My anemia has gotten better — my iron levels have improved, my gastritis is better, and I’m not as tired.

I have new habits and a stronger mindset. 

The other day I was watching a movie with my mom. I was eating scrambled eggs and rice and my mom said she’d noticed all the changes I’d made, how I was eating better, being more active, and helping out. In that exact moment I had a realization about how far I had come. It made me incredibly happy, because ever since we had to leave everything behind in Venezuela and move to the United States, I hadn’t been loving myself properly or taking care of myself. But now I can finally say I’m in a better place. And I am so grateful.

Veronica Campins, HVFC #4124, Lebanon, TN; $5K Winner