Earlier this year, I was in very poor shape. At work, I’d get out of breath walking upstairs to the break room. I drank a lot of high-sugar energy drinks and I was eating poorly — a lot of white bread, white rice and potatoes — too much of everything! I weighed 275 pounds. My back and joints hurt and I’d feel so worn out and sore after my shift, I didn’t have the energy to do anything with my family. I was snoring and I wasn’t sleeping well. I’m 50, and my wife Debbie and I have two kids, Catherine and Ethan, who are both in college.

The big turning point for me was when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I’m a pharmacist so I know all about the dangers of diabetes. I knew I had to do something different and started the Thrive Challenge. 

Sam’s Club set me up with a dietician.

I learned about portion control and changed how I ate. Debbie is Korean and cooks a lot of rice, but we switched to brown rice. We’ll make a batch and portion it out. Debbie makes Korean soup with tofu, vegetables, and kimchi in a spicy broth. My favorite dinner is grilled salmon with Cajun seasoning and veggies like broccoli or asparagus. One of my tricks: I’m using smaller plates. I’ll still fill it, but it’s a salad plate so there’s less food, and I never have seconds anymore. 

I go to bed earlier, at 11 p.m., and get up earlier. 

I have oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast and go for a walk before work. Debbie and I joined a gym. We use the elliptical machine and lift weights. When we started, working out for 20 minutes was hard, and now we’re exercising for two hours.

Debbie and I are doing the Thrive Challenge together and we’re much closer.

We’d been feeling that we’d been drifting apart. Now, we love to walk the beautiful nature trails through the woods. There are deer and wild turkeys and we’ll stop and look at the birds. We talk about our kids and share about what’s going on in our lives.

We’re going to art festivals and to the farmers market. 

Before I lost weight, I didn’t want to do anything, so she would go without me. We’re way happier. I couldn’t have done this without Debbie being on my side — she’s so supportive and she’s the person I want to be with for the rest of my life.

At work, I stand for most of the day, so I bought a balance board.

I walk on it, and I do twisting and balance exercises and squats. I’ve lost so much weight, my patients can’t believe it’s me. They say, “Is that Bill?” 

I’ve started meditating and doing breathing exercises at night to clear my mind.

We don’t watch T.V. in bed anymore and I black everything out so there’s no light coming in. I’m sleeping better and I’m not snoring, so Debbie’s happy! 

I feel like I have a new life without any pain. 

My diabetes is under control now and my sugar is not at a diabetic level.

It’s hard to explain how great I’m feeling. 

And when people at work see how much I’ve changed they get inspired. I’m so grateful — my journey has been transformational.

— William (Bill) LeTexier, Sam’s Club #6311, Shakopee, MN; $5K Winner