During COVID, I was working as a nursing assistant, taking care of elderly people. We lost a lot of patients and it was stressful. I went into a depression and gained a lot of weight. I’d eat out of stress and grief. I’m 59, and I was pre-diabetic and had high cholesterol. I was always out of breath. When I joined Walmart, my store manager, Joshua Volbeda, encouraged me to download the Thrive app. He knows what I’ve been through and has been very helpful. 

To start with, I read articles by Challenge winners; I felt like they were written just for me!

I love watching the Thrive Resets with sunsets and nature. And I like the reminders to move my body. 

We began making home-cooked meals instead of eating out.

I love cooking and I’ve been trying Keto recipes and watching my carbs. I make chicken salad, amazing Philly steak wraps with low-carb tortillas, and pizza with cauliflower crust — even my grandkids like it. 

My husband, David, and I are walking with our three dogs.

We’ve been married for 27 years. We have five kids and five grandkids. We both work a lot and our walks give us time to reflect and talk about our dreams. We’re rediscovering each other. We discuss how, when we retire, we’re going to drive around the country. I’m from Kansas, and I’d love to take David there. And this may sound silly, but we’re planning a trip to Disneyland — just the two of us.

At home, I’ll ride my exercise bike, which is really good fun.

I started off riding for five minutes and now I’m up to an hour. To motivate me I listen to Blake Shelton, Luke Combs or AC/DC. 

We’re doing yard work. 

We’ll mow the lawn and do the weeding. We’re planting flowers, strawberry plants, tomatoes, and radishes. That I am even out there gardening is amazing to me; it brings me a lot of joy. I have more weight to lose, but I’m not ashamed for people to see me outdoors any more. 

My daughter, Jamie, and her three kids live with us, and we’re always going somewhere.

We just went to Lincoln City. It’s so beautiful. We were with all our grandkids. We love it there, going to the beach and looking around the little gift shops. We went for a three mile hike which I couldn’t have handled before. In the evening, we went to our favorite seafood restaurant and 12 of us walked in together! But they seated us all. The clam chowder is to die for.

At work, I have so much more energy.

I’m shocked that I can actually climb up ladders. And I can unload trucks without getting out of breath. I could never do that before. 

I’ve lost weight and I feel more confident.

I’m greeting customers with a smile without feeling embarrassed. The other day I was up at the front of the store helping out as a cashier. A couple came through and I was smiling and talking to them. They told me they wanted to find my manager, to compliment me. Well, I pointed him out, and he was actually cashiering too! Everyone laughed. We all do whatever we need to do on our team.

Now that I feel more confident, I’m always out taking pictures. 

I love taking photos of old abandoned barns that are falling apart; they’re part of history and I find them so interesting. I also take photos of my grandkids playing on the beach. 

I’ve put photos of myself around my house.

In one, taken on an evening when my husband and I were going out for dinner, I’m wearing a nice black dress. When I saw that picture, I cried because I didn’t know I could look so good. 

I’m coming out of my shell and actually making friends with myself.

I’ve started pampering myself — I’m wearing makeup again and buying nice clothes, and I have bubble baths. I’m doing affirmations and I tell myself I’m going to be there for you! 

My blood pressure and cholesterol went way down, and I’m no longer pre-diabetic.

My doctor is so proud of me. The Thrive Challenge is much, much more than a weight loss journey. This sounds kind of silly, but I consider Thrive to be one of my best friends. It never judges you and won’t let you down.

— Belinda Carsley, Walmart Store #1843, Mcminnville, OR; $5K Winner