Before I started my journey, I was just getting by. My blood pressure was high. I was lucky to get five or six hours of sleep each night. And I was getting close to being at my highest weight. I had to start thinking about how I could help myself. Then I saw a Challenge booklet in the break room. It was perfect timing. I was feeling pretty down on myself and knew I needed a change. The stories gave me a pick-me-up and made me realize that change has to start with the person in the mirror. 

I couldn’t keep saying what I wanted to do — I had to take action.

I started exercising for 20 to 25 minutes four days a week. As soon as I get home from work, I put on workout clothes and get moving. I alternate between different workout videos, like hip-hop abs and upper-body workouts. Exercising helps me eliminate stress. 

I’m doing a lot of meal prepping.

It saves me a lot of time and prevents me from getting fast food. I make baked chicken often — I could eat that every day! I make lots of veggies too, like lima beans or anything green. I watch my portion sizes; I’m sure each portion isn’t larger than my first and I’m no longer going back for second or third helpings.

My family is eating healthier too. 

Eating dinner as a family has helped a whole lot because my husband and I only get to see each other in the three or four hours when we get home from work. Sitting down together to share a meal without our devices has improved the quality of time we spend together. We engage with each other and remind ourselves these memories are precious. 

We’re also less stressed financially.

I take my lunch to work daily and make sure I go through everything in my refrigerator and freezer before buying new groceries. I make an inventory of everything I have. I like to know how much I need and when I need it, which prevents me from overspending. Drinking more water also helps because I’m no longer spending so much money on other drinks. In fact, I’m saving anywhere from $75-$100 each week.

Now that I’m sleeping better, I feel more relaxed and less stressed at work.

I went from five or six hours of sleep to seven or eight each night! Exercising when I get home from work helps me settle down for the evening. And before I go to bed, I charge my phone on my dresser so it’s out of the way. Before, I felt like I couldn’t go to bed until I had watched the news. But I stopped doing that so I can be relaxed and peaceful before sleep. 

I had been insecure about my midsection since I had my son 26 years ago.

Now I’m down 15 pounds and feel hopeful I can keep shrinking my belly and making positive strides for my health. I know every time I take a step or move a muscle, it’s a step toward better health. I’m a better parent and co-worker too — I’m more open-minded and grateful. I’m becoming a better listener and no longer jumping to conclusions. I listen and work hard to understand the people around me.

—Katrina Smith, Sam’s Club #4989; Auburn, AL; $5K Winner

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