Earlier in the pandemic, I was having family problems — mostly with my mom, who has Schizophrenia and depression. She was staying with me at the time, and I was irritated and found it hard to connect with her. I hadn’t accepted that she suffered from a condition. At the same time, I was staying at work late, and I would stop for fast food on my way home. When I went to a doctor’s appointment, they told me my cholesterol and triglycerides were high. I knew I had to make a change: I had to start eating differently and work on my communication with my mom. 

I found out about the Thrive Challenge from my coworker, Yarlín Jorge. 

She told me she had done the Thrive Challenge and she was fascinated with it. I saw how she changed, and I said, “Well, let me try it.” I got started by setting a reminder on my phone to open the Thrive app every day in the morning. It makes a difference to start the day with something positive, and to start the day being able to do something for yourself.

I decided to get up earlier to make breakfast. 

I also started drinking more water. I’m a pharmacy technician, so you have to be very thorough and stay on top of everything. I started saying, “I’m going to buy a bottle of water,” or “I’m going to drink three water bottles today.” Those little goals helped me a lot. I was also bringing lunch from home. My partner has a little book full of recipes, so when I started the Thrive Challenge, we took it out and dusted it off. 

I started to be more patient with my mom. 

The Thrive app gave me tips on connection, so I decided to try new things, like go on walks with her, take her to the beach, or go for ice cream together. My mom felt the change. She’d see me and it showed on her face that she was listening, because I wasn’t fighting with her. The tips around communication taught me that sometimes you need to just listen.

My communication at work started to change, too. 

When you’re working on a team, communication is very important. When you have to explain things while you’re caught up in the hustle or caught up in the rush, sometimes you come across a bit tough. I’ve been able to better control that and communicate better with my colleagues.

The biggest change has been connecting with my mom. 

You have to take advantage of being with your family, and I now know that. My next focus is on making better food choices. Food gives me energy to be active all day, and my goal is just that — to feel energetic. I want to go back to the doctor to do lab tests and have them tell me, “Look, your triglycerides are not high.” We all have an inner critic in our heads that tells us that we cannot do this. When you think you can’t do something, starting little by little has a huge impact. 

— Luis Cuba Ortiz, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR; $5K Winner