A year ago, I graduated high school and I felt bad about myself. I was very skinny, and I felt that people disliked me because of my size and how I looked. I felt depressed.

I was very underweight; I weighed 110 pounds and I’m six feet tall. 

I was drinking soda and eating junk food and candy — just empty calories. My doctor was concerned. I wasn’t motivated and I had no energy. On days off, I’d lay in bed scrolling through Instagram. I’m 19, and I wouldn’t go out because people picked on me. I live with my parents, and they cook healthy meals, but I only wanted frozen pizza. 

My store manager, John Tyler, encouraged me to download the Thrive app.

He told me how it had changed his life. I started drinking high calorie protein shakes. I’ll mix in some peanut butter for extra protein. I’ll have bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, with a banana and strawberries. I’m eating a lot more fruit. For dinner I’ll have rib eye steak or pasta. I make my own burgers with ground beef and grill them — they’re really good. And I’m eating veggies like broccoli.

I go to the gym, and I have a personal trainer who motivates me.

I’m lifting weights because I need to gain muscle. I listen to upbeat rock music like “Tom Sawyer” by Rush and “You Really Got Me” by Van Halen. They motivate me and help me push myself beyond my limits. Working out is great for relieving stress and improving my mental health. And oh my gosh, everyone at the gym is so supportive. I’ve made new friends and I’ve expanded my social circle.

My parents and younger brother are encouraging me.

We’re spending more time together. My cousin, Abby, came to stay with us. We did a lot of swimming in our pool, and we went on family outings. It was nice catching up because we don’t often see each other.

I’m feeling a lot more confident and energetic. 

I’m playing golf with my buddies from high school. It’s a great pastime for me. I get outside and get active, and the more I play, the better I get. I used to feel frustrated playing golf, but now my skills have improved. I’m honing in on my game and I’m working on my putting and chipping. My goal is to score a solid par.

It’s amazing being with my friends. 

They’re really funny and make me realize that I have a lot of emotional support. It’s a real morale boost. After the game, we’ll eat something and hang out at one of our houses. We’ll talk and watch basketball — we’re big sports guys. We’ll also go bowling, or sometimes we’ll go to Chipotle for dinner. But I’m avoiding junk food.

So far, I’ve gained 30 pounds and I feel amazing.

I weigh 139 pounds now, so I still have a long way to go, but people tell me I look better. My parents are happy and my doctor is happy with the progress I’ve made. He says this is definitely a step in the right direction towards getting out of the underweight category. 

At work, I have more energy and I’m more outgoing.

I don’t feel as self-concious. A lot of regular customers tell me that I’m super friendly. I’m more attentive to customers. A couple of days ago I saw an elderly gentleman struggling with his bags and I loaded his groceries into the car for him. I’ve been chatting to my store manager, John. We talked about the Challenge and how we’re doing. He’s on the opposite journey to me, he’s working on losing weight. 

I intend to stay at Walmart and build my career. 

Right now, I’m going to community college. I want to get my bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s in business administration through Walmart’s program Live Better U program.

The Thrive Challenge is life-changing — I feel like a brand new man.

Now I’m feeling better. I’m helping others too. I have a scholarship from my school and part of it requires volunteering. Once a month, I volunteer for St. Mary’s Food Bank. We pack food like canned goods for the needy. And I really enjoy doing it — it’s fulfilling. I feel like I’m doing something to better other people’s lives — I’m not just thinking about myself.

— Charlie Talbot, Neighborhood Market #2632, Phoenix, AZ; $5K Winner