After Losing Everything in a Hurricane, Single Dad Alex has Rebuilt His Life

“I feel like a different person – I’m happy and fulfilled.”

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When I found out that I’d won the Thrive Challenge, I was at work. I was completely shocked and started crying tears of joy. I cried all the way home in the Uber — I didn’t have a car at that time — and couldn't wait to share the news with my family. I’m a 31-year-old single dad, and my son William is now 16-months-old. So winning was tremendous, because a few months earlier life had been very stressful. Our house flooded in Hurricane Sally, and we lost everything – all our possessions – and had to start again from scratch. William, who was just two-months-old at the time, and I moved in with my parents and my younger sister. We all pitch in to take care of the baby, but I wasn’t taking care of myself. 

I was working two jobs, as a team lead at Walmart and as a bartender at night. 

When I had a hard day, I’d eat comfort food like pizza and double cheeseburgers. It was a vicious cycle. I didn’t exercise, my back hurt, and I weighed 211 pounds. I felt emotionally defeated. My boss, Cody, who’s very supportive, inspired me to download the Thrive app, and I decided to make a change for William. I wanted to become a better man so that I could guide him by example. And I wanted to be able to keep up with him! 

My first step was drinking a protein shake every day to stave off sugar cravings.

I began meal prepping and experimenting with nutritious recipes. I make what I call “intelligent burritos,” tossing avocados and tomatoes together with half an ounce of sour cream for flavor, and adding that to cooked ground turkey instead of beef. And I’ll use whole wheat wraps. They’re delectable! I don’t like the term “cheat day”,  which sounds negative, but I do have occasional treats. There’s something that just feels good about having lasagne with the people you love. Also, I used to be a pastry chef and on holidays I bake lemon meringue pie, so of course I have to have a taste! 

The whole family sits at the table every night for dinner and there’s a lot of laughter.

We talk about how thankful we are for William, and I tell my parents how grateful I am to them for taking us in. It means William is being raised in a loving environment.

During my lunch break, I go to the gym and do weights and endurance training.  

I’m studying to become a personal trainer, which was one of my goals, and I’ll be certified soon. There’s a lot of difficult anatomy and physiology, and The Thrive Challenge has helped me stay committed. I’m excited because I’m developing my own work-out program, and my plan is to train a few co-workers for free, because it’s something I’m passionate about. There are single parents like me who are going through a hard time while trying to improve their lives and I want to do my best to help them help themselves. My next goal is to study to be a nutrition coach.

It’s a thrill to be able to chase William around the house without straining anything.

That’s something I would not have been able to do a year ago. My dad is an air ambulance helicopter pilot and William loves to play airplane. I’ll pick him up and run around the house  carrying him parallel to the ground, pretending he’s the plane. We’ll go up and down and I’ll say, “We're approaching the tower, permission to land, Grandpa!” We do a loop around the sofa and Grandpa will say: “Clearance to land!” William starts giggling, his face lights up – it’s pure joy. 

I’ve lost 68 pounds  and my back doesn’t hurt any more. 

By not eating junk food, I’m saving $500 a month. I don’t work two jobs anymore, which means I have more time to devote to William, and I made a down payment on a hybrid car. I put money away in a college savings account for William and I’m saving to buy a house with a backyard, so we can kick around a beach ball, which he loves. I’ve found that what I initially considered impossible has become achievable with Microsteps, determination and consistency. I feel like a completely different person – I’m happy and fulfilled. 

— Alex Hunt, Walmart Supercenter #3484, Pensacola, FL

Published on
November 2, 2022
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