Four stories from members of our Thrive Challenge community who are managing — and even reversing — their diabetes by making small, better choices every day.
Each day, thousands of people in our Thrive Challenge community are committing to improving their well-being through small, better choices. In many cases, they’re making choices that are not only life-changing, but life-saving.
This week, we’re celebrating four remarkable individuals: Pele Mase, Bryon Patterson, Bill LeTexier, and Amber Mcinnish, who were diagnosed with diabetes and are now managing — and in some cases reversing — their condition.
Their stories are so remarkable because diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges we currently face — a disease that affects one in 10 Americans, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). That’s more than 37 million people. Ninety to 95% of that number are living with type 2 diabetes, which often leads to other serious conditions such as kidney disease, loss of sight, heart disease, and nerve damage.
Pele, Bill, Bryon, and Amber are proving that taking Microsteps on a consistent basis can have a powerful, positive impact.
1. Pele Mase, Sam’s Club #6342, Tulsa, OK
Pele had a challenging upbringing, helping to raise her three younger siblings. And now, at 39, she’s still taking care of family members, along with working hard at her job. “My mom and stepdad were drug addicts. I always had a lot of responsibility and I kept gaining weight. And with the weight gain came diabetes and high blood pressure,” she shares. Pele, a Thrive Challenge winner, started her journey with a simple Microstep. “I began drinking water instead of soda. I noticed a big difference in my energy. Then I gave up candy, and now I cook lots of veggies. My go-to meal is taco salad.”
Pele gradually began to move more and established a workout routine. “For the first time in my life I did a 5K run — I felt so happy and accomplished. I'm also dancing in my room to R&B and hip-hop, which always gives me a rush of happiness.” When Pele feels stressed, she pauses to breathe and relax. “I started meditating and I feel more in touch with myself."
“I’ve lost 100 pounds in the last year,” says Pele. “And I’ve completely reversed my diabetes. I’m no longer on insulin, and my doctor said my blood pressure is ‘amazing.’ I’m so much happier. I used to live life for other people, trying to fix their problems, but now I’m helping myself. I feel free.”
2. Bryon Patterson, Neighborhood Market #7329; Saint Pauls, NC
Bryon, a store manager, and a Thrive Challenge winner, is a 40-year-old father of five girls with his wife Ashley. A major health scare two years ago led to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. “I weighed 340 pounds, and I had an upper respiratory infection and kidney damage,” says Bryon. “I didn't have a father in my life, and I wanted to set a good example to my kids.”
He bought a stationary bike and began exercising regularly. “I jog in place while watching motivational speakers like Eric Thomas. I’ve learned how everything is connected, and how when I eat well, I think clearly and focus better. I’ve lost 54 pounds,” Bryon says. “The Thrive app helped me with structure, so I plan out meals. We stopped frying food, so dinner now might be grilled salmon and broccoli.”
Bryon’s dedication and commitment has paid off. “I’ve reversed my diabetes. I was spending $500 dollars a month on four different medications. Now I’m on zero medications.”
“I’m focusing on family time,” says Bryon. “I’m dancing with my little girls. We’re enjoying going to the mountains and the beach, and I’m making sure my kids grow up with healthy habits.”
Bryon is inspiring everyone around him. “I’m encouraging customers and associates struggling with diabetes themselves. The Thrive Challenge has helped me save my life — now it’s my turn to help others.”
3. Bill LeTexier, Sam’s Club #6311; Shakopee, MN
“A year ago, I was in bad shape,” says Bill. “I weighed 275 pounds and I was eating poorly — too much of everything!” His back and joints hurt. “I didn’t have the energy to do anything with my wife, Debbie, and our two kids.” The turning point came when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “I’m a pharmacist, so I know all about the dangers of diabetes, like the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.”
“I changed how I ate,” says this Thrive Challenge winner. “Debbie is Korean and she makes delicious Korean soup with tofu, vegetables, and kimchi. My favorite dinner is grilled salmon with veggies. One of my tricks: I’m using smaller plates.”
The couple are taking the Challenge together, which is great for moral support. “We use the elliptical machine and lift weights. When we started, working out for 20 minutes was hard, but now we’re exercising for two hours. We also love to walk the beautiful nature trails through the woods. We’ll stop and look at the deer and wild turkeys,” says Bill, who's less stressed and more relaxed. “To stay calm, I love doing mindfulness exercises on the Thrive app.”
And at work, he has more energy. “I stand for most of the day, so I bought a balance board. I walk on it and do twisting and balance exercises. I’ve lost 100 pounds in the last year and my patients can’t believe it’s me. They say, ‘Is that Bill?’”
The best news, says Bill: “I had my labs done and my A1C is now 5%, which is below diabetic level. I’m heading toward remission, and my doctor is ecstatic. I have a new life without any pain and it’s hard to explain how great I’m feeling. I was headed for an early grave, but now I know I’ll be here for my family.”
4. Amber Mcinnish, Technical Project Manager/Analyst, Walmart Home Office
On paper, Amber tells us her life looked great. She had a fantastic career and was promoted to a corporate position. Then a health scare led her to reevaluate everything. “I ended up in the emergency room. My blood sugar was at 400, and I was having trouble seeing. I had type 2 diabetes, and the worst part was that I was told it had happened because of how I was treating myself.”
Amber downloaded the Thrive app. “Once I saw all the well-being material and tips, I knew I was going to love it,” she says. “I literally had to learn how to take care of myself and remind myself that I matter.”
“One big mindset shift for me was seeing that exercise can be fun and can be done anywhere. No gym membership needed! I’ve learned that starting small is key. I have a treadmill at home, and I walk during Zoom meetings. I take time to de-stress and focus on my breathing because I tend to hold my breath without realizing it. And I take time for things that bring me joy, like tap dancing! I've joined a dance company and we have a blast.”
“I remember that around Christmas in 2021, I weighed 232 pounds,” says Amber. “I’m happy to say that at Christmas of 2022, I weighed 174 pounds. I have completely reversed my diabetes and I now manage it by exercising daily and eating healthy, clean foods. I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to be more about my struggles. I make time for myself, and I’m so proud of my wins.”