Before the Challenge, I wasn’t eating healthy. I relied on fast food, which caused my cholesterol to skyrocket. I was spending money I didn’t have, which led me to live paycheck-to-paycheck. I was also stressed out. As a People Lead for Walmart, I take care of 435 associates. On top of working full-time, I was taking care of my 83-year-old mother, who has dementia. When I’d come home from work, I was too tired to spend quality time with her. I felt like I was running from one fire to another, and I was already out of fuel. It was time for a change. I had known about the Challenge for years — I actually preached about it in meetings and encouraged my associates to sign up for it. I decided I should practice what I preach and start my own Thrive ZP Challenge.
“Cooking with my mother has been especially rewarding.”
I started making small changes, like setting my alarm in the evenings to remind myself to get to bed early. That way, I’m well-rested in the morning and prepared for everything life throws my way. I started making time to go to the doctor, to budget, to cook. I used to think running to a drive-thru several times a day would help me save time and fix my problems — but it actually created more problems. Now, I’m buying fresh foods from Walmart and cooking meals at home that are low in sodium and sugar. I use Mrs. Dash and grow my own oregano, which smells and tastes amazing! Cooking with my mother has been an especially rewarding experience. She is from Spain and likes to make soups and other hearty meals. Whenever we cook, it triggers a memory and I get to learn more about my family. I am an only child and many of my family members have passed away, so I love hearing these stories from my mother.
“I’m making an effort to exercise every single day.”
When we’re cooking, I look for ways to replace unhealthy ingredients with vegetables. That way, I can keep our meals low in carbs, starches, and sodium. If I didn’t do this, I’d probably gain a lot of weight! But so far, I’ve lost 36 pounds. I’m making an effort to exercise every single day. I get a lot of steps in at work and invite my associates to take walks with me. When I get home, I take my dogs for a walk or go to the gym for 30 minutes. At the end of the night, I’ll take 15 minutes to do some stretching, light yoga, and breathwork. It’s a ritual that helps me clear my mind and let the stress roll off my shoulders.
“My credit score is almost at 700.”
Things are going my way. I went from living check-to-check to saving around $1,000 each month. Before, my credit score was hardly scraping 500. I couldn’t get approved for loans or credit. I couldn’t even afford to fix my kitchen when I found black mold in the walls. I had to take a hard look at myself and my habits. I started doing research, using credit apps, and catching up on bills. I called creditors directly, and by talking to them human-to-human, I was able to knock down a lot of my debt. Now, my credit score is almost at 700 and my credit card balance is $0 — I went ahead and buried my credit cards in the backyard.
I finally have extra money in my account. I started taking responsibility, and stopped saying the word “never.” I didn’t think I’d be able to get out of the debt hole that I was in, but I’ve conquered it, and am on a path to achieve all of my goals.
—Frank Bureta, Supercenter #4368; Ocala, FL; $5K Winner