Tammy Irwin: “Each day, it’s a choice to eat fruits and vegetables and to exercise — and I make that choice.”

Tammy has lost 22 pounds and has a new lease on life.

I knew I had gained some weight, I could feel it in the way my clothes felt. I had no energy and my husband, Fred, would say: “Why are you always tired?” I could see how concerned he was. When I stepped on the scale, everything hit me. I weighed 280 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been. Tears were falling down my face, and Fred said: “Stop crying, we’ll get through this.”

“I used to eat everything and anything.”

If something didn’t go right, I would grab a donut or a candy bar. I would fry food and bake bread and cakes. My husband and two grown sons, who live with us, love my baking. We’re a big pizza family. If you did something great, you got a pizza; if you were feeling down, you got a pizza!

“I knew if I didn’t do something different, I was going to have a heart attack.”

I’m 58. Fred and I have just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be here to celebrate our 50th anniversary. So I started the Challenge.

“I never exercised at all, now I walk half a mile every morning with my husband.”

I get on my treadmill before work. I’m up to 24 minutes and have not missed a day. I use the steps to our basement for exercise, walking up, then walking down backwards, which is not as easy as it sounds! Fred has always been fit; now he’s my biggest supporter. We’re starting to go to an aerobics class together.  

“I’ve lost 22 pounds and I have so much energy.” 

In the morning I have oatmeal and one cup of coffee with cream instead of my previous five cups! I make baked chicken or fish. We love tuna salad with egg on lettuce. And I’ve learned how to make “zoodles” — noodles made from zucchini. I add olive oil, tomatoes, and a bit of cheese. For snacks, I love cottage cheese and apples. What’s great, I’ve saved $225 in a month. 

It’s hard when everybody’s eating chips and pizza at work, but I’ll sit and eat my salad or get my bottle of water and go for a walk. I am happier and easier to get along with because I have a more positive outlook. I can’t expect co-workers to change their lifestyle, but I’ll encourage them when they ask me about the Challenge. A young guy who had gained weight has become my diet buddy recently.

“I feel like a winner.”

Each day, it’s a choice to eat fruits and vegetables and exercise — and I make that choice. At the end of the day I say to Fred: “Honey, I did it again.” He’ll say, “Keep it up! I’m proud of you.” This isn’t easy but I know one thing: I’m going to get healthier and enjoy the ride.

—Tammy Irwin, Supercenter #5241; North Huntingdon, PA; $5K Winner

Through the Thrive ZP Challenge, our community is making Better Choices, seeing big results, and winning big. Stories from past winners, such as Tammy Irwin, prove that every individual has the power to transform their life every day through a combination of small, sustainable changes and peer-to-peer inspiration.

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